Subaru manages to appeal to two widely disparate customer bases. On the one hand, there is the Impreza and WRX crowd, which loves those vehicles’s all-wheel-drive prowess and performance and appreciates the youthful design that wraps it all up. On the other hand, there are the wagon-loving, outdoorsy, save-the-spotted-owl folk who are most interested in the utility and reliability of the Forester, Outback and Tribeca. Squarely in the middle, Subaru continues to over the Legacy, which is still the only midsize sedan with standard AWD and adds a bit of performance to a car built for grownups.
For 2009, the Subaru Legacy models are slightly upgraded from the previous year with three different engine options and five different trim levels. One thing you won’t get is a Legacy wagon. Subaru appears to be trying to delineate between its various models by eliminating the wagon from the Legacy line and the sedan from the Outback. Powertrain choices, however, remain the same as last year. The bottom of the power spectrum is a 170-hp 2.5L four that is used in the 2.5i Special Edition and 2.5i Limited. With either manual or automatic transmissions, gas mileage is rated at 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The next trim up, the 2.5 GT Limited, employs a turbocharged version of the 2.5 liter flat-four engine, that produces 243 hp. Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, with the five-speed manual or 18 / 24 mpg with the five-speed automatice. At the top end is 3.0 R which is powered by a 245-hp six-cylinder engine which combined with the five-speed automatic returns 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. It’s equipped with unique Bilstein sport-tuned suspension, a navigation system, SI-DRIVE, leather interior and moonroof as the main features. The Legacy 2.5 GT spec.B is the priciest and most performance-oriented Legacy of the bunch with the same turbo engine as the 2.5 GT Limited. The “B” in spec.B stands for Bilstein shocks, which are aggressively tuned. This is only available with a six-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy reflects the car’s performance leanings with ratings of 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Stability control and 18-inch wheels with high-performance tires are standard, as is a moonroof and a navigation system. Subaru is also prepping for production a 2.0L diesel that won’t arrive until 2010s. With the 2.5 liter engine 0-60 mph is achieved in a modest 7.8 seconds. But the most impressive area of the Legacy’s performance with any trim level is the vehicle’s stability and handling which, as always, is superb. All 2009 Legacy models benefit from a slightly freshened up exterior and a few new interior appointments. The Special Edition packages together a 385-watt Harman-Kardon nine-speaker audio system, power moonroof, eight-way power driver seat, and Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control stability system, which is now available on all models except the 2.5 GT with the five-speed manual transmission. 2009 prices range from just under $21,000 for the base 2.5i model all the way up to nearly $35,000 for the spec.B.