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story.lead_photo.caption The 2020 Suburu Legacy Sport. (Photo courtesy of Suburu)

From the curb, it looks like just one more stodgy sedan, Just another drab, four-door wedge without an interesting style line in sight.

 

Open the door and sit in a 2020 Subaru Legacy, however, and suddenly it all comes together. Redesigned this year, the new Legacy has all the DNA one expects in a Subaru: well-executed cabin, comfortable seats, state-of-art technology. Smart, very smart.

Turn the key and put it in gear and there it is. The smooth application of power from a BOXER engine, confident handling born of asymmetric all-wheel drive, and a ride as comfortable as your grandfather's Cadillac.

 

Tested:

2020 Subaru Legacy Premium, base price $24,995

Options ($2,595): Blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist; Keyless entry with push-button start; LED fog lamps; power moonroof; multimedia navigation and entertainment system.

Price as tested: $28,490, delivered

Likes:

- Responsive handling

- Luxurious ride

- Excellent safety technology

- Cabin materials, fit & finish

- Intuitive infotainment system

- Plenty of leg and head room

Dislikes:

- Bland design

- Competitors' base engines more powerful

 

The 2020 Suburu Legacy Sport. (Photo courtesy of Suburu)

It is no wonder, then, that the new Legacy is seen by many as the class leader among such stalwarts as the Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Kia Optima, Honda Accord, Mazda6, Hyundai Sonata, and Volkswagen Passat. All are safe, reliable, and comfortable cars selling for around $24,000 to $35,000.

All are evidence of a great American paradox. Sublimity was attained as market share was erased by buyers turning to SUVs to fulfill their needs and burnish their self-images. Ten years ago, one of every two new vehicles sold on this continent was a sedan. Today, it's less than one in four, and only the company that was once Chrysler still builds on these shores.

The rest of the world still values the combination of fuel economy, size, comfort and safety that sedans afford, so manufacturers keep building them and — what the heck — sending a few over here.

The Legacy stands out for its history of exemplary engines and for offering AWD and advanced driver assist technology at a lower starting price, around $22,745 for a base model. Four more models are offered, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT and Touring XT, which comes with a new, turbocharged BOXER engine.

We found the standard, 2.5-L, 182-hp engine more than adequate and appreciated that it delivered 27 city/35 highway fuel economy. For the week, we averaged 30 mpg. Critics have praised the 2.4-L turbocharged powerplant, which pushes the 3,500-lb. car to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and still delivers 24 city/32 highway.

 

Safety first

The past few years, Toyota, Subaru and Volvo have led the way in developing safety technology.

Legacy's safety package begins with a new platform that is 70% stiffer in both torsional and front-suspension rigidity and 100% stiffer in both front rear subframe rigidity compared to the previous Legacy's platform.

That pays multiple dividends in the real world. Along with a strengthened suspension and lowered center of gravity, the Legacy's improved body rigidity provides more responsive steering and handling, a smoother and quieter ride, and heightened hazard avoidance in emergency situations.

Crash protection, too, is markedly improved. The new body absorbs more than 40-percent more energy in front/side crashes than the prior model.

Passive safety is only part of the protection equation, and the Legacy leads the segment in active safety technology. Standard on all trims is EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, now equipped with Lane Centering Function. The system includes forward collision warning with automatic braking with pedestrian detection.

The system also includes rear automatic braking to keep you from bending the rear bumper around a post or backing over a child or pet. Rear cross-traffic warning lets you know if traffic is coming when backing out of a parking spot. It's also quite helpful when backing out of a tight spot

When using EyeSight's Adaptive Cruise Control feature, Lane Centering Function provides steering assist when the vehicle veers outside its lane, helping the driver maintain a direct path. The system uses a camera rather than radar, so it is squirrely in the rain.

DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, optional on Limited and standard on both XT trims, uses a dedicated camera and facial recognition software to identify signs of driver fatigue or driver distraction. If the system detects the driver is distracted or dozing off, a warning will display on both the combination meter and 11.6-inch screen to alert driver and passengers.

The Legacy earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, thanks to its good performance in crash tests and superior rating in front crash-prevention.

Bottom Line: If you happen to wake up tomorrow morning and think, "Hey, I need a sedan!" be sure to look at the Subaru Legacy.

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