Review: 2007 Subaru Legacy
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Subaru's Legacy is a compact car that has been around for years, has its fans and loyal owners and yet never generates a big buzz.
But it should.
Competing amid a sea of medium-sized autos, the Legacy stands out because it comes with standard all-wheel drive. It's also one of the few in this segment to offer an uplevel turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy can be respectable, and the Legacy has been a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine for years.
If that's not enough, the 2007 Legacy earned the top five-out-of-five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in U.S. government front crash tests. (Results for side crash tests weren't been posted at this writing.)
What I like best about the Legacy is how it makes a buyer feel: Smart, savvy, comfortable, even peppy, and it's all done without ego or macho bluster.
Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price is just under $21,000 for a 2007 base sedan with 175-horsepower non-turbo 4 cylinder and a manual transmission. With automatic transmission, it's just under $22,000.
Meantime, a Legacy station wagon starts at around $21,500 for a base model with manual transmission.
But the real "sleeper" Legacy models are the uplevel Legacy GTs.
They're pricier, with window stickers starting at more than $28,000. But they have much to offer: Agile handling without a harsh ride, high-tech drive systems and zippy, 243-horsepower turbo 4-cylinder engine.
The world's largest automaker, General Motors Corp., bought a 20 percent stake in Subaru's parent, Fuji Heavy Industries, in 1999. But the partnership didn't have a lot of momentum, and when troubled GM needed cash, it sold off its Fuji stake last year, with 8.7 percent of the GM shares going to Toyota.
A lingering part of the GM linkup disappears in 2006 as Saab dealers no longer get a rebadged Subaru Impreza WRX to sell as the Saab 9-2x. (GM owns Sweden-based Saab.)
Meantime, Subaru introduced its largest passenger vehicle for the U.S.—the 2006 B9 Tribeca. It was the first Subaru with three rows of seats but hasn't taken the market by storm.
These days, Subaru officials are concentrating on building into their capable cars, such as the Legacy, some selective technology that adds fun to what some might have considered a conservative lineup.
There is something memorable, though, about the styling of the uplevel Legacy 2.5 GT Limited. It has a working hood scoop.
Now, before you cringe, realize that this hood scoop is not an exaggerated, boy-racer thing. The scoop's rise in the middle of the hood is mild and doesn't detract from a pleasant overall appearance.
Alloy wheels and low-profile tires are sizable 17-inchers on the GT Limited, but they, too, don't look that big and blend well into the car's tidy package.
Best of all, the interior is welcoming, with leather-trimmed seats that are good-sized buckets in front with wide side bolsters to accommodate even non-fitness buffs. I appreciate that both front passengers get lumbar adjustment.
Passengers in this Legacy do sit down as they enter, and they look out at the rears of higher-riding trucks and sport utilities.
Controls in the Legacy are within easy reach for me, someone 5 feet 4, and I liked that the moonroof—standard on this generously equipped model—opened with just a one-touch button on the ceiling. It took only two pushes to close the moonroof.
The nav system screen, another feature of this uplevel Legacy, includes neat fuel economy graphics arranged in three dials. This isn't your usual fuel economy information display.
At the back
Rear seatback splits and folds—to quite flat, though—to expand cargo space. The trunk opening has a low liftover.
A rear-center armrest pulls out of the seatback. Behind it is a narrow pass-through for skis.
I could drive the Legacy 2.5 GT Limited with 5-speed automatic in a leisurely or aggressive manner, and it was happy to oblige, either way.
Steering was quick to respond to moves of the steering wheel, but not so much that it was twitchy.
With all-wheel drive and grippy tires on the Legacy, I tracked confidently around curves at good speeds and even managed an emergency maneuver around road debris without fuss. At 50 miles an hour, the Legacy swerved, quickly returned to its path and never bobbled.
I didn't notice much road noise from the tires. But the car didn't keep out sounds of nearby vehicles whooshing past or the rattle of a truck's diesel engine in the next lane.
The ride was mostly smooth. I felt bumps and heard loud suspension "ba-booms" only on potholes and really rough pavement.
The 2.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled 4 cylinder needs premium gasoline.
But that appears to be its only drawback. It spoils a driver with its quick power, and thanks to the automatic all-wheel-drive system, there's no tugging of the steering to one side or the other, as happens in some other turbocharged cars.
Maximum torque is a healthy 241 lb-ft at 3600 rpm, and there's a nifty SI-Drive system that lets the driver easily change engine shift points. Thus, the Legacy 2.5 GT Limited readily upshifted when I focused on fuel economy. It held gears for high-rev power when I wanted sportier performance.
Hewing to the sporty shifting, I got only 20 miles a gallon in combined city/highway travel. The government rating is 19/25 mpg.