2020 Subaru Legacy (Premium GT)

You know, I’d be happy with anything in Subaru’s lineup as a daily driven, year-round vehicle.

There aren’t too many carmakers I can say that about, either; but Sub has an entry in just about every consumer-car segment (except hybrids and pickups, but I don’t doubt that if they decided to build one that it would be the equal of Jeep’s Gladiator truck, and probably better looking to boot).

Certainly, some of the company’s offerings wouldn’t work for my particular lifestyle – I don’t need all the seating or the overall size of the Ascent, or the racy power of an STi, for example – but what we’ve got here is a darn-near-perfect example of a midsize sedan that covers all the major bases: the 2020 Legacy. Here’s the rundown on our test vehicle:

This one is the top of the line, ‘Premier’ GT trim, which gives it the more powerful of the two engine options, with a turbocharged 4-cylinder delivering 260 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque.

A CVT transmission and Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system complete the train, and the GT tester loads on all the technology the company can muster, as it sits. There were no option packages on my test car, and frankly it didn’t need any. Well, maybe an auto-stop function that shuts the engine off when the car is stopped, but that’s about all I can think of.

The Legacy is a good-looking vehicle from a styling standpoint (the worst criticism I heard about it when showing it to people was that ‘unremarkable’) and avoids weird design cues like unnecessary extra chrome trim or a big bizarre grille. I actually prefer the looks of the Legacy over many of rivals, including Camry and Accord.

Inside, the GT trim borders on luxury-car standards. Soft-touch surfaces and a refined feel with the dash materials compliment a nice cluster and button layout.

All the seats are comfortable and boast decent head/leg room, the driver’s position in particular is very good with a full range of adjustment, and the brown Nappa leather pairs well with a predominantly black cabin color scheme.

Heated seats are something that I imagine everyone just expects in vehicles nowadays, but let me sing the praises of heated steering wheels here, too. I tell ya, once you’ve had a car with a heated wheel, you can never look back.

My test vehicle was the perfect car for the weather during my time in it, snowy as it was; and the Legacy did a great job of staying under control on ice and windrows of the white stuff.

Engine response is good in either driving mode (there’s default and ‘Sport’, and those are your only choices). There is no appreciable lag when stepping on the gas, and Sport mode really adds some oomph (and subtracts some fuel economy, naturally) bringing on the full capability of the 2.4 litre Boxer engine under the hood.

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At center dash, a large (and bright) information touchscreen allows access to all the configurable features of the car’s onboard tech, but doesn’t get annoying – for example, Subaru has kept buttons for the stereo tuning and volume controls (I hate cars that make me go through a touch interface to lower the volume or dial up a station.

The GT sported a Harman Kardon sound system that did justice to my favorite college band, and hey! CD player! The car has a CD player, tucked into the center console storage bin. Sweet. I got to pull out my Pink Floyd disks for a change.

As I mentioned, this one has no option packages added on, and yet if anything brings almost too much technology to it. I know, I know, everybody loves technology (and I love a car that greets me by name when I start it up after adding my driver profile to the system).

In addition to the driver profile feature, my Legacy tester came with all my favorite active-safety functions – mainly the blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic detection – and some others that I found really helpful. Reverse automatic braking for example. Yes, the car will actually apply the brakes if it feels you are going to back into something).

Additionally, the GT had not just a backup camera, but a forward-facing cam. You can switch between the displays easily via a dash-mounted button, and I like it. Gonna keep a few people from scraping the curb when parking in an unfamiliar spot, I reckon.

There was also the Eye-Sight system, which rolls up a suite of Subaru safety functions (pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistant), and “DriverFocus”, which is a sort of nanny that monitors a driver’s behaviour and attention while behind the wheel and will warn you if you’re not keeping your peepers on the road.

So overall, the latest Legacy competes extremely well against any of its natural rivals in the market, and honestly competes well against many offerings in the luxury segment.

Seriously, unless someone ‘needs’ the brand cachet of a European premium sedan (or Lexus/Infinity/Acura), the Legacy Premium GT offers all the goodies but at a more down-to-earth price.

The one I used came to $39,095 (before freight ‘n’ taxes), but the lineup starts as low as $26,395 at the entry level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Subaru Crosstrek Limited

Exactly the right vehicle, timing-wise and arriving at the right time (by which I mean, just as the weather turned wintry out here and the snow began to fall) the Crosstrek made itself instantly welcome.

Not just because it is the latest, 2018 Subaru Crosstrek, either, I’d have been equally glad to have the previous year’s model, or for that matter just about any Subaru product.

And here’s the thing, just as a piece of trivia: pretty much any mountain town I’ve ever visited, anywhere where they get a lot of snow, Subaru is the nameplate I see on most of the vehicles owned by the people who live there. Well, Subaru and Jeep.

Naturally, the all-wheel drive system (Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD) is what has made their lineup a hit among their fans in climate zones similar to mine, and the Crosstrek has been embraced as much for its ability to handle the adverse conditions as for its more car-like size.

Photo courtesy Subaru Canada

The whole lineup employs a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder engine that brings ample power to the platform (152 horses and 145 lb.-ft. of torque). In terms of power, it isn’t dominating its class with those numbers, but the Boxer engine delivers better fuel economy than many of its rivals – Subaru boasts a combined city/highway consumption of 8.1 L/100 km, which is pretty decent.

My test vehicle, a Limited trim with the company’s Eyesight package option, used a continuously variable transmission to put the power to the wheels (and, as a note of trivia, the Limited model is only available with the CVT as of 2018, previously a six-speed manual was offered).

Photo courtesy Subaru Canada

Also new for the upcoming year is that all Crosstreks equipped with this transmission will be equipped with the company’s ‘X-Mode’.

X- mode is, basically, an automated system for managing tricky terrain at low speeds. Activated by the touch of a button on the center console, I think of it mainly as a hill-descent control – it works with the transmission and AWD to maintain torque distribution and engine power.

I’ve seen and experienced X-mode in demonstrations with Subaru’s Forester, crawling down a frighteningly steep and rocky path in mountainous terrain; and I’ll vouch that it works well.

But it was in mostly urban settings that I used this Crosstrek, and thus enjoyed the vehicle more for the general selling points that bring buyers into this segment.

The Crosstrek provides a car-sized footprint that its customers like, and the smooth ride they are looking for; and at the same time brings slightly higher sightlines and better ground clearance (which is a big deal for many in my neck of the woods, where the road surface can be pretty uneven, and nobody likes to hear their undercarriage or front bumper scrape).

Anecdotally, a comment I always hear when I show a car like this to any member of our um, ‘more aged’ population (you know, seniors, oldsters, the more fossilized generation) is the added height of crossover vehicles makes getting in and out of them easier. I am increasingly finding that I enjoy that as well.

I’ll warn you, though, that the Crosstrek has less overall headroom inside than many of its competitors, but in all fairness, this won’t trouble anyone under six feet tall, and has never been mentioned by any of the owners that I know.

The Crosstrek lineup starts at a really reasonable $23,695 for the base/entry-level model, and my test vehicle with its Limited badge and Eyesight package pushed that into the thirties.

Eyesight brings a collection safety technology to the vehicle: adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance (which is a new inclusion for 2018) and braking intervention that will aggressively step in and actually brake the car if it detects that the vehicle is backing into something.

All of which are good things to have, and overall the Crosstrek itself makes a case as a good thing to have, as an all-round capable light duty family-oriented everyday conveyor.

The Limited tester with CVT and Eyesight wasn’t the least expensive crossover out there, but neither is it the priciest, coming with an MSRP of $34,920