Car review: Subaru Legacy 2.0R

Looking for an alternative to the common Toyota Camry and Honda Accord? Paulo Subido may have found the answer
Jan 19, 2009

When breaking away from the entry-level category and moving up into the big leagues, it isn't uncommon for consumers to aspire for a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord. Both cars have their own merits. The Camry appeals to the chauffeur-driven set, while the Accord is for those who want to get behind the wheel. Both cars have a solid reputation, and short of a Mercedes or a BMW, they are highly desirable--and more affordable. Neither lacks any of the perceived prestige, and this makes them very important cars in the executive sedan segment--the top sellers if you will.

But the executive playground got more interesting with the arrival of Subaru in the Philippines. The brand is famous for the Impreza and the Forester, but what many consumers don't know is that it also has its own executive sedan that can easily match up with, if not surpass, the Camry and the Accord. Potential buyers would be wise to take a good look at the Legacy before making that all-too-important purchasing decision. The example shown here is the 2.0R model, though it is more commonly seen in its estate form.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter, all-aluminum boxer engine. Fans who read TG or have driven any Subaru, know that the engine layout has many advantages. Mounted low to the ground and with a low center of gravity, this engine makes for some cornering that is hard to ignore. Combine this with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and what you get is a large sedan that can be driven with extra amounts of gusto. Though spacious, the Legacy drives like a much smaller car, and that is a good thing if you're looking for a little excitement behind the wheel.

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You can toss this car around and not upset any of your passengers. Four wheels with power grip the road tenaciously. Even on slippery surfaces, the Legacy will not break free, unless of course you try your best to drive like an idiot.

Are two liters enough? The Camry and Accord engines displace much more. We say that the powerplant lurking underneath the Legacy offers enough push for spirited maneuvers. It is responsive even when combined with automatic transmission. One hundred and fifty horses might seem conservative on paper, but there is plenty of torque generated--196 Newton-meters to be exact. Fuel economy is also very comparable to any car that has the same displacement.

On the highway, get even better figures by using the cruise control. It is easy to operate and is a handy feature on boring and hypnotic roads like the SCTEX.

Hit some winding tarmac and this automatic transmission is one of the more enjoyable ones among the competition. It doesn't take any excitement away from the driving experience. Pop it into drive for some relaxed cruising, or use the manual override to manipulate the gears. Though it is only four-speed, gear changes are quick and you can hold any gear indefinitely. This is unlike some so-called ‘sporty' automatics that shift automatically even when you're in manual mode.

The verdict? The Subaru automatic tranny combined with the boxer engine is an ace.

I've said that the Legacy feels like a smaller car from behind the wheel, but there is plenty of space for the driver and all the passengers. Headroom is sacrificed just a little bit as the Legacy comes fitted with a sunroof. Some people just don't get it, but we do. It is one of those features that we wish were fitted in every car.

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You will also notice that the passenger cabin sits very low to the ground. This is just one of those details that help improve stability around corners, and even in a straight line. Should you wish to be a passenger in the rear, the Legacy displays very minimal amounts of body roll. This is where the Legacy outshines the Camry. The latter just bobs around too much and cornering is almost boat-like. The Legacy remains planted and composed, even at high speeds. Luxury shouldn't be limited to just the fit and finish; it must also pertain to the driving dynamics.

Not to be outdone, the Legacy's interior is very classy and restrained. The black leather is firm, but not too firm. The materials used are of very high quality, and the choices are impeccable. In fact, the Legacy's interior makes the Camry's cabin look tacky and cheap. We are tired of faux wood panels, and thankfully the Legacy has none of that. Frameless doors round off the style package, and we just love them to bits.

Those who know a thing or two about cars will be drawn to the Legacy, or any Subaru for that matter. For a very competitive price, you get a whole lot of car. What other manufacturer can boast of offering all-wheel drive in its luxury sedan? At P1,490,000, this car is much more inexpensive than the base-model Accord and Camry, but offers so much more bang for the buck. You have to get behind the wheel to believe it. And if sedans aren't your cup of tea, the Legacy comes in the form of a sweet and sexy estate--which very much appeals to my personal taste.

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Subarus are cars that don't draw attention to themselves, and that makes them even more appealing. They aren't flashy at all, but they look pretty damn good if you have an eye for the aesthetic. It is only those who know who will do a double-take. These people have heard of, and probably experienced, what kind of machinery lies under the skin. Ride and drive a Subaru, however, and you won't ever give those Hondas and Toyotas a second thought again. You can quote me on that.

It is only a matter of time before the general public embraces this very exciting brand. Without Subaru, the local market would be a very bland and boring place.

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    1.8 E CVT
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    Pros
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