By KBB.com Editors
The 2009 Subaru Legacy offers buyers all the comforts of the finest sports sedan coupled with the sure-footedness afforded by Subaru's standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. No longer associated mainly with snowbound Vermont drivers and die-hard ski fans, the Legacy has blossomed into a handsome and sporty mainstream vehicle, offering top-notch ratings in the areas of safety, comfort and resale value. The Legacy's horizontally-opposed engines provide good power and decent fuel economy, and the GT features a turbocharged version that cranks out an impressive 243 horsepower. While not as smooth or refined as the engines offered by Honda and Toyota, the Legacy's drivetrain is every bit as reliable and its low-slung design helps reduce the height of the Legacy's center of gravity.You'll Like This Car If... You May Not Like This Car If...
If you don't live in an area where slick roads are a regular concern, the premium price of all-wheel drive might seem unwarranted. Long legged drivers will find legroom only adequate, and with the front seats fully extended rear seat legroom is far from generous.What's New for 2009
A new, lower priced Legacy 3.0R model is introduced for 2009, while the Legacy 3.0R Limited adds 18-inch alloy wheels to its standard equipment list. All trims but the base 2.5i Legacy receive a new harman/kardon audio system. Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) and traction control are now standard on all but the 2.5 GT with the manual transmission).Driving It Driving Impressions
We drove the turbocharged 2.5 GT Limited sedan with a five-speed manual transmission and enjoyed it very much. The engine's turbocharger comes on quickly, strongly and smoothly, the steering is also responsive and handling limits are high enough to promote outbursts of enthusiasm. Still, when driven at an everyday pace, the Legacy behaves not unlike its less-athletic competitors. With a light steering effort and small turning circle, the Legacy is pleasant around town and in a parking lot. Likewise, highway ride is well within the range of comfortable. We'd expect similar ride and handling from the less-powerful 2.5i models. For even sharper handling and sportier accessories, check out the limited-edition 2.5 GT spec.B and the 3.0 R Limited.Favorite Features
Manual Shift Buttons
Steering wheel-mounted shift buttons provide handy manual control of the Legacy GT Limited's optional five-speed automatic transmission.
With 385-watts, nine speakers including a subwoofer and available satellite radio, it's hard to imagine even the most ardent audiophile not loving this system.
Inside the Legacy, a decidedly sporty three-spoke steering wheel sets an athletic tone enhanced by supportive seats, straightforward gauges, metallic trim and crisp, contemporary styling. We do wish that steering-wheel mounted controls for audio were standard across the line, but as it is they are not available on the base 2.5i and 2.5i Special Edition trims. Combined with the liberal use of quality materials, the Legacy's passenger cabin conveys a solid sense of refinement. While it isn't the biggest midsize sedan out there, average-sized backseat passengers should find the Legacy adequate for trips across town and beyond. Notable standard safety features include front side-impact airbags and front and rear side-curtain airbags.Exterior
Despite an aging platform, the Legacy is still fresh enough to compete with newer designs from Honda and Toyota, avoiding the trapezoidal grille and awkward styling that permeated much of the Subaru line over the last few years. We did notice the Legacy's frameless doors make it difficult to open or hold a door without touching the window. The turbocharged 2.5 GT Limited model is identifiable by a functional hood scoop and exterior mirror-integrated turn indicators, while all but the 3.0R Limited sport the same 17-inch wheels.Notable Standard Equipment
The base Legacy sedan includes a 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), traction control, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD sound system, cruise control, trip computer, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cloth seating and 17-inch alloy wheels. Standard safety equipment includes front, front-side and two-row side-curtain airbags, active front head restraints and anti-lock brakes (ABS). The Special Edition package adds to the base car a 385-watt harman/kardon audio system with six-disc CD player, eight-way power driver's seat and a power moonroof.Notable Optional Equipment
Trim-level, package and stand-alone options include a 243-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, four- and five-speed manually-selectable automatic transmissions, a six-speed manual (Spec.B only) DVD touch-screen navigation system, a six-disc CD changer (standard on Limited trims), XM Satellite Radio, power glass moonroof, leather seating, power driver's seat, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lights, heated side mirrors, wiper de-icer, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, wood-look trim and front sport seats.Under the Hood
Both turbo and non-turbo Legacy models feature a four-cylinder "boxer" engine in which the cylinders and pistons are arranged horizontally, with the two on one side opposing the two on the other side (thus, an "opposed" engine design), rather than being positioned vertically or in a "V" angle. One of the boxer's advantages is its lower center of gravity that promotes better handling. Depending on the model's engine/transmission configuration, each Legacy features one of three distinct all-wheel-drive systems designed to match the characteristics of the powertrain. The new 3.0R Limited differs from the four-cylinder models, with a non-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine good for 245 horsepower.
170 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (manual), 20/26 (automatic)
2.5-liter Boxer-4 Turbocharged
243 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
241 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 (manual), 17/24 (manual Spec B), 18/24 (automatic)
245 horsepower @ 6600 rpm
215 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24
Legacy pricing ranges from a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $21,500 for the 2.5i to about $39,500 for the GT Limited. A fully-loaded 3.0 R Limited tops out around $35,000. When the time comes to get serious about purchasing, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price, which shows the typical transaction price paid for the Legacy in your area. This valuable tool will help you negotiate your best price. Over time, Kelley Blue Book expects the 2009 Subaru Legacy to hold strong resale values, with the Limited models topping the list.