The completely redesigned 2020 Subaru Legacy just took the stage at the Chicago Auto Show, and it looks like a ... Subaru Legacy! We tease, because while Subaru has ever so subtly changed the metalwork everywhere you look, it's not obvious at first glance. Creases turn in slightly different directions, the fenders pop out just a bit more, and the wheels are different. To really see the difference, you should look at the cabin, underpinnings and mechanicals, where Subaru gave the seventh-generation Legacy a thorough overhaul.
Subaru hasn't changed the Legacy's identity, but we're glad to report that this "all-new" Legacy represents a significant step forward for the model. The midsize sedan hops onto the Subaru Global Platform introduced a couple years ago with the Impreza. This structure is much more rigid than the 2019 model year car's platform, and also increases the use of ultra-high-tensile steel and structural adhesives. All this basically means that the new Legacy is stiffer, lighter and safer than the outgoing model — all good qualities to inherit.
Both engine options are reasonably attractive for 2020. Subaru is ditching the 3.6-liter flat-six as the premium option and moving to its new 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer-four introduced in the Ascent SUV. It makes the same 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque here, good for 0-60 mph times of 6.1 seconds. Most buyers will end up with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer, outputting 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque (0-60 mph in 8.4 seconds). This engine is also relatively new, as we got our first shot at it behind the wheel of the 2019 Forester. Both engines are predictably paired with Subaru's CVT. Your best fuel economy is achieved with the naturally aspirated four, rated at 27/35 mpg city/highway. You'll take a small hit with the turbo at 24/32 mpg city/highway. As the Legacy is still a Subaru, every version is equipped with all-wheel drive.
A revised suspension design features a MacPherson strut setup in front and double-wishbone layout in rear. Subaru claims much higher dynamic performance and ride comfort with this suspension in combination with the new structure. We'll be the judge of that once we get behind the wheel, eventually.
The interior is, in a word, impressive. We saw some hints of what Subaru is capable of with the Ascent's interior materials and design, but the highest-trim Legacy takes it to another level. We're most surprised by the 11.6-inch vertical touchscreen sitting front and center. Subaru says it can be split in half to display two types of information at once, like audio on top and navigation on the bottom. We're huge fans of this functionality on Ram's 12-inch touchscreen, so we're excited to try Subaru's system, too. The screen will be standard on every level but the base Legacy, but navigation will be optional on all but the top-trim Touring. There are still a couple physical knobs, one for volume and one for tuning the radio. Nearly everything else is controllable through the massive infotainment screen. If it wasn't already assumed, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality comes standard.
Subaru says the Legacy is the first with true Nappa leather covering the seats. We're definitely fans of the light brown seen in the photos here. Adding to the luxury car experience is a claimed three-decibel noise reduction at highway speeds. Subaru EyeSight technology is standard on all trim levels of the Legacy. This means even the cheapest one will have adaptive cruise control and lane-centering. You'll need to pony up to the Limited or XT trims to gain access to Subaru's driver-monitoring system. That gadget detects driver fatigue or distraction, then actively counters with an alert. Subaru also expects the 2020 Legacy to achieve a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS.
There's a lot of great stuff here, but Subaru took the extreme conservative route on exterior styling. With other Japanese midsizers like the Accord, Camry and Altima still looking fresh and striking from their overhauls, the Legacy finds itself looking rather generic. All-wheel drive has always been the separator, and it still is the difference in this segment. However, Nissan is now selling an all-wheel-drive Altima, so the sale just got that much tougher for Subaru. Pricing will be available closer to the Legacy's on-sale date — Subaru says to expect it at dealerships this fall.