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2010 Subaru Legacy 3.6R

Jeff Glucker August 19, 2010 Road Test Reviews, Subaru Reviews 22 Comments

How many things can you name that get better as they mature? Knowing the readership here, I imagine you could actually name several hundred things without repeating yourselves. But for a shorter version of the list, let’s go with wine and scotch. Now however, you can add another item to the short list: the Subaru Legacy.

All-new for 2010, the all-wheel drive Legacy has entered its fifth generation. It has the most interior room and quietest ride ever found in a Legacy. The styling is updated with more eye-engaging lines, dramaticly swept headlamps, and aggressive wheel arches which work cohesively to form a handsome overall package.

Of the eight trim levels available, I had the chance to spend time with the second from the top, the 2010 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Premium.

The Legacy 3.6R features a 256 hp/247 lb-ft of torque 3.6L Boxer-6 under the hood. It’s the largest available engine in the Legacy lineup, yet it’s not the most powerful. That honor falls to the 2.5L tubocharged Boxer-4 found in the 2.5GT, and it produces 265 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Regardless, 256 hp is plenty of go-now for this five-passenger sedan and it only thirsts for 87 octane. Power is put to all four wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission. This unit shifts smoothly and has available paddles mounted on the steering wheel if one wishes to manually select a gear. The shifts via said paddles are not quick enough for enthusiastic driving but quite welcome on the highway when I needed to grab a lower gear. I do wish the six-speed manual transmission was available as an option on the 3.6R, as it would have added a whole new level to the driving experience. However, I am glad the CVT is only found on the lower 2.5i trims.

All Subarus come with Symmetrical all-wheel drive standard, and the Legacy 3.6R is no exception here. In addition, it also employs a Variable Torque Distribution system that sends more power to the rear wheels and continuously adjusts power distribution in response to varying road and driving conditions. New for 2010 is a double-wishbone rear suspension which helps keep the ride quiet and responsive at the same time. Pretty much all vehicles in the Subaru family handle well. The Legacy is not a sports car but it’s not a wallowing cow either. I found it to be responsive yet comfortable. There is a hint of “mash-gas hold-on” fun in the car, but the 3,500 lb curb weight and sub-300 hp engine keep things in check. It’s no WRX STI yet it’s certainly no Camry either.

Just as the outside has improved styling, the interior is just as refreshed. The trunk volume and passenger space are among the best in-class in terms of cubic footage, and rear seat legroom has been increased by four inches over the previous model. A standard tilt/telescope wheel combined with a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat meant that finding my proper driving position was a piece of cake. The Legacy is surprisingly comfortable and the interior layout is efficiently simple. Equipped with the optional harman/kardon 440-watt premium audio system, the 2010 Subaru Legacy 3.6R is a enjoyable means of transportation for both front and rear seat passengers alike.

The 2010 Subaru Legacy starts at starts at $19,995 in the form of the 170 hp Legacy 2.5i. The Legacy 3.6R jumps up in price to start at $24,995 and the 3.6R Premium you see here costs $29,206. This pricing is in line with the competition, most of which do not come standard with an excellent all-wheel drive system like the Legacy.

The Subaru Legacy has always been a solid choice in the sedan segment…for 2010, it’s now an excellent choice.

  • I have finally learned that you have pretty much the opposite opinion as I do when it comes to looks. Many cars you have called attractive I have found horrible (Infiniti SUV, I'm looking at you).

    This time you say that the newest Legacy is better looking than the previous gen, but I strongly disagree.

    But then again, you're the one who car companies give testers to and I'm not, so apparently you know better than I do 🙂

    • Aaron

      Agreed. This is most definitely a far worse looking car than the previous generation in my eyes. I actually think the previous generation is one of the sharpest-looking cars on the road (and the only Subaru that I find attractive at all).

      • See, I found the last design to be a little bland. This one pumps up the style without going overboard. It no longer just looks like another sedan…it's clearly a Legacy.

        • FuzzyPlushroom

          Honestly, I find the front end to be mildly offensive, while the rest of the car is just as generic as the previous generation, just less attractively so. The generation before THAT was clearly a Subaru, sure, but this one? It's just clearly misshapen.

          And don't get me started on the Forester. I've seen one before my morning caffeine before and wondered when Toyota made the Rav4 less of a visual travesty.

  • Number_Six

    Can I have a Spec-B wagon? I thought not.

    So is all that fake aluminum going to wear into a grey streaky horror show in a few years?

    *cough* dramatically *cough*

    • chrystlubitshi

      spec b wagon… i wish

      fake aluminum…. ummm probably

      (((i noticed that too…)))

  • Feds_II

    Needs more clutch pedal, also more glass aft of the C pillar.

  • tonyola

    The blanding-out of Subaru continues apace. While I can see the attraction of a Legacy 2.5GT turbo with stick (but why no wagon, Subaru?), the only real reason to pick this particular car over an Accord EX V6 is the Sube's AWD. And in this age of sophisticated traction controls, even that is not the huge advantage it once was. Although the Accord is a bit bigger and roomier inside, it weighs about the same.

    • SSurfer321

      Your opinion depends on the geographical location. In areas where snowfall only averages <18" per year, yes, AWD may not be that large of an advantage. In Northern Michigan, every 3rd car on the road is a Subaru. The other two are 4WD SUV/Pickups.
      Traction control is not a replacement for all four tires propelling the vehicle.

  • I fell in love with a 2006 Legacy Wagon once. We took it in part exchange for an embarassingly small volume of money, and I was tasked with driving it to the Subaru dealer that underwrote it. It was a 3.0 Spec B with a manual box and the storm of clever electronics cascading down the centre stack. Understated in silver, it made a refreshing contrast to all the "look at me" brigade in their WRXs.

    I only had an hour to drive it, but within five minutes I deduced it would take a better driver than I to get the best of it. Getting a smooth launch wasn't easy, but only because the clutch was so sharp, so precise, I would have to recalibrate my clumsy ol' feet. And then there was the gearchange, mixing BMW-style riflebolt with a comfortingly agricultural clunk when the gears mesh.

    You feel like the engine is properly hardwired to the wheels. There is definitely mechanical stuff going on in front and behind you and you can feel the wheels, the whole drivetrain gripping the asphalt. And the noise, well, it sounds like an SVX. I could kid myself this was an SVX wagon, but even better owing to the manual box. It's yet another on my oughta-own-but-probably-never-will list.

    Sadly.

  • Nice review. If I was shopping in this market segment, I would probably go with this over the other Japanese makers.

    Where would you rate this on the
    "Appliance—————Fun——————-Really Awesome—————–Raptor" scale?

    • tonyola

      About halfway between Appliance and Fun.

      • Closer to fun than half-way…but not all the way.

  • joshuman

    The review is fine as it evaluates the car as it is but not as it should be. I still find it odd that Subaru even make a sedan version. I guess I can blame my parents for a succession of Subaru wagons during my childhood. Currently, my Dad has two different generations of Legacy GTs (with manual of course) and probably won't be buying another Subie now that they have done away with the wagon. And no, the Outback does not count as a wagon anymore.

  • coupeZ600

    If you live in a Mountain-Town, you can't swing a cat without hitting a Subie Wagon.

    When my wife and I were getting ready to have our second child we decided my little Honda and her Ford Ranger XLT just weren't going to cut it anymore, we looked at the different options. Wagons, SUV's, Mini-Vans??? The first thing she said was that we weren't going to have any Subaru Wagon like all the other posers in town. We finally compromised on a '91 Accord LX Wagon that was absolutely horrible in the snow. Cable-chains on studded-snows wouldn't keep that thing out of the Ditch.

    She eventually bought a 2005 Honda Cr-V, and I bought my buddies Volvo 145.

    It would have certainly been cheaper to just go buy a Subie Wagon, but we both got what we wanted, and when you're married that's the most important.

  • Maymar

    I know I'm going to echo many here, but it fits the wagony frameless door noise of my long-standing crush, the last-gen Legacy GT wagon.

  • SSurfer321

    CAFE Standards killed the Legacy Wagon. The Outback used to be a trim package available on a Legacy Wagon but then it started model bloating and now the Outback is large enough to be considered an SUV. Now Subaru has an SUV that gets almost 30mpg hwy. If Subaru continued to offer the Legacy Wagon, they would lose the SUV status of the Outback, thus hurting their CAFE Rating.
    Blame Uncle Sam for the loss of the Legacy Wagon, not Subaru.
    If you want a Legacy Wagon bad enough, you could always order the JDM (tyghte yo!) shocks/springs and rip off the body cladding.

    • tonyola

      I blame Subaru for bloating up the Legacy to the point where CAFE becomes an issue.

  • disillusion

    this is an interesting review. Being from Australia, most of the press for this car has been that its been mediocre. The general consensus has been that the styling is unresolved and ugly(which it is). Whilst you praise the car in basically all areas, most other media I have read has commented on the increase in chaddy plastics in the interior, and the lack of dynamic composure. Sure the last car had a overly firm ride, but the pay off was great handling and steering, the current cars move to a softer ride hasn't made up for its recent lack of dynamic prowess, It seems to me in everything else I have seen the car has gone from being a sports orientated safe class leader (the 3.0R besting a BMW 330i in a wheels review) to a medicore car that just become a bloated me too in the category. Wonder how your conclusion has been so different. just sayin'

    • I typically only read others opinions on a vehicle I am evaluating after I have posted my thoughts.

      I think the changes made to the Legacy allow it to be more appealing to a wider audience. I feel that the prior generations styling was fairly bland, and this new model adds some needed flair.

      I think there are far cheaper looking/feeling interiors in this price range, but there are also much nicer ones as well.

  • Alff

    Meh. I'll stick with mine (no, unfortunately it's not the Sonet)…

    <img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_fVEg3I8ek1A/S4vceHyOleI/AAAAAAAAACo/fy_517r9QiU/s640/2010-03-01%2009.10.54.jpg"&gt;

  • JonW

    Seeing as most of those mechanicals carried over to the WRX, you just described my '13 WRX to a tee, aside from the flat-6 though.

    It does sound awesome hammering up through the gears.