Competing amid a sea of small- to medium-sized autos, the Subaru Legacy differentiates itself with its standard all-wheel drive. It's also one of the few in the segment to offer an uplevel turbocharged, four-cylinder engine.
Fuel economy ratings for many Legacy models are respectable - as high as 23 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway - and the car has been a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine for years.
The 2007 Legacy earned the top five-out-of-five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in U.S. government front crash tests. Sold as sedans and wagons, the Legacy carries a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $21,120 for a 2007 base sedan with 175-horsepower, nonturbo four cylinder and a manual transmission.
A 2007 sedan with optional automatic transmission starts at $22,120.
The lowest-priced Legacy wagon, with manual transmission, also starts at $22,120.
But the real "sleeper" models are the uplevel GTs. They're pricier, with window stickers starting at $28,920, and generously equipped: leather-trimmed seats, moon roof, agile handling without a too-harsh ride, high tech systems and zippy, 243-horsepower, turbo engine.
Base Legacy models have pleasant, mainstream looks that are neither showy nor too plain.
The GTs include a working hood scoop. Alloy wheels and low-profile tires on the test, 2.5 GT Limited sedan were sizable 17-inchers, but they, too, didn't look that big and blended well into the car's tidy package.
The interior was welcoming, with seats that are good-sized buckets in front with wide side bolsters to accommodate even nonfitness buffs. Front passengers get lumbar adjustment.
Rack-and-pinion steering with engine speed-sensing power assist was quick to respond to moves of the steering wheel, but not so much that it felt twitchy or nervous.
With all-wheel drive and grippy tires on the Legacy, I tracked confidently around curves at good speeds and even managed an emergency maneuver around road debris and never bobbled.
The 2.5-liter, turbocharged and intercooled four cylinder spoils a driver with its quick power, and thanks to the automatic all-wheel drive system, there's no tugging of the steering to one side or the other.
Maximum torque is a healthy 241 foot-pounds at 3,600 rpm.
I didn't notice much road noise from the Legacy tires.
Myrtle Beach Sun News