2010 Subaru Legacy PZEV
2010 Subaru Legacy PZEV. Photo: Peter Bleakney. Click image to enlarge
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Review Peter Bleakney
Photos by Peter Bleakney and Paul Williams

Photo Gallery:
2010 Subaru Legacy

Subaru’s steady march away from quirks-ville and into the automotive mainstream takes a quantum leap with the all-new 2010 Legacy mid-sized sedan. The last vestiges of Subie weirdness are gone with this fifth-generation remake. No more frameless side windows. The styling is conservatively pleasant, in an inoffensive kind of way. Even the classic (and yes, odd) flat-four growl has been effectively tuned out of the exhaust note.

There were three issues keeping the previous Legacy out of mainstream contention – it was too small, too expensive, and with its trademark symmetrical all-wheel-drive, not as fuel efficient as the competition. With the 2010 model, all these peccadilloes have big check marks beside them.

The 2010 Legacy has stretched in all directions and now features a spacious cabin with lots of headroom. The most noticeable improvement is in the back where legroom goes from lousy to limo (up by 10 cm). The 416-litre trunk is one of the largest in the segment, and has a sizable pass-through.

2010 Subaru Legacy
2010 Subaru Legacy. Photos: Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

The well-equipped base Legacy 2.5i with six-speed manual transmission has a starting price of $23,995. That’s a $3,000 drop from the 2009 model, putting it right in the mix with the usual suspects: Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Mazda6.

Equipped with the new-for-2010 $1,200 Lineartronic chain-drive CVT (continuously variable transmission), Subaru claims the Legacy 2.5i uses 9.2 L/100 km city (31 mpg) and 6.5 L/100 km highway (43 mpg) – numbers that better front-drivers like the Mazda6 and Honda Accord, but not the Toyota Camry manual (9.0 and 6.1).

I tested the Legacy PZEV (partial zero emissions vehicle) at $26,395. For this you get the base 170-hp SOHC 2.5-litre “boxer” four-cylinder mated to the CVT with paddle-shifted manual mode, 16-inch alloys (steel wheels with hubcaps are standard) and 10-way power driver’s chair.

All this is on top of the standard air conditioning, electronic stability/traction control, brake assist, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, electronic parking brake with hill holder, auto headlights, heated front cushions, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input jack, an information display and exterior temperature gauge. While Bluetooth was not fitted to this car, it will be standard issue with the 2011 Legacy PZEV which carries a list of $27,095. Indeed, Subaru is beating us over the head with the value stick here.

So what does PZEV mean to you? Internal engine tweaks and a special catalytic converter containing more precious metals eliminate evaporative losses from the fuel system and reduce emissions. Fuel economy is unchanged (as is CO2 output), but you’ll feel good knowing the exhaust is squeaky clean.

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