Subaru Canada made the new 2020 Legacy sedan the centrepiece of its display at the auto show in Toronto, a week after its global debut at the Chicago auto show.
But don’t go looking for Canadian-specific information on the model lineup and pricing. With the vehicle not on sale until fall, it’s just too soon for that level of detail – although Subaru officials did say Canada will continue to offer its own trims, distinct from those in the United States.
In broad strokes, the new sedan – the bigger-selling Outback version is still to be revealed – migrates to the global architecture that already underpins all of Subaru’s vehicles except the BRZ sports car and Outback.
While still recognizably a Legacy, the new shape features what Subaru describes as “thick and solid body lines that convey both peace of mind and power." The structure is dramatically stronger and the cabin is roomier in almost every direction, with best-in-class legroom.
A portrait-oriented 11.6-inch screen is the centrepiece on the dashboard and will be the on-board interface for Subaru Starlink, a suite of connected services that uses the car’s own embedded 4G LTE phone.
Subaru’s EyeSight safety suite, including adaptive cruise, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, lead vehicle start alert and more, will be standard across the board.
The base engine will be a substantially new 2.5-litre, 182-hp Boxer four, while turbo power returns in the form of a 260-hp, 2.4L unit that replaces the previous naturally aspirated 3.6-litre Boxer six as the up-level alternative. Both engines drive all four wheels via a CVT transmission.
In a mid-size sedan segment that is fast shrinking, the new Legacy faces both challenges and opportunities. With Nissan deciding to make all-wheel drive standard on its new Altima in Canada, standard AWD is no longer a unique selling proposition for the Legacy. Yet, Subaru Canada VP of marketing and product planning Ted Lalka sees opportunity for growth even in a declining segment. The Nissan move “validates us,” he says, while at the same time “our AWD is well proven and really simple, and we have a lot of credibility, and to my mind that could work to our advantage.”
As well, the mid-size segment isn’t declining only in terms of buyer demand; supply is also down, as the Detroit automakers all but abandon the sedan business to focus on pickups and CUVs. The Legacy and the Altima are both new designs, says analyst Robert Karwel, senior manager, Automotive Practice Canada at JD Power, “and they both are in a position to grab some share as some of the other players start vacating that market.
“They’re not going to grow the segment, but whoever is left standing in the room might be able to pick up more buyers, and they both might be able to do that at the same time just because of when they decided to do this in the marketplace.”
Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up for the weekly Drive newsletter, delivered to your inbox for free. Follow us on Instagram, @globedrive.