Fall 2009 Forward to a Friend

Driving Impressions: 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT


Legacy 2.5GT - Front View
Emerson Hawthorne

One of my family’s vehicles is a 2006 Legacy 2.5i Wagon, so I looked forward to spending time in an all-new Legacy – especially one with a turbocharged engine. On a four-day junket, my teenaged son, Emerson, and I traveled 1,160 miles from New Jersey into the Northeastern states in a Ruby Red Pearl 2010 Legacy 2.5GT Limited.


Previously, I explored the 2010 Legacy at auto shows and in production at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. So the appearance of the preproduction 2.5GT that we picked up at Subaru headquarters in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, held no surprises.

The smooth sides, bold front and rear lighting assemblies, fender creases on the hood, and high rear deck emphasize the larger dimensions of the new Legacy. Plus, the 15-spoke, 18-inch wheels and 215/45 R18 performance tires add to the impression of mass, right down to the tires’ tread design.

The one design feature that I remembered from the interior was the wood trim in front. It was the first thing that Emerson pointed out as something he liked.

Steering Wheel Controls

Sections of the steering wheel and the center dash have the appearance of brushed aluminum. This design element integrates the driver’s cockpit. The chrome-trimmed instrument panel, with its white-and-bluish lighting, complements that design and becomes a focal point.

Another interior highlight is the six-speed manual transmission shifter.

With all of its updates and improved design, though, the 2010 Legacy retains a “corporate familiarity” – you know that you’re in a Subaru.




The Legacy had a full tank of fuel and only 50 miles on the odometer. Emerson and I transferred our travel gear, loaded the six-disc CD changer, and checked our notebook of maps and directions. We cranked up the Eagles, then took off for Maine.

Our journey’s first stage consisted of interstate highways and turnpikes. Some had cracked and pitted roads, and others were smooth. One of the differences that we noticed right away (besides “Hotel California” sounding better than ever before on the harman/kardon®1 sound system) was the ride. The suspension soaked up highway bumps with muffled thumps. You know you’ve hit a bump, but the suspension transmits that information without harshness.

Shifting took some familiarization. After years of driving primarily five-speed manual transmissions, I sometimes left that sixth added forward gear untapped. Reaching for the shifter to downshift when slowing was awkward due to habit. Driving through the mountains of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range the second day of our trip finally cured me of awkward sixth-gear shifting.

By the seat of the pants, acceleration in the new Legacy 2.5GT was very quick – enough for Legacy to keep its reputation as a performance “sleeper” by surprising unsuspecting poseurs. The turbo reacts with little lag. This fifth-generation Subaru sports sedan clearly reflects its performance heritage.

Kancamagus Sign



Although not as tortuous as some of the Western highways I’ve traveled the last few months, New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway gave us plenty of opportunity to corner, climb, and brake. With a wary eye out for deer and moose (and squirrel), we traveled east to west to the foot of the escarpment atop which the Old Man of the Mountain once surveyed the land. With a sense of loss for the famous natural profile that broke apart in 2003, I showed Emerson where the Great Stone Face once was.

Stopping quickly at scenic turnouts posed no concern with the Legacy. Its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive handled the dirt, sand, gravel, and pavement that we encountered as expected from a Subaru. In addition, we drove in rain on flat, black pavement that appeared slippery with oil, through which the car gave me a familiar confidence.

Curves with the Legacy were a joy, with little feeling of body roll. The suspension seemed well configured for someone who likes to tour any kind of road.

Despite the frequent turbocharged bursts of speed and tourist stops as well as the mountainous terrain, we managed more than 28 miles per gallon for the trip.


More than 1,100 miles in a car gives you plenty of time to explore the interior. Teenagers are good at that. Here are some of our observations.



Upholstered in perforated Off-Black Leather, the seats proved comfortable for the long haul – one day of at least eight hours. The airflow through the seating surfaces along with the dual-zone automatic climate control kept us cool when outside temperatures reached as high as 90 degrees. On the other hand, Emerson thought the heated seats would be a wonderful thing for winters in our home state of Wisconsin.

To reach the rear seats, the doors give passengers a wide opening. Rear leg room seems greater than in our wagon.

Instrument Panel

In the center – between the tachometer and speedometer – a digital display shows the selected transmission gear once the clutch is released. The display was particularly helpful when I was getting used to the sixth forward gear. It also provides odometer and trip odometer readings, cruise control status, and other information.

Controls and Switches

Knobs and buttons on the center dash have large surfaces, making them easy to operate. The turn-signal and wiper stalks have an unusually hefty feel that is quite pleasant and reassuring.

The switch for opening the trunk lid is at the driver’s left knee. Pressing it for more than one second opens the trunk. A button on the car’s ignition key also opens the trunk lid by pressing it for at least two seconds.

The control for the Electronic Parking Brake is located left of the steering column, too. I learned to be sure to depress the brake pedal when applying the parking brake and to depress the clutch and brake pedal when releasing it – otherwise, the BRAKE light flashes.

The Bluetooth®2 feature walks you through setup for an appropriate cell phone to enable conversations using controls on the steering wheel.


The glovebox seems to be larger – just by appearance. The two-tiered center console has plenty of storage space, and Emerson thought the top level was ideal for his hand-held video game. The height of the console armrest matches that of the door armrest.

Two storage spaces in the center dash (one with a door) held miscellaneous cargo such as our phones, wallets, gum, and pens. Emerson also liked the overhead console for storing glasses.

Two cup holders in front and two in back (in the fold-down armrest) are handy, plus there is a bottle holder in each door panel. Between cups full of dry cereal, water bottles, and juice, we needed all the storage space the car had to offer.

Legacy 2.5GT Rear


In the end, both Emerson and I were enamored of the new Legacy, but for different reasons. I enjoyed the available power and crisp and confident handling, and he loved the spacious and comfortable accommodations – especially the power front passenger seat.

You’d think it would be the other way around!

1harman/kardon is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Inc.

2Bluetooth is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG, Inc.