Buttoned-up engineering, unbuttoned.
BRZ Limited shown
THE MOST MATURE SUBARU STILL LIKES TO RUN WITH GT, WRX, AND WRX STI MODELS!
We never turn down a ride in any Subaru vehicle. Although we have our favorites, all of them have something that piques our interest. Plus, all Subaru models have a similar corporate feel and share such wonderful core technologies as Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and SUBARU BOXER engines. A lot of that comes into play in how the Legacy 3.6R impresses its driver and passengers.
DRIVING FOR A CAUSE
In mid-January, three of us associated with Drive magazine joined a group that raises money for charity by way of a Subaru drive called 48HRS of Tristate (www.48hrs.info). This was the ninth annual tour, and its charity was the American Cancer Society. For us, the drive in the Legacy 3.6R on loan from Subaru of America, Inc. covered 1,068 miles, giving us ample opportunity to experience it.
We picked up the Legacy on January 14. The next day, we joined 48HRS of Tristate for breakfast at Subaru headquarters in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
We drove a top-of-the-line Legacy 3.6R Limited. Limited models have a number of outstanding comfort/convenience features that set them apart. They include power front seats, leather-trimmed upholstery, woodgrain patterned accent trim, standard 440-watt harman/kardon®1 premium audio system with 6-disc in-dash CD changer, standard Bluetooth®2 wireless phone capability, and dual-zone automatic digital climate control. Our car also had the optional touch-screen navigation system.
The Legacy 6-cylinder engine develops 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is a 5-speed adaptive electronic SPORTSHIFT®3 automatic.
1 harman/kardon is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Inc.
2 Bluetooth is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG, Inc.
3 SPORTSHIFT is a registered trademark of Prodrive, Ltd.
The weekend’s routes took us into New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. Throughout the course of our travels, we drove on interstates and two-lane highways, paved rural country roads, city streets, and gravel roads. Some were clear and dry, while others had snow, road salt, and sand. By the time we finished, the cars were caked in dirt.
Some of the land we crossed was flat – part of the floodplain near the ocean. But we also encountered hills, mountains, and valleys where the roads twisted and turned, took steep dives and climbs, and were surrounded by considerable snow and ice. We also drove through a storm that had snow, slush, and rain.
That’s what we Subaru drivers wanted!
The Legacy 3.6R Limited took it all in stride. It was never overwhelmed by the conditions. In fact, we passed the time in considerable comfort, enjoying the heated seats and individually set temperatures for each side of the car. The Legacy proved hospitable and quiet. In addition, it exuded a high level of quality all around – from design to assembly to its features.
The 2010 Legacy is visibly larger than its predecessor. That was obvious when our 3.6R was parked next to a 2008 version in the Subaru parking lot.
The increase in size translates into more interior space, too, which was demonstrated several times during the four days of our journey.
The 3.6R’s mechanical features contribute significantly to its personality. The engine and transmission work together to provide powerful acceleration with smooth shifts. One caution is to rely on the speedometer – not the seat of your pants – to determine your speed, because you don’t feel like you’re traveling as fast as you are.
Downshifting is a delight, because the transmission “blips” the throttle to match transmission speed with road speed. The result is like downshifting with a manual transmission, using the accelerator to do the same thing – only it’s smooth every time. It’s so smooth, and the cabin is so quiet, that passengers hardly know that the driver is using the steering-wheel paddles to downshift.
The paddles function whether the transmission is placed in “D” or “M” – Drive or Manual mode. After downshifting with the transmission in D, it returns to higher gears automatically when reapplying the accelerator.
Nothing daunted the 6-cylinder engine. Whatever the road had to offer, we had more than enough power to handle it. Low-end torque was particularly impressive, pulling this Legacy to speed quickly and without drama.
The suspension also tackled all but the meanest of potholes without complaint. Following other vehicles in the group, we knew when to expect occasional dips in the pavement. They never unsettled the car’s handling.
The interior’s design reflects the exterior’s more stately styling. The chrome-trimmed instrument panel, crisply styled steering-wheel-mounted controls, and the center part of the dashboard (navigation screen, audio system controls, and digital climate control) contribute to its mature appearance, as does the woodgrain patterned accent trim.
The cabin had plenty of space for our travel needs – drink bottles, two power outlets (one for the citizens band radio and one for an adapter plug used to power a laptop), and storage space for other bits and pieces.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the interior was its quietness. For four days, we rode over all types of pavement and didn’t miss a beat in our conversations. You can talk at normal volume without distraction.
Here, too, is where the personality of the Legacy 3.6R reveals itself. Even though this car is impressive as a touring car, it shows a youthful, energetic side when pressed into action on more adventuresome routes. It takes the curves like a smaller, lighter car – though still very much a Subaru.
Through the mud, ice, and snow, we remained in control – even when pushing a bit. Some of the roads allowed us to exercise the Legacy’s Vehicle Dynamics Control.
Although the 3.6R has the demeanor of a gracious midsize family sedan, in its heart and soul it’s an exciting sports sedan.
OBSERVATIONS FROM OTHERS
Every day, other participants in the drive would wander over to the Legacy and want to know about it: Which model is it? What’s the interior look like? How much space does it have? What transmission does it have?
They seemed impressed by the upgraded interior and by its power. In particular, one man who is a little more than 6 feet tall and weighs approximately 260 pounds remarked about the rear seat comfort and head room after riding in the car.
This Legacy is a delight! For someone who enjoys effortless travel, the 3.6R delivers. The torque-filled engine, Symmetrical AWD, generous size, and full complement of amenities should make the Legacy 3.6R a serious candidate for serious travelers.
9TH ANNUAL 48HRS OF TRISTATE
The 48HRS of Tristate event was the second one in which we’ve participated. We had joined the group last year, when temperatures barely reached zero. So this year was a treat. Although we still contended with winter weather, we didn’t have to deal with subzero temperatures.
For someone who loves to drive, this is a great event. Plus, this year it benefited the American Cancer Society.
Day One: On January 14, some of the participants in 48HRS navigated roads in southern New Jersey, in the section of the state known as the Pine Barrens.
Day Two: The main part of the event began at breakfast at Subaru of America (SOA) headquarters. There, SOA presented the 48HRS organization team with a check matching a good part of the donations raised by participants. Then, taking different routes, two groups of participants drove to Burlington, Vermont.
Day Three: On Saturday morning, participants toured Vermont SportsCar (which fields Subaru Rally Team USA). We then broke into three groups because of the number of vehicles. (Attendees joined and left the groups at designated locations throughout the weekend. So at any given time, it was difficult to determine how many vehicles were there altogether. Total registration was 68 vehicles.) Everyone headed for Lake Placid and then to Lake George, New York.
At the raffle dinner Saturday night, organizers announced that 48HRS had collected more than $30,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Day Four: The event ended with a Sunday drive to Bethel, Connecticut, and a tour of EFI Logics’ tuning shop.
There’s a lot more to 48HRS of Tristate, and you can read about it at www.48hrs.info.
Also, find entries about the weekend in the Editor’s Track Blog on the Web site of Drive’s sister publication Drive Performance at www.driveperformance.subaru.com.