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2010 Subaru Legacy: Daddy Driven

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Kelsey Mays has already turned in a full review of the 2010 Subaru Legacy, but a black Premier model with a moonroof and Harman Kardon stereo recently wound up in my hands for a follow-up. Because Kelsey had already taken on the particulars in his review, I figured I could expand on how the redesigned car handled life in a dad’s hands.

If you don’t follow along regularly, I have two kids under 2, meaning there’s a full-size convertible car seat for my 18-month-old son and a rear-facing convertible car seat for my 2-month-old daughter. The new Legacy’s additional 5 inches of legroom compared with the 2009 version came in handy, and both seats fit easily using the Latch connectors. I own a 2008 Subaru Outback that has identical dimensions — besides rear headroom — to the outgoing Legacy; the new Outback and Legacy also have identical interior dimensions.

I was happy to find that while our Subaru forces me to sit with my knees against the dash when the infant seat is in back, the new Legacy leaves plenty of room for me in the passenger seat. Yes, I could even stretch a little. Check out the photos below of the two.

The trunk was also a good size. At 14.7 cubic feet, it’s bigger than the Honda Accord (14 cubic feet) but smaller than the Toyota Camry (15 cubic feet) and Chevy Malibu (15.1 cubic feet). However, it didn’t feel so voluminous to me that it would actually outdo any of them significantly in cargo hauling. Our umbrella stroller had to be placed diagonally to fit. I then ran some errands and filled the trunk with a full grocery trip of bags and a case of bottled water. There was also a large Baby’s R Us bag of necessities like new sippy cups, some diapers and assorted other items you never knew existed until you had children. As you can see, it all fit fine.

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The cloth seats seemed durable and should stand up to abuse from the kids. It’s a different material than our Outback, too — not as fuzzy — and hopefully repels dog hair a bit better.

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Interior quality overall was high. After serious debate with other staffers, this seems to be a split feeling, but I liked the weight of the buttons, the nice gauges and the useful cubbies everywhere. There’s one hidden in the center stack that can fit full-size CDs, and an open one below that, in front of the shifter, with a rubber surface to keep things from sliding. On top of the center stack is another flat portion that could hold items. That’s also where you see time and temp. Other editors pointed to the fake silver finish on some parts of the dash and the small knobs as particular problems. My guess is that most consumers wouldn’t note them. Our opinions were so varied that I personally raved about the brushed metal finish of the center stereo while another editor found it awful. We’re still struggling to resolve these differences.

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The optional $995 Harman Kardon sound system sounded terrific, with great sound clarity and instrument separation, but little deep bass. However, I highly question any automaker that isn’t putting USB jacks into their cars as standard equipment, let alone in a $995 optional stereo. It does have a six-disc CD changer, but as our editor-in-chief recently opined, “I’d need that as much as a tape deck,” which is pretty accurate in today’s iPod/MP3-player world.  It’s much easier to throw a children’s music playlist onto my iPod than to try and find a few CDs that could be in any number of rooms in the house.

The Premium trim level, moonroof and stereo brought the price, which starts at $19,995, up to $24,180 after destination. That’s also for the manual transmission; adding a continuously variable automatic transmission is an additional $1,000. Still it’s the only midsize, non-luxury sedan on the market where you can get all-wheel drive teamed to a four-cylinder engine. A 2010 Ford Fusion with all-wheel drive comes with a V-6 and starts at $27,790, but that’s with a six-speed automatic. Mazda, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Chevy do not offer all-wheel drive in their midsize sedans.

So for dads out there in need of an all-wheel-drive sedan to complement a larger family vehicle, the Legacy offers tremendous value. If front-wheel drive is all you need, this segment is so crowded with contenders it’s hard to find many reasons to single out the Legacy. 

Legroom photos

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More photos of my tester by Ian Merritt are below.

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Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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