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Offbeat Subaru Legacy may surprise doubters

July 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Mid-size sedans have become more popular in recent years. While there are models that everyone seems to buy, it's often worth checking out a less popular one.

The Subaru Legacy tends to fly under the radar, but it's actually a nicely-sized four door with lots of attributes, including standard all-wheel drive. Prices start at about $20,000, which is pretty much what competitive four doors cost.

One of the more impressive things about the Legacy is the interior room, especially considering the overall size of the outside. Rear seat room is surprisingly plentiful. The car's exterior styling won't blow too many people away, but it's elegant enough. Buyers can also get all the features they'd like to make the legacy somewhat luxurious.

Power-wise, Subaru marches to its own beat with horizontally opposed engines.

Subaru has made a name for itself in the performance arena with scrappy little cars like the Impreza WRX and S TI rally-bred performance cars that have 300-plus horsepower.

The sedans in the mid-size segment can all be loaded up with different options and features, but Subaru goes a little differently with the Legacy. Buyers can get it as a GT model with 265 turbocharged horsepower, sports suspension and six-speed manual gear box. Mainstream competitors don't offer that combination.

The Legacy GT gets a differently tuned turbo four for more usable power in normal driving. Unfortunately, it takes premium fuel.

You can also choose a six cylinder Legacy with automatic, though it's not nearly as much fun as the turbo manual model.

Cars like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and others sell in much greater numbers, but sometimes it's fun to go off the beaten path and drive something a little different.