For Midsize Sedan Competition

For 2010, Subaru's flagship sedan grows bigger, faster, and more fuel efficient all at the same lime. T hat should be enough to push the Legacy from a quirky choice to a true competitor in a hugely important segment. But Subaru isn't planning on stealing hordes of buyers from the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord. Rather, it expects that the Legacy will be cross-shopped with alternatives like the Volkswagen Passat, the Nissan Allima, and the Ma/.da 6.

The Legacy's interior is more comfortable, with a 3.9-inch increase in rear passenger legroom and full-frame doors that noticeably reduce noise. Golfers can now squeeze four bags of clubs in the 14.7-cubic-foot trunk. More proof that Subaru is getting closer to the mainstream: there's finally an auto-up driver's window.

Suspension changes bring Subaru's default front struts and rear multilink suspension systems to the Legacy, providing a good ride and making service easier across the Subaru range. The three engine choices are a 31-mpg (highway) four-cylinder, a 265-hp turbo-charged four, and a bigger, more refined boxer six. Transmissions include a six-speed manual, a CVT, and a traditional automatic.

With configurations ranging from frugal and capable to fast and refined, the Legacy has broad appeal. There's also enough Subaru quirkiness to keep the early adopters happy with this generation—all engines are boxers, all-wheel drive is standard (of course), and there's a good array of safety features. If the 2009 Forester's success is representative of the demand for a more mainstream Subaru, the 2010 Legacy sedan should be quite well received by themarket. — phil fi.oraday

on sale: Now | base price: $20,690 specs: 2.5Lflat-4,170 hp, 170 Ib-ft; 2.5L turbo flat-4,265 hp, 258 Ib-ft; 3.6L flat-6,256 hp, 247 Ib-ft; 4-wheel drive

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