QUICK WITHOUT THE QUIRK
Published on Tue, Mar 22, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By John-Fredrik Wright Do you want a quick car? Do you want a reasonably luxurious interior? Do you want to have fun while driving? Do you want to have money left over after your purchase? Dude, meet the GT, Legacy GT, from Subaru. The 2011 Subaru Legacy GT is hot, yet refined; sexy, yet sophisticated. The swooping headlights make the car look like it’s smiling, in a classy way, and at the same time signaling some aggressiveness and speed. The scoop on the hood, however, gives a more powerful image, and together they present a sleek, yet rugged look. The GT has been fitted with dual exhaust pipes, again signaling a little more moxie, and when the key is turned, the engine sounds great. No, not a V8 grumbling noise, much more sophisticated than that. At higher RPMs, the driver can hear the turbo exhale—that huge breath of air into the cylinders—as the vehicle powerfully but gently accelerates. The six-speed manual transmission provides the driver complete control, but it can be a lot of work when driving around town. I like the fact that I can accelerate slow and nice, but keep the revs high just in case I need to react quickly to situations that may arise. (Editors note: this is a bigger issue for this writer than for most people, flying lawn furniture being among the hazards that he has encountered on the freeways of Southern California.) For those drives when you are too tired to have fun, the power available will allow you to stay in third or fourth gear from slow speeds to high speeds without having to shift very much, if at all. This is perfect for the morning commute in stop-and-go traffic.
When you do break free from the traffic however, a quick shift down and you’ll be in for quite the ride. The Subaru AWD will keep you on your chosen line up and down the on- and offramps, and the available power will paint quite the grin between your cheeks. In very hard and fast cornering, there is a bit of under steer, but let off the accelerator just a little and the AWD system will regain grip and put you back on track. Interior-wise the Legacy GT offers a little more luxury than it does ruggedness, which will please anybody who spends his or her mornings and afternoons in this car. The leather seats are comfortable and yet they keep you steady during cornering. The multimedia systems and GPS are easy to use, apart from the irritating fact that the list of all songs on the iPod is not available when driving; instead you manually have to skip forward until you get to the one you want to hear. This is, of course, a safety feature that I agree with, we should probably not be scrolling our list of thousands of songs while driving around town. Still, it is irritating. Speaking of the iPod (and any other USB device for that matter), you’ll find the USB plug inside of the armrest in between the two front seats. This is a pretty smart place for it, because I don’t have to worry about someone seeing it through the window and wanting to steal it. It can stay in the car, even without me. Together with the Harman/Kardon sound system, the audio package will keep you entertained.
I must say that the Legacy GT is a comfortable car, but there are a couple of weird features that I have yet to figure out. One downer is that the auto up/down window function which was only found on the driver’s side. Not a very big no-no, but also not a very big cost to give the consumer that extra convenience. Something else that takes getting used to is remembering to unlock the doors before trying to get out. Most cars will unlock when you engage the door handle, at least when you’ve tried twice. But no, regardless if you are in a real hurry to get out, you’re going to have to find the unlock button, hit it, and then open your door. Just don’t panic. The rear seats offer a good amount of room. Not limo-room, but definitely enough to get around town with either friends or family. The back seats also fold down, extending the trunk all they way through to the front seats. This opens up for hauling longer things, that you usually would need a station wagon or pickup for; convenient. The trunk, however, can only be opened from inside on the driver’s side door or by using the key. Not being able to open the trunk using the handle on the trunk is something that takes getting used to. This is, again, a learned behavior. In summation, I am impressed with the 2011 Subaru Legacy GT. The 21.6 average mpg that I got is a great sign that I had a lot of fun in this car, as well as a good sign that it still does fairly well from a consumption standpoint. The styling, as well as the handling, is very much Soobie, and the interior is one of their best accomplishments. Even the leather feels luxurious enough to take on many of the more expensive luxury sedans.
SIDEBAR COMMENT Subaru’s legacy in this country goes back to 1968, when Fuji Heavy Industries began selling its quirky 360. Nicknamed the Ladybug in Japan, the 360 was like a Japanese Beetle that had been cross-breed with a BMW Isetta. Since then, the company cranked out a number of reliable but heavily character-laden vehicles for the American public. While the industry favored four-in-line and V6 engines, Subaru stuck with horizontally opposed (boxer) four and six cylinder engines to keep the center of gravity low to the ground. When rear-wheel drive was still the norm, Subaru went head first into front-wheel drive to keep the weighty engine over the driving wheels. And when the industry went front-wheel drive, Subaru went all-wheel drive. All the while, the company’s designs were off-beat, but always endearing. Given this backdrop, it seems a bit odd that Subaru’s Legacy GT vehicle is so uncharacteristically normal-looking and behaving. To the diehard Subaru aficionado, these may be missed. To the targeted Legacy buyer, however, one gets a no-nonsense family sedan with the all-important addition of all-wheel drive for those in less-than-ideal road and weather conditions. And the 2.5 liter intercooled turbo comes direct from the WRX and has plenty of character, not to mention gobs of torque and get-up-and-go power. In the end, the lack of quirkiness isn’t missed all that much. The Legacy sells quite well, leading us to believe that Subaru knows what it’s doing with this latest Legacy design. – Roy Nakano For more information about Subaru products, go to subaru.com
SPECIFICATIONS: Name of vehicle: 2011 Subaru Legacy GT Limited Sedan Price: $31,395 EPA fuel economy rating: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway Horsepower: 265 @ 5600 rpm Torque: 258 pound-feet @ 2000 rpm