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2012 NY Auto Show: 2013 Subaru Legacy, Outback - restyled, more power, and new safety features

Consumer Reports News: March 29, 2012 05:23 PM

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Ahead of the New York International Auto Show, Subaru has announced a restyling, engine upgrade, and new features for the 2013 Legacy sedan and Outback wagon. The front end has been restyled with new headlights, grille, front bumper, and fog lights, moving the appearance in line with the new Impreza.

The base Legacy and Outback will be powered by an updated 2.5-liter flat-four engine producing 173 hp--up three horsepower from the current version. Final fuel economy numbers are not yet available, but Subaru projects the Outback will return 24 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 26 mpg overall. These figures show an increase compared with the EPA-ratings of 22/29/24 for the previous version. (In our tests, we got 24 mpg overall.) The Legacy is estimated to deliver 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined, compared to 23/31/26. A CVT and six-speed manual transmission will be available. The 3.6R models keep the existing 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine. All Legacy and Outback models are equipped with all-wheel drive.

These updated cars show off Subaru's new EyeSight driver-assist system, with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning. The new system uses a stereo camera to provide a detection angle claimed to be wider than radar-based systems.

The base trim now has an upgraded audio system with Bluetooth capability, iPod and USB port. The Legacy 2.5GT model is discontinued for 2013.

The 2013 Legacy and Outback looks to be an effective update to strong-performing cars, with the potential to address some criticisms. In our tests, we found the engine to be noisy when pressed. Powertrain upgrades promise a welcomed increase to the already impressive fuel economy, and may change other characteristics.

With found the Outback handling to be clumsy and the generally impressive Legacy demonstrated pronounced body lean and tendency to fishtail if the throttle is lifted midturn. Subaru cites suspension changes to each model that may help with these weaknesses. We look forward to finding out.

Liza Barth

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