- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2001

MODEL: Subaru Legacy GT
VEHICLE TYPE: Four-door sedan
PRICE-AS-TESTED: $25,764
MILEAGE: 22 city, 27 highway

While flying home from California, I learned the sedan parked at the airport was deep in snow. This news didn't worry me: The car was a Subaru Legacy.
What's so special about this car? The Legacy, like all Subaru vehicles, has all-wheel drive. That means driving in snow can be as enjoyable to an adult as sledding in snow is to the child who just got a sled for Christmas. That statement may be an exaggeration, but I did look forward to starting the car up and hitting the road.
Most of my drive home was on a highway that had been plowed, but when I hit the back roads, that's where the all-wheel drive came to my rescue. Roads on which other cars were having difficulty posed no problem I was able to breeze by. My only skittish moment took place about a block from my home. The road was slick; I started to skid. But when I applied the brakes, the anti-lock braking system brought me to a safe stop.
Safety features are one reason sport utility vehicles are so popular. People want the reassurance that they will be able to get home safely, simply by shifting into four-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, I didn't have to do any shifting the car was always ready to accommodate my instant needs without any input from me.
In recent years, all-wheel drive has become more commonplace, but to Subaru, it is old hat. This manufacturer pioneered in the development of this feature. Today, every vehicle Subaru builds includes this protection. Another safety feature is worth noting: The Legacy has earned the highest rating among seven compact four-door sedans subjected to a 40-mph frontal offset crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Again, compared to a sport utility vehicle, you don't have to climb up on a buckboard to get into the driver's seat. The Legacy has all the comforts and convenience of a midsize sedan and is priced accordingly.
Another advantage over an SUV is fuel economy: This Subaru gets 22 miles per gallon city and 27 highway almost double the mileage of some SUVs. Under the hood is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces a modest 165 horsepower with 166 foot-pounds of torque. The Legacy uses a boxer engine to produce a strong low-end and midrange torque with excellent throttle response at all speeds. The manufacturer also points out that this compact, inherently well-balanced engine provides power that is comparable to some turbocharged competitors.
The Legacy I drove was the GT model that has stiff body structure, putting it in the league with more expensive vehicles. I'm told that the 2001 model has more than twice the bending resistance and 20 percent greater torsional strength. Before the snowfall, I had the Legacy on rural roads and it handled with similar agility to a sports car when zooming around curves. Another noteworthy feature is the low interior-noise level.
My tester had a four-speed automatic transmission, and with a base price of $24,395, this Legacy was very well equipped. Standard were air conditioning, power windows, tilt adjustable steering column, foldaway power side-view mirrors and 60-40 split rear seat. The fixed rear wiper/washer was most helpful in getting rid of the slush from the rear window.
Although the sound system produces a modest 80 watts, the quality is quite respectable. A cassette player is included, but not a CD player.
I appreciated the keyless remote lock that toots its horn when locking or unlocking the car door. Uniquely, the horn would toot from a considerable distance which was most helpful in locating the snow-covered car at the airport.
MOTOR MATTERS



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