2020 Subaru Legacy First Impressions; Should You Buy a Vehicle with No Maintenance History? | #218

2020 Subaru Legacy First Impressions; Should You Buy a Vehicle with No Maintenance History? | #218


We give our take on the
redesigned 2020 Subaru Legacy. Then we address
some controversies around emissions
and fuel economy. And finally, we
answer your questions, including one about whether
you should stick with a stick shift for a long commute. Next on Talking Cars. [MUSIC PLAYING] Hey, welcome back. I’m Keith Barry. I’m Jennifer Stockburger. And I’m Ryan Pszczolkowski. And today, we’re going to start
off by talking about emissions and safety have
been in the news, and it’s been because
a series of tweets, and those tweets are
from @realDonaldTrump. Name sounds familiar. So the first one
is, “My proposal to the politically
correct automobile companies would lower
the average price of a car to consumers
by more than $3,000, while at the same time making
the car substantially safer. Engines would run smoother. Very little impact
on the environment! Foolish executives!” And then the second one is, “The
legendary Henry Ford and Alfred Sloan, the founders of Ford
Motor Company and General Motors, are ‘rolling
over’ at the weakness of current car
company executives willing to spend more
money on a car that is not as safe or good, and
cost $3,000 more to consumers. Crazy!” Why is he talking cars? That’s our job. That’s our job really. So, Jen, why have these
issues sort of surfaced? Amidst all the
chaos in the world, why are emissions worthy
of presidential attention? Right. So a bit of a timeline,
just forgive me, but what he’s referring to is
a recent agreement with Ford, also BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen,
with the state of California that says they will agree
to improve fuel economy emissions to a level in between
what previously California was requiring and was
part of a federal mandate. So California is kind of able
to do its own thing, right? So let me step back. So 1970s fuel
economy standards– That far back? Right. OK. 2009, the Supreme
Court says, hey, CO2, which comes from burning
fuel, is a greenhouse gas emissions and now can be
regulated as an air pollutant. So they had two phases. Phase one was 2012 to ’16,
phase two 2017 to ’25, and they had to up by about
5% each year improvement. In greenhouse– In greenhouse gas
emissions, which ultimately relates to fuel economy as well. So included in that
was sort of a waiver to the state of
California, because they had worse pollution
issues, that they could set even higher standards
than the federal mandates over time, and other states
subsequently followed, including Connecticut,
where we’re based. So those were considered
the clean car states. So that phase two mandate also
included a mid-term review that said, in 2018, we’re
going to review and make sure we’re on the right track. Originally, they said, those
standards seemed appropriate. But more recently, and in
Trump’s, Trump has said, hey, I don’t think we
need to go that far. We’re going kind of roll
back and freeze standards where they should be in
2020 and not continue to show these improvements. So that Ford then says,
hey, wait a minute, we need to kind of
know, Ford and others, we’re already planning
cars out to 2025. Yeah, way past. Yeah. So they then agree
with California to come somewhere in the middle. Still improvements, not
to the same level as was in the mandate, which
has not been erased yet, but somewhere in between, and
that’s what he’s referring to. So he’s saying Henry Ford would
never have agreed to this. He’d be rolling over
if he knew that Ford was agreeing to these, which
were going to cost consumers money. Yeah. So there’s a lot to unpack here. There’s a lot to unpack here. So, I mean, OK, we
could get pedantic and say, oh, Alfred Sloan wasn’t
the founder of General Motors, he was one of the– But, I mean, there’s
some other things. That $3,000 number, the fact
that cars are less safe if you make them more– this doesn’t necessarily
all of this jibe with some of the research
that we’ve done, right? Right. So some of this
is just not true. Cars are safer than they were. Right. There’s no doubt about that. We don’t even have
to go down that road. More expensive, yeah maybe. If you look at it as
the Accord 10 years ago was less than it is today,
but the car 10 years ago had half the features
that an Accord has today. We’re getting more
vehicle per pound than we have ever in
the history of cars, OK? Just between safety, all
the safety stuff that’s in them to make them
safer, it potentially adds a little bit of weight,
but these cars are still more efficient than they were. So actually pound
for pound, we’re getting more car than
we’ve ever gotten in the history of automobiles,
to be honest with you. In some cases, if you
adjust for inflation, some of these
vehicles are actually a little cheaper than they– if you adjusted the price from
10, 20 years ago to today. I think what people are
seeing, though, too, is that cars are physically
bigger than they were. So if you take the
new Civic, it’s the size of the
old Honda Accord. Right. And they’re growing. It’s safer, though. This isn’t a bad thing. Yet, more fuel efficient. And it’s still getting
the fuel efficiency, even though it’s bigger. And it may be a tad
heavier in some, but it’s still more efficient. So some of this is true, some
of it’s just flat out not true. The other thing, too, he talks
about Henry Ford rolling over. If I understand the automotive
philosophies of Henry Ford, it was about quality
through mass production, getting reasonably priced
cars to the common man. To do that, Ford has
to be able to plan. And to their point, which is
why they made this agreement, they’re already well
down the road to 2025. And we have all
enjoyed technologies that haven’t hurt the
performance of the cars, have improved it, but also
given us better fuel economy. And to me, the price of
the car maybe or maybe not, to Ryan’s point, has
increased maybe slightly, but there’s the cost
of ownership, too. We’ve all enjoyed
better fuel economy, less money out of our wallet
every single day of the cars we drive now. So I’m not sure Henry
would be rolling over. I’m sorry. I like what you said
about continuity because these car companies,
these are international car companies. They have to plan for
regulations in Europe, China, India, I mean, South
America, everywhere. Yep. And if the United States
becomes an outlier, they’re probably just going
to do the R&D to meet whatever the strictest standard is. I mean, we see this in almost
any industry that’s regulated. Correct. Correct. You don’t want five
different cars made. They’re going to
make one and make it. And I said, as I’m
reading through this, necessity is the
mother of invention. And if these standards
become the necessity, we all enjoy the invention
that comes from them. So yeah. I mean, it might be hard for
that R&D to take place, that might be expensive, but
look at where we are now versus the late 1970s, when that
sort of regulatory environment first started. Right. We have catalytic converters. I mean, just look at pictures
of what LA looked like, the air, and compare it to today. I know that’s an unscientific
way of measurement. It’s very real, I do think. So all right, so off to
talking about an actual car that we’ve got. We rented a 2020 Subaru Legacy. Now for me, this is
a little familiar because a couple of weeks ago
we talked about the Subaru Outback, and they’re
very similar. But this is the sedan. It’s really popular
with our members. It’s an all-wheel drive sedan. It’s relatively affordable. What do you think? So I drove it for a little ways. I didn’t go too far with it,
but it’s extremely comfortable. I was shocked by how
this vehicle rides. Yep. The last Legacy I liked a lot. We liked it. It was highly rated. This car isn’t
exciting to drive, but I couldn’t believe
how well it rode. It’s a comfortable car. You can get in it, got a normal
shifter, you just take off. And it’s got a CVT, you don’t
notice it unless you really stomp on the throttle
and it revs up, but it’s very easy to drive. Thought the interior
was kind of nice. I was very impressed with it. Did you drive the turbo and
the naturally aspirated? Yeah. On the turbo, I mean,
the more power a CVT has, the better the CVT
acts, I believe. It was just an easy,
comfortable car to drive. But it’s not exciting. The steering’s a little
dull, and it’s just a comfortable car. I love that turbo. Yes. I also drove the turbo, so yeah. That’s the one I would get,
I guess, if I could choose. So I drove the turbo. I know that on the
non-turbo version, the 2.5, that there was some
concern about CVT noise, I think, and the
cabin was quiet. The power wasn’t
readily available. I was very impressed with
noise and comfort in the cabin. The other thing is standard
safety, standard safety. I mean, EyeSight is
standard, blindspot warnings still optional. Hmm. It’s, again, different systems. We’ve talked about this before. So just so you know, don’t think
you’re getting that as part of the EyeSight package. But I was very impressed. I think old Subaru Legacy
owners will be happy. I think new to
Legacy will be happy. I was impressed. Yeah, as the number of
sedans sort of decreases, I think that Subaru
is finally going to– Yeah, it’s nice to see– And I’m sure the big screen
will be a little polarizing. I’ve had some
thoughts about that. Yeah. I had trouble with the screen
just getting used to it. There’s a learning curve. There’s a learning curve. The climate is
integrated in the bottom, and I didn’t care for that. I like the old just
hard button separate. And you said standard
chapter, which I also– Yeah, a regular shifter. That’s huge. It sounds so silly to think of
that when you get in the car nowadays, but I’m like, thank
god it’s got a normal shifter. Yeah. The small pleasures. Not a manual shifter, but a– A standard automatic shifter. Aw, shucks. That screen, I got
to ask some more about this, because I used it
with CarPlay and Android Auto. And it’s this huge screen,
but it moves it down into this tiny– Yeah, steals all
their real estate. Yeah. I don’t think it’s necessarily
terrible to have a large screen if it’s set up properly. This one, what do you think? I’ve talked about large screens
in that it also typically gives you large icons, which I
do like because I think you can more easily
just glance and do what you need to do
and not have to get so pinpoint in your selection. So I do like that. But to Ryan’s point,
it may be more stuff integrated into a screen– which we’ve had
reliability issues, where what happens when
the screen goes blank on other models– than people want, to the
point of Ryan’s [INAUDIBLE] with the climate. Yeah. Unlike the Volvo
one, at least it has physical buttons for
temperature up and down. But it’s like half and half,
and that kind of drives me nuts, too. Yeah. Either do it or don’t. It’s a big screen. I was impressed with that. I mean, I didn’t realize,
that’s a big screen, like big. It’s big. It’s, what, 12 and
1/2 inches almost. Yeah, it’s huge. And I’m not sure everybody
loved the seats, which a Subaru isn’t known for
its comfortable seats. They didn’t bother me, but yeah. I mean, the fit and
finish in general to me, I noticed a couple of things. I mean, it sort of felt
like they made the leather kind of feel a little
like elephant skin, like it was just sort
of gray and saggy. I’ve never– Have you felt an
elephant really? I said it looked like it. Oh, I thought you
said it felt like. Maybe I did. Let’s edit it that,
super producer. But either way, it felt kind
of like that aftermarket dealer installed leather that
you can get on some cars? It kind of felt– Pleather leather. Yeah. It felt like a Subaru for me. Yeah. I was indifferent on it, but
I thought it was a nice car. Yeah, I did too. I did too. And for the price. Overall a positive. Yeah. It’s a good value. It’s out there for
also people who might be trading in
kind of older Volvos or getting rid of
that SAAB finally. I think there’s
something there for them. Sure. So that was a car
that we rented, but we are going to buy our
own and do a full complement of tests on it. But for now, you can go to
consumerreports.org and read our first drive, see
a bunch of pictures, and tell me if the inside
looks like an elephant. All right, that’s– Feels like an elephant. Feels like an elephant. That’s enough from us for now. We’re going to go to your
questions, which you have sent to [email protected] And some of you have
sent video questions, so we’re going to
go to those first. Hey, Consumer Reports,
Mark from California. A quick little background,
I got in a car accident with our 2017
Toyota Prius Prime. We wanted to move from a
plug-in hybrid to a 100% EV. As you can see here, we
decided with the Model 3. The Standard Range Plus Model
3 is a rear-wheel drive, and so I wanted to know kind
of how my driving should change based on that in the rain. Probably not much in the snow
because we’re in California, and we just go to the
snow occasionally. We’ll probably take our
other cars for that. But how should our driving
change in a rear-wheel drive vehicle versus a front-wheel
or all-wheel drive vehicle? Thank you so much. All right, so rear-wheel drive,
really powerful electric car. What does this guy need to know? And he doesn’t live near snow. Honestly, not a lot. Drive safely. And with all the safety
systems and stuff, it’s rear-wheel drive
so this car has power. If you step on the
gas really hard and the tires want to
spin, the traction control, stability control, is
going to shut you down and you’re going to be OK. It’s a fun car to drive. I prefer a rear-wheel drive car. But in general, no, you
don’t need to really change. And you are in
snow, I mean, you’re going to want some snow tires. Right. It does have
performance tires on it. Yeah, exactly. If you have occasion, Mark. We’re in sunny
California, so enjoy. Right. With its own emission
standards, as we discussed. Right. Yes. All right, next question
comes from Matt. Good morning, Consumer Reports. We recently just lost our
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander all-wheel drive to a deer,
and so we found a 2006 BMW X3. And it has a little
over 100,000 miles. We have no idea what the
previous owner has done to it or how they took
care of it, and so I was wondering if there’s any
advice that you could give to us on newly purchasing
a German used vehicle and what we could do for any
preventative maintenance? Any advice would be totally,
totally appreciated. All right, so I’m
going to take this one. Matt, get it inspected. I don’t care if a car
is $2,000 or $200,000, bring it somewhere,
get it inspected. That’s the only way to know
if the car’s a good buy. But, I mean, this car,
I don’t think it’s a tremendously bad idea. Right. So I think the
biggest concern was he said, we have no idea
how it’s been cared for, which is makes me a little
wary of a car of that age. That’s terrifying. If you look back
at reliability, we don’t even have a lot
for that era of the X3. But it’s a one for
owner satisfaction. It’s kind of poor for
owner satisfaction. The price, if you look,
it retails around $5,000. But is it $5,000, Matt,
that you want to risk? I’m not sure. Yeah, I’ve owned a
lot of $5,000 cars that became $20,000
cars real quick. Exactly. And I think that’s my point,
there is risk to that $5,000. And if you go back, I
mean, I say look at a 2010 to 2011 Toyota RAV4. About the same price,
bulletproof reliability, standard stability control,
which he’s not going to get. For similar prices, I just
think there’s better options. But to your point, if you
decide to go this way, I know it’s available to
you, have it inspected. And enjoy it. I mean, it’s not a not-fun car
to drive, so that’s kind of– No. And when you’re
out there again, I know you told us you had
an issue with a deer, we’ve got tips for how to
deal with deer and driving, especially this time of year– Yeah, as the
temperatures get cooler, the deer are moving more. Yeah. They’re hungry, too. They’re hungry, too. All right, next
question is from Thomas. “I drive a 2013 Ford Flex”– Jen, this question
is here for you– “and it’s almost time for me
to purchase a new vehicle. I have loved the Flex more
than any other modern vehicle I’ve ever owned. It’s roomy and has the
ability to carry five adults. I’d buy a 2020 Flex, but
it’s being discontinued. What would you suggest for me?” So Thomas is my friend. So finally. So totally– The kinship of the Flex. The kinship of the Flex
because everything he says. That car, unfortunately,
Thomas, for you, I don’t think anything
that’s like that exists. It was somewhat of
a unique vehicle– It was unique vehicle. So I kind of walked
through some homework. If you were truly, if five
adults were what you really needed, you’d be
looking at something like a Ford Expedition
or a Chevrolet Suburban. That’s the type of car that gets
you that comfortable roominess for five adults. Unfortunately, you’re
looking at about $70,000. And terrible fuel economy. You’re looking at 16
miles per gallon overall and a huge bulky vehicle. Come down. And again, I don’t know where
your preferences are, Thomas. I just know what you said
and what you and I like. Toyota Sienna. You’re talking about good
third row, 21 miles per gallon, super reliable, standard
safety, good price. I’m not sure a minivan is an
option for someone coming out of a Flex. OK, next step with
all of that said, things that appeal
to me like the Flex appealed to me and
Consumer Reports, I think I would say something
like the Subaru Ascent. Visibility, relatively
comfortable third row, 22 miles per gallon,
reliable, standard safety, Subaru Ascent as the
best replacement I could think of for the Ford Flex. What do you think? Any thoughts? Kia Telluride. Or Kia Telluride, right. So the Flex was great because
it was easy to get in and out. It’s a unique vehicle, kind
of low wagon-ish thing. The Telluride, it’s
got a roomy backseat. We loved it. I love that car. I think that’s a fantastic car. It’s really well-appointed. Yeah. Great value. Yeah. All kinds of goodies in it. It’s one of those sad times when
your favorite car disappears. Yes. Sad. Unfortunately,
that’s how it goes. It’s sad. But I’d go with the Ascent, too. I mean, there’s plenty
of room in that. Look at those. Look at those. I’d say wild card, Ford
Transit Connect’s passengers, passenger version. Low to the ground. That is a wild card. That’s a wild card, all right. Yeah. That was not on my list. No, no. Robert from Texas
has a question. “I’m retiring soon, and I’ll
be paying cash for a new SUV. Should I let heavy
factory incentives on a particular model
sway my decision? I have my eye on a Honda
CRV or a Subaru Forester”– which are both cars
that we recommend– “but I’ve seen massive cash
incentives on the Ford Edge.” Cash incentives,
what’s he talking here? You’ll see a dealer advertise
a car for, I don’t know, $8,000 $9,000 off of
its original price. It sounds very enticing
right off the bat. Something I’ve learned, a
quest for a car some years ago, that’s if you qualify
for a bunch of things, military discount,
schoolteacher. Good, good credit. Sometimes bad credit. I mean, some of
them are ridiculous. Right. You have to qualify, and that’s
if you qualify for all these. And the average person doesn’t
qualify for all of them. You’re not actually
getting that much off. There’s a little asterisk
after that $8,000. But there can still
be money saved. In the case of what
he’s looking at, I would never let the
incentives sway you towards a car that’s
not that great. Yeah, and sometimes
they put incentives on cars that are slow. The Ford Edge is actually
a really nice car. It may not be as reliable
as the CRV or a Forester or highly rated by us, but
I like the Ford Edge a lot. And you’re looking at three
great cars right there, I think. And to Ryan’s point, I
don’t think you should ever let cash incentives– they will never
make a subpar car great, but if you’re at
that tiebreaker point. And the other point here was the
Ford Edge is a mid-sized SUV. It’s a roomier car than the CRV. But with that, 22 miles
per gallon versus 28. Are you going to
eat some of that up in, again, cost of
ownership over time? Especially if you’re going to
be keeping it for a long time. Yeah. You have to really weigh that
out, actually go and see what incentives you’re going to get. Right. Actually get a number. Right. What do you qualify for? Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s incredible,
but I was all excited, I’m looking at this like,
$8,000 off a Silverado? No. Yeah. And sometimes the dealer
actually gets an incentive that they don’t tell you about. Yeah. And you can ask if they have
any incentives on the back end. So yeah, Robert– That’s their wiggle room
that you may not know about. Right. Exactly. Good luck, Robert. Yeah. Yep. We got time for one more. We got time for one more? All right, Augie
from San Francisco. “I’m starting a new job
in a couple of weeks, and I’ll have a much longer
commute than I’m used to. It’s 100 miles
round trip”– ugh– “and a mix of city
and highway driving. I currently drive a 2014
Volkswagen GLI with a manual. Would this car be good
for my new commute, or should I look
into something new? I’m looking at the Chevrolet
Volt, Honda Insight, or wild card Chevy Cruze
Diesel or Jaguar XE 20D Diesel. I’m an enthusiast, so driving
dynamics are important as well as good headlights
and advanced safety tech.” That’s a commute. Yeah, that’s– Oof. That’s a commute. Yeah. So when you rattled off
some of his choices, one of the things
I was thinking is the diesels are going
to excel in highway driving, the hybrids– the Volt, the
Insight– are going to excel in more stop-and-go
city driving and overall fuel economy. What is the mix? I mean, if it’s truly 50-50,
it’s not going to matter. But is it more highway? So that was one thought I had. The manual, if there’s
a lot of traffic, is that something he’s
going to want to do? You’re going to have a Popeye
the Sailor Man arm here and leg. But I also did say
the Jaguar XE for me would be out in terms of it’s
pretty low in reliability. I own one, and I bought
it because it’s– the diesel actually–
and I bought it because there are
incredible deals on it. And we get all sorts
of cars to drive here, I just needed something. And it was cheaper than– I looked at almost the
exact same list of cars as Augie here. Why am I talking? You should be. Well, because I’m telling
him to buy a Jaguar, and that’s not something
we’d ever otherwise do. But I get like 41 miles a gallon
on mostly highway driving. It does drop city. I haven’t had any issues with
mine, but a lot of other people have from the brand. Yeah. You can get an insanely
good deal on it. It’s been discontinued
for this year, so you’d have to get a used one. Also, there are plenty
still on dealer lots. And probably a good, like
you say, a good deal. But the same with the
Volt. I mean, honestly, if I had a place to plug in
and could do it over again, I might consider the Volt. Yep. I would consider that. The Insight probably
not on the list. What do you think? So I was never a hybrid or
plug in the wall kind of guy, but the GLI is a
fun car to drive. So he mentions handling
dynamics, and he has that car. The GLI is a blast. It really comes down to like
Jen said, what’s the split? Is it really 50/50 highway/city? Maybe he should just start your
commute with the GLI and see– That’s what I was going to say. I would try it for a
little bit and see– See what the traffic’s like. Yeah. See if your right arm
starts to develop. Because half of the enjoyment
for me would be in a long drive like that is, do I like
driving this thing? Is this fun? Right. But you also have to think about
standard safety features, too. In stop-and-go
traffic, though, you’re going to have to
consider things that can make it easier and
safer, automatic emergency braking, easier adaptive cruise
control with traffic jam assist or sort of stop-and-go. So I’d say if the other thing
is that with all of these cars, I would try them out, test
driving them in a traffic jam. Absolutely. Right. In a traffic jam. Because some cars have very
different personalities depending upon where you are. Give it a couple months with
the GLI and then see, then see. And then these other cars will
be just that much cheaper. Right, including the Jaguar. I’ll sell you mine. It’s off lease in a year. So that’s about all
the time we’ve got. Thanks for your questions. You can keep sending them
to [email protected] We talked about a lot of stuff. If you want to
learn more about it, we have articles on almost
every topic and every car that we mentioned today, so
check out the show notes. And thanks for
viewing, listening. We’ll talk to you soon. [MUSIC PLAYING]