DETROIT â€“Heavy Industries Ltd., maker of Subaru cars, kicks off a new product barrage with mid-cycle revisions to its core Legacy sedan and Outback wagon.
Unveiled at the North American International Auto Show here, the â€™08 Legacy and Outback models benefit from a host of improvements aimed at improving the aesthetics, refinement and performance of the auto makerâ€™s volume models.
Most improved is the Legacy, now offered in 3.0 R Limited trim and serving as the first Legacy model to feature a 6-cyl. engine.
Tom Doll, executive vice president-Subaru of America Inc., says the new 3.0 R model is the auto makerâ€™s flagship sedan, slotting above the base 2.5i, 2.5 GT Limited and the sport-tuned 2.5 GT spec.B.
However, the new modelâ€™s normally aspirated DOHC 3.0L flat-6-cyl., rated at 245 hp and 215 lb.-ft. (292 Nm) of torque, falls short of the 250 hp and 250 lb.-ft. (339 Nm) of torque produced by the performance-oriented turbocharged 2.5L flat-4-cyl. in the GT Limited and GT spec.B.
Technical highlights of the powertrain include Subaruâ€™s Active Valve Control and Active Valve Lift technologies, which help optimize power at all engine speeds, the auto maker says.
A 5-speed automatic transmission with improved shift quality is standard on the 3.0 R and optional on turbocharged models, with the spec.B continuing as the only version to be fitted with a 6-speed manual.
Doll declines to confirm if the 3.0 R will be offered with a manual transmission in the future.
Other highlights include new steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (automatic transmissions only) with rev-matching downshift capability; a Bilstein performance-tuned sport suspension, similar to the spec.B; and standard 18-in. alloy wheels.
Subaruâ€™s Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system is standard on all Legacy and Outback models, as are 4-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution.
Also standard is Subaruâ€™s 3-stage SI-DRIVE powertrain management system, which gives drivers a central control knob for adjusting the engine and transmission control units and electronic throttle for fuel economy, normal driving or performance.
Dynamically, the â€™08 Outback carries over largely unchanged, as the 3.0L 6-cyl. engine and most of the performance improvements were already offered on the â€™07 model.
Distinguishing the new â€™08 Legacy and Outback are revised exteriors featuring new front and rear fascias and sheetmetal, new headlight and taillight designs and a larger, more pronounced grille with a prominent chrome crossbar housing the Subaru emblem.
Six-cyl. models lose Subaruâ€™s characteristic hood scoop, which funnels air into the top-mount intercooler on turbocharged models.
Inside, all â€™08 Legacy and Outback models receive new instrument panels and revised interior fabrics, as well as a new telescoping steering column and integrated ignition key/remote entry units.
Electroluminescent gauges, previously only available on turbocharged models, now are available on 6-cyl. trims, Subaru says, with redesigned, multi-function steering wheels added to vehicles with premium packages.
Pricing for the new Legacy and Outback will be released closer to their early summer on-sale dates, Doll says, noting the auto maker intends to make several more new product announcements this year.
He declines to confirm any specifics, but media reports suggest an all-new 5-door Impreza small car is set to be released sometime this year.