• May 24, 2010
2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT - Click above for high-res image gallery

After spending a week circumnavigating the country in a pair of BMW sedans on One Lap of America a couple of weeks back, you might think that the drive home to Detroit from South Bend would've been a bit of a disappointment. On the contrary, we were glad to see our long-term 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT, and have been so every day since then. Not that we didn't enjoy the 550i (2010 model) or remember why we absolutely love the 335d, but there's a lot to be said for simplicity over unnecessary complication.

For one, the cruise control switchgear on the steering wheel spoke in the Subie is infinitely easier to use than the hidden stalk on the Bimmers. The Legacy's arrangement is a model of ergonomic excellence, whereas the BMW necessitated that we give step-by-step how-to directions to our co-drivers from the back seat. Repeatedly.

And don't even get us started on the differences in navigation systems. While the 2.5GT's is far from perfect, its touchscreen is still much easier to negotiate than either of the two generations of iDrive we experienced in the BMWs – much improved though they are. We do wish that higher functions (address entry, etc.) could be accessed on the move – at least when there is more than one person in the car. Why can't automakers learn that this safety 'feature' should have an automatic override tied to the passenger seat weight sensor that's already there to govern airbag deployment?

Did we mention how much we like the utterly intuitive dual-zone HVAC controls? Crisp display, a couple of rockers and a handful of buttons – it's simplicity itself.

One area where our Subaru is arguably oversimplified is with its sunroof controls: It has two single-function switches – one for tilt, and one for slide open/close. Unless it's a small cost win, we can't see why there isn't a unified dual function switch as on most other cars. At least they are differentiated in look and feel for less fumbling about.





Photos by Chris Paukert / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I find all of this very interesting...which means I need to get a life. So I'm going to stop right now and get one...at least for today.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am jealous of those sun roof controls on your Legacy because in my RAV4 it only has one button to do all three jobs, tilt, open, and close. It is a '08 and it is the most frustrating piece of equipment ever. What you do it if you tilt the sunroof and then want to close it, you have to push the open side of the switch but since there is no 'close' feature you just end up opening the sunroof. On the other hand, our Accord has a button for all three all placed nicely together.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Have you all been paid to talk about this sedan just about every day? What's up.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I prefer the cruse control switches on the old GM cars. You press the end of the turn-signal stalk to set, you press the switch on the front of stalk to resume, and you switch the resume switch the opposite direction to turn it off.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can completely identify with this. I recently "stepped down" from a Saab 9-3 convertible to an '05 MAZDA3 hatch as my daily driver. The straight-forward controls are a pure joy to use, most notably the manual three-knob climate control. Knobs in general, are a welcome return. I miss the trip computer, but only because I recently spent $400 getting the Saab's LCD panel to display anything coherent. I still have the Saab around, but I think I'm really going to like driving this Mazda for a long time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      WTF is with the safety features anymore, seriously! By the same logic the driver should not be able to adjust the radio, seat, mirrors or anything else other than a shifter and steering wheel while driving. Just display a warning message on the screen saying you are responsible for your own stupidity and get on with it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Frankly, because they are also responsible for the safety of those around them, you know, the responsible people they hit and injure because of their stupidity.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If the cruise control stalk that you are talking about is the same as the one in my Z4 2005 which is the simplest cruise control there is. Press forward to set/+, Pull back to slow down, and up or down to cancel. No dang button to turn the dang thing on required!!!!!!!!! Plus it is right at you figure tips no need to look down at the buttons on the steering wheel.

      Chad
        • 4 Years Ago
        But, I will agree with BrainM that the NAV systems nannies get in the way

        Also the iDrive system are way to complicated.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Shush Chad. You own a BMW and your name is Chad, so you've pretty much lost the right to an opinion right there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Most intuitive controls in my experience were the 90s and early 2000-2005 Chrylsers. For all the ribbing of interior materials Chrylser gets in the media, their controls are a work of genius. On the '98 minivan, '99 Jeep I had and the '04 Jeep I now have, the cruise control buttons were similar to Subarus, but much larger with braille-like textures on the upper portions of the buttons for "on" (left side of steering wheel) and "resume/accelerate" (right side of steering wheel), and concave indentations on the bottom portions of the buttons for "set" (left side) and "coast/decelerate" (right side), and a raised button in the middle of the right side buttons for "cancel." I could operate them without looking at all -- the buttons naturally fell under your thumbs. (And I'm well aware of that less-convenient stalk they were required to use in some models under Daimler's reign, and continue to use today.)

      Additionally, they continue to not only keep the stereo controls simple, but keep the units in a "universal" rectangular shape to allow selection of aftermarket units to be easily installed if one chooses. With shapes and arrangements unique to virtually every manufacturer these days, I can't see how it is possible to allow convenient fit of aftermarket choices.

      Finally -- and the real stroke of genius -- the "behind the steering wheel" remote stereo controls on both sides of the steering wheel. Left: top - scan stations up; center button - switch programmed stations; bottom- scan stations down. Right: top- volume up; center button - switch modes (FM/AM/CD); bottom- volume down. After you learn what each of the 6 rocker-type buttons do, it becomes intuitive because 1) the buttons naturally fall under your index and middle fingers, and 2) you CANNOT SEE the buttons -- they are completely operated by feel and your eyes are continuously on the road. Thankfully they continue to use this arrangement on today's models, an arrangement that has repeatedly earned praise from Healey, the auto reviewer in USAToday, for its un-matched intuitiveness. Daimler tried to change it with the 300/Charger/Magnum models but Chrylser has held strong on all of the other models (thank goodness, again).
      • 4 Years Ago
      The best cruise control I have used is the Mercedes-Benz stalk to the left of the steering wheel. Very intuitive: slight click up and the cruise control is set. Another slight click and it increases in increments of 1mph. A big click upwards and it increases in increments of 5mph. The reverse is for decrease in speed. Pull on the stalk towards you and it resumes, push it away and it cancels.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Where is the temperature guage?
        • 4 Years Ago
        There ISN'T one! For some dumb reason, Subaru has eliminated the temperature gauge on its newer designs (Impreza and Legacy). They give you and idiot light or two instead.

        I've found the temp gauge to be very important on my cars since I live in the Arctic North. Also, on two of the 2.2 liters Subarus I've owned, an surprising thing happens on a really cold day. If the engine is idling and isn't completely warmed up, you can actually suck all the heat out of the engine by running the heater full tilt. It was 10 degrees F once and the temp gauge was halfway up to normal. I'm eating lunch with the heater going full blast. Over the course of 15 minutes the gauge dropped almost all the way down to the bottom.

        On the other hand, I twice towed 3000 lbs up hills with a '90 Legacy in 85 degree weather, A/C on, and the gauge didn't go past normal. THAT'S good engineering!
      offroaddisco
      • 4 Years Ago
      Are you kidding me? What's so confusing about push forward to go faster, pull back to slow down on the BMW? Yeah, I guess switches on the steering wheel that requires you look to see what it says and has dual purposes is much better - resume/set/+/- all on the same switch. And why a cruise button? Shouldn't that be set with the set switch?

      This reminds me of the stupid remote controls on cars with power tailgates that require you unlock the car via the fob before power opening the tailgate through the remote. Some things should be implied.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @offroaddisco
        off-road, by what logic are you using that BMW's layout doesn't require looking while the Subaru's does. I looked at the picture above once, I now know how to operate a Legacy's cruise control without looking.

        But yeah, the BMW system sounds great. Especially the part where autoblog suggested people needed to keep asking how it works...
        • 4 Years Ago
        @offroaddisco
        In response to :

        The cruise button arms or disarms the cruise system so you don't accidentally set cruise by bumping the +/-. It's the same thing on many other cars, whether they have a stalk or not, many cars have a cruise on/off button so that you can shut the system off and prevent yourself from accidentally setting a cruise speed.

        -- If you can accidentally set the cruise on your car then maybe the cruise buttons or in the wrong place. Two if you do accidentally set the cruise button then hit the cancel or the brakes to cancel it which would be a nature response. I would love to see all on/off buttons for cruise control to simple go away on all cars forever. If you some how accidentally set the cruise your nature response would not be to hit the off button.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @offroaddisco
        The cruise button arms or disarms the cruise system so you don't accidentally set cruise by bumping the +/-. It's the same thing on many other cars, whether they have a stalk or not, many cars have a cruise on/off button so that you can shut the system off and prevent yourself from accidentally setting a cruise speed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @offroaddisco
        As someone who has now owned 2 BMW's (1998 540i and a 2007 335i) and a couple of Subarus (2004 2.5XT Forrester and 1998 Outback), I've found the Subaru systems to be completely adequate and downright intuative. The first time I got into the 335i I started using the cruise control stalk to try to adjust the steering wheel position as it was in the exact same place as the 540i's steering wheel adjustment stalk. That is just poor execution really. Yes, once you read the manual the cruise control stalk is completely reasonable on the current BMW's, but the Subaru's are far more simple to use overall.

        And don't get me started on the turn signal stalk...
      • 4 Years Ago
      how much did Subaru pay autoblog? definitely way too much Legacy news lately.
        • 4 Years Ago
        How much did the National Association of Trolls pay you to post this comment?
        • 4 Years Ago
        It isn't press-realease news.

        It is updates on their long-term test car.

        That is what a long-term test car is about... updates on how the car does along the way.

        And as always, anyone can overlook any article they choose to.
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