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Living Legacy: What Is It About Subaru Legacy Throttle Tuning?

Sections: Powertrain

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2014 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited Photo Shoot 011

(Lyndon Johnson photo)

All cars’ throttles are tuned to respond to your right foot in a specific way. It’s part of the character of a car. The 2014 Subaru Legacy’s throttle? Quick! With an exclamation point!

Coming out of the 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid, with its relaxed throttle behavior — particularly in Eco mode — the Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited took quite a bit of getting used to during my first day in traffic with the little beast. Where the Avalon Hybrid required a hearty poke of the right foot to get moving from a stop if I wanted to avoid becoming a nuisance to traffic behind me at the light, the Legacy required a gentleman’s touch.

After half a day of snapping my neck back every time I took off from a stoplight, I finally started to get used to it. The 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine is not a powerhouse, in the traditional sense, making as it does 174 ft-lbs of torque at a middling 4,100 RPM and 173 horsepower and 5,600 RPM. Like all Subarus I’ve experienced (to include the yummy WRX Special Edition), the Legacy gave off an overall impression of lightness, and to its credit, it weighs in at 3,427 lbs. Compare that to the champion of lightness, the new Mazda6, at 3,232 lbs. The Legacy’s not doing too bad on weight, considering it’s carrying around Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.

I’ve driven another Legacy long ago — my Grandma and Grandpa owned a white 1994 Subaru Legacy that felt two size classes smaller than the Legacy 2.5i Limited I tested. But one thing that didn’t change over the years, apparently, was the snappy throttle response that was present in that little Legacy and today’s somewhat larger one.

I don’t know how Subaru does it. Maybe back in the days of cable-operated throttles on EVERY car, the secret was a more aggressive cam or spring setup for pulling the throttle open at a faster rate. With the electronically controlled throttles of today, I’d imagine it could be as simple as reprogramming the throttle mapping in the car’s nerve center. I know not how the Subaru Snap was accomplished then or now, but one thing’s for sure: Once I’m used to it, I really quite enjoy the gusto around town and on the highway.

Disclosure: Subaru provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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  • Brett

    I love when you have the ability to dive deep into a subject. So many of my friends make vehicle purchases on aggressive throttle response “because the car goes faster. It has great pickup.” It’s too hard to explain it to them. Maybe there was a Subaru consumer focus group back in the 80s that determined the general public’s optimal throttle response for all models moving foward.