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Cars of Summer: The Subaru Legacy Goes Camping

For most people, summer is driving season -- day trips, road trips, drives to the beach, festivals, fairs, visiting friends and commuting in the bright sunshine. This summer, U.S. News is putting the cars we test through their summer paces and giving you tips and advice for making the most of your summer driving. In this installment, the Subaru Legacy heads to the country for a weekend camping trip.

On a recent camping, canoeing and kayaking trip on the Shenandoah River in northern Virginia, my fully-loaded test 2011 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited proved that it is more than just a pretty face.

With the back seat full with our gear, we had plenty of leg room in the front.

When my cousin Nikki saw the Legacy, she said, “I didn’t realize we were taking a luxury car camping with us.” The Subaru Legacy had plenty of bells and whistles. Its V6 engine proved to be good for both city driving and weekend trips off the beaten path, which is what Subarus are known for.

We didn’t know if we’d be able to fit all our camping gear in the Legacy since it’s only a midsize sedan and not an SUV or wagon, but all our gear fit. As we drove further into the wilderness, we noticed a quirk about the Legacy: its headlights are awful for driving at night. They give you an uneven horizontal line that spreads across the trees and road. Additionally, the beams were aimed so low that it made it difficult to see deer or an upcoming turn in the road. We had to put the high beams on most of the time, which over-compensated for the low beams by lighting up the entire town.

Upon arrival at our campsite on an old man’s farm, we saw that the only way to get to the site was to cross a shallow stream. I was a little nervous. “It’s really shallow,” he said. “You’ll be fine. Just keep going once you start crossing it.”

This was the perfect opportunity to test the Subaru Legacy’s all-wheel drive capabilities. After seeing a Toyota Prius cross the creek, I knew the Legacy would take the stream like a champ. And it did. Once we started going, I barely had to touch the gas to power it through the creek. Even though it was low to the ground, there was plenty of clearance to get through. Afterward, I realized the stream was the equivalent of driving through a big puddle after a heavy rain storm. It was nowhere near as treacherous as it looked.

Overall, the Subaru Legacy is powerful enough for city driving and its capable all-wheel drive system makes it ideal for weekend camping trips.

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