By Steve & Tamami Laser
When we think of affordable midsize four-door sedans, best sellers like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima come to mind. Why isn’t the Subaru Legacy on our list? Subaru’s sales are up dramatically yet its most popular cars are wagons – the Outback, Forester and XV Crosstrek. We tested all three of these and enjoyed them a lot.
The Legacy wasn’t on our radar screen until Subaru put us behind the wheel of the improved 2015 model for a week. And now we can’t stop thinking about it. Legacy is redesigned this year, riding on a new platform while gaining sleeker and more sophisticated styling.
There’s a new fascia up front sporting a hexagonal grille that reminds us of the Outback. The side profile is more curvaceous with a sloping roofline and pronounced side character lines while the rear view looks more substantial. The result is a more appealing sedan from every angle.
While the Legacy is about an inch longer and an inch wider, it gains a larger interior and more cargo space. The windshield has been pulled forward about two inches at the base and front seating hip points are higher providing the feeling of increased spaciousness.
Subaru says interior volume is increased to best-in-midsize sedan levels at 104.6 cubic feet while trunk space is now a generous 15.0 cubic feet. New front seat cushion airbags are designed to keep occupants in place during frontal collisions and bring total airbag count to eight.
What really makes Legacy stand out from the midsize pack is its unique powertrain. Under the hood of our 2.5i Premium test car was Subaru’s improved 2.5-liter 4-cylidner Boxer engine. The double-overhead-cam FB series engine receives several changes to reduce weight, improve efficiency and lower noise.
Power is increased a bit to 175 horses from 173 last year. Peak torque remains at 174 lb.-ft. but is spread over a broader engine speed range for better response. The Boxer is teamed with a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (the manual gearbox is discontinued). All models have Incline Start Assist and an electronic Hill Holder System that holds the car in place until the driver applies the throttle.
Our test car, and all Legacy models, are fitted with a refined version of Active Torque Split Symmetrical All-wheel Drive. An electronically controlled continuously variable transfer clutch controls torque distribution in response to driving conditions and wheel slippage. Combine the low-profile Boxer engine with the excellent traction of AWD and this midsize sedan is fun to drive.
We drove the Legacy on the most challenging roads in our neck of the woods including the tight hairpin curves and changes in elevation of Palos Verdes Drive East, the undulating surface of the Portuguese Bend landslide area and the big higher-speed sweepers of lower Hawthorne Boulevard. These roads are located on the scenic Palos Verdes Peninsula about 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles offering spectacular ocean views.
Legacy stuck to the pavement like a rally car, providing excellent handling, no detectable torque steer and responsive steering. For those who need a midsize sedan but don’t want to abandon the joy of driving, Legacy remains a top choice. The 2.5i also gains larger brakes previously available on the 3.6R 6-cylinder model, while all now have ventilated rear discs instead of solid discs.
The instrument panel features two binocular-style gauge pods with a center LCD information display (3.5-inches on cars without the EyeSight driver-assist system and 5.0-inches on EyeSight cars). Our Legacy had the latest version of EyeSight that uses stereo camera technology and integrates Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning. It also has new steering-responsive fog lights that activates the left or right beam individually for better illumination in the direction of a turn at night.
Legacy’s new interior has soft-touch materials that give it a more premium feel. In all models, an ECO gauge promotes fuel-efficient driving habits using color bars. The Premium and Limited trims feature gauges with elegant blue ring illumination. Our tester had a standard 10-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, heated seats and mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer.
The upgraded infotainment system in our test car included six-speaker audio, seven-inch touchscreen display, SiriusXM® satellite radio, SMS text messaging, iTunes® tagging capability and dual USB ports. Subaru Starlink smartphone integration features Aha™, Pandora® and iHeart® radio, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth® audio streaming.
For all the high-tech gear on this car, we think the Legacy is quite a bargain. Our test car started out with a base price of $23,495 including AWD. Option packages added a moonroof, the navigation system, EyeSight, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, PZEV emissions and destination for a bottom line of $27,480.
Those on tighter budgets will be glad to learn that Legacy 2.5i starts out at just $22,490 including AWD. The top-line 3.6R Limited features Subaru’s more powerful 6-cylinder Boxer engine with an MSRP of $30,390. So if you’re in the market for a midsize sedan and you’re looking for a car that’s fun to drive, including standard four-season traction, be sure to check out the 2015 Subaru Legacy.
For more information about the Legacy visit Subaru.com or your Subaru dealer.
2015 Subaru Legacy press fleet vehicle provided by Subaru of America. (Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. All information including prices, features and specifications is subject to change without notice by the automaker.)
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