New & Used Subaru Legacy: In Depth
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The Subaru Legacy is a mid-size sedan with standard all-wheel drive and a reputation for durability. It's offered with a choice between four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines, both coupled to a continuously variable transmission. The entry-level model is a great all-weather alternative to cars like the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry, while the flat-six sedan is a rival for the most powerful VW Passat.
Fuel economy ranges up to 30 mpg combined, and Subaru's new infotainment system and EyeSight driver-assistance systems are the main tech highlights of the new generation, which once again has a companion crossover wagon model, the Subaru Outback.
MORE: Read our 2015 Subaru Legacy review
The Legacy is almost as American as its domestic-branded competition, what with all U.S.-market models coming out of Subaru's factory in Lafayette, Indiana.
Going back a few generations, the 1995 model was a refresh of the original 1989; the 2000 and 2005 Legacys rode on a newer platform.The first Legacys were powered by a flat-four 2.2-liter engine, enlarged for 2000 to 2.5 liters. Turbocharged flat fours have come and gone in both the Legacy sedan and wagon and the more sporty Legacy GT model. In 2008, the 3.0-liter flat six that had been offered for several years in Outback wagons was finally added as a high-end Legacy option as well; that engine grew to 3.6 liters for 2010.
Legacy GT models--including rare Legacy GT wagons through 2009--used an intercooled and turbocharged performance version of the flat-four engine. In 2008, a limited-edition 'Spec B' model was offered. It was the first Subaru to offer SI-Drive, which allows the driver to select among three software profiles for throttle response and shift points: Normal, Sport, and Sport Sharp.
The fifth-generation Legacy sedan launched in 2010 with the carryover 2.5-liter engine from previous sedans. But for 2013, Subaru installed an all-new 2.5-liter flat four, which produced 173 hp across a broader, flatter torque curve and offered better fuel efficiency. With the company's own continuously variable transmission (CVT), it was rated at 27 mpg combined--quite respectable for a car that came with standard all-wheel drive, Subaru's hallmark since 1997. If you ordered the six-speed manual transmission (a rarity itself among mid-size sedans), the combined rating fell to 24 mpg. High-end Legacys continued unchanged with the 3.6-liter engine, delivering an unimpressive 20 mpg combined.
Also in 2010, the wagon was finally dropped from the Legacy line. Henceforth, all sedans on the platform have worn Legacy badges, while all wagons carry the renowned Outback nameplate.The new Subaru Legacy
The 2015 Subaru Legacy sedan makes a serious effort to establish itself in the family-sedan mainstream--and it succeeds. More conventionally handsome than a Camry, more spacious than a Malibu or a 200--in fact, the Legacy now is more spacious than the Accord, the Altima, and the Fusion. Add in good gas mileage and a recent run of great crash-test scores, and the Legacy now throws a few elbows of its own in the mid-size segment.
Two powertrains are available. Legacy 2.5i sedans get a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter four with acceptable power and great fuel economy of up to 30 mpg combined. Legacy 3.6R sedans come with a 256-hp 3.6-liter flat-six engine, which doesn't feel quite as strong as it might.There's more interior space in the new Legacy, just a hair less than the interior volume required to be called a large car. Trunk space is excellent, but seat support could be a little better, as has been the Subaru norm of late.
The Legacy has already earned top 'good' results in every category from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) -- and the Top Safety Pick+ award -- while results aren't out yet from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It also offers a forward-collision system dubbed EyeSight, which uses stereo cameras to intercede before accidents happen.
The new Legacy also marks the debut of a new infotainment system with a pretty 6.2-inch multi-function touchscreen, one that's controlled via big tiles and icons, and has swipe and tap gesture control. The Legacy also comes with standard Bluetooth and USB connectivity.