- Sporty, elegant new look
- Quieter cabin
- Available EyeSight active-safety systems
- Tablet-style infotainment controls
- Reputation for reliability
- Where are the manuals, and the GT?
- A look that's evolutionary
- With either engine, acceleration is average
The 2015 Subaru Legacy smooths over its ruffles, and out-domestics some American family sedans with a big back seat, excellent gas mileage and standard all-wheel drive.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy is no niche vehicle. You may not have put it in the same thought bubble as the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, or Ford Fusion--but now, you should.
We have. The Car Connection has named the Legacy our Best Car To Buy 2015.
It's taken a decade or so, but Subaru's gradual upsizing and mainstreaming of its cars has paid off impressively in the new Legacy. The company that once brought you offbeat cars like the Baja and SVX now has a legitimate leader in the brutally competitive family-sedan class.
The new Legacy is more conventionally handsome and appealing than a Camry, a Malibu, a 200 or a Passat. It's 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.
The Legacy is Subaru's flagship car, but it acts more like an Avalon than a Lexus LS. It's not too large, not too frilly, not at all pretentious. It blends in purposefully with its surroundings: witness the six-sided grille, the granite countertop of the modern family car. It's a subtle social signal that's everywhere, from the Fusion to the Hyundai Genesis.
The Legacy's cabin shifts in lockstep with the sheetmetal toward a handsome, functional median. It's a clean, easily readable design with a band of metallic or woodgrain trim that distinguishes upper-trim levels from base versions.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy is one sedan we'd have expected to drop its optional six-cylinder engine--given Subaru's great turbo fours. That's not the case, though we'd still suggest the four-cylinder still is the bargain that smart shoppers will seek. Legacy 2.5i sedans are powered by a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder that needs to be worked hard when more than just a driver is aboard, but good sound deadening filters off a lot of the byproduct. Legacy 3.6R sedans come with a 256-hp 3.6-liter flat-six engine, which isn't as strong or responsive as we'd like. In part, it's because the Legacy puts smoothness first: it blends ratios seamlessly, steers without any hiccups in its electric-generated effort, and damps out rough roads with real grace.
Gas mileage is excellent. Legacy four-cylinders now are rated at 30 mpg combined, the best in a smaller niche of family sedans with all-wheel drive. Still, its 36-mpg highway rating is up there with the 37-mpg Altima. The six-cylinder's less impressive, at 23 mpg combined.
By dialing up the Legacy's width and wheelbase, Subaru's found more interior space than any other mid-sizer--a technical distinction maybe, but a great use of space nonetheless. The Legacy has 119.6 cubic feet of passenger and trunk space, which slides in just beneath the Feds' 120-cubic-foot definition of a "large" car. Front-seat space is great, but the seats need a lot of incline to provide leg support. The back seat's space is better arranged than all its competition save for the Accord, and trunk space is good, as is in-car storage.
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 -- as well as five stars in every category and subcategory of testing from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It's one of the few models we give a perfect '10' to in Safety.
Among other features, the Legacy's new infotainment system wipes Subaru's slate clean. We've spent a lot of time with their former system; it's poorly thought out and difficult to use. The new system comes at least 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. It behaves a lot like GM's MyLink and IntelliLink systems, down to the ability to set favorites across any media, from Bluetooth streaming to AM to XM favorites. The stock system also includes an iPod/USB port, HD radio, an auxiliary input, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, and integration for Pandora and Aha streaming services.
Finally, pricing is giving buyers something to consider, too--the Legacy's $22,420 base sticker is spot-on, especially with its standard rearview camera and Bluetooth with audio streaming. The $30,390 3.6R is very well equipped, though we're not sure anything more than a mid-range four-cylinder is all Subaru fans will need.
With a little stretch here and a reimagined bit there, the Legacy feels primed for the big time. It's a bit larger where it needs to be, a lot more muted where it has to be, and it's full of features in a way Subaru is really just getting the hang of. In all, we think that makes the Legacy a Nissan Altima equivalent, a legitimate Honda Accord alternative, a sublime counterpoint to the engaging but jiggly Ford Fusion. The latter two duked it out for our Best Car To Buy 2013 title, with the Fusion the winner.