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2015 Subaru Legacy - Review

 
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Quick Take
The 2015 Subaru Legacy steps out with a more sophisticated design, much-needed infotainment upgrades, and leading-edge active-safety features—with its winning all-wheel-drive formula carried over, of course. Read more »
N/A out of 10

The Basics:

The 2015 Subaru Legacy isn't exactly a niche sedan anymore; with the last-generation Legacy sedan (and the Outback crossover wagon with which it shares much of its running gear), Subaru offered up what was, to some, an irresistible combination of affordable all-wheel-drive roadholding, impressive safety, and an enviable reputation for reliability.

Will Subaru manage to pitch its all-new Legacy, introduced at the Chicago Auto Show, as a direct threat to mainstream front-wheel-drive sedans like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Ford Fusion—especially with more models, like the new 2015 Chrysler 200, offering all-wheel drive?

We'll have to reserve any answer to that for when we can get a closer look; but with a more attractive look, better gas mileage, a quieter ride, more active-safety features, and all-new infotainment, it looks like Subaru's setting out with a strong game.

Sleeker, more modern and contoured

On the outside, the new Legacy is by no means radical, but it takes a form that had been a bit frumpy and adds a little more modern flair and detail. The windshield is more raked than before, and pulled forward two inches at its base. In front, the look is serious and taut, with a larger grille and a more sculpted look to the lower bodywork. Meanwhile the sheetmetal alongside the Legacy looks like it's been coaxed and contoured, with the wheel wells and fenders looking smoother, complemented by a strong character crease running below the beltline and up to the rear lights. The Legacy, like the Impreza in its last major redesign a couple of years ago, gets a new mirror design that's set back (bringing improvements in aerodynamics and visibility), with smaller, fixed front windows replacing the area that used to be blacked-out by mirror housing.

Inside, the look is clean and sporty, with a horizontal shelf running across most of the dash; center-stack vents have been moved up to the top to accommodate the larger screen setup and, at least in the early pictures that have been released, the look is darker and more reserved.

Familiar boxer engines; even the six gets a CVT this time

What's powering the 2015 Legacy is quite familiar. Legacy 2.5i models are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder horizontally opposed ('flat' or 'boxer') four-cylinder engine that makes 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. Legacy 3.6R models instead come with a 3.6-liter flat-six engine, making 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque.

Even base models now have a version of the Lineartronic CVT that has a six-speed manual mode and steering-wheel paddle-shifters (it appears that the six-speed manual has been dropped). The last-generation 3.6R models had a five-speed automatic transmission, these models get a high-torque version of the CVT. Ventilated rear rotors have been added to the Legacy's four-wheel disc brakes, while a new advanced torque vectoring system is standard as well, supplementing the all-wheel drive system that is, of course, included in all models. Electric power assist steering has been added throughout the lineup.

2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i models now achieve 26 mpg city, 36 highway—which, Subaru says, results in the best combined rating (30 mpg) of any mid-size sedan with all-wheel drive. All Legacy 2.5i models will get an Active Grille Shutter system that cuts wind resistance when it's closed. There's also a new aluminum hood, which cuts overall weight.

A smidge more space and a lot more peace and quiet

Throughout the 2015 Subaru Legacy lineup, these sedans get a higher seating 'hip' point, with more supportive seats. Subaru calls the 2015 Legacy its roomiest ever, and says that it has the largest passenger cabin in the mid-size sedan segment. While the outside dimensions of the car are about the same as before (about 189 inches long), there have been minor gains in passenger space, and trunk space is up slightly, to 15.0 cubic feet. The rear seat has 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks in all versions (it's optional on the more affordable trims of some rival models).

The Legacy's ride has been made quieter and more refined, too, thanks to a new acoustic windshield, thicker panels, liquid-filled engine mounts, and more noise insulation throughout.

Adding to EyeSight with new active-safety features

The current Legacy has been a top performer in occupant protection and safety, and the new 2015 Legacy looks poised to add to Subaru's preeminence for affordable active-safety technology. A new EyeSight driver assistance system has improved camera performance, and active safety technology can include Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; these systems now include rear radar hardware. The Legacy also features—in addition to the usual array of airbags—new front seat-cushion bags that help hold occupants in place in a frontal collision. And new Steering-Responsive Foglights have been added to the list of options, aiding visibility around dark corners.

Finally getting serious about interfaces

After years of disappointment from technophiles and connected types, Subaru finally looks to have gotten the memo that infotainment systems matter. Even the base Legacy 2.5i now includes a system with a 6.2-inch multi-function touch display that permits tablet-style swiping and scrolling, as well as HD Radio, an iPod/USB port, an auxiliary input, a rear vision camera, Aha and Pandora app integration, and Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming. Models with the audio upgrade or nav system have two USB ports. And depending on which system you get, there's a separate reconfigurable display (up to five inches across) in front of the driver.

Premium models include an All-Weather Package (tri-mode heated seats, heated mirrors, and a wiper de-icer), dual-zone climate control, electroluminescent illumination, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver's seat, an overhead console, and upgraded infotainment and audio (text-messaging compatibility, satellite radio, and a 7-inch display). Limited models now include standard perforated leather upholstery, dual-mode heated rear seats, rear-seat air conditioning vents, a memory driver's seat, and twelve-speaker Harman Kardon audio. The 3.6R Limited adds HID low-beam headlights with LED tail and brake lights, and turn-signal mirrors.

Top options on the Limited include Keyless Access and Start, the EyeSight system, navigation, and a power moonroof.

 

Likes:

  • Sporty, elegant new look
  • Quieter cabin
  • Available EyeSight active-safety systems
  • Promising new tablet-like infotainment
  • Reputation for reliability

Dislikes:

  • Where are the manuals, and the GT?
  • A look that's evolutionary
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