Subaru Legacy Vs. Honda Accord

March 27, 2015
2015 Honda Accord Hybrid

2015 Honda Accord Hybrid

If your aim is to buy one of the best designed, best engineered, most fuel-efficient mid-size sedans on the market, then the Honda Accord and Subaru Legacy are two of our top-rated sedans here at The Car Connection.

These are two models you shouldn’t miss as a sedan shopper. Both offer families—and comfort-minded commuters—a spacious interior, comfortable ride, and certainly, far more in-cabin amenities and safety technology than they’ve had in previous years.

Subaru’s Legacy, has undergone quite a remake, and in the not-too-distant past it was far more of a niche model against the Accord. But starting with its upsizing for 2010, then fully realized with its its more detail-minded full redesign this model year, the Legacy is now aimed at the mainstream.

To cast a critical eye on these sedans’ designs: The Legacy is handsome and very well-styled inside, with great attention to materials and trims, although we think that on the outside the Honda Accord’s return to a more upright look and somewhat lowered beltline make it the better-proportioned of the two. It’s mostly a draw in the styling department, although we think the Accord has a slight edge.

Both of these sedans offer a choice between four- or six-cylinder engines, and the most popular powertrains in the lineup include continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVTs). But there are lots of differences. All Legacy models include all-wheel drive, and that can be a big advantage for those in very snowy climates or poor road conditions. On the other hand, the Accord is offered in a high-mileage Accord Hybrid version (or even a Plug-In Hybrid) that achieves 50 mpg city, 45 highway.

Across both of these lineups, we’d characterize performance for the Accord and Legacy as being somewhat sporty in some versions but confidence-inspiring and perky enough in all variants. Base engines are about equivalent—a 175-hp, 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (‘flat’) four in the Legacy, or a 185-hp (or 189-hp) 2.4-liter four in the Accord. Although the Accord offers a somewhat more engaging driving experience in its Sport version, where you can also get a manual gearbox. Accord V-6 versions sub in a smooth 278-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, while the Legacy offers a 256-hp, 3.6-liter six; in both cases, these engines add a bit to perceived refinement and highway-passing ability, but they really aren’t necessary in these sedans. We’d call the Honda Accord out as having a slight edge in performance—because of its somewhat crisper handling and better-weighted steering—although with the Legacy’s excellent AWD system and great control it’s also a tie.

Comfort-wise, these two models are essentially tied as well. The Legacy offers a little more length and wheelbase than last year’s model, and with seating reconfigured it’s really a very roomy cabin now. The interior feels rather American, with its large center console and well-cushioned back seat; trunk space is abundant, and the seatbacks fold easily, too. Better yet, Subaru’s added more sound insulation, new engine mounts, and thicker panels, so the Legacy advanced by leaps and bounds in terms of sophistication and refinement. The Accord accomplishes all of this as well, with a very roomy interior and a nice, upright driving position. Active Noise Control technology helps keep the cabin quiet, although V-6 models especially can be a little harsher-riding. The only odd packaging decision on Honda’s part is that the Accord doesn’t have a split-folding back seat.

If safety is the priority, you’ll be challenged to find anything better than the Legacy in a modestly priced sedan. It’s earned nothing but top results, in every single subcategory. We also appreciate how Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driver-assistance safety technology is available on most of the model line, as a low-cost option. As for the Accord, it gets mostly great safety ratings, although its active-safety package isn’t as widely available. We do see a lot of merit in the Accord’s LaneWatch side-view system, however.

In the past, Subaru and Honda both used to have reputations for stinting on standard features in their base models; but that’s no longer the case. Even in base Accord LX models you get dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels, and enhanced connectivity for Pandora and text messaging; in that and in the base Legacy 2.5i you’ll also find a rearview camera system and full power accessories. Subaru’s infotainment system has been updated this year and is at last reasonably good, wrapping in a recongifurable display as part of the gauge cluster in some models. Top Legacy 3.6R Limited models are plush, with soft leather, an available moonroof, and HID headlamps; it’s a big lower-priced than top Accord EX-L V-6 models, which get LED projector headlamps and upgraded audio.

So which one of these mid-size sedans is the better pick? The Subaru Legacy’s pronounced advantage in safety, combined with its slight edge in features and value, have allowed it to nose ahead of the Accord in our ratings. But with the Accord’s cohesive design, great handling, and available Hybrid powertrain, there are plenty of reasons the Accord could be the stronger pick for you.

Summary

8.8
Expert Rating
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.
8.6
Expert Rating
The 2015 Honda Accord is sensible, smart, and frugal, in nearly every way; but it's also surprisingly fun to drive.

Styling

8.0
Expert Rating
No surprises here: the Subaru Legacy has the six-sided grille and the silhouette of a handsome mainstream sedan.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The 2015 Honda Accord manages to maximize space inside, all while maintaining a classy, well-proportioned look on the outside.
Read More

Performance

8.0
Expert Rating
Acceleration isn't everything: the beautifully balanced Legacy pays a higher dividend with its capable handling.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
Crisp handling, and responsive yet fuel-stingy powertrains adds up to an Accord family that's as confident as ever.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

9.0
Expert Rating
The Legacy has excellent space for five passengers, and a high-quality feel inside its quiet cabin.
Read More
9.0
Expert Rating
Mid-size sedan shoppers on a budget will find everything they want in the 2015 Honda Accord—including a more premium ambience.
Read More

Safety

10
Expert Rating
The Legacy has pegged the Top Safety Pick+ meter, and it's a perfect five-star NHTSA performer.
Read More
9.0
Expert Rating
Crash-test ratings are better than those any other affordable mid-size sedan; factor in the available active safety features, and LaneWatch, and the 2015 Accord definitely makes the safety shortlist..
Read More

Features

9.0
Expert Rating
A big infotainment upgrade and standard all-wheel drive give the Legacy a great edge, especially in base versions.
Read More
9.0
Expert Rating
Top Touring models are more like luxury sedans in look and feel; meanwhile Accord LX and EX trims are now high-value delights.
Read More

Fuel Economy

8.0
Expert Rating
A combined EPA rating of 30 mpg for the four-cylinder Legacy puts this Subaru near the top of the segment.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
Whether you go with the four-cylinder model or the V-6, EPA ratings and real-world mileage are impressive.
Read More

MSRP

from $21,695
from $22,105

Invoice

from $20,487
from $20,236

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

30
27

Engine

Regular Unleaded H-4, 2.5 L
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.4 L

Drivetrain

All Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Compare Free Dealer Price Quote
With competitive price quotes from multiple dealers, you will be prepared when you meet your local car dealer. Please tell us how to contact you so that dealers can compete for your business!
Search Dealers by ZIP Code
Update ZIP Code
2015 Subaru Legacy
2015 Honda Accord Sedan
Looking for dealers in your area...
Powered By
We are committed to your privacy. By submitting this form you agree the phone number you provided may be used to contact you (including text, autodialed or pre-recorded calls). Consent is not a condition of purchase.
2019
The Car Connection
See the winners »
2019
The Car Connection
 
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
Related Head to Head
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.