The Subaru Legacy has become the forgotten family sedan. Currently, the Legacy is outsold by every other mainstream mid-sizer on the market. To gain some insight as to why, Subaru went straight to customers and found the key issues with the car were its exterior styling, interior quality and lackluster infotainment system.
Beginning with the exterior, the new Legacy is finally wrapped in contemporary sheet metal. It isn’t exactly gorgeous or cutting edge, but it is as modern as most other mid-size sedans on the market. Riding on the same size wheelbase, the Legacy has grown slightly and now features a choice of 17- or 18-inches wheels. Like the Impreza and XV Crosstrek, the Legacy’s side-view mirrors are installed on doors to improve visibility. All models feature LED rear tail lamps while the top-of-the-line 3.6R Limited version receives HID low-beam headlights.
With a bigger exterior comes a larger interior. In fact, Subaru claims it’s the largest interior based on total passenger volume in the mid-size sedan segment. The trunk has been enlarged to 15 cubic feet and rear seat legroom has grown to 38.1 inches. Up front we found the seats to be very comfortable and easy to adjust. Although not the best in class, the dashboard looks modern and at least competitive. It is finished in soft touch materials and features Subaru’s new infotainment unit loaded with Starlink smartphone integration software and a rear view camera.Standard in the Legacy is a 6.2-inch touchscreen with an optional larger seven-inch display. As much as we appreciate the new infotainment system, we found it slow to respond much like MyFord Touch. Like all Subarus lately, an optional Harman/Kardon stereo system is available, packing 576-watts through 12 speakers.
Power for the Legacy continues to come from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and 3.6-liter six-cylinder. Although the flat-six is essentially a carryover unit making 256 HP and 247 lb-ft of torque, the four banger has received substantial updates. Now making 175 HP and 174 lb-ft of torque, the 2.5-liter is lighter, more efficient and quieter. Best of all, it sounds far more pleasant. The tractor-like noises that plagued virtually all non-turbocharged Subaru four-cylinder engines is absent in the Legacy. For 2015, all Legacy models now come standard with a Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission, including the six-cylinder. Subaru has been refining its CVT and the work is paying off. Simulated “gear changes” have been programmed so when a driver moderately accelerates, six steps occur to mimic gears. If anything we felt the throttle tip-in was way to sensitive in day to day driving, but at least it felt responsive.
The new Legacy is riddled with advance safety technology. Rear vehicle detection is available along with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist. The latter uses a set of radars installed behind the rear bumper to calculate the closing speeds of vehicles in neighboring lanes. This can warn the driver if a car is approaching their blind spot before actually entering it. Of course the latest version of Subaru’s EyeSight technology is available and is still one of our favorite adaptive cruise control systems. As we discovered in a torrential downpour though, it will not operate during monsoon-like conditions. It turns out if our eyes can’t see the road ahead, neither can EyeSight’s cameras.
Another stigma Subaru wants to eliminate with the new Legacy is that just because it has standard all-wheel drive doesn’t mean it’s less fuel efficient. For 2015, four-cylinder models are rated at 26 MPG city and 36 MPG highway. Those numbers match the most efficient front-wheel drive Ford Fusion and actually beat the Toyota Camry. With the addition of the CVT, the six-cylinder’s fuel economy numbers are no longer pathetic and register at 20 MPG city and 29 MPG highway. Subaru has performed quite the magic trick with the Legacy.
Here is a car that offers AWD without any of the usual sacrifices made to fuel economy, price or trunk space. The fact the Legacy has all-wheel drive is almost an afterthought now as it’s so competitive in the mid-size sedan market as a whole. Subaru doesn’t need to rely on the AWD crutch to sell the car anymore. This sixth generation model should reverse the Legacy’s declining sales trend and may be enough to return it to its high-selling glory days. Even with standard all-wheel drive, the Legacy begins at $22,790 after destination charges while the top-of-the-line Legacy 3.6R Limited begins at a mere $30,390. So if a family sedan with AWD, reliability and safety are what you need, definitely have a look at the Subaru Legacy.