While past Legacy models (see the reveal at the Chicago Auto Show) may have felt a little bargain basement in their interiors, the new Legacy eradicates any hint of that and takes full dead-on aim at the segment leaders, Toyota’s Camry, Honda’s Accord and Ford’s Fusion.
What Legacy lacks in styling it makes up in quality feel, good interior design and performance. My Venetian Red Pearl (metallic red) test car was the top-end 3.6R Limited. Outside of an option or two, Legacy doesn’t get any better than this.
First, that number means it comes with Subaru’s strong 3.6-liter boxer 6-cylinder engine that generates 256 horsepower and 247 lb.-ft. of torque. The boxer, which is a flat engine that can be placed lower in the chassis for better balance, delivers heady power for getting on the freeway. Not sure about a boxer? Well, Porsche engines are of similar design!
Now linked with Subaru’s excellent Lineartronic (Subaru’s name) CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), the power is delivered smoothly, but with good low-end torque to get this luxurious sedan moving from a standing stop. Many CVTs lack low-end oomph, but that’s not a problem with Subaru’s LCVT.
Handling is good too, with a light feel, but a little play in the steering wheel. The car corners well though and the steering wheel play is mild, so Legacy is easy to control on highways. The all-wheel-drive system that comes standard on all Subaru’s except the BR-Z sports coupe helps give the car good traction and a feel that it’s on rails no matter the road conditions. I tested this on a couple rainy days and could not get the tires to lose grip even in some aggressive starts.
Ride is likewise well controlled and comfortable. The double wishbone suspension layout in back along with the car’s 108.3-inch wheelbase smoothes out our many area road imperfections. Railroad crossings are a minor jiggle to the car’s occupants.
Braking also is strong and there’s both traction and stability control along with a lane departure warning system that beeps at you when you start to cross the center or curb-side lane markers. IF you tire of its beeps, you can hold the dash button down for about 5 seconds and it will disengage until you shut the car off. It automatically engages each time the car is started.
Legacy’s performance is strong and its EPA gas rating is a reasonable 20 mpg city and 29 highway. But I didn’t fare as well. In about 70% city driving I managed just 19.6 miles per gallon, a bit disappointing.
However, what I experienced inside the car made up for that shortcoming and puts Legacy on a par with most entry-level luxury sedans. Legacy is extremely quiet inside and roomy enough for five adults with a couple inches more legroom. Plus the Subaru’s dash is attractive and conveniently laid out, and this top-level Legacy is loaded with features.
Seats are well contoured with especially good back support and the driver’s seat has a power lumbar adjustment. Rear seats also are comfortable with generous head and legroom. The test car’s seats and dash were dark gray, with the front seats having three heat settings. The rear seats also are heated, part of the tested 3.6R Limited model’s standard features. Other standard items include perforated leather seats, two-position driver’s side seat memory and a rockin’ 576-watt harman/kardon audio system with 12 speakers.
The Limited also comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear cross-traffic alert system, Lane Change Assist and blind-spot warning system, along with bright HID headlights. I love the blind-spot system because it lights up in the mirrors, but doesn’t beep at you as loudly as most others do. The lane wandering system, I feel, is less useful, but the back-up camera that helps watch for cross traffic is a plus.
The test car also had a dynamic cruise control system to help you watch down the road and slow the car to allow for cars pulling into your lane and slow-moving vehicles. This is part of the Subaru’s new EyeSight driver assist system to help brake the car if a possible collision is detected. When the sensors pick up an obstruction in your lane, a light flashes and a warning sounds. The system also includes steering responsive fog lights that help you look around corners at night.
A moonroof package was added to the review model at $2,990, including the power moonroof, keyless remote, push-button start and a navigation system.
As for styling, the test car’s gray leather dash included dark wood-look trim, which extended to the doors. All gauges and the lower center stack and console feature a matte silver trim and main gauges in front of the driver include blue rings that glow to illuminate them at night – very easy on the eyes. Everything is logically located too and there’s a large radio/nav touchscreen mid center stack. Everything is easy to use, the screen being glossy black with buttons that light up on either side of it, plus moderately sized volume and tuning knobs. Climate controls below the screen are large and simple to figure out too.
I have no interior complaints, but wish the car’s exterior could exude a little more style and personality. Even Toyota has figured this out for its Camry. To me the Legacy still looks a little too pedestrian. It blends in visually while it stands out in performance and interior elegance.
The base 2.5i model with boxer 4-cylinder that delivers a healthy 175 horses starts at $22,490. It too has the smooth LCVT and delivers a more impressive 26 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, according to the EPA. The tested Limited with boxer 6 starts at $29,595 and with $795 delivery ends up at $33,380 with its one option package.
Even at that I consider Legacy a loaded bargain, a car with oodles of the tech goodies folks apparently want, at a modest price. Plus AWD is standard.
FAST Stats: 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Ltd.
Hits: Roomy sedan with luxury look/feel interior, good handling and ride, powerful engine and smooth LCVT tranny, plus AWD. Big trunk, blind-spot warning system, heated front/rear seats, rockin’ stereo, comfy seats and attractive dash. A loaded bargain.
Misses: Exterior too vanilla still, blends into mid-size crowd.
Made in: Lafayette, Ind.
Engine: 3.6-liter Boxer 6, 256 hp
Transmission: 6-speed LCVT
Weight: 3,662 lbs.
Wheelbase: 108.3 in.
Length: 188.8 in.
Cargo: 15.0 cu.ft.
MPG: 20/29 (EPA)
MPG: 19.6 (tested)
Base Price: $29,595
Dealer’s Price: $28,534
Moonroof package (moonroof, keyless access, push-button start, navigation), $2,990
Test vehicle: $33,380
Sources: Subaru, http://www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage