The 2015 Subaru Legacy midsize sedan has been completely redesigned with an eye toward delivering improved mileage, increased passenger comfort and additional safety features. All of this contributes to a much-improved sedan that should no longer remain restricted to the shopping lists of those who consider all-wheel drive a must-have feature.
What Is It?
The 2015 Subaru Legacy is a midsize family sedan with standard all-wheel drive. It's available with either a four- or six-cylinder engine, both of which come standard with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Although it has been fully redesigned this year, its dimensions remain similar to the outgoing car.
What's New About It?
Despite the fact that this Legacy has a similar look and feel to the outgoing model, there are several changes underneath the skin. Better packaging has opened up slightly more passenger and cargo room, while the interior itself has been given a thorough makeover. It now includes the addition of a more modern user interface that incorporates music apps, voice recognition and high-resolution screens for easier viewing.
Both of the available engines have been revised to improve efficiency and reduce noise levels, while Subaru's "Lineartronic" CVT is now standard on all models. The all-wheel-drive system now features "torque vectoring," which improves cornering performance by modulating the flow of power between the inside and outside wheels. For added safety, there's a new seat cushion airbag that helps prevent passengers from sliding under seatbelts, while new rear-facing radar is available to provide features like blind spot detection, lane change alert and cross-traffic warnings.
What Body Styles and Trim Levels Does It Come in?
There is only one four-door sedan body style for the Legacy. If you need additional cargo room, the Subaru Outback offers essentially the same package but in a wagon body style.
Sticking with the Legacy means a choice of three different trim levels: base, Premium and Limited. The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is available in all three levels of trim, while the more powerful 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine comes in top-of-the-line Limited trim only.
Even with the base trim level you get a decent amount of standard equipment like 17-inch wheels and tires, a touchscreen user interface with Bluetooth connectivity and multiple music apps, a height-adjustable driver seat and split-folding rear seats. Moving to the Premium trim level adds heated seats, a larger interface screen with voice control, dual-zone climate control and more available options. Limited models feature standard leather seating, 18-inch wheels and tires, premium audio with navigation and new safety features like blind spot assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
How Does It Drive?
From behind the wheel, it's clear that Subaru wanted to give this Legacy a much more refined feel than its predecessors. It's quieter, smoother and more comfortable in almost every driving situation we encountered. The suspension is not quite as soft as some of its competitors, and that's a good thing. Bumps and dips in the road are soaked up with a satisfying firmness that makes it feel sure-footed without being stiff. A new electric power steering system aids in efficiency, yet doesn't compromise road feel. It's not a sport sedan by any means, but there's enough feedback to keep you engaged without getting annoyed by the constant need for corrections.
When it comes to power, both the four- and the six-cylinder engine deliver refined, quiet motivation. With only 175 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque, however, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder has just enough juice to get by around town. Passing on the highway requires far more thought, a typical trait of midsize four-cylinder sedans.
The more powerful six-cylinder engine delivers 256 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque, which translates into more effortless acceleration. This Legacy is still far from being the fastest sedan in the segment, but there aren't many situations where it leaves you wishing for more.
The standard CVT that comes with either engine does an excellent job of getting the most out of the two power plants. Although it can essentially mimic a broad range of gearing for maximum mileage, this CVT is also programmed to deliver noticeable "shifts" to make it feel more like a traditional transmission. You can even use paddle shifters on the steering wheel to move between the simulated gears. The end result is a more natural driving experience that doesn't negate the added efficiency that the CVT provides.
What Kind of Mileage Does It Deliver?
Although no official EPA mileage estimates are available for the Legacy yet, Subaru expects the four-cylinder version to earn 30 mpg combined (26 city/36 highway). Six-cylinder models are expected to deliver 22 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway), a roughly 10 percent improvement over the previous six-cylinder Legacy.
How Safe Is It?
It hasn't been officially tested by any rating agencies yet, but Subaru said it expects the Legacy will earn top ratings across the board. To help make sure that happens, the Legacy features a new seat cushion airbag system that deploys under your thighs to keep you from sliding under the seatbelt in certain types of accidents.
Another major upgrade for this Legacy is a new generation of the company's EyeSight driver assist system that combines several technologies like adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane-departure warning. There's also a rear-facing radar that adds features like blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic assist.
How Does It Rate in Terms of Interior Comfort?
This is easily Subaru's most comfortable sedan yet. A slightly higher driving position, excellent visibility and firm, supportive seats make it feel instantly comfortable. Special attention to soft-touch points means that your elbows never get sore resting on the console lid, while the thick-rimmed steering wheel offers plenty of grip.
Although rear seat room is up slightly, the second row in the Legacy still isn't the biggest in the segment. To its credit, the rear seats are nicely contoured and higher trim levels get rear seat heaters and ventilation controls. Cargo room is up slightly to 15 cubic feet, and the wide opening makes it easy to take advantage of the available space.
The design of the interior is still distinctively Subaru, so the materials and colors have a far different feel from your typical Camry and Accord. On higher trim levels, it's a refreshing change, but the base trim level model looked a little too plain for our tastes.
As far as the control layout goes, Subaru continues to keep it simple. The center stack has a minimal amount of buttons and knobs, and the transmission shifter is a straightforward stick in the middle of the console. Simple analog gauges are used in the instrument panel, and the steering wheel satellite controls are easy to reach with your thumbs.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
The Subaru Legacy is positioned to compete right in the heart of the midsize sedan segment, although its standard all-wheel-drive system means it can function as a more fun-to-drive alternative to compact SUVs for those who live in cold-weather climates.
The Toyota Camry is the current best-seller in this class thanks to a spacious interior, plenty of features and a reputation for reliability. Same goes for the Honda Accord, which also adds the options of both hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants. The Ford Fusion also offers a similarly diverse lineup.
If you need all-wheel drive, the new 2015 Chrysler 200 offers that option but only with its larger six-cylinder engine.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
You want a well-rounded midsize sedan that can handle any kind of weather with barely a slipped tire. Or you just like the idea of a refined, comfortable and reliable family vehicle that looks and feels just a little bit different compared to its mainstream competitors.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
It's not the most fuel-efficient sedan in the class, so if maximum mileage is a concern there are better choices.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.