By MALCOLM GUNN
Slow and steady is a formula that Subaru has successfully used to bring the Legacy sedan closer to what would be considered the “mainstream”car market.
In the past few years, the Legacy has increased both in stature and size to become one of the most spacious mid-size four-doors on the market. More than that, Subaru has continually evolved and refined the shape so that the car now matches the category leaders when it comes to attractiveness.
The Legacy’s hexagonal grille appears similar to that of the Ford Taurus or Hyundai Genesis, while the roofline and rear deck appear influenced by the Honda Accord. Clearly this is a car that blends in more with the crowd rather than standing apart from it. The same can also be said for the Outback wagon that shares much of its style and content with the Legacy.
Looks aside, the Legacy’s dimensions have increased only slightly from the previous edition. To make the body more aerodynamic, which helps fuel efficiency, the windshield is more steeply raked and the grille has active shutters that automatically close off incoming underhood air at highway speeds to reduce the parachute effect. As well, the outside mirrors have been relocated to the doors from beneath the windshield pillars.
There’s plenty of new stuff inside the updated cabin, including a more modern, yet understated dashboard with twin deep-dish gauge pods and a more centrally located touch-screen display for the rearview camera and infotainment and voice-activated navigation systems.
The Legacy’s available powerplants mostly carry over from 2014, although the base 175-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder receives slight improvements that are intended to make it a bit lighter, quieter and more fuel-efficient. The numbers are 26 mpg in the city and 36 highway, compared with 24/32 for the previous 2.5. The only transmission available is the continuously variable unit (CVT) with paddle-shift controls. The six-speed manual gearbox has been discontinued.
The CVT is also standard with the carryover 256-horsepower 3.6-liter six-cylinder. It replaces the five-speed automatic, which helps improve fuel efficiency to 20/29 (previously 18/25).
The CVT so closely mimics a regular automatic that most drivers will be hard-pressed to notice the difference. It also comes with Incline Start and Hill Holder assists that prevents the vehicle from rolling when you move your right foot to the gas pedal from the brake.
The all-wheel-drive system – standard on all Legacy models, of course – has been augmented for 2015 with torque vectoring. The system applies light braking to the inside front wheel while turning, which helps the Legacy rotate, thus helping to enhance steering control.
The base Subaru 2.5i costs $22,500 and arrives with all the usual comfort and convenience features you would expect. The 2.5i Premium adds dual-zone climate control, larger seven-inch touch-screen (up from 6.2 inches), power driver’s seat and 17-inch alloy wheels (16-inch steelies are standard).
Pop for the 2.5i Premium and you get perforated leather seats, power passenger seat, 576-watt, 12-speaker Harmon/Kardon-brand audio system and 18-inch wheels.
Atop the pecking order are the 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited that, along with an upgraded navigation systems and power moonroofs, come with Subaru’s EyeSight suite of safety aids. This includes adaptive cruise control to follow traffic at a safe distance, lane-departure warning, fog lights that illuminate either left or right in tight turns and Pre-Collision Braking that will slow or stop the car if it determines that you’re going to rear end the car in front.
The Legacy has always been a solid choice, but the changes for 2015 will likely put in a new league. The core value, despite increased size and more mainstream style, however, continues to be all-wheel-drive at a price that competitors only offer two-wheel-drive. With excellent safety ratings and some of the best collision-avoidance technology on the market, is there really anything keeping the Legacy out of your driveway?
What you should know: 2015 Subaru Legacy
Type: Four-door, all-wheel-drive mid-size sedan
Engines (hp): 2.4-liter DOHC I4 (173); 3.6-liter DOHC V6 (283)
Transmissions: Continuously variable (CVT)
Market position: The Legacy has occupied a back-marker position among the mid-size sedan group, but with Subaru’s products continually gaining popularity it could only be a matter of time before the car moves way up in rank.
Points: Attractively conservative redesign won’t offend; Interior places more emphasis on luxury; Six-cylinder engine seems unnecessary given the four-cylinder’s performance and impressive fuel economy; Smooth- and rough-road prowess plus an inviting base price; Upgrade to Legacy-based Outback wagon for about $3,200 more.
Safety Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; front seat-cushion airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
MPG (city/hwy) 26/36 (2.4); Base price (incl. destination) $22,500
With each successive design, the Legacy seems to look a little more “normal.” With standard all-wheel-drive, entry prices that come in well under that of the competition, high safety ratings and excellent fuel economy, there’s no reason the masses won’t flock to it.
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