How do you compete with the best selling car on the market that has a huge market share? This is the task that Subaru is tackling with the 2015 Subaru Legacy. The car is fully redesigned and comes into a highly competitive mid-size sedan segment full of action. Can the new Legacy grab more market share, climb up the sales chart, and grow the brand overall?
|STATS||Starting Retail Price||As Tested Price||HP / Lb-Ft|
|2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R||$29,595||$33,380||256 / 247|
|EPA Rating MPG||As Tested MPG||Curb Lbs|
|Rating: BUY IT!
||20 / 28 / 23||27.3||3,662|
The car has to have solid fundamentals to begin with, and the new Legacy grows in size to improve interior space. Driver and passenger comfort is very important and this car delivers. There is more than enough front and rear legroom space. Headroom is a little tight in the back for tall people (I am 6’2”). All other dimensions are very competitive, and the seats are firm but comfortable.
Safety is another important consideration and cannot be taken for granted. Subaru takes this subject very seriously and the result is one of the safest sedans on the road today. The 2015 Legacy gets the highest marks from IIHS with a 2014 Top Safety Pick+ and highest rating of the EyeSight collision warning and prevention system. (More on EyeSight a little later.) Subaru has a high level of competency in the chassis and body design.
Power and drivetrain are next, and Subaru is not messing with a good thing. They carry over the 2.5L flat-four and the 3.6L flat-six in this tester from the previous generation car. Subaru’s boxer engines have proven reliable over the years and the flat-six is one of the smoothest engines around. Of course, they sit lower in the engine bay for better weight distribution. The 3.6L makes 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque.
A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the only option in this Legacy. This is done for sake of efficiency, but the 3.6R model has enough grunt for a quick 0-45 mph acceleration. The car seems to struggle a little to get to 60 mph and beyond, albeit at high altitude of Denver, Colorado. Still Subaru pretty much nailed the efficiency equation. I averaged 27.6 MPG after a week of mixed city and highway driving (with more highway than city). The car is rated at 20 / 28 / 23 MPG. The 2.5L four cylinder has an EPA rating of 26 MPG city and 36 MPG highway, which is right up there with best in the segment. Remember, that the Legacy is an AWD car and this adds weight and robs efficiency. Subaru did good on the fuel economy.
Speaking of all-wheel-drive, Subaru’s well-known Symmetric AWD system returns for duty. Nothing much to say here. This is one of the more respected systems in the industry.
The Legacy struggles a little in the handling and steering feel department. It does not need to be a racing car or even a sports sedan, but suspension is tuned for comfort and thus allows for a fair amount of body lean in corners. The electrically boosted steering is very light (or over-boosted) and feel disconnected from the road. Once again, it does not have to be a Mazda Miata, but the car does not feel as confident in handling as the segment leaders from Toyota and Honda.
Subaru is going the video-camera route for its EyeSight collision warning and prevention system, versus a radar-based setup. There are two cameras mounted high in the car on either side of the center rear-view mirror. This is a second iteration of the system that first showed up a couple of years ago. After a week of use, I found that it works very well.
It provides an adaptive cruise function with four selectable following distances. You can set nearly any cruising speed, and the system works even at crawling speeds in very heavy traffic. However, when the system brings the car to a complete stop, it will ask for driver’s input to get going again. Just touch the accelerator pedal when it’s safe to move forward and the cruise function resumes. The system has audible and visual queue in the center gauge cluster to let you know it recognized a vehicle or obstacle ahead.
If the adaptive cruise function is not enabled by you, the car will give you a beep beep beep and a red visual signal if you are approaching an obstacle and have not started braking. You have to be careful however. If the speed differential is above 25 mph or so, then the system will not pick up the obstruction. This is about the state of the art right now. The 2014 Audi A8’s adaptive cruise system behaves in the same way. However, you can now get this fancy technology with Subaru for a fraction of the cost.
Although the system recognizes all sorts of objects, driver’s attention still has to be as sharp as before. I find this system can reduce driver’s fatigue on a longer highway trip. Just set the EyeSight cruise and the car will automatically follow traffic’s speed and your desired cruising speed when clear.
Subaru also improved the interior design and feel. The 3.6R tester came with leather, wood trim, and a new infotainment system that is quick and modern. The center infotainment screen does suffer from glare when the sun hits it, but the touch-screen and touch sensitive buttons work well. The overall design is still on the minimalist side and some component fitment on the dash is not as perfect as it could be. This is nitpicking, but this competitive segment requires extreme attention to detail.
Also, noteworthy is the fact that the Legacy has some of the best outward visibility in a sedan. This helps the driver and contributes to a safer experience.
Subaru also nailed the value equation with the 2015 Legacy. The four cylinder base car starts at $21,695 and this fully loaded 3.6R tester came in at $33,380. You get a lot of content and capability for the money.
You can see that Subaru carefully considered the numbers. The power, efficiency, and pricing are inline with the segment leaders. The Legacy is only one of three cars in the segment with available AWD. Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200 are the others.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give the 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R a Buy It!
Watch this insider TFLcar video of the 2015 Subaru Legacy debut at 2014 Chicago Auto Show.
Does the 2015 Legacy stand out head and shoulders above all competition? No. However, it builds a compelling case with high safety, AWD, efficiency, comfort, and value. Although, steering and handling are somewhat lacking and take some fun away from the driving experience, I will still give the Legacy TFLcar’s highest ‘Buy it!’ rating. Better than most visibility, room, efficiency, and safety technologies won me over. If you are looking for a sporty sedan, this may not be the number one choice.
Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been writing and reporting at TFL since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or simply ‘going for a drive’.