Subaru has officially taken the wraps off the next generation of its Legacy midsize sedan, revealing an all-new edition that sports fresh sheetmetal, better fuel efficiency, a roomier interior and new amenities to keep passengers safer and more comfortable.
Unveiled in production form at the Chicago Auto Show, the 2015 Subaru Legacy follows a concept version previewed last November at the L.A. Auto Show. Like almost every other production vehicle that arrives on the heels of a one-off version, not all the elements of the stunning Legacy concept made it to reality, but quite a few thankfully did. So while we won't get those cool wingtip mirrors or doors without handles, we do get a next-gen Legacy sedan that looks sleeker than the rather plain one it replaces.
At 188.8 inches, the next-gen Legacy is only about an inch longer than the outgoing model, but its exterior design has been enhanced for a more dynamic and contemporary feel. Rising character lines that stretch from the front wheel to the back of the car give Subaru's largest sedan a sense of momentum. The available high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights and standard U-shaped LED tail and brake lights provide eye-popping aesthetics with their better visibility for the road ahead and to drivers behind.
Things are also interesting up front. The new Subaru Legacy has what it calls a "nosecone" front section that combines the grille and bumper into one piece. And in a move to shed weight, the hood is now made from aluminum.
The 2015 Legacy is also upgraded on the inside. Even base models receive a much-needed improvement in the infotainment space in the form of a 6.2-inch touch-screen display with smartphone integration, rearview camera, and Bluetooth audio streaming. For buyers with a bigger wallet, the 2015 Legacy can be had with a leather interior, 7-inch touch-screen display, navigation system, heated front and rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a 12-speaker/576-watt harman/kardon audio system.
Subaru's engineers have also managed to create more space inside. The 5-passenger sedan now boasts a class-leading 104.6 cubic feet of room, up from 103 in the last legacy. Perhaps more noticeably, rear legroom as been increased, too, from 37.8 inches to 38.1. The trunk, too, has received the magic touch, and has been increased to 15 cubic feet, from 14.7.
On the safety side, the new Legacy sedan has the latest version of Subaru's EyeSight driver-assist system with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane-departure warning. A new rear radar system offers blind-spot detection and rear-cross traffic alert, which is always handy when backing out of a parking space.
Under the hood, the Legacy's two boxer engine options carry over, albeit with some tweaking for better efficiency. The 2.5-liter flat 4-cylinder that comes in Standard, Premium and Limited trims now makes 175 horsepower (vs. 173 in the outgoing model), while its 174 lb ft of torque arrives at a slightly lower rpm -- 4,000 vs. 4,100. A 3.6-liter horizontally opposed 6-cylinder remains available in top-line 3.6R models and packs a potent 256 horsepower. Acknowledging a market reality, all 2015 Subaru Legacy models come standard with an automatic transmission, in this case Subie's Lineartronic CVT with paddle shifters. (The existing 2014 model offers a manual transmission, but only in the base model.)
While power figures stay mostly the same, fuel economy numbers are expected to improve by several miles per gallon for both engines. Four-cylinder Legacy models are expected to get an impressive 26 city/36 highway mpg, while 6-cylinder models are estimated to garner 20/28. This compares with figures of 24/32 for the current 4-cylinder model and 18/25 for the 6-cylinder. The gains were achieved by the new Legacy's more aerodynamic shape, reduced friction in the CVT, and standard active grille shutters, which reduce wind resistance when closed.
And of course, being a Subaru means that the Legacy retains its grip-enhancing all-wheel drive. Among midsize sedans, the Legacy is just one of three that offer AWD (the Ford Fusion and all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 being the others), and is the only one that has it as a standard feature. In addition to providing a better grip in slippery conditions, all-wheel drive translates to better all-around performance because if one wheel slips, three others have its back. The 2015 Legacy aims to handle even better with revised tuning, standard 17-inch wheels, and Active Torque Vectoring, a system that's also in the brand's performance-oriented WRX and WRX STI models. The system works by applying brake pressure to the inside front wheel for improved cornering over the past model.
The revamped Legacy is a welcome and much-needed addition to Subaru's lineup. While its other models are helping the automaker reach record sales, the Legacy has faced stiff competition in the highly contested midsize sedan segment. With its newfound character and laudable fuel economy, the 2015 Legacy looks to be a major step up for Subaru's rival to best-sellers such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion.
The all-new 2015 Subaru Legacy is scheduled to go on sale this summer. Exact pricing on the 2015 Legacy will be announced closer to its sale date this summer, but a Subaru rep has confirmed it will be "very comparable" to the 2014 model, with only a slight increase expected.
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