By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.5
The Subaru Legacy has always stood out with its traction-enhancing all-wheel drive, yet in the face of rivals with household names like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, Subaru's midsize sedan received only marginal attention. But with a total revamp for 2015, the Subaru Legacy deserves real consideration. With a more appealing design, far better technology and improved fuel efficiency, the new Legacy is a legitimate contender among family sedans. Available with a 4-cylinder engine rated up to 36 mpg or a strong and smooth 6-cylinder that makes passing a breeze, the Legacy ranges from a roughly $22,500 deal to a $30,000-plus leather-laden sedan filled with creature comforts. All-wheel drive (AWD) remains standard, but with its rebirth for 2015, it's not the Legacy's only highlight.
If you live where it snows, the 2015 Subaru Legacy should be at the top of your midsize sedan shopping list. True, it's now not the only one to offer AWD, but it remains the best and the most affordable. Other positives are the Legacy's history of reliability and strong resale value.
Desire a diesel engine, hybrid powertrain or manual transmission in your family sedan? You won't find any of those in the 2015 Subaru Legacy. And while the new Legacy looks sleeker than past models, it remains conservative compared to some design-focused rivals.
KBB Expert Ratings
The Subaru Legacy enters is sixth generation in all-new form for 2015 with fresh looks inside and out, new technology and better fuel efficiency. The same 4- and 6-cylinder engine choices remain, but even they have been heavily revamped. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) becomes standard across the board.
Both the 2.5i 4-cylinder Legacy and the 3.6R 6-cylinder model feel planted on the road thanks to their engine design. Because the Legacy's engine sits deeper, the car itself has...
... a lower center of gravity. This translates to a grounded feeling and, combined with Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, instills driver confidence in foul weather and on twisty roads. With 175 horsepower, 4-cylinder models have adequate acceleration, but you'll need quite a bit of space for high-speed passing. Six-cylinder models, with a robust 256 horsepower, are smooth, strong, and the ideal choice for drivers more interested in power than the best fuel economy. On tight, winding roads the steering feel could benefit from increased firmness, but it is laudable in just about every other driving situation. The new Legacy also mostly rectifies a past wrong regarding throttle tip in. Thanks to a reprogrammed CVT, the car doesn't lurch from a stop.
ALL-WHEEL DRIVE AND UP TO 36 MPG
The 2015 Subaru Legacy has made appreciable gains in fuel efficiency thanks to improved engine operation and features like a grille that automatically closes for better aerodynamics. The result is a 36 mpg/highway fuel-economy figure in 4-cylinder models, all the more impressive considering all four wheels power this sedan.
LEAD VEHICLE ALERT
It's happened to us all: The light turns green, the traffic around us moves on, and we're at a standstill daydreaming or searching for that particular song. Lead Vehicle Alert aims to prevent honking and embarrassment via an alert that the car ahead has moved forward, so you should too.
The 2015 Legacy's 5-passenger cabin is now more contemporary, useful and entertaining. Changes from the previous version are most noticeable in the center stack, where even a base model is minted with a 6.2-inch touch-screen infotainment system with standard backup camera. Passenger space has been improved, as has trunk capacity that's now 15.0 cubic feet. Most controls are intuitive, and the upgraded command screen features multi-touch and swipe technology, like a tablet. Phone-pairing is easy. The driver's seat has good lumbar support, but even at its lowest setting may be too much for some people. Rear-seat legroom is generous.
In the past few years, the midsize sedan segment has started to look like a beauty pageant, with automakers vying to one-up each other with style and pizzazz. In this contest, the Subaru Legacy earns the title of Miss Congeniality – or perhaps Mr. Conservative. In that, Subaru's latest Legacy remains handsome but not flashy. If there's a trend it follows, it's that of a big, trapezoidal grille. In back, 6-cylinder models are distinguished by dual stainless steel exhaust outlets. All Legacy models have good visibility thanks to thoughtful details like a small window below the A-pillar.
The 2015 Legacy comes in four trims: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited. Spend the least on a 2.5i, and you'll still get a well-equipped sedan with CVT automatic transmission with paddle shifters, a 6.2-inch infotainment system with AM/FM/CD/HD Radio, Bluetooth streaming and USB/auxiliary inputs, backup camera and 17-inch wheels. Premium models add a 10-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, upgraded infotainment with a 7-inch screen and two USB ports, dual-zone climate control, and faux wood trim. Limited trims have a 576-watt harman/kardon audio system, blind-spot and lane-departure warning, and leather. Top-line 3.6R models come with the 6-cylinder engine and HID headlights.
Most of the Legacy's options are bundled into packages and include a power moonroof, navigation, a rear-vehicle detection system with cross-traffic alert, keyless access, and push-button start. Subaru's EyeSight driver-assist system offers adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning, and Lead Vehicle Alert. One particularly interesting option, called PIN Code Access, allows you to leave the keys in the parked car and lock and unlock the vehicle with a code via a button near the trunk. The feature is aimed at runners, swimmers and others who don't want to carry keys with them.
Two engine choices are available in the 2015 Subaru Legacy: a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or 3.6-liter 6-cylinder. Both engines have a horizontal or "boxer" configuration. It's called the latter because with engine's horizontal position, the pistons move sideways in and out, similar to a boxer's fists. This configuration reduces vehicle vibration and lowers the Subaru's center of gravity for a stable feel. All Legacy models now use the CVT, which has been refined to feel more like a regular automatic transmission. Fuel economy has been improved in both engines for this new model year, and both can run on regular 87-octane gasoline.
175 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/36 mpg (estimated)
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg (estimated)
The all-new 2015 Subaru Legacy has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $22,490 for a base 2.5i model. At the other end of the spectrum is the 3.6R Limited model that starts at $30,390 and can reach the mid-$30k mark with options. The Legacy's prices are in line with competitors such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. The Legacy's real value differentiator is the fact that all models come with all-wheel drive. Only two other rivals even offer it – the Ford Fusion and revamped Chrysler 200 – and equipping them with the feature costs significantly more. An AWD Fusion begins around $27,000, while an AWD Chrysler 200 begins at nearly $30,000. Before buying your 2015 Legacy, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. In the long-run, the Legacy has a history of high resale value.