Playing it Safe Across the Board

Fully redesigned for the 2015 model year, Subaru Legacy has become an even more formidable force in the midsize sedan category. Although this flagship 4-door of the automaker's lineup still trails the segment-leading Toyota Camry and Honda Accord with respect to sheer volume numbers, the changes that accompanied its generational changeover have led to a virtual doubling of sales during the first quarter of this year compared to that period in 2014. Coupling meaningful tech upgrades with a more refined character and continuing to place strong emphasis on value-pricing, the newfound momentum of the largest and most luxurious Legacy ever created shows no sign of abating.

Subaru's entry in our 6-way sedan shootout was a well-equipped 2.5i Limited model that opened at $27,285 and bolstered its generous roster of expected standards with additional cool touches like perforated leather upholstery, a 576-watt harman/kardon premium audio system, all-new Starlink-based infotainment package with 7.0-inch touchscreen and heated cushions for the two outboard spots in its 60/40 split-folding rear bench. Our Legacy also featured an upgraded version of Subaru's EyeSight driver-assist system that complements the also-standard (on this model) Rear Vehicle Detection System (Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert) with Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning. Further fitted with the optional Moonroof Package, Keyless Access & Start and GPS Navigation System, it bottom-lined at a quite-attractive $30,580. Toss in the fact that the 2015 Legacy carries a 5-Star crash rating from NHTSA, earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and also rolled off with's 2015 Best Resale Value Award honors in the Midsize Sedan category -- not to mention having been named one of our 10 Best All-Wheel-Drive Vehicles Under $25,000 in base form -- and that figure starts to look even better.

2015 Subaru Legacy at a Glance
2015 Subaru Legacy Midsize Sedan Graph

In recasting the Legacy, Subaru endowed it with a more refined -- although still relatively conservative -- character on pretty much every level. Like its tasteful visual rework, the Legacy's powertrain and suspension elements also benefited from a somewhat understated but functional upgrading that yields modestly better performance and fuel economy as well as improved overall dynamics. Minor tweaks to the Legacy's standard 2.5-liter/4-cylinder boxer engine marginally boosts output to 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. However, the more significant upgrade comes from revisions to the car's Lineartronic CVT automatic that reduce internal friction and help elevate its EPA city/highway numbers to a stellar 26/36 mpg while upping the combined figure from 27 to 30 mpg -- only one less than the front-drive Honda Accord and Mazda6.

One thing that remained constant: the Subaru Legacy is still the only vehicle in this segment to feature standard all-wheel drive across the entire 2.5i, 2.5i Premium and 2.5i/3.6R Limited lineup. For 2015, the system has been revised to include new Active Torque Vectoring and a reprogrammed Vehicle Dynamics Control that bring an additional measure of all-season/all-surface confidence to the mix. While these collective changes to the chassis tuning and drive system make the 2015 Legacy feel even more confident and predictable under any conditions, they've done little to raise its admittedly modest fun-to-drive index.

Here's how the 2015 Subaru Legacy stacks up against the competition:

Subaru Legacy vs. Toyota Camry

The 2015 Camry acquired a good deal more personality as the result of its rather extensive mid-cycle makeover, becoming a more engaging travel mate in the process while leveraging its carryover upsides like spaciousness, comfort and reliability. But those assets come at a cost -- admittedly magnified in the case of our V6-powered XSE tester but still present in a 4-cylinder XSE. Even with matching cylinder counts -- and an accompanying drop in visceral kick -- the Toyota would cost over $200 more and not match the Legacy's fuel economy ratings despite having only two driven wheels.

Subaru Legacy vs. Honda Accord

A perennial favorite with the KBB staff, the Honda Accord continues to make a great first -- and subsequent lasting -- impression with its solid combination of room, comfort and overall charm as well as its enviable fuel economy. That said, the Legacy offers an even more comprehensive array of driver assists, marginally better safety marks, superior cargo space and the extra security of all-wheel drive, all for nearly $1,000 less.

Subaru Legacy vs. Chrysler 200

The Chrysler 200 is the only other car in this mix to offer AWD, but it comes at a price that puts it thousands beyond any comparably equipped Legacy. Although the 200's dynamics are only marginally better, its Uconnect infotainment system is miles ahead of Subaru's Starlink system in user-friendliness and screen legibility. However, the Legacy's rear quarters are more accommodating, and while the 200's trunk is dimensionally larger, the Subaru's better shaped decklid cutout and lower liftover make access easier.

Subaru Legacy vs. Hyundai Sonata

The Sonata continues to impress us with its attractive mix of style, features, capability and value. Offering slightly more passenger room and trunk space along with Blue Link infotainment/connectivity and a bit more dynamic character than the Legacy, this handsome Hyundai also has made serious headway in attracting midsize sedan buyers. But the Subaru still holds the edge for those who want the added security of all-wheel drive and are looking for superior residual value when they're ready to move on.

Subaru Legacy vs. Mazda Mazda6

If this shootout was based solely on emotion, the Mazda6 be would simply be in a class by itself. From style to sportiness and comfort to convenience, it pushes all the right buttons. However, buyers willing to trade a bit of zoom-zoom spirit for more tangible if less scintillating substance will find the Legacy makes a solid case for consideration. To get the same kind of safety tech and navigation/infotainment hardware found on the Subaru would bounce the Mazda6's bottom line a couple of thousand dollars north of the Legacy's sticker and, here too, all-wheel drive is not available at any price.

More Midsize Sedans

Build and price your own 2015 Subaru Legacy, read our full review or check out our Midsize Sedan Buyer's Guide to see more options in the segment.

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