Thanks to its offering standard all-wheel-drive systems on nearly all of its cars, Subaru has long been a popular choice for car buyers living in wet, snowy climates. But the 2015 Subaru Legacy aims to deliver more than just all-weather capability. A new look, improved fuel mileage, increased passenger comfort and new safety features make the redesigned Legacy a more competitive sedan among its midsize rivals.
Although the Legacy shares a similar look and feel to last year's model, changes under the skin have resulted in more passenger and cargo room. The cabin itself features nicer surfaces and materials, although Subaru's frills-free philosophy carries over to its dash and center stack layout. We like it for its simplicity and intuition, but some may find it a bit too sparse.
Four- and six-cylinder engines carry over but have been retuned to return better fuel economy. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder now achieves an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined, while the six-cylinder gets a 10 percent bump in efficiency and now delivers 22 combined mpg. Some shoppers may lament the disappearance of a six-speed manual transmission for the four-cylinder engine, but the continuously variable transmission (CVT) standard on all Legacys does a good job of extracting the most performance from both engines.
These updates have made the 2015 Subaru Legacy a more well-rounded midsize sedan, one that needn't rely solely on all-wheel drive to sell. At the same time, however, the midsize sedan class is loaded with excellent choices. Top models such as the 2015 Ford Fusion, 2015 Honda Accord, 2015 Mazda 6, 2015 Nissan Altima and 2015 Toyota Camry are all excellent and can hold slight, but significant, advantages over the Legacy in regards to style, technology and handling prowess.
Overall, it's hard to go wrong in this segment. But if you want a refined and comfortable family sedan that can handle any kind of weather -- or simply something different from its mainstream competitors -- the 2015 Subaru Legacy merits strong consideration.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy is a five-passenger sedan available in four trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited (the numbers reference engine size).
Base 2.5i models come with 17-inch steel wheels; automatic headlights; air-conditioning; cruise control; a height-adjustable driver seat; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; full power accessories; a 60/40-split folding rear seat; a rearview camera; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD and satellite radio, an iPod/USB interface, an auxiliary audio jack, and smartphone integration with Pandora and Aha audio streaming. A 6.2-inch touchscreen display controls most entertainment and phone functions.
The 2.5i Premium adds 17-inch alloy wheels, heated exterior mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar) heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera, upgraded gauges and an upgraded audio system that includes six speakers, voice commands and a 7-inch touchscreen display.
Available options for the 2.5i Premium include a sunroof, a navigation system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, adaptive foglights, rear cross-traffic alert and Subaru's EyeSight system. The latter combines adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and collision-warning/mitigation with brake intervention. Â
Upgrading to the 2.5i Limited trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory functions, rear air vents, heated rear seats, rear cross-traffic alert and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Available options are nearly identical to those offered on the Premium, but keyless ignition and entry is also available.
Standard and optional equipment for the 3.6R Limited follow that of the 2.5i Limited, but the 3.6R features a six-cylinder engine and xenon headlights.
Befitting the environments and uses of its traditional owners, the 2015 Subaru Legacy features a simple and straightforward interior design. Materials quality has improved compared to last year, and there's more cushioning at common touch points like armrests and the center console. The new, optional touchscreen navigation system can be controlled using tablet-like gestures and delivers better response and smartphone integration than the Legacy's last touchscreen-based system.
A slight repackaging delivers another 1.6 cubic feet of cabin space, realized in added room for arms, legs and elbows. Rear legroom is just shy of what the Accord and Fusion offer. Despite the Legacy's new, larger trunk, its 15 cubic feet of cargo capacity still trails the competition a little, a compromise Subaru chalks up to the space required for the Legacy's all-wheel-drive system.
A design change up front moves the windshield forward slightly and improves on the Legacy's already excellent outward visibility -- no small feat in an age of high door lines and bulky pillars that result from modern safety standards. Firm, supportive seats and a slightly higher driving position make the Legacy Subaru's most comfortable sedan yet.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy offers two engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter six-cylinder. The base 2.5-liter horizontally opposed ("boxer") four-cylinder produces 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. The six-cylinder generates 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. Both engines pair with the only available transmission: a CVT with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
During Edmunds track testing, a Legacy 2.5i Premium ran from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds. That's rather lackluster, as many rivals accomplish the same sprint in less than 8 seconds.Â
The EPA rates the four-cylinder Legacy at 30 mpg in combined driving (26 city/36 highway), an impressive result in this class especially considering that all-wheel drive normally drags fuel economy down a point or two. The six-cylinder Legacy returns 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway) -- an improvement on last year's model, but still less impressive than the fuel economy of several competitors.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy's standard all-wheel-drive system gives it plenty of capability in bad weather. The new Legacy drives more smoothly, more quietly and more comfortably than before, although the ride still isn't as cushy as some of its competitors. But this is a good thing, as bumps and road rash are soaked up with a satisfying firmness that delivers confidence behind the wheel. This is not a sport sedan by any means, but it still delivers enough feedback to engage a discerning driver.
Both the four- and the six-cylinder engines are quiet and provide class-acceptable acceleration. The standard CVT that comes with either engine does an excellent job of getting the most out of the two power plants. Although it can essentially mimic a broad range of gearing for maximum mileage, this CVT is also programmed to deliver noticeable "shifts" to make it feel more like a traditional transmission.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, a rearview camera, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and new seat cushion airbags that deploy from the seat bottom to help keep occupants in place in a frontal collision.
Also optional is Subaru's EyeSight system that bundles adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and sway warning. The EyeSight system uses two cameras mounted inside the upper edge of the windshield, which Subaru says reduces the potential for damage compared with conventional radar systems mounted in the front bumper. EyeSight can also detect pedestrians and is capable of braking the Legacy if the driver takes no evasive action for potential frontal collisions.
In government crash testing, the Legacy earned a top five-star rating for overall safety performance, with five stars in the frontal- and side-impact categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Legacy received a top score of "Good" in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, small-overlap frontal offset, side-impact and roof-strength testing. The Legacy's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Legacy 2.5i Premium stopped from 60 mph in a short 114 feet, a better-than-average performance for this segment.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy is redesigned. Highlights include subtle exterior changes, upgraded interior materials and improved fuel economy.