Big Sur, Calif. ? With only a 1 to 1.5-percent market share of the super competitive medium size sedan market, the Subaru Legacy has never been much of a threat to cars like Accord, Camry, Fusion, Sonata, etc., but that may soon change. It?s not that we expect the new Legacy to take a big share from the midsize players, but we wouldn?t be surprised to see the Legacy at least double their market share in the next couple of years. The new Legacy is that good.
We come to this conclusion, not because Subaru told us they would ? they didn?t. Rather after driving the all-new 2015 model we think it is the kind of car consumers are going to love and here is why we think this will happen:
First impressions are a big deal in the car business and the 2015 Subaru Legacy looks great. If you look closely, the Legacy emulates design cues of several of the major mid-size brands, and the result is a very attractive sedan with coupe-like silhouette. But like many of the new cars, photos don?t do justice to it ? it needs to be seen and driven.
The new Legacy is about the same size as the previous generation, but the interior designers didn?t get the message. The new space is significantly larger to the point where it now has the largest interior in the mid-size segment. Even the cargo area is larger, now 15.0 cubic feet.
The dash area is efficient and uncluttered, which in our minds makes it very attractive. We also appreciate features like the soft touch surfaces and large storage areas in the doors and in the center console. The seats are excellent– soft, supportive and attractive.
As we departed on a drive from Big Sur along Highway 1 south toward Hearst Castle, two things caught our immediate attention; the car was exceptionally rigid and very quiet. Obviously these are things you can?t see, but we could definitely feel and hear or not hear the difference.
The standard powertrain is a new 175-hp 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder (Boxer) engine, with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and symmetrical all-wheel drive. The four-cylinder engine has an EPA fuel economy rating of 26 mpg highway, 36 mpg city and 30 combined ? that?s especially impressive for an AWD car. The four-cylinder versions are also equipped with an active shutter system on the grille to cut wind resistance and increase fuel economy. The 0 to 60 mph acceleration time is 8.7 seconds.
We?ve often said we?re not fans of the CVT transmissions, but concede they produce a significant increase in fuel economy. The Subaru CVT feels more like a regular six-speed automatic transmission with obvious shift points. In fact, we didn?t recognize it as a CVT until we?d been driving for about 20 minutes. It also has standard steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters to provide better driver control and a more fun to drive experience. They allow the driver to downshift to use engine braking or to hold a ?gear? for better cornering control.
The Legacy is the only mid-size sedan to offer all-wheel drive as standard equipment, and one of the few in the category that even offers all-wheel drive. We think that feature alone gives the Legacy a major advantage over competitors. New for 2015 is Active Torque Vector with the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. It works by applying light braking to the inside front wheel during cornering to pull the front of the vehicle through the corner with a more neutral steering effect and significantly better handling, especially on slippery surfaces. Also standard is Incline Start Assist and an electronic Hill Holder System. All models are equipped with four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, too.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy comes in four trim levels (2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited) defined by the engine and equipment level.
The first two Legacys we drove had the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and we were pleased by the response and passing power. This made us think, this was ?the? engine we?d chose if we were buying one.
Then when we drove the Legacy 3.6R on our way back to Big Sur and we changed our minds. The extra power made a big difference in the dynamics?this is the engine we?d want. The 3.6-liter six-cylinder Boxer engine in the 3.6R is actually one of the few holdover components from the previous generation Legacy. The engine is super smooth, quiet and responsive producing 256 hp. Other than the big increase in performance, you can tell the six-cylinder visually be its dual exhaust outlets. It also uses a CVT transmission, but it?s the heavy duty version that is also offered as an option in the Subaru WRX performance car. Like the transmission used in the 2.5i, this CVT feels more like a conventional automatic and has the paddle shifters. The 3.6R gets an EPA rating of 20/28/23 mpg. Zero to 60 mph acceleration times for the six-cylinder engine was listed by a buff magazine at 6.4 seconds.
One of the most interesting available features of the 2015 Subaru Legacy is the third generation of the EyeSight? driver-assist system. The sophisticated technology uses a pair of color cameras mounted high on the inside of the windshield on either side of the rear view mirror. They are used to control the Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning systems. The $1,195 package also includes Blind Spot Detection, Cross Traffic Alert and Steering Responsive Foglights, which makes it one of the best and reasonably priced safety packages we?ve seen.
Another major improvement for the Legacy is the Navigation Infotainment System available for the Premium and Limited trim levels. The system is much easier to use than previous versions and includes a new high-end harman/kardon Green Edge technology which reduces weight and power consumption. The system uses a seven-inch touch screen and includes features like SirusXM? satellite radio, iTunes? tagging, dual USB ports and SMS text messaging.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy pricing starts at $22,490, including the destination charge for the four-cylinder 2.5i and peaks at $30,390 for the 3.6R six-cylinder Limited. With all the available options, the 3.6R highest price is $33,380.
The new Legacy is a remarkable value, especially when you consider features like all-wheel drive, nice styling, performance, economy and the amazing EyeSight package. This car has worked its way on the top of our list of cars we would buy.