Back in 2009, I had the chance to review the all-new fifth-generation Subaru Legacy, and the vehicle I reviewed was the 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium. Six years later, I found myself behind the wheel of the sixth-generation 2015 Legacy 2.5i Premium, which is all new for 2015 model year.
As with the previous generation Legacy, all new Legacy models have standard all-wheel drive; the only transmission choice now available is a Continuously Variable automatic (CVT). With the base 4-cylinder motor, power is up 5 HP to 175 HP, and fuel economy has improved drastically to 26/36/30 MPG city/highway/combined. On a one-hour highway segment with sustained speeds of 65 MPH, I actually saw 37.1 MPG indicated average on the Legacy’s trip computer. After two more hours with speeds around 77 MPH, my average was 35.9 MPG- impressive numbers for a spacious sedan with standard AWD. At the end of my week with the sedan, having covered 400 highway miles 120 miles in stop-and-go suburban traffic, my average consumption was 31.4 MPG according to the Legacy’s trip computer.
Subaru claims that the 2015 Legacy has best-in class interior volume among midsize sedans, and that claim is believable. The Legacy feels incredibly spacious inside, with plenty of legroom in front and back seats. The front seats are large and flat, so while they don’t hug the driver or offer a ton of support, their grippy fabric holds occupants in place. Door openings are large (front doors even have puddle lamps integrated to their bottom edges), as is the trunk opening leading to a capacious 15.1 cubic foot trunk.
While the new Legacy is spacious, efficient, and capable, its styling doesn’t stand out from the midsize-sedan crowd. Especially in the as-tested “Tungsten Metallic” paint, this beige sedan never once turned heads as I spent time behind the wheel. The tail lamps look vaguely like those on a Hyundai Sonata, the side profile is anonymous, the the trapezoidal grill shape has become ubiquitous to the point of near anonymity. While the Legacy’s styling is by no means offensive to the eye, it isn’t eye-catching, either.
From behind the wheel, outward visibility is phenomenal. Large windows and a relatively low cowl and beltline make it easy to see out, and making the cabin feel bright and airy. The analog speedometer and tachometer are clear, and the trip computer display between them toggles between consumption statistics and a digital speed readout, as well as showing cruise control information and gear selection. Dual-zone automatic climate control worked just as expected. The cabin has plenty of storage space, with bottle holders in all four doors, double cupholders in the front console and the rear fold-down armrest, door pockets, a large cubby at the base of the center stack (with USB and AUX connectors), and a very clever rectangular opening perfectly sized for resting a smartphone at an angle where it is visible to the driver.
The touchscreen infotainment system has a seven-inch screen which is easy to see, with crisply-displayed, legible text. Pairing my iPhone to stream music and make handsfree calls was straightforward. The screen displayed the image from the back-up camera when reverse was selected, there are provisions for control of Pandora and aha smartphone apps, and there’s even additional vehicle status, fuel economy information, and real-time weather and gas prices able to be displayed. Unfortunately, the soft-key “buttons” are relatively small and close together, so it was easy to accidentally press the wrong one and end up getting a selection other than what was intended. Too, there are 20 station pre-sets to be shared between AM, FM, and SXM satellite radio, but scrolling through them requires manipulating the finicky infotainment screen, taking eyes off the road for to long. Sound quality from the system was decidedly non-premium, lacking both clarity and power.
On the road, the Legacy’s 175 HP is adequate, though in typical CVT fashion the transmission masks the feeling of acceleration, so it doesn’t feel particularly quick. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow the driver to select six fixed ratios, though doing so doesn’t infuse any additional excitement into the driving experience. The steering wheel itself offers little feedback about what the front tires might be doing. Coupled with plenty of sound dampening material to quell engine and road noise, the Legacy isolates the driver from the road.
The new Legacy occupies a unique niche in the midsize sedan segment. Pricing starts at $23,495 for the 2.5i Premium model; this includes the standard 175 HP, 2.5 liter horizontally-opposed engine with CVT and all-wheel drive, 17″ alloy wheels, power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, fog lights, and seven inch touchscreen display for infotainment and backup camera. The vehicle I tested had an optional Moonroof Package for $1195 ,and $300 PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) package; including the $795 destination charge, the price was a very reasonable $25,785.
At that price, the Legacy 2.5i Premium is a lot of car for the money. For buyers shopping in the midsize sedan segment who like the idea having all-wheel drive, the Legacy’s combination of features, space, fuel economy and price offer a unique value proposition.
Subaru provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas for this review.