2015 Subaru Legacy
All wheel drive practicality
Date Posted: July 28, 2014
By Zack Spencer
Subaru knows that some buyers shy away from all wheel drive because of perceived poor fuel economy. For 2015 the Legacy has many changes to help eliminate any fuel economy penalty.
When Subaru was getting set to update the Legacy sedan for 2015, they did research into the perceptions of the Subaru brand and the Legacy specifically. What came back, according to Subaru Canada Executives, was a strong brand perception surrounding Subaru’s all wheel drive (AWD) system, they also scored highly for traction (we do live in Canada!), longevity and durability. These are all the sorts of things Subaru has been driving home with its standard AWD and Japanese engineering.
What they also found, on closer inspection, was a lack of awareness of the Legacy sedan. People shopping for a mid-sized sedan often gravitate towards the usual suspects like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion and others, not the Legacy. Three main things bubbled to the surface in the research; the Legacy’s styling was bland, many people believed that an AWD car would have a fuel consumption penalty and an AWD car is more expensive than a front wheel drive competitor. Well, you guessed it, Subaru took these points on headfirst and the result is a refreshing surprise in the mid-size class.
Styling has a new approach, with a longer and wider body built on the same wheelbase as the previous car. This tactic allows the front and rear windows to be stretched out and with a lower roofline, the car now looks sleeker and offers better outward visibility due to more glass area. A big improvement is taking the side view mirrors and placing them on the door, not the windshield pillar, providing better outward visibility. The front has a much more aggressive look with a big chin spoiler, narrower headlamps and grille design that looks very Ford Fusion inspired. The back design is much tidier, now featuring a shorter trunk deck and stylized taillights, plus all models come with standard alloy wheels, no cheap hubcaps.
Inside is also vastly improved. Room is not an issue, as I mentioned the width of the car has been improved for a roomy cabin for all passengers. Subaru also went to town on a long list of standard features like a 6.2-inch radio and backup camera screen, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and heated seats; all of this, plus standard AWD and optional automatic for $24,795. This is on par, if not better than the competitor’s sedans but they don’t offer AWD or charge a big premium. For example, the base Honda Accord is $23,990 but no AWD is offered and the Toyota Camry starts at $23,750, also with no AWD. The Ford Fusion does offer AWD but that vehicle starts at $28,524.
The interior design has been vastly improved to include much better integration of the radio screen, with touch sensitive buttons around the display, which looks seamlessly integrated into the surrounding aluminum frame. The heat controls are big and easy to use, plus there are large storage areas in the centre console and big cup holders. For Legacy sedans equipped with the navigation package, the centre screen jumps from 6.2-inches to 7-inches.
What is refreshing is that Subaru Canada made an argument to its parent company to get a manual transmission in this new sedan. Granted, only a small number of people want to do their own shifting (mostly Quebec), but securing a manual for our market is a nice touch. The manual is only available on the 4-cylinder, not the 6-cylinder models, in the United States they don’t even get the option, its auto or nothing.
And this is no normal automatic; it is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that basically has one gear, with the ability to change the ratio of the single gear unit for better fuel economy and in some instances better performance. The CVT has lower friction and a wider range of ratios over a conventional automatic, this along with improved aerodynamics and a torque-filled 2.5L 4-cylinder engine provides a 10 percent bump in fuel economy over the last mode. Since so many buyers think an AWD car will use more fuel, this was a major target. The 4-cylinder is rated at 7.7L/100km in the city and 5.4L on the highway. A 6-cylinder 3.6L model is rated at 10.5L/100km in the city and 6.9L on the highway.
Even though this new Legacy is bigger, the use of high-strength, thinner steel made the car only slightly heavier but also improved the strength of the car for improvements to handling. Not a performance car by any means, the Legacy has good road manors and is a pleasure to drive. I was lucky enough to attend the launch event at Subaru’s manufacturing plant in Lafayette Indiana, where I drive on the factories test track and on rural back roads. The 3.6L model is superb for highway, or higher steed driving but the 4-cylinder is a better mix for most people.
Rated at 175hp, the 2.5L doesn’t look, on paper, like a very inspiring car but with the gearing of the transmission and the 174 lb.-ft. of torque, it does very well in most situations. The 3.6L 6-cylinder pumps out 256hp but the CVT in that model has a selectable transmission setup that is much more aggressive, should the driver choose. I think most people will buy the 4-cylinder for the best all around balance of practicality and price.
Subaru has done a great job of improving the Legacy with better styling, features and price and standard AWD. The most expensive 4-cylinder models run up to $32,395 and 6-cylinder models ranging from $30,795-$35,395
It might take a while for the average sedan buyer to notice but if you are in the market for a mi-sized sedan, the Legacy is worth a shot.
Power: 2.5L 4-cylinder or 3.6L 6-cylinder
Economy: 7.7L/5.4L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $24,795-$35,395
Subaru has done a great job of improving the Legacy with better styling, features and price