2015 Subaru Legacy Review | Autoblog

2015 Subaru Legacy Review photo

2015 Subaru Legacy Review photo – Autoblog

By Ronnie Fung, Autoblog
The mere mention of the mid-size sedan segment may be the quickest way to get most gear heads to roll their eyes and think about something else, anything else. The 2015 Subaru Legacy sets out to change our perception of what driving and owning a mid-size sedan can be like. Challenge accepted!
When family members of friends (generally of the middle-aged or retired age group) find out what I do for a living, most of the time I’m asked “What do you think of the new Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, or the Nissan Altima?” My answer is often along the lines of “Which one do you think looks the nicest?” They’re all good. Very good, in fact. Any of the new mid-size selections offer fantastic value in terms of fuel economy, safety, price, comfort and reliability. However, none of the cars on the list really offers a hint of lust. They’re known for being a possible alternative to the crossover and minivan segment while safely and reliably hauling a family around town and on road trips.
In the vast (but calm, ever so calm) seas of mid-size sedans, Subaru seems to be setting out to build a car that checks off all the boxes on the mid-size sedan mandatory checklist, but also offer something that none of the the other manufacturers seem to focus on these days: A mid-size car that checks off all the boxes, but is also actually enjoyable to look at and more importantly, fun to drive. I’m not saying that mid-size sedans aren’t good-looking or that you can’t enjoy driving a mid-size sedan, I’m saying that they’re not exactly known for inspiring pure driving enjoyment or lust of any amount. Enter the the 2015 Subaru Legacy.
We were invited down to Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) to drive the all-new Legacy, home of the plant that builds the Legacy in North America and also the Toyota Camry. SIA also plays home to a Subaru Proving Grounds facility, complete with a banked oval and a space clear enough to set up any number of different test exercises. Vehicle Dynamics Group (VDG) was also on hand to set up several courses for us and to plan our road drive. Also present for any questions was Masayuki Uchida – Senior Project General Manager: Legacy, Yoichi Hori – Manager of Total Vehicle Performance Integration Dept. and Noriaki Sawa – Manager, Canada Sales and Marketing Section.
2015 Subaru Legacy Review photo

2015 Subaru Legacy Review photo – Autoblog

Last month, our US counterparts took part in a similar Legacy event. Take some time to check it out and come back here. There are some key differences between the US model and us Canadians have a different option set and better yet, we have a manual transmission available for us here in Canada!
The 2015 model year of the Subaru Legacy marks its 25th Anniversary and also the 6th generation of Legacy. So naturally, Subaru is keen on making a big splash. The past few years have been good to Subaru Canada-sales in 2013 were up a whopping 18.7% over the 2012 sales. For the Legacy itself, 2010-2014 saw nearly 50% more sales over the numbers from 2005-2009. That’s enormous growth. Let’s dig a little deeper into why we’ve been seeing such growth in the Subaru Canada.
When most people are asked what they know about Subarus, you’ll often hear that they’re known having AWD vehicles or for their success in the World Rally Championship over the years. Or you’ll hear people talking about the Impreza and the fantastic and sporty WRX and WRX STI. Other things include: fun to drive, adventurous, versatility. Things that you don’t often hear as the checkpoints for a good mid-size sedan. Price, fuel economy, interior space, reliability are the winners in that segment. With that in mind, Subaru Canada is setting out to spread the word: The Legacy ticks off all the mid-size checkboxes and more!
One of the misconceptions that we’ll get out of the way is the price of the Legacy. People seem to associate Subarus with higher costs, both on the showroom floor and in the fuel costs. You’d be surprised to hear that both of those conceptions are bogus. The 2015 Subaru Legacy starts at $23,495 in Canada. The Accord starts at $23,990. The Camry at $23,750. The Altima at $23,698. The Ford Fusion at $21,999 and the Sonata starts at $23,999. With the added bonus of being the Top Safety Pick of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for nine consecutive years and the Top Safety Pick Plus since the award’s inception two years ago, you get to enjoy a fantastic intelligent AWD system with no fuel mileage penalty, I’d say that’s pretty competitive.
Another comforting fact about the Subaru Legacy is that 96% of the vehicles sold in the past 10 years in Canada are still on the road today.
Let’s talk about the new exterior styling of the Legacy for a bit. While the 5th generation Legacy wasn’t ugly by any stretch, it didn’t really offer much to stand out from a sea of mid-size driving appliances at the local Walmart or movie theatre. The new Legacy sets out to change that in some subtle ways and some not so subtle ways. The redesigned front end sports a bold six-sided front grille, extremely stylish headlight housings and an aggressive(ish) front lip, just below the foglight housings. The bodylines are sharp and clean. This gives the car a beefy, yet, stylish stance that while bearing similarities to other mid-sizes, also sets itself apart in a good way.
The rear end sports a subtle, yet stylish decklid on the trunk. The LED tail lamps may be considered bland to some but in this writer’s eyes, really gives the car some personality when lit. The lights blend well into the rear end and when viewed at night, it’s easy to set it apart from an Accord or a Camry.
The 6-cylinder models come equipped with a dual exhaust outlets. Unfortunately, the 4-cylinder models come equipped with the same rear bumper as the 6-cyl but sports a lonely looking single exhaust outlet. Subaru’s answer to this is to put a plastic rear cap over the space left in the bumper. Not a very nice touch to an otherwise good looking rear end.
Now for the interior. A large improvement to the last generation! Materials are of higher quality. There are no annoying squeaks or rattles to speak of. Both choices of seats (leather or cloth) offer up a a wide level of comfort. With a power driver’s seat as standard on all models, making adjustments was a breeze. It’s the kind of seat that you could spend hours in without having to squirm or make excuses to pull over. Something to note: the door openings for the front and rear seats are massive. This makes egress a breeze. It’s also a bonus when loading things into the back seats.
The new audio systems are fantastic! The base model comes with a 6.2-inch touchscreen unit. Higher models come with a 7-inch touchscreen that includes tablet-like swipe and scrolling gesture controls, like your iPhone. We found the new system pretty responsive and easy to use, with important interface pieces like audio and climate controls still operable with dials. That audio system can be had with as many as 12 speakers, powered by a Harman Kardon Green Edge system that pumps out the equivalent of 576 watts but draws significantly less actual power.
All the controls are well placed, intuitively being right where you’d expect to find them. That’s an improvement over the last Legacy. We really do enjoy having actual control dials for the climate control.
As far as interior room goes, there’s a total of 2,962 litres of space. This marks a slight improvement over the 2,917 litres found in the last Legacy. Front-seat passengers benefit from two additional inches of width, and the rear-seat occupants will find 38.1 inches of legroom. The tale of the tape puts the Legacy above competitors that are noted for their roominess, models including the Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat. The trunk offers up 425 litres to play with, and split-folding rear seatbacks aid with carrying long objects like golf clubs, skis, snowboards, and of course, hockey sticks! The rear seats also come with a 2-stage (seat and back) heating system with separate controls. This is a big bonus for us Canadians. Gone are the days where only the front seat passengers can enjoy the comfort of heated seats when it’s minus one million degrees celcius in Fenruary.
As far as motor options go, the Legacy can be equipped with a 2.5-litre boxer four-cylinder that puts out 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet. This is the same basic powerplant that debuted last year, but it’s been upgraded to make it slightly more powerful and efficient. A 3.6 litre six-cylinder boxer engine is optional and puts 256 hp and 247 lb-ft to all four wheels. Vroom. Vroom.
As mentioned before, in Canada, we have the option of buying the 4-cyl with a manual transmission. Save the manuals! Unfortunately, if you want to row your own, you don’t get the benefit of Subaru’s Eyesight Technology or their silky smooth 6-cyl.
Most buyers will end up with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT. As far as Subaru’s CVT system goes, it’s definitely growing on me. Subaru engineers tell us that there are two separate computer algorithms controlling the CVT that either mimic the feel of traditional gears, enabled with heavier applications of throttle, or force the engine into greater efficiency at low revs when the driver isn’t concerned about quicker acceleration. Either way, the transmission feels more natural than most. So much so that sometimes, I actually forget that I’m driving a car with a CVT. That’s pretty high praise. As always, if you decide that you want to ‘shift’ for yourself, there are paddle shifters on hand that you can grab when you want to have a little more control.
Now, let’s talk about fuel economy. People generally assume that AWD equals more money at the pumps. If we’re looking at figures, that just isn’t so. The figures for the 2015 4-cyl CVT equipped Legacy are an astounding 5.4 L/100 km highway and 7.7 L/100 km city. That puts it better than the Accord, Passat, Sonata, Camry, Fusion, and Chrylser 200! All with added bonus of having a smart AWD system with Subaru’s fantastic Torque Vectoring System to keep you in line in any type of weather or road condition.
As far as options go, as mentioned previously, the manual is only available in the 4-cyl Base ($23,495) and Touring ($26,495). Eyesight and Tech Packages are not available if you select the manual.
The base model CVT-equipped Legacy starts at $25,495, the Touring with Tech Pack at $28,995, and the Limited with all the bells and whistles at $32,395. If you’re interested in the fantastic 3.6 L boxer, you’re going to have to shell out $35,395. All prices are plus tax and delivery fees. That’s a lot of car you’re getting for the dollar.
As far as driving dynamics go, the Legacy is hands-down the funnest mid-size I’ve driven in a while. One does not generally equate mid-size sedans with fun driving dynamics. The feedback from the wheel is good. It never felt too loose on me and direction changes on the slalom track felt natural and quick.
Over uneven surfaces and large bumps, the car never felt unsettled and there was continuous feedback being communicated to my body via the chassis and steering that always let me know just how much grip I had available.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Legacy was its performance handling prowess. Taking the high speed banked oval at the Subaru Proving Ground at full-boogey, the Legacy took a set right after turn in and stayed planted. The suspension feedback at high and low speed was constant. The car did exhibit a large amount of bodyroll but don’t let that fool you. The car had immense grip and it never felt unsettled on the track or off the track. It was actually fun to drive!
The fantastic chassis combined with Subaru’s new Torque Vectoring AWD system is a winning combination for us Canadians. If this upcoming winter is anything like last winter, I know what I’d much rather be driving over any other mid-size sedan.
It seems that Subaru has accomplished what it set out to do: offer a product that’s exciting, safe, reliable, good on gas, fun to drive, well-priced, great looking. On top of all of that, the interior is a huge step up from previous generations and the amount of cargo and passenger space is tremendous.