If you were to ask me what midsize I would recommend for most people, I would say the Honda Accord. It may not be the most exciting or best looking midsize sedan on sale, but it gets the basics right. From a comfortable and spacious interior, to a powertrain delivers excellent power and fuel economy, the Accord got the basics right. I wasn’t sure if anyone could challenge the Accord. But on a cold December afternoon, a 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium drove up for a week-long review. Could this be the sedan to challenge the Accord’s status as being one best midsize sedans?
The new Legacy follows the same idea as Accord on the exterior, minor changes to make it look somewhat new. In the case of Legacy, Subaru’s designers smoothed out and added a bit of roundness to the vehicle. Up front is a large, hexagonal grille with a set of larger headlights. Around back is a little lip spoiler on the trunk. The overall look isn’t something to boast about, but at least you don’t want to hide it in the garage when people come to visit.
On the interior front, the Legacy is Subaru’s best effort yet. The design is simple and clean with a good mix of soft touch plastics and faux brushed aluminum trim. Seats were wrapped in a beige cloth and provided plenty of comfort and support. A nice touch was the seats offering three-level heat, perfect for the cold weather I was driving around in at the time. Back seats offer the same amount of support and good legroom. However headroom is slightly tight for taller passengers due to a sloping roofline.
The center stack boasts either a 6.2-inch touchscreen - on base models - or an upgraded 7-inch touchscreen on higher trims. The 7-inch screen boasts capacitive touch buttons, multi-touch gesture control, and an app suite. Thankfully Subaru kept knobs for the volume and tune. The interface is easy to use and reminds me a lot of Toyota’s interface with similar fonts and design. However, the system showed signs of slowness when I would scroll through station presets or go into different sections of the system. Also, I found that using the capacitive touch buttons was a bit of hit and miss. Sometimes it would recognize that I hit the button, while other times I would have to hit it a few times for it to realize that I hit it. It's a good start, but I think Subaru needs to do a bit more work to make the system work a bit faster and recognize inputs.
See the next page for thoughts on powertain, handling, and the verdict.
For most Legacy models, they’ll come equipped with the engine found under the hood of my tester; a 2.5L boxer-four with 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and Symmetrical AWD system. For most buyers, the 2.5 is adequate. It's a bit slow off the line, but the engine gradually builds power and keeps up with the flow of traffic. However the 2.5 isn’t the most refined engine as it seems the engine produces the same amount of noise as it does in power. Not helping matters is the CVT which only exacerbates the engine refinement problems. Also, it seems Subaru’s CVT programming has a bug or two. While driving on the freeway, I found that at times that the 2.5 would be spinning around 2,000 rpms, while at other times at 1,750 rpms. I figured out that if I sped up and then slow down, the rpm would decrease. On the plus side, Subaru made the CVT mimic a regular automatic transmission with noticeable ‘shift’ points. Fuel economy is a bright spot for the Legacy 2.5i with the EPA rating it at 26 City/36 Highway/30 Combined. My week saw an average of 29 MPG.
Ride comfort is one of the Legacy’s strong points as the suspension is able to isolate bumps and road imperfections without transmitting any of it to the passengers. Noise isolation is a bit mixed with wind being kept down, although road noise is somewhat apparent. As for driving excitement, the Legacy is ok. Thanks to the all-wheel drive system and a new platform that is stiffer, the Legacy corners surprisingly well. The only items letting down are the tires and a somewhat light-weight steering.
But there is one key area that Legacy is doing much better than its rivals; active safety. Subaru’s EyeSight system handles a number of the safety systems in the Legacy, including lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. The system uses two stereo cameras mounted at the top of the windshield to scan the road ahead and provide data for the various safety systems. This setup provided one of best adaptive cruise control systems I have used as the cameras were able to keep the distance and speed I had set, along with smoothly slowing down the Legacy if someone comes into your lane. As for the lane departure warning system, it was able to detect whenever the vehicle was leaving the lane quickly. Now EyeSight is standard on higher trim Legacy models, while the Premium gets it as a $1,195 option. I would say its very much worth it.
So is the 2015 Subaru Legacy the big challenger to the Honda Accord? Not quite. In some areas such as the handling, fuel economy, and active safety system, the Legacy either matches or exceeds the Accord. However Subaru still has a lot a of work to do with Legacy’s four-cylinder to match the Accord’s refinement in the powertrain and it isn’t quite as spacious as the Accord. Still if all-wheel drive is a requirement on your shopping list, Subaru has a quite the alternative with the Legacy.
Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Legacy 2.5i, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: 2.5i Premium
Engine: 2.5L Boxer Four-Cylinder
Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,800
Torque @ RPM: 174 @ 4,000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/36/30
Curb Weight: 3,455 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Lafayette, Indiana
Base Price: $23,495
As Tested Price: $25,785 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge)
EyeSight + Blind Spot Detection & Rear Cross Traffic Alert - $1,195
Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle - $300.00