2015 Subaru Legacy – Ruge’s Subaru – NY Daily News

10 Feb

Subaru has made a major move towards the middle of the midsize sedan market, and the 2015 Legacy sedan is proof the brand is no longer a quirky outlier. That’s great, if you’ve never considered a Subaru before.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 11:47 AM
The all-wheel-drive has a starting price of $21,695 in standard 2.5i trim. Our 2.5i Limited tester starts at $26,495.SUBARUThe all-wheel-drive has a starting price of $21,695 in standard 2.5i trim. Our 2.5i Limited tester starts at $26,495.

Few vehicles outside of the sports car and supercar world draw this kind of buzz and attention, at least when it comes to questions from friends and family. Tell your posse you’re going to drive a Dodge Viper or Bentley Continental, and everyone wants a ride around the block.

Tell the same group you’re test driving a Subaru Legacy sedan for a week, however, and those same tag-alongs suddenly want a whole lot of serious advice regarding the pros and cons of this increasingly popular, all-wheel-drive midsize sedan.

There’s a very good reason and, to borrow a phrase from the real estate market, a large part of this automotive inquisitiveness stems from one simple thing: location, location, location! Around the New York metro area, and throughout the Northeast, Subaru vehicles are seemingly everywhere, thanks to their reputation for ruggedness and all-wheel-drive capability.

Remember, no matter if you’re shopping for a base Legacy 2.5i starting around $21,600, or a range-topping 3.6R Limited at nearly $30,000, Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive is fitted as standard equipment.

Given the wintry weather that has blanketed many parts of the country with snow, this alone can be a deal-breaker when it comes to cross-shopping the Legacy against rivals like the Camry, Accord, and Sonata – none of which offer AWD, even as an option. Only the Ford Fusion offers AWD, though you’re looking at a base price of roughly $27,000 when it’s added onto the SE trim level.

The 2015 Subaru Legacy has been updated this model year and sales are hitting record levels here in the U.S. market.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy has been updated this model year and sales are hitting record levels here in the U.S. market.

The new Legacy is more than about traction on snow and slush. The balance of ride and handling isn’t what I’d call sporty, but there is more of an edge than what you’d find on most rivals. Sometimes when you feel a bump in the road, it’s not always a bad thing, as long as it equates to feeling more in control of the car.

On the highway, the MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension work to keep the Subaru level and free from unwanted rocking motions. It’s a little firmer than many midsize sedan rivals but, once again, it’s best to keep things relative since we’re talking about the predominantly cushy rides provided by family cars.

Subaru has made big strides when it comes to improving the quality of the Legacy's cabin materials.
Subaru has made big strides when it comes to improving the quality of the Legacy’s cabin materials.

One driving aspect that really surprised me was the lightness of the Legacy’s steering at city speeds. Merging onto the northbound FDR Highway via a Brooklyn Bridge-based entrance ramp, the variable-assist rack and pinion steering offered very little initial bite or feel of the road. It pointed the car where I wanted it, but I expected more from a car with all-wheel-drive and a flat-4 cylinder engine nestled low in the nose.

When you pick up speed, the steering heft I’d been waiting for finally made an appearance. The Legacy tracked straight and true, with no hint of wander at highway speeds. For my money, it would be tough to choose between the standard 4-cylinder and the 256-horsepower 3.6-liter flat-6 in the 3.6R model. Both engines are fitted with a smooth and unobtrusive Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

The bigger engine would make the Legacy quicker, of course. Then again, I was pleased with the acceleration provided by the standard motor, which is saying something because I was uncertain how a 175-horsepower engine might cope with a weighing close to 3,500 lbs. From the driver’s seat the 4-cylinder had enough pep, both in city driving and on the highway.

Our Legacy test car also came with a blind spot warning system - a very worthwhile option.SUBARUOur Legacy test car also came with a blind spot warning system – a very worthwhile option.

One of the main reasons I’d consider the larger engine is the greater weight it would place in the nose of Legacy (the 6-cylinder weighs nearly 200 lbs. more than the 2.5i Limited). That could, theoretically, offer the meatier steering feel I was initially missing in the 2.5i Limited. (Sounds like a test drive of the Legacy 3.6R is needed!)

Then again, the bigger motor commands a premium of several thousand bucks over the 2.5i Limited. It’s also thirstier, with an EPA rating of 20-mpg city/29-mpg highway. The 4-cyliner posts an impressive average of 26 city/36 highway – though during my week-long drive, which included mostly highway driving, I never saw my MPGs creep past the high-20s.

Peek inside the cabin and you’ll see Subaru has made major steps forward with the Legacy’s interior. My test car had leather seating surfaces and a classy matte finish wood trim on the dash. The plastic used on the doors and dashboard is tough and a little rubbery, like a good water-proof work boot. At heart, Subaru is still much more L.L. Bean than Prada (and that’s okay).

It sure isn't the prettiest engine out there. But the 175-horsepower flat-4 in the Legacy has suitable power for most everyday driving needs.SUBARUIt sure isn’t the prettiest engine out there. But the 175-horsepower flat-4 in the Legacy has suitable power for most everyday driving needs.

The multi-function steering wheel has a whole lot going on in terms of all the knobs, toggle switches, and buttons that cover it. With the headrests angled forward, the front seats were comfortable and there’s plenty of room in the back for full-sized passengers. The trunk offers 15 cu. ft. of cargo room, and split-folding rear seats help boost this when needed.

The center-mounted infotainment center and touch-screen is generally a very impressive system, with its clear graphics and simple layout. I only screwed things up when trying to navigate it while using the steering wheel-mounted controls (i.e. jumping to radio tune when trying adjusting the map, or vice versa).

But with the winter sun low in the sky, the navigation screen often washed out in direct sunlight. It happened more than a few times, so I can’t chalk it up to one fluke occurrence or a particularly pesky sunrise/sunset.

The variable assist handling firms up at highway speed, but we found it too light during city driving.SUBARUThe variable assist handling firms up at highway speed, but we found it too light during city driving.

The Legacy continues Subaru’s strength when it comes to safety features. My test car was fitted with the optional blind-spot detection, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warnings, and adaptive cruise control. A rear-view camera is now standard on all Legacy sedans, as are dual front airbags, driver and passenger seat cushion airbags, full-length side-curtain bags and dual seat-mounted side pelvis/torso airbags. With all that onboard, it should come as no surprise that the new Legacy is rated a “Top Safety Pick+” after undergoing crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Oh yes, the 2015 Legacy also happens to be a very good-looking car. We know, Subaru is about going against the grain and being anti-style. Sorry, this isn’t 1992, so you’ll finally have to accept you’re not going to find a trusty Justy AWD or Loyale station-wagon at your local Subie dealer anymore. The new Legacy has a clean and upscale look, though I’d swear the new front grille and blue Subaru logo could be swapped into the front of a 2015 Ford Taurus.

Subaru seems to re-invent its look every few years, but I think this will go down as one of the more attractive generations of Legacy. It’s certainly one of the most popular, as Subaru sales continue to set records here in the U.S.

Like the front of the Legacy, the rear of the car has a squarer overall look to it.SUBARULike the front of the Legacy, the rear of the car has a squarer overall look to it.

The brand’s independent streak remains, even if the new Legacy is like a cozy restaurant you’ve known and loved for years, but a sudden burst in popularity has made it impossible to get a seat.

A handsome exterior, big steps forward in safety, better cabin materials and, let’s not forget, the standard fitment of all-wheel-drive all conspire to make the Legacy an increasingly compelling choice amongst more standard issue sedans.

The light handling still left me wondering how some have labeled the Legacy as being “like a big WRX.” Really?! No, it really isn’t – but I don’t think it’s trying to be one, at least not in 2.5i format.

Much more ‘trending’ than anti-establishment, the new 2015 Legacy is still a very solid and safe Subaru in the finest tradition of this one-time midsize sedan outlier.

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