It’s easy to take the new Subaru Legacy for granted. We did, almost every day of our long-weekend ski trip. It wasn’t until Monday morning, on our drive home, that we truly realized how much had been taken for granted. The sixth-generation Subaru Legacy builds on the same formula used when it launched in 1990: a practical, AWD, mid-size sedan powered by a flat engine. For many in the Northeast, the Legacy has been the family sedan of choice. But when Subaru builds fantastic driver’s cars, like the BRZ and WRX STi, it’s easy to overlook the capabilities of the rest of its lineup.
The new Legacy is larger inside, with only minimal exterior growth over the previous generation. Rear leg room and trunk volume have both increased noticeably with standard split fold-down rear seats to maximize carrying capacity. We took that all for granted as we stuffed the trunk full of bulky cold-weather clothing, loaded our skis with help of the folding seat, and sat all three Limited Slip writers comfortably in the cabin.
Our tester, the 2.5i Limited, arrived with all of Subaru’s available equipment. Inside, we were kept warm with front and rear heated leather seats as part of the All-Weather Package. One of the smallest features, and probably the one most taken for granted, is the windshield wiper de-icer. The upgraded harman/kardon surround-sound audio sounds like one of the best in its segment and can be controlled through the simple touch-screen infotainment screen. The cabin is quieter than ever before, as well. The Legacy gains a new acoustic windshield, more foam insulation and damping, and thicker panels in a number of spots.
For 2015, the Legacy has 360 degree suite of safety features available, including the latest version of Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist system. Looking rearward, the Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection System provides blind spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert. Ever vigilant of the road ahead, the EyeSight system uses two cameras to provide adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking. The system is capable of bringing the Legacy to a complete stop without driver intervention, earning it the highest front crash prevention rating from the IIHS. Combined with top marks in all 5 IIHS crash tests, the 2015 Legacy earned its spot on the Top Safety Pick+ list.
Underhood, the 2.5L boxer engine makes slightly more power than it did on debut in 2013. Output is up to 175hp and 174lb-ft torque, but the torque curve is flatter than before. A larger and more powerful 3.6L boxer 6-cylinder engine is also available. For the first time ever, no manual is available – the only transmission offered is Subaru’s CVT. Other mechanical changes for 2015 include a new electric power steering system and revised front and rear suspension. The 2.5i is perfect for long trips, saving fuel while cruising and providing plenty of passing power when you need it. Only on the coldest of mornings does the CVT transmission show its true colors. Most of the time, it convincingly imitates a traditional gearbox. For a family sedan, the Legacy is a good drive. It’s connected and precise, yet nobody will complain about the ride.
Of course, the thing we took most for granted is Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system. The Legacy uses an updated version of the Active Torque Split system. There are fewer differentials and settings here than are fitted to the WRX STi. A central differential controls the torque split automatically, diverting more power rearward when required. The Legacy doesn’t offer any Sport or Sport Sharp settings like the Forester XT did. Our ski trip corresponded with the arrival of Winter Storm Nemo. Boston had cancelled school for the next 48 hours, travel advisories were issued, and we were packing for our drive home.
With winter driving, slow and steady wins the race. As such, the drive took 3 hours longer than it normally would. Road conditions ranged between acceptable and downright dangerous. Visibility was equally variable. We passed a number of accidents and experienced one or two hair-raising moments ourselves, but the Subaru did an excellent job of communicating the limits of adhesion. AWD will help things get moving, but underway it does little to help change direction and offer no help slowing down. Traction control and ABS help limit overly sever inputs, but control ultimately rests with the driver. Gentle, methodical inputs prevent traction disruption. In the Subaru, you can feel the systems working and you can feel the effects of your inputs. It might sound strange, but after “talking” to the Legacy for seven hours, I understood what we could and (probably more importantly) and could not do.
When it was all said and done, we had covered 866 miles, pumped more than 3 gallons of washer fluid onto the windshield, and averaged 28.3 mpg. What did we learn? If you haven’t caught onto the theme quite yet, let’s recap. With careful attention, it can conquer the worst conditions with confidence. When conditions are better, especially on the slopes, the Legacy will swallow your friend and your gear. Nobody will complain about being cramped or uncomfortable. More importantly, it carries the highest crash safety and accident avoidance ratings in its class. As equipped, the 2015 Subaru Legacy packs plenty of features for thousands less than the equivalent Ford Fusion or Chrysler 200. It’s definitely one car that you shouldn’t take for granted.
|2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited
|Moonroof Package + Keyless Access & Push-Button Start + Navigation + Eyesight||$2,990|
|Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV)||$300|
|As Tested MSRP||$30,580|
Photos courtesy Subaru