Dependability Meets Drivability: 2015 Subaru Legacy

Subaru continues to ride on a crest of month-over-month sales increases, based largely on its mix of utility vehicles. Not to be overlooked is the midsize Subaru Legacy sedan, the only standard all-wheel drive model in the segment.

For 2015, the Legacy is all-new and Auto Trends had one 3.6R Limited edition model for a week’s worth of drive time in central North Carolina.

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited Review

The 2015 Subaru Legacy is priced from $21,695 or $1,400 more than the base 2014 model. Don’t be alarmed by the increase: the base six-speed manual transmission is gone, replaced by an automatic.

The latest edition is sold in four trim levels: 2.5i ($21,695), 2.5i Premium ($23,495), 2.5i Limited ($26,495) and 3.6R Limited ($29,595).

As equipped, the test model cost $32,585 or toward the higher end of the segment’s price point, but keeping in line with the all-wheel drive Chrysler 200 and the Ford Fusion. Incidentally, only the Subaru and the Chrysler have six cylinder engines; the Ford Fusion is powered by an inline-four.

  • The standard engine for the Subaru Legacy is a 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed (boxer) four cylinder engine making 175 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 174 foot-pounds of twist at 4,000 rpm.
  • The 3.6R is powered by a horizontally-opposed six cylinder engine making 256 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 247 foot-pounds of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Both engines are paired with a continuously variable transmission with manual mode, the latter mimicking six forward-gear “steps” as you move down the road.

Both engines return unchanged from last year, but the 3.6R swaps out a five-speed automatic for the CVT. Fuel mileage for both models has risen too from 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway to 26 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway for the four cylinder.

For the flat six, fuel mileage has increased from 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway to 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Both models take regular grade gasoline.

Sixth Generation Legacy

The latest Subaru Legacy brings this model to its sixth generation. As is common to sedans in this class, the current iteration is larger and more refined than its predecessor. Today’s midsize sedans rival the size of large sedans from the turn of the millennium and are increasingly outfitted with amenities that once appeared only in luxury cars.

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited

Once again, the current generation sits on a 108.3 inch wheelbase, but measures 0.7 inches wider and 1.6 inches longer than the previous model. Subaru shaved 0.3 inches from its height to give the sedan a sportier look.

Minor dimensional differences aside, cabin and trunk storage are slightly larger. Importantly, this model seats five comfortably despite the moderately pronounced drivetrain hump in the rear passenger compartment.

When it comes to style, the Subaru Legacy doesn’t push the design envelope. Like the Toyota Camry, the Legacy has a certain blandness that is still evident. Even so, the fascia is sportier with a slightly larger grille and a correspondingly smaller lower air intake to show for it.

The headlamps seem better proportioned and the body sculpting is more refined. Like many of its competitors the Legacy employs a coupe-like roofline for a more sophisticated look. The 3.6R is finished with dual exhaust tips, a notched trunk and wraparound tail lamps.

Standard Equipment, Trim Levels

Choose the base model and your sedan comes equipped with 17-inch wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, electric power-assist steering, an active grille shutter system and electronic parking with hill holder assist.

All models now have active torque vectoring — what applies braking pressure to the front inside wheel when handling a curve. The overall effect provides better steering and more confident handling.

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited

Inside, the base edition is outfitted with an infotainment system managed by a 6.2-inch touchscreen. This system provides smartphone integration, hands-free calling and audio streaming.

Cloth bucket seats up front and a split folding 60-40 seat is to the rear. Cruise control, air conditioning, front and rear center cup holders, in-door bottle holders, front seatback pockets, a concealed illuminated storage tray for your smartphone, a second smartphone holder and map lights are included.

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited

You also get power windows, power door locks, an overhead console for your sunglasses, sun visor extenders, front door courtesy lights, a trunk light and trunk grocery bag hooks.

Move up to the 2.5i Premium and your Subaru Legacy is outfitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and heated side mirrors, a 10-way power driver’s seat, dual climate control, an upgraded audio system, an updated instrument panel, illuminated door handles and fancier trim.

Choose the 2.5i Limited and you get a number of upgrades including 18-inch wheels wrapped within all-season tires, a 12-speaker Harmon/Kardon audio system, heated rear seats, a 4-way power front passenger seat, foldable side mirrors with integrated turn signals, fog lights, a rear center console and perforated leather-trimmed seats.

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited

The changes for the 3.6R Limited package over the 2.5i Limited include the larger engine, steering wheel paddle shifters, dual exhaust tips, high definition headlamps and larger front brake rotors.

What pushed the test model’s price up was a moonroof package that also brought in keyless access and push button start, a $2,195 add on. A $795 destination and delivery charge brought this model to its final price.

One option not included with the 3.6R is a rear cross traffic alert/blind spot detection feature, part of an EyeSight driver assist technology package. It requires the moonroof package, adding $795 to your final price.

Subaru 3.6R Limited

With its leather dressing, aluminum trim and wood inlays, the Legacy 3.6R Limited puts the polish on the model line. The driver’s seat is very comfortable and the rear seat offers very good head, shoulder, thigh and leg room.

This model comes with a two-analog display flanking a digital driver’s information center, steering wheel-mounted controls and more than enough power to get you going and keep you moving down the road.

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited

Some people are put off by CVTs, but in this case I found that the Subaru transmission didn’t hit me with the hesitant shifting or rubber-band effect found in some models. The overall power was more than enough, perhaps more than what you need.

For many shoppers, staying with the four cylinder should be sufficient and an especially good choice if you put a premium on fuel economy.

Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH)

Handling was quite good with no issues present. What does need work is the wind noise that become noticeably detectable at highway speeds. There is no escaping the fact that you will hear constant airflow seeping in through the windows.

In the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) category, the Subaru Legacy gets two out of three right. Turn on the audio system and you’ll manually “cancel” out the noise.

Will the Subaru Legacy pull in more shoppers? That seems likely based on the sales trajectory for the brand alone. That it is also the only model in the segment with standard all-wheel drive is a bonus too.

Even so, a refreshed Toyota Camry, a new Hyundai Sonata and recently introduced or updated models from Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet, Mazda and Chrysler will be ready to battle. Subaru can also tout the model’s safety features, once again ranked a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited Specifications

  • Sticker price from $29,595
  • Price as tested: from $32,585
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 3.6-liter 24-valve flat (boxer) six cylinder gasoline engine
  • 256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
  • 247 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,400 rpm
  • 3.62 inches bore by 3.58 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 10:5-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 108.3 inches
  • Length: 188.8 inches
  • Width: 72.4 inches
  • Height: 59 inches
  • Passenger volume: 104.6 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 15 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: N/R
  • EPA: 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,662 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 5 years/Unlimited miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Lafayette, Indiana

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

Matthew Keegan

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