2015 Subaru Legacy
By Tony Swan
On Sale: Summer 2014
Expected Pricing: Starting in the low $20,000s
A redesigned Subaru Legacy goes on sale this summer as a 2015 model. The 2015 Legacy is slightly larger than before, with sleeker styling and upgraded technology.
Introduced as all-new at February's Chicago Auto Show, the 2015 Subaru Legacy builds on its traditional strengths: solid construction, enviable reliability, torquey flat-four and six-cylinder engines, and all-wheel drive. To that, the 2015 Legacy adds Subaru's growing reputation for safety, increased interior volume, slicker styling, and an enhanced array of infotainment and connectivity features.
The Legacy has been a competent car that has so far failed to become a major player in the intensely competitive mid-size sedan market segment dominated by the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry, but Subaru execs think this new generation may elevate the Legacy to a warmer place in the mid-size sun. Of course, execs always think their new product will grab a bigger share of market, but the Legacy does seem to have the chops to support some optimism.
Styling: Although the new Legacy is more reserved than the concept car displayed at the 2013 LA Auto Show, it has a sleeker profile than its slightly dowdy predecessor, with a raked windshield and fast rear window, the slick four-door coupe look that's become so popular with today's sedans.
The 108.3-inch wheelbase is unchanged, but the body is 1.6 inches longer, 0.7-inch wider, and smidge (0.3 inch) lower. This yields a modest interior volume increase, always welcome, even though the current Legacy is far from cramped. Interior materials have been upgraded, as well.
More important, from a dynamic point of view, the new unibody is 43-percent stiffer, according to Subaru, allowing chassis engineers to retune the suspension for more compliance without sacrificing handling response. Standard torque vectoring should contribute to improved stability as well.
Subaru also invested in measures aimed at reducing interior noise levels: laminated acoustic windshield glass, thicker floor and fender well sheetmetal, more insulation beneath the carpeting, and more sound-deadening foam in the structure.
While Subaru positioned the 2015 Legacy as being "all-new," that description apparently does not extend to the engine bay, which is essentially unchanged from before: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and a 3.6-liter six-cylinder, both of the boxer type, with horizontally opposed cylinders. The four gets a tiny power increase, to 175 horsepower, while the six maintains at 256 hp.
Transmission choices shrink to one. The four-cylinder's 5-speed manual option has disappeared, as has the six-cylinder's conventional 5-speed automatic, both replaced by a continuously variable transmission, or CVT. All Legacy models will be equipped with paddle shifters, giving drivers the option of artificial shift steps programmed into the CVT control chips. While the CVT may or may not be good news to prospective buyers, it's good news on the fuel economy front.
Fuel economy ratings for the four-cylinder Legacy are up from the previous 24/32 mpg to an EPA-estimated 26/36 mpg City/Highway for the 2015 Legacy. The six-cylinder's ratings climb from the previous 18/25 mpg to 20/28 mpg for the 2015 Legacy.
Though these numbers are not big news in a vehicle class with several 40-mpg offerings, keep in mind that the Legacy achieves them despite the extra mass and mechanical losses associated with all-wheel drive.
As with almost any new car, the new Legacy will have more standard equipment and more safety features, as well as fancier extras. Among them: an improved navigation system with a bigger screen and a powerful audio option. Meanwhile, Subaru's reputation for safety has been growing, with five vehicles rated as top safety picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
With the new Legacy several months from its summer on sale date, Subaru wasn't ready to discuss pricing at the Chicago unveiling. But more standard features and a major makeover are rarely accompanied by reduced prices. The current Legacy starts at $20,295. We are guessing the new Legacy will start around $21,000, but that is only a guess.