Subaru did just that with the Legacy. They admit that when a controlled group was questioned about their midsize sedan, the Legacy, that most didn’t even know what it was, and for those who knew they had skewed perceptions about high prices and bad fuel economy due to AWD. However, they also associated the brand, Subaru, with reliability, longevity, all-weather capability, and rally heritage.
So, how is Subaru to overcome these perceptions with their brand new 2015 Subaru Legacy and leverage their vehicle in a highly competitive segment loaded with cars the general public readily identifies and remembers? I was sent to sunny Lafayette, Indiana to find out.
What is a Subaru Legacy?
The Legacy has been in North America for six generations now, first appearing in the mid-‘80s. Always all-wheel drive, the Subaru Legacy offered the buying public a practical all-weather vehicle that wasn’t a big SUV. Of the Subaru Legacys sold over the past 10 years, 96% are still on the road today.
For 25 years the Subaru Legacy has traversed all types of roads in all sorts of weather, and Subaru is extremely proud to usher this particular vehicle into its quarter-century birthday year.
2015 Subaru Legacy Price and Specs
First and foremost: the Canadian market will get a 6-speed manual transmission option that the Americans will not. Said transmission will only be available on the base 175 horsepower 2.5i model (up 2 hp). That particular model will start at just $23,495.
The 256 horsepower 3.6R 6-cylinder comes only with the remapped and reworked CVT, and in Touring trim starts at $30,795. At the very top of Legacy ladder sits the 3.6 Limited with a Technology Package (that includes EyeSight) with a CVT for a starting price of $35,395.
Of note, the CVT will “shift” since Subaru recognized the public’s need for familiarity and the desire to avoid the drone of a CVT. It will row through a fake six gears or ramp up to eight if it feels you’re driving more aggressively.
All-wheel drive is, of course, standard on all 2015 Subaru Legacy models.
Driving the 2015 Subaru Legacy
Here’s where it comes down to the old adage: You’ll never know if you like it till you give it a go. For those who don’t know about Subaru as a brand or more precisely the Legacy as a car, I implore you to get behind the wheel of this new model.
My time behind the wheel of the 2015 Subaru Legacy began at the Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. testing grounds complete with an oval speed track and slalom course for handling. Jumping from the 2.5i to the 3.6R proved one very clear thing to me: You’ll be plenty satisfied with the 2.5i.
Sure, the 3.6R is peppier and “sportier” but the fake CVT shifts are a bit too harsh for my liking -- even though I did appreciate the illusion of gears. In the 2.5i the “gear changes” are much more subtle, and smooth; ideal for this segment.
The beauty with the 2.5i is that it is powerful enough for what the 2015 Subaru Legacy is all about: everyday driving. Steering is light but still felt connected, and the ride is supple and comfortable even over severely uneven surfaces at the test facilities.
Inside and Out of the 2015 Subaru Legacy
Changes to the outside of the Legacy are tasteful and just enough to make it stand out ever so slightly. The difficult thing about this segment is the fact that it wants to reach such a broad audience, and that means keeping designs in that comfortable box that everyone can agree on -- nothing drastic.
Inside, the interior is typically Subaru, and yet manages to feel upscale and even a bit on the lux side. Of note; Subaru widened and lengthened their front seats to accommodate more buyers and make them more comfortable. And heated seats are now available in the second row.
Blissfully, Subaru also upgraded and changed their HMI and entertainment system. Standard in the 2.5i is a 6.2” touchscreen, and with a Technology Package on higher trims a 7” touchscreen a la Apple (meaning pinch, slide, and scroll works) is available as well as a Harmon/Kardon speaker system.
Overall, the centre stack was nicely updated and looks sleek and sophisticated. Climate controls are well located, and the steering wheel is ergonomically sound and also a pleasure to hold.
Comparing the 2015 Subaru Legacy
The Legacy’s biggest downfall is its inconspicuousness. If it had as much brand history as the Honda Accord or as much aesthetic class as the Mazda6 or even as much “Yeah, we’ve always had Toyotas so I’m gonna get one” as the Camry, then it would have a fighting chance.
Until model awareness grows, I’m not so sure the Legacy will beat out its Asian counterparts in terms of sales just yet, despite having a fantastic product well worth the money to drive.