A big surprise at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show was the introduction of the Subaru Legacy Concept. Such striking sheetmetal from the historically conservative automaker was both welcome and timely. There was even a smattering of applause from the floor!
But would the concept translate to the production model? One is so often deflated when a warmed over version of the outgoing car finally debuts.
In this case I’m happy to say that the 2015 Subaru Legacy, while losing some of the more dramatic features of the concept, retains much of the concept’s styling and presence. It’s a handsome car – a large midsize, I guess you’d call it – with a sporty coupe-like profile that really livens up the Legacy.
So, well done Subaru! This is a smart-looking car that should elevate its stature within a category of similarly eye-catching models from Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Chrysler.
The new Legacy is about the same size as the outgoing model, but provides more interior room and slightly larger cargo capacity. Underneath, the chassis is stiffened, suspension ratings increased and steering is enhanced with a new quick-ratio electric power-assisted system.
Like all Subaru products except the BRZ, the 2015 Legacy arrives with standard all-wheel drive. Mated to an automatic (continuously variable) paddle-shift transmission, it’s a system that requires no driver input. Operating in the background and now supplemented with active torque vectoring (applies brake pressure to the inside front wheel to facilitate more precise cornering), the all-wheel drive system adjusts automatically to the terrain as required.
Most Legacy models arrive with the 2.5L, four-cylinder engine, but our Lapis Blue Pearl $32,721 (includes freight and fees) tester was the six-cylinder Legacy 3.6R Touring. This entry-level six-cylinder model includes 17-inch alloy wheels, power tilting and sliding sunroof, windshield wiper de-icer, leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights and dual-zone climate control.
The Touring designation supplies a rear/side (blind spot/cross traffic) vehicle detection system, an audio/app system with 157 millimetre (6.2-inch) touch screen display, side mirror integrated turn signals, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass and auto-dimming side mirrors with approach lighting.
All Legacy models are now equipped with a one-touch turn signal, rear view camera, 10-way power driver’s seat, automatic on/off headlights, electric parking brake and heated front seats.
The key-differentiating feature with Legacy 3.6R, however, is the engine, which carries over from the 2014 model and makes 256 hp at 6,000 rpm and 247 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. This 3.6L, dual overhead camshaft, horizontally opposed “boxer” engine offers competitive (for an all-wheel drive, six cylinder sedan) fuel economy at a projected 11.9/8.2 L/100 km.
But while delivering a horsepower increase of 46 percent over the 175 hp four-cylinder engine, this flat-six doesn’t provide a commensurate increase in acceleration, requiring 7.5 seconds to reach 100 km/h from standstill compared with 8.8 seconds for the flat-four. Granted there is some additional punch, but this engine’s forté is in smoothness. Unless you’re accelerating aggressively, it’s just about silent in operation.
Inside, the Legacy is fully redesigned, and like the exterior its lines are clean, tidy and pleasing. Driving this car for an extended distance, I found the cloth-upholstered seats comfortable and easy to adjust for a fatigue-free driving experience. The doors, however, were stiff and the trunk-lid likewise required extra effort to open and close.
Outward visibility is excellent in the new Legacy, well supplemented by the side/rear detection system that flashes warnings in the rear-view mirrors and instrument panel. The big side mirrors were appreciated, as were their blind-spot monitors.