By Derek Price
Subaru has staked its reputation on all-wheel-drive cars. Every Subaru for sale these days sends traction to all four wheels.
That’s why these cars are so popular in places like Colorado, where there’s lots of snow and mountainous terrain, and the Pacific Northwest, where the roads are always wet from rainfall.
The only problem is that all-wheel drive cars burn more fuel. The last generation Legacy was rated for 32 mpg on the highway, which is drastically worst than the 40-plus mpg its most efficient competitors are achieving.
Well, there’s good news for Subaru fans. The Legacy sedan has been completely redesigned, and the engineers spent much of their time focusing on closing that fuel economy gap.
Despite the new Legacy being roomier than ever before — including the most spacious cabin of any mid-size car, according to Subraru — it’s also bumped the highway mpg rating all the way up to 36, which is remarkable.
Think about that for a second. It’s bigger than most mid-size cars. It’s sending power to all four wheels. Yet it’s getting the same fuel rating as a compact, two-wheel-drive 2015 Honda Civic with a manual transmission.
To hit those impressive numbers, Subaru took a lot of steps to reduce weight on the new Legacy, including using an aluminum hood. It also installed a continuously variable transmission (CVT). And while I’m generally no fan of CVTs and liked the heavy, solid feeling of the last generation Legacy — it reminded me of a German luxury car in many ways — this new one feels more in tune with the times.
I also like two other things about it: the premium-feeling cabin and the level of safety equipment you can get on it.
The cabin materials and construction are as good as anything in the industry right now. Switches feel tightly installed, and lots of materials are soft to the touch.
And Subaru’s upgraded EyeSight driver assist system gives it almost the same high-tech safety vibe as a new Volvo. Features like adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, steering responsive fog lights, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert make it feel like electronic guardian angels are always looking over the driver’s shoulder.
It’s a great sedan for people who value traction, comfort and safety.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium ($23,495). Options: Package with moonroof, navigation, EyeSight, blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert ($2,890), partial zero emissions vehicle ($300). Price as tested (including $795 destination charge): $27,480
Wheelbase: 108.3 in.
Length: 188.8 in.
Width: 72.4 in.
Height: 59 in.
Engine: 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder (175 horsepower, 174 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Lineartronic CVT
Estimated Mileage: 26 city, 36 highway
2015 Subaru Legacy
Why buy it?
A roomier cabin and 36-mpg highway rating are among the many improvements on the all-new Legacy. The all-wheel drive system feels amazing on wet roads.