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2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium Review By Carey Russ +VIDEO


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2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5 Premium

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium Review

Look at a 2015 Subaru Legacy sedan and it's immediately recognizable as a Subaru Legacy -- but something is different. It looks bigger -- but a quick measure shows no change in wheelbase and only fractional enlargement in exterior dimensions. A larger, re-shaped grille and new styling details give it more presence and make it look larger than it really is, while a redesigned interior really does have more space. Add upgrades to the drivetrain, suspension, and both standard and optional safety systems and the Legacy is better than ever for 2015.

As before, Subaru's Lafayette IN-assembled mid-size sedan is the only offering in its class with standard full-time all-wheel drive. That explains Subaru popularity in the snowier parts of the country, but AWD works just as well for improved traction and controllability on dry pavement. And Active Torque Vectoring has been added this year to improve cornering ability. New design and materials reduce interior noise. The Active Grille Shutter system helps improve fuel economy by closing off part of the front air intake to the radiator when maximum cooling is not needed, reducing aerodynamic drag. The new body style, with more rake to the windshield, also helps there, as do undertray panels.

Besides AWD, Subaru also means horizontally-opposed "boxer" engines, for a lower center of gravity and better forward visibility. Like other mid-size sedans, engine choice is four or six cylinders. The 2.5-liter four in 2.5i models was introduced in 2013, and has been modified a bit for lighter weight and a bit more power, now 175 hp from the previous 173. 2.5i models are offered in base, Premium, and Limited trim levels. The 256-hp 3.6-liter six in the 3.6R Limited is unchanged. The only transmission is Subaru's Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission).

The base Legacy 2.5i is hardly a no-frills car as it has nearly all expected conveniences as standard equipment. You want air conditioning, power outlets, a tilt- and telescope-adjustable steering wheel, automatic on/off headlights, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver's seat and even rarities like sun visor extensions and grocery bag holders in the trunk? All included, as now are an information display in the instrument cluster, an upgraded audio and entertainment system including a backup camera, and illuminated interior switches and console storage.

My test car for the past week was a mid-range 2.5i Premium. Which meant alloy wheels, further audio upgrades and a vehicle information display, automatic up/down front windows, dual-zone automatic climate control, and fancier interior trim. And available options including the EyeSight driver assistance system and the Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection System with blind-spot and rear cross traffic monitoring, which were fitted to my test car. Somewhat surprisingly, the navigation system and sunroof were not.

What hasn't changed is that the Legacy still has all of the characteristics that make a Subaru a Subaru, plus a bit more refinement. That means excellent traction, a properly-tuned suspension that combines comfort with good handling plus all-wheel drive traction for all sane weather and road conditions even if you live where the Ice Age is not necessarily in the past. Fuel economy, at 26 mpg for my week with minimal highway mileage, is far better than that of a 4x4 truck or SUV. Ground clearance is not at Outback height, but that's why there is an Outback. The 2015 Legacy is just like earlier examples, but with more interior space, more amenities, and a quieter driving experience.

APPEARANCE: Just because other manufacturers have put oversized grilles on the front of their cars is no reason for Subaru to follow suit. Yes, the Legacy's hexagonal chrome grille is larger, but still reasonable. The lines are more chiseled, but readily recognized and not overly busy. The base of the windshield has been moved forward two inches, and the rear window extends further back than before for a more coupe-like profile -- and decreased aerodynamic drag, further helped by the revised lower front fascia, partial undertray, and small ducktail spoiler built into the trailing edge of the trunk.

COMFORT: Form follows function but not to the detriment of style. At Premium level, the Legacy's interior is more European than Asian or American in design, featuring simple shapes, good ergonomics, and quality materials. Dark, textured soft-touch material covers the upper instrument panel and doors, reducing glare. Trim around the vents and instruments, on the steering wheel, and across the lower instrument panel, door panels, and console is aluminum-look plastic. Seats are fabric-covered with heated front cushions, the driver's power-adjustable and passenger's manual. Comfort and support are good. Premium means there is still a regular key. Blue-backlit main instruments are shaded from glare and easily visible, as is the useful information display between the tach and speedometer. Audio, bluetooth phone, information (sports, weather, stock prices, fuel prices, and vehicle monitor), and vehicle system settings are controlled via hard buttons and a touchscreen in the center of the dash. Dual-zone climate control is below that and uses standard buttons and knobs. The leather-rimmed steering wheel has further audio, cruise, safety, and information system controls, with shift paddles in the standard positions. A covered compartment at the front of the console has a power point and jack and USB connections for audio players. There is another power point in the console box, and space for drink bottles in all doors. As in most cars, the rear seat is contoured for the outboard positions, with a higher center. A medium central tunnel is not overly intrusive, and outboard passengers have plenty of space, especially legroom. Headroom there has not been sacrificed to style. Trunk space is good, but as in most sedans the opening is on the small side. The rear seatback folds 60/40 when needed, and there is a space-saver spare under the trunk floor.

SAFETY: All 2015 Legacys have a rearview camera, now closer to the center of the car for better imaging. All now have Welcome Lighting, which automatically turns cabin and exterior lighting on as the driver approaches or leaves the car. Front seat cushion airbags have been added to an already full complement of airbags including side curtain bags that can be deployed if the rollover sensors deem it necessary. A rear blind-spot and cross-traffic detection system is now available in the Premium and standard in Limited models, as is the stereo-camera controlled EyeSight system.

RIDE AND HANDLING: The Legacy's fully-independent MacPherson strut front, double wishbone rear suspension has been tweaked and tuned for better ride compliance and improved response to driver inputs. Add to that new electrically-assisted power steering that, unlike too many applications of such, feels natural, not numb, and the result is an even better driving experience. Then subtract road and drivetrain noise thanks to improved soundproofing and enjoy time inside even more. Active Torque Vectoring here means that the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) stability and traction control system applies brake pressure to the inside front wheel when the driver brakes into a corner, facilitating turn-in and reducing understeer for a more natural feel to the car's handling. Strong four-wheel vented disc brakes, with twin-piston calipers in front further add to the driving experience and safety. Unlike many competitors, which are normally front-wheel drive with torque to the rear when a computer system deems it necessary, Subaru's AWD system is full-time so there is no lag waiting for needed traction or any change in handling characteristics.

PERFORMANCE: Various internal modifications to reduce friction mean that the Legacy's 2.5-liter twincam boxer four now makes two more horsepower at its maximum, 175 (at 5600 rpm) . Torque is unchanged at 174 lb-ft of torque, with a nice broad, strong torque curve and plenty of low-rpm grunt. Which is what works in everyday life. Upgrades to the Lineartronic CVT keep it in the sweet spot more, and even though it is programmed for fuel economy I found that it worked quite well in D even on tight and hilly roads. Better drive out of corners was easily available by using the shift paddles, but never an absolute necessity. Fuel economy is very good for a medium-sized AWD car, with mid-20s around town and low 30s on the highway at real highway speeds. My 26 mpg average reflected my aversion to highway travel.

CONCLUSIONS: The 2015 Subaru Legacy brings the advantages of real all-wheel drive to the heart of the midsize sedan market.

SPECIFICATIONS
2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium


Base Price			$ 23,795
Price As Tested			$ 25,984
Engine Type			DOHC 16-valve aluminum alloy
				 horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder with
				 variable intake cam phasing
Engine Size			2.5 liters / 152 cu. in.
Horsepower			175 @ 5800 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			174 @ 4000 rpm
Transmission			electronically-controlled CVT
Wheelbase / Length		108.3 in. / 188.8 in.
Curb Weight			3455 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		19.8
Fuel Capacity			18.5 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular
Tires				P225/55 R17 97V Goodyear Assurance m+s
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc all around,
				 ABS EBD, BA standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  independent double wishbone
Drivetrain			inline front engine,
				 full-time all-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		26 / 36 / 26
0 to 60 mph				8.6  sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Option Package 14 -- includes:
  EyeSight driver-assist system: Pre-Collision Braking System,
  Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Departure Warning & Lane
  Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Throttle Management System,
  Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection System (blind-spot detection,
  rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist)			$ 1,195
Mirror Compass							$   199
Destination Charge						$   795