Visiting right on the heels of our recent Mazda 6 sedan, the seventh-generation Subaru Legacy sedan is an evolutionary design outside, yet a notable new look inside. The same size, the same Crimson Pearl paint, and targeting the same shrinking sedan market as that Mazda, the new Legacy proved why this car remains a foundation product for Subaru.
With a stance that looks wider due to new LED headlamps inside a more rakish grille, the latest Legacy (also the platform for the new Outback Wagon) gains almost 1.5 inches of rear leg room while packing more features into a cabin that proved roomy, comfortable and very user-friendly. This is achieved by upgrading all of the surfaces that you interact with, like the nicely padded console sides and door panels that your legs might touch, while providing serious upgrades to the screens and information presentation.
Base Legacy sedans (starting at $22,745) use 7-inch touchscreens, while Premium ($24,995) through Limited and high-end Touring models ($36,795) get a new 11.6-inch vertical screen very similar to what Tesla uses — but with more clarity. This is a huge upgrade over the previous tack-on screen affixed to the dash, with better graphics, easier to navigate menus, plus redundant buttons for some audio and climate system functions further streamlining driver efforts for one-touch changes. Apple/Android compatibility is included, plus Wi-Fi-hot-spot capabilities on the high-resolution screen.
Push-button ignition is included here, while a CVT automatic is used in all Legacy models, backing the standard 182-hp 2.5-liter boxer-four as well as the optional 2.4-liter turbo-boxer-four with 260 hp. The flat-six motor is no longer available. EPA estimates here are 27/35/30 mpg, with a realized winter mileage of 30.7 mpg.
Subaru’s Eyesight advanced safety system is standard across the board. This gets buyers automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane centering, lane departure warning, plus adaptive cruise control. The Subaru’s cruise system proved to be one of the best setups ever experienced with subtle, yet notable, audio and visual clues that other traffic has entered your pre-determined safe zone, vehicles that will hinder your pace and alter your fuel economy as you slow, accelerate, slow, accelerate.
Along with blind-spot detection and cross-traffic alert, these aids improve your everyday driving much more than some of the other safety features as dedicated drivers (steering wheel operators not included) will grow to appreciate electronic assist over active intervention.
Premium trim also includes multiple USB ports, auto-climate system, auto stop/start system, electronic e-brake, fog lamps, tinted glass, 60/40-split-folding rear seat with secondary release levers inside the trunk, as well as outstanding three-stage seat heaters for the supportive cloth-covered seats.
During an extended duration visit, the Legacy glided over 1,400 miles of Maine roads with a ride compliance absent from too many sedans. Not nearly as sporty as the recent Mazda, the Legacy did however prove to be more relaxing to pilot, more comfortable to travel with, and more functional than the Mazda — especially with several days of wintry precipitation.
This is where the Legacy makes more sense in Maine than any one of its front-drive rivals. Shod only with compromise all-season tires, the Legacy gracefully handled undulating, crowned and snow-covered roads with an assuredness absent from Accord, Camry and the Mazda. The symmetrical AWD, with active torque vectoring now standard, could be felt altering traction as the surface pulled at various wheels. While power-sliding away from desolate, snowy intersections proved to be great fun, it took that kind of throttle abuse to make the Subbie lose grip. It would be even better to have real winter tires to exploit the engineered capabilities inherent to the Subaru’s AWD system.
Subaru has been on an amazing growth run nationally, stringing together over eight years of continuous sales expansion. Subaru is the nation’s number seven selling automotive brand, and even more impressively, the number-three-selling brand in New England, trailing only Toyota and Ford.
Compared to the hot-selling lineup of crossovers filling Subaru dealers’ showrooms, the Legacy is a niche product, as sedan sales continue to slide. For comparison, Toyota sells 10 Camry sedans for each Legacy. And competition for the Legacy will increase despite the demise of the Fusion and its optional AWD model, as Nissan’s Altima now offers optional AWD and Toyota plans an AWD Camry in 2020.
However, the Legacy is a Snow Belt stalwart. Featuring a well-balanced ride/drive dynamic and backed by an excellent AWD system plus a new focus on modern content all at great prices, the redesigned Legacy might look familiar, yet it is an appealing new model through and through.