Even though many consider Subaru a niche brand, the new 2015 Subaru Legacy is proof the Japanese company is going for mainstream sale numbers, while maintaining traditional Subaru traits.
In the very recent past the mere mention of Subaru conjured up images of cars blitzkrieging through the desert on rally raids such as the Paris Dakar, or station-wagons crunching through fresh snow on the way to ski slopes. They were images that reflected Subaru corporate philosophy, the desire to build a performance car that could handle the worst elements the world could throw at it. At the heart of the design were two constants, four-wheel drive, and boxer engines. For years Subaru maintained that course, until recently.
If a company is going to build cars, it needs to sell them, and numbers do not lie. One of the main numbers illustrates an obvious fact; family sedans sell well. Every mainstream auto company has a mainstream sedan, families can’t be ignored. So Subaru entered the sedan business with less than stellar results. The last Subaru Legacy was outsold by the Toyota Camry by nearly ten to one.
To shake those numbers Subaru has pulled out many, but not all, of the stops with their latest effort. The new model is sleeker than its predecessor and adopts a more coupe-like profile which decreases drag by 10 percent. It is a more visually attractive car then the one it replaces, but some may say it does not go far enough in echoing the 2013 Legacy concept vehicle shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show (pictured above). Time will tell.
Apart from the new exterior design language, the new Legacy offers more room inside and should be more refined with a quieter ride. There is a standard 6.2 inch touch screen on base models and an upgraded option on the Premium line that offers six speakers and all sorts of electronic goodies; sat radio, text messaging, USB inputs, dual climate control. The step above that is the Limited, it comes with a 576-Watt sound system with 12 Harman Kardon speakers and a voice command control.
The 2015 Subaru Legacy pushes all the right buttons while traditional traits that buyers have come to associate with the brand, like boxer engines and four-wheel drive systems, remain. The boxer engines, or “flat engines,” are engines designed where pistons stroke away from each other on a horizontal plane. The flat-four has two pistons on either side of the crankshaft that fire in opposite directions which effectively nullifies engine vibration. Less engine vibration improves engine life. The new Legacy offers two versions of the boxer engine, a 175 hp 2.5-liter flat-four with 174 lb-ft torque, or a 256 hp 3.6-liter flat six with 247 lb-ft torque. The mpg ratings are 26 city, 36 highway for the four, and 20 city, 28 highway for the six.
The power is put to the four wheels by a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The transmission doesn’t use a traditional gearbox, but instead employs two adjustable hydraulic pulleys and a chain link that connects them. As revs and engine loads change the pulleys find the optimal ratio for performance and fuel consumption. The “standard” stick-shift is gone, though there is a 6-speed manual mode that shifts the transmission into predetermined ratios.
The four-wheel drive system is a re-tweaked version of the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive offered on previous models. Power is electronically monitored to the four wheels and torque is distributed depending on driving conditions.
With the new Legacy it is obvious the brand wants to take its traditional qualities and apply them to new models. On their website they state; “The new 2015 Legacy is more than a sedan. It’s a Subaru.” They are right. The 2015 Subaru Legacy has been unveiled with a raft of new features in an attractive package while allowing old traits to remain. A job well done.
By Scott Wilson