Subaru Legacy Sedan: Running On All Fours

If you live close to an ocean, lake, river, mountains or desert this Subaru may be the ideal sedan for you. Add to that possibility of El Niño storms, commuter traffic, uneven fuel prices and the need for a dependable all-weather vehicle that gets exceptional mileage, holds five in comfort, and is imbued with the latest in safety equipment, and the Legacy becomes even more attractive. Now consider the price for this versatility with a MSRP of under $22,000.

It is no wonder that national surveys have listed Subaru as having some of the most loyal owners and best quality ratings in the business, and there is ample reason for these as they stick to the basics. You won’t find them on the cover of automobile magazines, but you will find them in the driveways of people who appreciate such things as brake-based active torque-vectoring, high crash test scores and outstanding resale value.

Mom’s view: This a surprising and spacious sedan compared to the competition. Indeed, we were so enamored by its ride, fuel consumption, and usefulness that we kept it a few extra days. The trunk holds 15 cubic feet of bargains, there is an abundance of interior storage and a plethora of safety equipment. Our test vehicle had a rearview camera and a unique seat-mounted under-knee airbag that inflates in front collisions to keep front passengers in their seats. There was also the EyeSight option with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane-departure warning. The interior seat material was a bit clingy for me, but the dash layout and instrument panel were quite good. I liked the navigation and information systems where the controls were located on the outside of the monitor. And, finally, there were real volume and tuning knobs to make it easy to adjust audio levels. The bottom line for me was a vehicle that was safe, family friendly, and a bargain. A bit different, yes, but in a good way.

Dad’s view: Subaru’s active-torque-split symmetrical AWD is the best in the business for family vehicles, allowing you to keep control in traction-trying times. The steering is electric and provides good feedback, and the brakes are above average. You can get a six-cylinder engine, but the four-cylinder, 175 horsepower 2.5i is all you need unless towing or high speed mountain passing is your forte. EPA mileage for the base engine is a remarkable 26/36 and we averaged 32 in mixed driving. Very noteworthy numbers, and the tank is large, too, making long trips without refueling possible. The ride can be bumpy over taxpayer-money-deprived roads. The CV transmission takes a lot of the fun out of the Legacy, but also helps with its gas mileage, and Subaru has a manual mode which is especially helpful on hill descents. Overall, the Legacy is well worth the investment for those who need the all-wheel drive component and, perhaps, are listening to that different drummer.

Young working woman’s view: The Subaru is supposed to be dog friendly. The problem was when we went to the dealer in Ontario, California, to have our dog pictured in the back of one they refused. Oh, well. The real reason for this review is to try to explain to readers why they should consider a Subaru over the more traditional choices such as those from Ford and Honda. What makes that more difficult for me is that the newly designed Subaru is starting to look more like its competitors. So, it must be something else and that is the all-wheel drive system and very competitive pricing. In essence, Subaru is giving you its sophisticated system without additional charge or even a penalty in gas mileage. If you travel where inclement weather prevails and family safety is a concern the choice is Subaru. If you enjoy a bit more performance the WRX is a sure bet.

Young unemployed male’s view: There are quite a few features on the Legacy such as Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, a 6.2-inch monitor and smart-phone integration. They work well, but if you want better, opt for the 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and a voice-activated infotainment system. If the 2015 model is anything like previous generations it should get excellent safety scores. The EyeSight option is amazing and is able to slow the vehicle and even stop it if another car is in the way. Great for commuting and includes lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts. The StarLink app offers current media information from weather to stocks. I have owned a Subaru in the past and they are a rugged and fun vehicle, and I expect this modern model to continue that tradition.

Family conference: Readers who are looking for a bland commuter vehicle, look elsewhere. But, if you treasure the ability to trudge outside the city, to challenge your sense of adventure, and to still keep costs down, the family friendly Subaru Legacy is worth considering. Just make sure you get the EyeSight system.

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