First Drive: 2015 Subaru Legacy Review

Subaru’s All-New Legacy Sedan Might Just Shatter Perceptions

Lafayette, IN – Now with a higher level of refinement, style, and comfort paired to an industry-leading all-wheel drive system and lower price-point than previous years, the all-new, sixth-generation 2015 Subaru Legacy celebrates it’s 25th anniversary. But with relatively low consumer awareness for the Legacy, will car buyers stick around when the party’s over for what is perhaps the most underrated midsize sedan out there? Well, if you’re an independent-thinker bucking the trends (Camrys, Accords, and Altimas), you certainly should.

Also read: First Drive: 2018 Subaru Legacy Review

Subaru’s challenges at a higher price-point

Subaru’s success has been a double-edged sword, where a reputation for renowned safety and standard all-wheel drive evidently trumps all else. And while Subaru-fans have seen beyond the uncertainties and stigmas, holding on to their Subies leading to low resale inventory for these reliable Japanese vehicles, the mass market hasn’t quite caught on. Misunderstood, if you will.

review 2015 Subaru Legacy rear view

However, some of these perceptions hold some merit: Subaru is expensive (which it was compared to it’s Japanese counterparts); not too refined, utility-focused cabin (true); no idea Subaru is a Japanese brand (until perhaps the Sumo-wrestler ad campaigns several years back).

But, this is all changing for Subaru, big-time with vehicles like the XV, Forrester, and 2015 Impreza leading the way, so all that’s left now is educating the consumer, changing perceptions and repositioning the all-new Legacy. Fortunately, the hard part is done — Subaru is paving a new path producing well-designed, more-refined line of vehicles with incredible value, essentially, building on it’s proven strengths — reliability, engineering, versatility, safety — while elevating everything else including sleek exterior styling and more luxurious interior appointements. Frankly, giving new car buyers very little excuse to visit a Subaru dealer.

96% of Legacy sold in Canada in the last 10 years are still on the road today

Chatting with Ted Lalka – VP, Marketing and Product Planning Subaru Canada – I asked Ted how the automaker plans to reach the Canadian masses to help reposition the Subaru brand. He explains the three main drivers include more marketing, credible advice from accredited media, and of course (and perhaps the most vital), word of mouth — but not from your proud uncle who’s owned his 1993 Legacy since day one, but from a new crop of independent-thinking, active Subaru owners.

The automaker is selling more units in Canada than ever before — paired with the old word-of-mouth, Subaru hopes new consumers flock to and learn more about the established brand the best way possible: from other Subaru owners. If you build it (and build it well), they will come. Add the magic and persuasion of marketing reaching a smart, self-thinking group of car buyers, Subaru is poised to do very well.

1991 Subaru Legacy GT Touring Wagon
The Badass 1991 Subaru Legacy GT Touring Wagon

This Writer’s Perception of the Legacy

Personally, when I think of the Subaru Legacy, a couple versions come to mind. One, is the second and third-generation Legacy wagon in that musky, goldish paint only the Legacy could pull off, along with the one-piece red taillight styling adorned with large, boxy yet subtle Subaru spanned light to light; and for some reason (in my mind anyway), always driven by cool librarians, gardiners, old dudes with white beards, or younger drivers with parents keys. Also, cat people.

Then theres the badass Subaru Legacy from Japan, including the 1991 Subaru Legacy GT Touring Wagon. Back in the day, shooting for the tuner magazines having shot probably dozens of Impreza and STI, I’d come across these tuned-out Legacy Wagons rolling with the Subaru crew. Always magazine-worthy but missing that pizzaz and popularity of it’s younger, more dynamic Impreza sibling. Nevertheless, these modest rides always caught my attention and were arguably the coolest wagons at the time. 

2015 Subaru Legacy Sleeker Exterior Styling

Gone are the Legacy wagon and WRX/WRX STI hatchback. Hence, we’re left with two outstanding sedans sharing similar exterior styling and lines. Overall, the new 2015 Legacy looks more aerodynamic, streamlined, and muscular. Immediately, you’ll notice the more fluid, clean lines shaping the 2015 Legacy.

A coupe-inspired roofline adds a sleeker look without compromising cabin space, paired to a more raked A-pillar moved forward adding some aerodynamic styling. The shoulderlines stick out less than the previous fifth-generation version and the roofline is lowered to enhance the fluid styling while maintaining good rear head space.

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But it’s the front-end, rear-end design characteristics that will truly define the car. And the new Legacy’s backend design looks terrific; nothing too crazy or trying too hard, like strange, protruding taillights. Instead, the wraparound taillights are clean, sharing the same C-shaped design as headlights so everything looks consistent. The subtle, stylish duck-shaped rear spoiler extends the aerodynamic, fluidic shape and suites the car. Dual exhaust look great, especially on the 3.6 trim; the actual chrome tips I noticed are hearty…it’s obvious Subaru is building higher-performance vehicles and paying attention to the details.

Front-end is equally balanced and looks both sporty yet much more sophisticated, also sharing the same nosecone configuration as the race-proven WRX. The bold, new bottom-grill fascia with sharper elements wraps around with integrated fog lamps. Overall, the 2015 Legacy sedan styling is probably not what most would anticipate — instead, treated to a significantly more refined, elegant looking Legacy with a good dose of sports appeal.


New Legacy’s Interior 

Immediately, the few things that jumped out inside the all-new Legacy include the much (much) more refined cabin with soft touch surfaces, and the significantly enhanced infotainment system with new 6.2-inch LCD screen/control layout. Then, once on the highway, it’s evident how quiet the Legacy cabin truly is. We found ourselves caught in a furious, rumbling Indiana rainstorm on the highway where the noise-suppressed interior environment was even more pronounced.

The steering wheel is completely new with satellite switches and is overall comfortable to grip. The raked windshield certainly looks sportier but also provides greater outward visibility as well. Throughout, the 2015 Legacy finds new soft-touch materials (a stark contrast to previous generations) with more cushion and comfort, including increased cushion layers along the door armrests, A-pillars, and centre console lid (which by the way, is larger for 2015 and can hold an iPad).

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Other interior upgrades include memory seats, a proximity key with push button ignition start, keyless remote FOB, a larger sunroof opening (extra 35mm-plus), and better quality/softer leather seats.

2015-subaru-legacy-review-centre-stackA pleasant surprise is the enhanced infotainment setup, both the new interface and hard switch layout. The entire styling of both are simple, clean, and easy to use; not to mention more stylish than the outgoing Legacy. Base is a 6.2-inch hi-res display with an all-new user interface with simple gesture screen. Optional, is a 7-inch hi-res display with embedded navigation with SiriusXM traffic, electrostatic touch screen and buttons, multi-gesture touch screen (ability to pinch, scroll, swipe…found this handy for navigational maps, instead of fiddling with on-screen buttons) and available satellite radio. An optional 12-speaker, 576-watt Harman Kardon audio system is available.

Despite having nearly the same exterior footprint as the outgoing Legacy, the all-new 2015 Legacy actually offers increased cabin space and roominess including ample legroom for rear passengers. The trunk is larger and standard 60/40 split folding rear seats will expand cargo even further.

Interior Gallery:

The 2015 Subaru Legacy Model Lineup and Pricing

Starting at $23,495 CAD MSRP, the Legacy sedan with all-wheel drive and standard Active Torque Vectoring to name a couple features, is an exceptional value. Even at $35,395 for the 3.6L at the top-end, you’re getting into a performance sedan with proven reliability and award-winning safety. And now, with some serious style and refinement.

2.5i Legacy  – $23,495 CAD MSRP

2.5L SUBARU BOXER engine with Active Valve Control System, 4-cylinder; 6-speed Manual Transmission; 175-hp and 174 lb.-ft.

2.5i CVT – $24,795

2.5L engine with Active Valve Control System, 4-cylinder; Lineartronic CVT; 175-hp and 74 lb.-ft.

2.5i CVT with PZEV Option – $25,495

2.5L engine with Active Valve Control System, 4-cylinder; Lineartronic CVT transmission; 175-hp and 174 lb.-ft.

2.5i Touring Package – $26,495

2.5L engine with Active Valve Control System, 4-cylinder; 6-speed Manual Transmission; 175-hp and 174 lb.-ft.

2.5i Touring Package CVT – $27,795

2.5L engine with Active Valve Control System, 4-cylinder; Lineartronic CVT; 175-hp and 174 lb.-ft.

2.5i Touring with Technology Package Option – $28,995

2.5L engine with Active Valve Control System, 4-cylinder; Lineartronic CVT; 175-hp and 174 lb.-ft.

2.5i Limited Package – $31,195

2.5L engine with Active Valve Control System, 4-cylinder; Lineartronic CVT; 175-hp and 174 lb.-ft.

2.5i Limited with Technology Package Option – $32,395

2.5L engine with Active Valve Control System, 4-cylinder; Lineartronic CVT; 175-hp and 174 lb.-ft.

3.6 Touring Package – $30,795

3.6L  engine SUBARU BOXER with Dual Active Valve Control System, 6-cylinder; High-torque Lineartronic CVT; 256-hp and 247 lb.-ft.

3.6 Limited Package – $34,195

3.6L engine with Dual Active Valve Control System, 6-cylinder; High-torque Lineartronic CVT; 256-hp and 247 lb.-ft.

3.6 Limited with Technology Package Option – $35,395

3.6L engine with Dual Active Valve Control System, 6-cylinder; High-torque Lineartronic CVT; 256-hp and 247 lb.-ft.

2015 Legacy All-Wheel Drive, Power and Handling

Depending on the transmission, the 2015 Subaru Legacy comes with a slightly different configuration. Legacy outfitted with the Lineartronic CVT find a newly refined version of the Active Torque Split version of the AWD, whereas the 6-speed Legacy connects to a viscous-coupling limited-slip centre differential providing neutral handling capabilities and maximum driver control.

As for power, the choices include either 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder SUBARU BOXER engines with standard 6-speed or optional Lineartronic CVT. Of course, all equipped with standard all-wheel drive — the only sedan in it’s class to offer this.

For a midsize sedan, the new Legacy handles extraordinarily. I had the opportunity to take both the 2.5L and 3.6L trims through a short slalom. Frankly, the less expensive 2.5L proved to provide ample power and torque pulling out of corners even compared to the more robust 3.6L 6-cylinder model. Hence, the smaller displacement feels refined, quick, and not underpowered at all.

2015 Subaru Legacy review front view

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All this goodness coupled to the Active Torque Vectoring (an enhanced version of Subaru’s previous Vehicle Dynamic Control, VDC), the Legacy finds even greater handling agility, particularly in the corners and higher speeds, where the torque compensation system, or vectoring, really shines; the system applies brake pressure to the inside front wheel to facilitate more neutral cornering. Add revised spring and damper tuning with sporty 17-inch wheels standard — 18-inch on the Limited Package model — plus the addition of ventilated rear brakes from the 6-cylinder Legacy now also available on all 4-cylinder versions (replacing solid disc brakes), it’s clear the 2015 Subaru Legacy remains, despite all it’s new refinement, a performance-oriented vehicle consumers should be aware of. And strongly consider.

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The all-new 2015 Subaru Legacy goes on sale Summer 2015. Visit here for more info

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Amee Reehal
Shooting motors professionally since film was a thing, Amee's work has been published in various outlets including NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, SuperStreet, GlobeDrive, MotorTrend, and others. He's a writer, editor at, AJAC member, and full-time digital marketer at Traction Media working with national brands. Find him traveling, spending time with his kids and family. Or golfing, poorly.