The 2015 Subaru Legacy represents yet another all-new version of Subaru's midsize Legacy sedan, a car that has previously failed to find mainstream success compared to offerings from rivals such as Toyota, Honda, Ford and others. While earlier Legacy models left something to be desired, the latest iteration looks to achieve major popularity with new styling, new equipment and other big updates. What's changed to help Subaru bring its 2015 Legacy to the mainstream? We'll take you through the updates.

 

Exterior

Even Subaru concedes that the outgoing Legacy model, which made its debut for the 2010 model year, looked a bit awkward from certain angles. It had huge wheel arches, a surprisingly tall body, and strangely shaped headlights that didn't quite match the car's body. That has all changed for 2015, and the Legacy now boasts a crisper, simpler look. The design now comes together more naturally with cleaner lines than before. The huge wheel arches are gone, and the sedan's look is now a lot more mainstream. Too mainstream, perhaps; some have criticized the design for being a bit too bland, but it's certainly a major change compared to last year's model.

Interior

The 2015 Legacy's interior wasn't updated quite as much as the sedan's exterior. Subaru fans will notice a familiar cabin, and while Subaru has made updates to the center stack, the gauge cluster, the center console and the steering wheel, the Legacy still offers the same simple, durable switchgear common to Subaru models. If anything, the 2015 Legacy offers a slightly simpler interior look compared to the 2014 model's attention-grabbing silver center console that was loaded down with buttons.

Mechanicals

Under the hood, little has changed to bring the Legacy from 2014 to 2015. All-wheel drive is still standard, as it has been on all Legacy models since the late 1990s. Two engines are still offered: a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder.

The biggest change is the lack of an available manual transmission. All 4-cylinder models now use the sedan's continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It helps the sedan up its numbers from last year with impressive fuel economy ratings of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Like last year's model, the 4-cylinder Legacy boasts 175 horsepower.

The 6-cylinder is carried over almost completely unchanged because that engine has never offered a manual version. The sole update is that Subaru has shelved last year's 5-speed automatic in favor of a fuel-saving CVT. Gas mileage for the 6-cylinder comes in at 20 mpg city/20 mpg hwy.

Features

The 2015 Subaru Legacy doesn't add a huge suite of new features to the outgoing model because the 2014 Legacy already offered a surprisingly long list of high-tech equipment. For example, some of the 2015 Legacy's most exciting gadgets -- forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control -- were already available in last year's model.

Still, there are a few new features for the latest model year. There's a new blind spot monitoring system, for example, and newly available adaptive fog lights. Rear cross-traffic alert is a new feature that wasn't offered for 2014 models. Buyers can also add a Harman Kardon sound system with a few extra speakers, and the Legacy now includes a standard backup camera to bring it in line with looming federal regulations. Subaru has also added a few other comfort and convenience options, such as heated rear seats and keyless entry with a push-button ignition.

Technology

The 2015 Legacy is high on technology, but so was the 2014 model. Subaru's optional EyeSight system, sold in one bundled option package, is home to most of the car's high-tech gadgets, including forward-collision alert with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning, all of which were offered for 2014. New tech features for 2015 include available rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system and adaptive fog lights. A backup camera is newly standard.

The Legacy's technology updates aren't just limited to safety. Subaru has also added keyless entry with a push-button starter, which wasn't offered on the outgoing model. Subaru has also completely overhauled the car's infotainment system, offering a 7-inch touchscreen with improved controls and an impressive array of in-car apps such as Pandora Internet Radio, Aha Radio and others. We like the new infotainment system, and we found it intuitive and easy to use.

Safety

Government crash tests have not yet been carried out for the 2015 Legacy, so we can't quite be sure how the car will stack up against the old model. We do know, however, that last year's Legacy earned a perfect 5-star overall rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) tests -- a score that consists of perfect 5-star ratings in all three of the agency's specific tests. Subaru expects the latest Legacy to offer similarly impressive crash protection.

In terms of equipment, the 2015 Legacy offers a few new features. A backup camera is newly standard, bringing Subaru into compliance with upcoming NHTSA regulations on rear visibility. The sedan also adds adaptive fog lights, which light up the road as you turn; a blind spot monitoring system, which notifies you when a car is in your blind spot; and rear cross-traffic alert, which helps you back out of parking spots by monitoring oncoming traffic to ensure that the coast is clear. Carryover options include forward-collision alert, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning.

Conclusions

We're impressed with the 2015 Legacy. Changes to the sedan's styling smooth out last year's unusual looks, while the interior remains roomy and modern. The sedan's driving experience has improved compared to the 2014 model, while fuel economy jumped to give drivers a more economical midsize sedan. In addition to its improvements, the latest Legacy still boasts everything that we loved about last year's model: a roomy cabin, standard all-wheel drive and a strong reputation for durability. We suspect the sedan will be a hit.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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