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2015 Subaru Legacy vs. 2015 Ford Fusion: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro June 2015

If you're interested in buying a new midsize sedan, you should have the 2015 Subaru Legacy and the 2015 Ford Fusion on your shopping list -- especially if you live in an area with cold weather, as these are two of only a few contemporary midsize sedans that offer the year-round security of all-wheel drive. But which one is better? We took an in-depth look at both models to find out, but first let's see what's new with the Legacy and the Fusion for the latest model year.

2015 Subaru Legacy

The Legacy has been completely redesigned for 2015. Changes include a new look inside and out, along with improved technology, additional features and better gas mileage.

2015 Ford Fusion

Following a full redesign for 2013 and updates last year, the Fusion is largely unchanged for 2015 -- save for a newly standard backup camera.

Reliability

According to reliability experts at J.D. Power, the Fusion earned a 4-circle score -- indicating above-average reliability -- in the firm's Power Circle Ratings. While the redesigned 2015 Legacy is too new for its own reliability ratings, last year's model, which is mechanically similar to the new version, also earned an above-average 4-circle score. When it comes to warranty length, the two cars are identical: 3 years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 5 years or 60,000 miles of powertrain protection. As a result, neither model stands out from the other in terms of reliability.

Fuel Economy

The Legacy offers two engines. Most models use a 173-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, which touts an impressive 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the standard continuously variable transmission. For drivers who want more muscle, the Legacy's optional 6-cylinder engine boasts 256 hp and fuel economy ratings of up to 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

The Fusion, meanwhile, offers an impressive five engine options, ranging from frugal (there's a hybrid version that gets 44 mpg city/41 mpg hwy, along with an even more efficient plug-in hybrid model) to sporty (there's a 240-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder that tops the lineup). But you don't have to go hybrid for an efficient Fusion. The sedan's gas-powered engines come very close to toppling the Legacy's 26 mpg city/36 mpg hwy rating with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine topping out at 25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy.

To us, the Fusion wins this category. Not only do its hybrid models soundly beat out the gas-only Legacy, but the Fusion's gas-powered variants tout roughly the same fuel economy, too. Still, we suspect that drivers won't exactly be disappointed with the Legacy's fuel economy figures -- especially when you consider its standard all-wheel drive.

Safety

In government crash tests carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Fusion earned a perfect 5-star overall safety rating, and so did the Legacy. In crash testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Legacy earned a slightly better designation than the Fusion. It was named a Top Safety Pick+, while the Fusion was named a Top Safety Pick, stemming from the Legacy's more advanced forward-collision braking system.

Speaking of that system, we think the Legacy offers a major advantage over the Fusion by touting its EyeSight suite of safety features at such a reasonable price. While the Legacy doesn't have any major safety-feature technology advancements over the Fusion (save for that better precollision braking system), the Legacy's system is so much cheaper than the Fusion's safety tech that it would be hard to justify buying a Legacy without it. While both the Legacy and the Fusion offer roughly the same excellent crash protection, the Subaru earns our vote in the safety category for this impressive benefit alone.

Technology

Although we love the Subaru's impressive suite of safety features and the relatively reasonable price at which it's available, we think the Fusion offers a longer overall list of standard and optional technology. We like Ford's ever-improving MyFord Touch system better than Subaru's infotainment system, for instance -- though Subaru's system has improved dramatically for 2015. The Fusion also offers several modern items that aren't available in the Legacy, including a remote starter, ventilated front seats, lane-keep assist and a heated steering wheel.

While the Legacy is hardly a Luddite's car, the Fusion goes above and beyond, offering several additional excellent tech features and options that you can't get in the Legacy. Neither car will disappoint, but the Fusion will delight a little more than the Subaru.

Value

Choosing a winner when it comes to value depends greatly on what you're looking for. For instance, the Legacy features standard all-wheel drive, while you have to spend several thousand dollars extra to get it in the Fusion. Meanwhile, the Fusion offers a 40-mpg-plus hybrid variant, which isn't available in the Legacy. But the Legacy offers its safety equipment at a much better price than the Fusion does -- though it's the Fusion that offers more overall technology. As a result, the answer to the value question depends greatly on precisely what you're looking for in your midsize sedan.

Autotrader's Advice

Choosing between the 2015 Ford Fusion and the 2015 Subaru Legacy is very difficult because these are undoubtedly two of the shining stars of the midsize-sedan segment. But which one would we pick?

The answer, as you might suspect based on our decision in the value segment, is that it depends on what you want. Pricing for both cars is similar, and so is interior room. But each car touts a few benefits over the other, such as the Legacy's standard all-wheel drive and cheaper safety features or the Fusion's available hybrid variant and its longer list of gadgets. You can't go wrong with either of these cars, but you should take a long drive in both to see which one you prefer.

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Used 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium
Used 2015 Subaru Legacy
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Used 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium
Used 2015 Subaru Legacy
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Used 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited
Used 2015 Subaru Legacy
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Used 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited
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2015 Subaru Legacy vs. 2015 Ford Fusion: Which Is Better? - Autotrader