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2015 Subaru Legacy vs. 2015 Honda Accord: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2015

If you're interested in a new midsize sedan, you should have the 2015 Subaru Legacy and the 2015 Honda Accord on your shopping list. Both are excellent models that offer just about everything you might want in a midsize car, including the latest technology, excellent gas mileage and roomy, comfortable interiors. But which one is better? We've compared the two sedans to find out, but first let's see what's new with both cars for the latest model year.

2015 Subaru Legacy

The Subaru Legacy is fully redesigned for 2015. Updates include new styling inside and out, along with several new features, better fuel economy numbers and upgraded materials.

2015 Honda Accord

Following a complete redesign for 2013 and a pair of new hybrid models last year, the Honda Accord stands pat for the 2015 model year.

Reliability

Although the Subaru Legacy is too new for reliability ratings, it's worth noting that last year's model, which is mechanically similar to the 2015 version, earned four out of five circles in J.D. Power's Power Circle Ratings, indicating better-than-average reliability. The Accord also received a 4-circle rating, indicating the same better-than-average score. Meanwhile, both models offer the same warranty of 3 years or 36,000 miles of powertrain coverage and 5 years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage. As a result, this category has no winner. By any objective measure, both cars offer virtually identical excellent reliability.

Fuel Economy

When comparing base-engine fuel economy, the Legacy offers a few more miles per gallon than the Accord, which is no easy feat considering its standard all-wheel drive. Four-cylinder Legacy models tout 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, while the 4-cylinder Accord reaches only 26 mpg city/34 mpg hwy.

Meanwhile, V6-powered Accord models beat out the 6-cylinder Legacy, touting 21 mpg city/34 mpg hwy to the Subaru's still-respectable 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

But the Accord has two other trump cards that help it earn our vote for gas mileage: a hybrid model and a plug-in hybrid model, neither of which is available with the Legacy. The regular Accord Hybrid returns an amazing 50 mpg city/45 mpg hwy, while the Accord Plug-In Hybrid offers an electric mode with up to 13 miles of fully electric range.

If you're going for a gas model, we recommend the Legacy because its 4-cylinder fuel economy trumps the Accord's without any all-wheel-drive penalty. But if your biggest priority is fuel economy, we certainly recommend the excellent Accord Hybrid or the Plug-In Hybrid.

Safety

In government crash tests carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the Accord and the Legacy earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. In crash-testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Legacy earned a coveted Top Safety Pick+ score, while the Accord makes do with only a Top Safety Pick designation because it doesn't have the same level of forward-collision prevention technology as the Subaru.

Don't be fooled: The Accord offers a lot of the latest safety features and gadgets. In addition to the usual standard items such as side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and a backup camera, the Accord touts available features such as a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning. It also offers an excellent LaneWatch camera that monitors the car's blind spot during lane changes.

Few midsize sedans can trump the Legacy when it comes to safety equipment, however, and the Accord is certainly no match. Not only does the Legacy offer everything the Accord does (save for the excellent blind spot camera system), it also adds a forward-collision prevention system with automatic braking. The Legacy's safety features are also available for a lot less money than the Accord's, which means it's cheaper to buy a Legacy that's fully decked out with the latest in safety tech.

As a result, our vote here is an easy one: While both the Accord and the Legacy probably tout roughly the same level of crashworthiness, the Legacy offers more safety features than the Accord -- and at a much lower price.

Technology

As you might expect when comparing two recently revised midsize sedans, few technological differences separate the Subaru Legacy and Honda Accord. In fact, we can think of only a small handful. The Legacy's infotainment system is easier to use, for instance, while the Accord's excellent LaneWatch blind spot camera is one of the most innovative technologies available today. But the Legacy's automatic braking system is also tremendously useful and potentially lifesaving.

Our view: Unless you're really intrigued by one of the above items, neither the Legacy nor the Accord offers a major advantage in terms of technology. We suggest that you test-drive versions of both models that fit within your budget and then decide which one has more features that fit your preferences.

Value

In today's world of close competition and many choices, few midsize sedans differ greatly in price -- and that's certainly true of the Subaru Legacy and Honda Accord. In fact, their base prices are within a few hundred dollars, which is a difference that stays relatively similar as you move through the trim levels.

One model does, however, offer some major advantages: the Legacy. Not only does it come with standard all-wheel drive, which is a huge benefit for drivers in cold-weather climates, but it offers the EyeSight safety suite for far less money than the Accord's available safety equipment. It comes with a standard automatic transmission too, compared to a standard 6-speed manual -- and an optional automatic -- in the Honda.

Our choice on value is therefore the Legacy, which probably offers the best value of any midsize sedan available today. That doesn't mean that we're calling the Accord overpriced. On the contrary, we think it's just behind the Subaru in terms of value.

Autotrader's Advice

Although picking a winner in the midsize-sedan game is always hard, our money here would go to the 2015 Subaru Legacy. Both the Accord and the Legacy are excellent cars, but we like the Subaru just a little more, thanks to its standard all-wheel drive, its standard automatic transmission, its slightly better 4-cylinder fuel economy and its much more affordable suite of high-tech safety equipment. We also love how the latest Legacy drives, and we prefer its infotainment system to the Accord's unit. Both cars represent an excellent choice in the midsize-sedan world, but we think the Subaru has a slight edge.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Subaru Legacy vs. 2015 Honda Accord: Which Is Better? - Autotrader