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2015 Subaru Legacy vs. 2015 Hyundai Sonata: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro June 2015

The midsize-sedan game is constantly changing -- and two of the latest models to go on sale are the 2015 Subaru Legacy and the 2015 Hyundai Sonata. Both feature recent redesigns, which means they offer many of the most cutting-edge features, the most fuel-efficient powerplants and the latest styling. But which one is better? To find out, we've created a detailed comparison between both cars, but first let's see what's new with the Legacy and the Sonata for the 2015 model year.

2015 Subaru Legacy

The Legacy is fully redesigned for the 2015 model year. Changes include new styling, upgraded technology, enhanced safety features, an updated interior with improved materials and increased fuel efficiency.

2015 Hyundai Sonata

The Sonata is also fully redesigned for the latest model year. Like the Legacy, the Sonata offers revised styling, an upgraded interior and improved technology. It also adds a new Eco trim level with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Interestingly, the fuel-efficient Sonata Hybrid carries over unchanged for 2015, as a redesigned model is scheduled to debut next year.

Reliability

Both the latest Hyundai Sonata and the new Subaru Legacy are a little too new for reliability ratings from experts at J.D. Power. However, last-generation models fared very well, as both cars scored better than average in J.D. Power reliability ratings. We're eager to see if the new versions of both cars can continue that excellent trend.

When it comes to warranty length, however, the Subaru Legacy is dramatically outclassed by the Sonata: The Legacy offers 3 years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, and the Sonata touts a 5-year or 60,000-mile warranty. Meanwhile, although the Legacy offers 5 years or 60,000 miles of powertrain protection, the Sonata offers its famous 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty. That alone leads us to award this category ever so slightly to the Sonata -- though we'll note that we expect excellent reliability from both sedans.

Fuel Economy

The Subaru Legacy offers two engines. Base models lead the fuel economy charge, as their 175-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder returns an impressive 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. An optional 256-hp 6-cylinder engine boasts 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

Meanwhile, the Sonata offers four engines. Base models come with a 185-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, which touts an excellent 25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy. Drivers looking for even better mileage can get the Sonata Eco, which uses a 177-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine and returns an exemplary 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy. For even better mileage, there's the Sonata Hybrid, which offers 199 hp and up to 36 mpg city/40 mpg hwy -- though it uses the sedan's old and increasingly outdated body style. Topping the hp range is the 245-hp Sonata 2.0T, which offers up to 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy.

While that's a lot of numbers, here's the gist: The Sonata beats out the Legacy when it comes to fuel efficiency by offering about the same standard gas mileage, better fuel economy with the more powerful engine option and two additional choices for drivers who want even better gas-mileage numbers.

Safety

In crash testing carried out by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the 2015 Hyundai Sonata and the 2015 Subaru Legacy earned perfect 5-star overall ratings. Both cars also fared well in testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), though the Legacy's Top Safety Pick+ rating slightly beats the Sonata's Top Safety Pick score.

Part of the reason for the Legacy's excellent Top Safety Pick+ rating from IIHS is its excellent EyeSight suite of safety features, which is available for a very reasonable price on even the most basic Legacy models. While the Sonata offers many of the Legacy's safety features, such as forward-collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning, they're much cheaper to buy in the Subaru. The Legacy also offers an advanced automatic braking system, while the Sonata's forward-collision alert feature merely warns you of an impending accident without taking any corrective action.

As a result, the Legacy wins this category. We have no doubt that both cars offer about the same excellent level of crashworthiness, but the Legacy offers more features than the Sonata at a lower price.

Technology

Aside from safety features, however, the Legacy doesn't have any major technological advantages over the Sonata. In fact, both cars are very high-tech, likely owing to their recent redesigns. Expect all the latest features in either car, along with easy-to-use infotainment systems and luxurious items such as heated rear seats, adaptive cruise control, seat memory settings, xenon headlights and more. While some midsize cars lag behind when it comes to technology, these models aren't on that list -- and we wholeheartedly recommend both of them to drivers who want a lot of gadgets in their latest car.

Value

In the midsize-sedan world, virtually every model is separated by only a few hundred dollars, and that's certainly the case here, as the Sonata is only about $500 cheaper than the Legacy.

Does the Legacy justify its $500 price premium? We think so, thanks to standard all-wheel drive and that excellent bundle of reasonably priced safety features included in the EyeSight package. Yes, the Sonata offers better fuel economy than the Legacy, but base models return roughly the same mpg figures, meaning you have to pay more to unlock the Sonata's extra efficiency. As a result, we're handing the value category to the Legacy -- though it's hardly the runaway winner.

Autotrader's Advice

In today's midsize-sedan world, there are few bad cars, and few vehicles prove that more than the Subaru Legacy and the Hyundai Sonata. They each have advantages -- the Sonata has a longer warranty length and better gas mileage, and the Legacy features a standard all-wheel-drive system and cheaper safety features. But neither one is a bad car -- in fact, both models are great cars by most accounts. In the end, we'd probably pick the Legacy, and we'd be sure to equip it with EyeSight, but that's nothing against the Sonata, which also makes a compelling case for itself. Both of these cars will delight just about any midsize-sedan shopper.

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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 Hyundai Sonata: Which Is Better? - Autotrader