Subaru has been building reliable, safe, all-wheel-drive vehicles for decades. The Legacy continues that tradition, injecting some style and additional comfort for the 2016 model year.
Our week with a Legacy 2.5i Premium, the volume model in the Legacy lineup, only stands to engrave what we already knew: this is the most comfortable, fuel efficient, roomy and safe Legacy ever built.
The Premium trim is a misnomer, as our Legacy came with cloth seats, a sunroof and Subaru’s EyeSight collision mitigation system and blind spot monitoring system.
Subaru priced it directly in line with competitors, essentially making the AWD component of the Legacy, a free bonus to those who need it. And need it we do in Rochester, New York for several months of the year.
Several third-party tests have concluded that Subaru’s system is the most well-designed of any competitor AWD systems. The algorithms for sending power to the rear wheels are better tuned, more responsive and aimed at driver control. Rather than simply braking individual wheels, the Subaru system allows some wheel slip in certain conditions to keep the driver moving.
An AWD system, with the added weight and power losses from various components, often contributes to so-so fuel economy; not here though. Subaru tuned the new continuously-variable transmission (CVT) to operate like a traditional automatic, while optimizing fuel economy. The end result is a car that drives like a traditional 6-speed automatic, but easily gets 31 MPG in mixed driving. Incredibly impressive.
The headlights provided very good illumination at night and come on automatically. We especially liked Subaru’s use of Steering Responsive Fog lights, where they coming on automatically depending on steering position and vehicle speed then turning off after a low-speed turn is completed.
The 2.5L 4-cylinder engine provided a surprising amount of power off the line, and highway passing was very good.
Inside, the seats and elbow rests were very supportive. The ride is luxury-quiet, with barely any road, wind or engine noise perceptible from inside the cabin.
Storage bins all around and a large glove box are appreciated. The sun visors extended to cover the entire side of the window, a huge plus for daily commuters.
The infotainment system left more to be desired. The basics, like the volume and tuning knob, need to be larger, and textured with a knurl or rubber finish for easier turning. The slick, small knobs were far from ideal for making adjustments when the Legacy was moving.
The system was also a bit laggy between inputs on the touch-screen, something that again, can be easily fixed with a faster processor or refined software. The layout of information was excellent though, with large fonts and clear graphics.
The display between the speedometer and tachometer was excellent. It provided a lot of information in a legible font and size, requiring no more than a quick glance for speed or EyeSight information.
During our week, we tested EyeSight in numerous situations. Lane Keep Assist is included with the system, which not only alerts the driver when a lane is departed, but also tries to make a correction. It did struggle to read faded lane markings on some roads we travel on regularly, especially at night, that other vehicles with different systems had no problem with. Faded markings are something that needs to be addressed nation-wide if we want these systems to operate to their full potential.
EyeSight uses two cameras mounted behind the windshield, to the right and left of the rearview mirror, to read the road ahead. It’s impressive and quite refined, but we found during heavy rain that it didn’t know to turn itself off due to poor visibility. Other systems that use radar can cut through the rain but then suffer during winter weather when the sensor on the front grille gets snow covered or iced over. Those systems will not activate or will turn off when they detect any kind of blockage.
Considering Subaru offers EyeSight on all their vehicles, even lower trim levels like our test vehicle, we can only praise them for being the first to offer all of these driver assistance systems at the lowest price point of any other new car on the market. The 2017 Impreza that arrives shortly will be the lowest priced vehicle to offer this suite of driver assistance tech.
NHTSA is requiring that Forward Emergency Braking be standard by 2022, but not systems like Lane Keep Assist and Intelligent Cruise Control, two features integrated into EyeSight.
For the 2017 model year, Subaru is offering auto high-beam assist on EyeSight equipped models.
Legroom in the back is commendable, with a small hump in the center position for the AWD system. Outboard passengers will be very comfortable with supportive cushions and good headroom.
The trunk is boxy with a large opening, making loading and unloading easy.