The 2016 Subaru Legacy is no longer the specialty sedan it was in the past, and it’s only time before mainstream shoppers find it in the way that they’ve already flocked to Subaru’s Forester crossover and Outback utility wagon.
With standard all-wheel drive, a recent full redesign, and some impressive active-safety features that don’t break the bank, the 2016 Subaru Legacy adds up to quite the value, especially in its four-cylinder versions. That’s part of why, this past year, we named it out our Best Car To Buy 2015.
In design, the 2016 Legacy seems to manage conventionally appealing in a way that models like the Volkswagen Passat, Chrysler 200, and even Chevrolet Malibu have (at least in recent model years) been struggling with. It’s nicely proportioned—perhaps a bit more blunt-nosed than it needs to be, but nice nevertheless—and has some nice detailing all around, with a more rakish, aerodynamic look that moves the mirrors behind the front pillars. Just as the exterior follows a handsome, functional median, the interior goes to a clean, space-efficient design that’s dressed up with nicer materials and trims than before.
You won’t find Subaru’s turbocharged four-cylinder engines here; instead there are four-cylinder (2.5i) models and six-cylinder (3.6R) models, with the former powered by a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter flat four that needs to be worked hard when more than just a driver is aboard. Yet good sound insulation means that it won’t serve as a constant reminder of your frugality. Legacy 3.6R sedans come with a 256-hp 3.6-liter flat-six engine, which isn’t as strong or responsive as we’d like. This is a smooth, graceful sedan, with a well-tuned ride and nicely weighted electric power steering. For 2016 Subaru has made some slight changes to the damping in top 3.6R Limited models.
Gas mileage is excellent. Legacy four-cylinders now are rated at 30 mpg combined, the best in a smaller niche of family sedans with all-wheel drive. Still, its 36-mpg highway rating is up there with the 37-mpg Altima. The six-cylinder’s less impressive, at 23 mpg combined.
The 2016 Subaru Legacy, if you haven’t been paying attention to this segment of the market for a while, measures up right in the heart of mid-size sedan territory. Just as all of its key rivals have grown, so has the Legacy; and while it made a major leap in size in 2010, the Legacy didn’t become much larger with its redesign last year. Although thanks to some smarter interior design, it’s noticeably roomier than its predecessor.
It’s all obvious from inside, where the cabin feels roomier and wider—thanks in part to seat placement and to the dash corners, which have been pushed farther out to the corners ahead. At the same time, leg room is up significantly—by several inches, compared to before. And you could probably put three adults across in back for short trips and still have a working relationship with them afterward. The Legacy’s rear seat still also has 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks. Once folded down, the seats expose a large cutout that expands the 15.0 cubic feet of trunk space.
The Legacy has already earned top ‘good’ results in every category from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)—and the Top Safety Pick+ award—as well as five stars in every category and subcategory of testing from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It’s one of the few models we give a perfect ’10’ to in Safety. One reason why we like the Legacy so much is that you can opt for the excellent EyeSight active-safety suite on all but the base 2.5i model; Subaru’s sweetened that affordable package this year by adding new accident avoidance features to an already robust (and top-rated) system.
The base Legacy 2.5i model comes with a rearview camera, power accessories, and cruise control. Next up is the 2.5i Premium, which adds a ten-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, and an all-weather package, as well as Bluetooth hands-free text messaging and a 7.0-inch touch screen for the infotainment system. Limited models upgrade to leather seats, 18-inch wheels, a harman/kardon audio system and heated rear seats, while 3.6R Limited models get stainless exhaust tips and HID headlights, too. Keyless start, a navigation system, and a moonroof are among the few options, in addition to EyeSight on the Premium.
The infotainment system that makes its debut in the current Legacy wipes the Subaru slate clean. The new system comes at least with a pretty 6.2-inch multi-function touchscreen, one that’s controlled via big tiles and icons, and has swipe and tap gesture control. It behaves a lot like GM’s MyLink and IntelliLink systems, down to the ability to set favorites across any media, from Bluetooth streaming to AM to XM favorites.
One other new feature in the 2016 Legacy is the introduction of Starlink Safety and Security features—including a couple of suites of services ranging from emergency and roadside assistance to things like vehicle locating and remote locking/unlocking.
In front, the logo lies inside a six-sided grille—it’s no trend-setter as you’ve seen it everywhere from the Hyundai Sonata to the Ford Fusion. The more blunt look of the front end, and the taller grille together work a bit better with the closely related Outback than they do in the Legacy, although it doesn’t get in the way of an elegant, nicely proportioned side view.
You’ll have to hunt for the badges in back before you can definitively name what you’re seeing. It’s a little bit anonymous; though to be fair, that’s the case with a half-dozen mid-size sedans.