Forget Accord. Forget Camry. This is the midsize sedan you should seriously be looking at.
– Cleveland, Ohio
The 2016 Subaru Legacy, in fact this particular Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium with EyeSight, is the best midsize sedan for most people. Despite what you hear about this segment being ultra competitive and cars like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord being far and away the best, I’m here to tell you that’s all marketing and hype. If you’re in the market for a do-everything four-door that’s incredibly safe, efficient, and affordable, the Legacy is your best choice.
That’s the conclusion I came to at my last job where I spent many months researching midsize sedans, poring over data points and taking the top contenders out for test drives. The result was this 10,000+ word opus in which the Legacy rose right to the top.
- There’s no other midsize sedan that stacks up better on paper. The Legacy comes standard with Subaru’s excellent all-wheel-drive system, an option that could easily cost a couple of thousand dollars extra on the few other midsize sedans that even offer it. And despite those extra moving parts, the Legacy is tied for being the second most fuel-efficient car in the segment (its 30 mpg combined is the same as the Mazda6 and only 1 mpg behind the Nissan Altima and Chevy Malibu). Lastly, it’s incredibly affordable. I calculated you would need to spend $7,000 to $10,000 more than a Legacy 2.5i Premium (with EyeSight but sans navigation) to get a comparably equipped competitor.
- Let’s talk about EyeSight. It’s Subaru’s suite of advanced safety systems that includes, among other things, frontal collision warning and pre-collision braking. The gist is that it can fully stop the car on its own to help you avoid a collision entirely or at least lessen the impact. This type of hardware is just starting to trickle down into mainstream vehicles, and Subaru’s leading the way in making it both effective and affordable. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates EyeSight as one of the best systems of its kind at any price, and it costs just $1,495 for any Legacy trim level except the base model. If you’re getting a Legacy, pony up for EyeSight. It just might save your life.
- The Legacy uses a continuously variable transmission, or CVT. It’s a really good one, which means it doesn’t attract attention to itself. Not-so-great CVTs can be found in cars like the Nissan Altima, where the engine tends to rev high and then get stuck there while accelerating. The Legacy’s CVT is better because the engine makes less noise and, at times, like when you slam on the gas, it acts like a traditionally geared transmission by inserting artificial shift points. It’s a small difference that makes a big deal in how the Legacy drives.
- The Legacy 2.5i Premium is a mid-level trim that comes with most features buyers expect at this price – things like a rear camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a big touchscreen infotainment system. It does not, however, come with two items that feel conspicuously omitted: push-button start and proximity keys that let you open locked doors with the key fob still in your pocket or purse. These two features are usually the first that get thrown in when you step up to a midlevel trim on the Legacy’s competitors, so it feels like a slight that Subaru withholds them unless you opt up again to the more expensive Legacy Sport.
- The Legacy was completely redesigned in 2015 and the resulting exterior is fairly ho-hum. It’s far from ugly, but Subaru just didn’t try as hard with its looks like designers of the Mazda6 or Ford Fusion did. At best you can say it’s inoffensive, maybe even handsome, but it’s really neither appealing or interesting.
- The Legacy’s driving experience is up to par with other midsize sedans in all areas except one: its touchy throttle. Try as I might, there was no way to get the car rolling from a stop without a unintended jerk forward. Initial throttle tip-in is so sensitive that it happened every time, even when I tried my damndest to be a smooth operator.
- Chevrolet Malibu
- Chrysler 200
- Ford Fusion
- Honda Accord
- Hyundai Sonata
- Kia Optima
- Nissan Altima
- Toyota Camry
- Volkswagen Passat
Photos: John Neff / Motor1.com