In the crowded mid-sized sedan segment, the 2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Touring is distinguished by safety, and comfort and more.
Although the Camry and Accord are the number one and two sellers in the U.S. car market, Subaru has some very interesting pockets of dominance. New England is one of those areas, but most of the Subie drivers are in Outback and Forester crossovers.
However, for anyone looking for an uncommonly safe mid-size sedan with all-wheel drive as standard, there is no other choice.
Not only does the Legacy line earn the Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but the Legacy was one of only nine vehicles that had a zero driver death rate in a recent 3-year study of all U.S. models.
Consider other popular sedans available with all-wheel drive, such as the pricey Audi A4. The A4 scores “Poor” on the IIHS small frontal overlap test. That’s like graduating from a private high school scoring a 400 on your SATs.
The Ford Fusion also falls down on the small frontal overlap test, scoring an “Acceptable” rating.
But the Legacy does not just test well. In the real world, it is the best mid-sized sedan for safety by a wide margin. Plus, it is the most affordable vehicle in its class with superior-rated forward crash prevention.
It is hard to overstate just how thoroughly the Legacy dominates in safety.
If safety were the only concern for families buying sedans, our review would end here.
However, fuel economy, size for the dollar, and overall value are also very important.
Again, the Legacy 2.5i Touring is a standout in all three of these mid-size sedan buyer priorities. With an EPA-estimated 26 mpg city, 36 highway and 30 combined, the all-wheel drive Legacy is more fuel efficient that the four-cylinder, front-wheel drive Toyota Camry (28 MPG combined).
The Legacy 2.5i Touring is also just as spacious as the Camry, with the roominess befitting a family of four or five.
The back seat is big enough that six-footers won’t ask the front passengers to move their seats forward. Like all Subarus, the Legacy 2.5i Touring also has a commanding view of the road and a spacious feel for the driver and front passenger.
The interior is also well constructed and peppered with some tasty luxury touches. In back, the seat heaters were a pleasant surprise. Up front, the power heated leather seat memory settings were also not something we typically see at a $31k price point.
Subaru’s large infotainment screen with easy-to-use touch interface is one of our favorites. Our test vehicle included navigation and audio, along with Subaru’s Starlink suite of apps, including Pandora.
Infotainment is one area that mainstream vehicles like the Subaru Legacy 2.5i Touring sometimes carry an advantage when compared with premium brands. The ease of use and functionality of the volume and tuner knob and touch-screen simply work better than the modern-to-a-fault mouse or capacitive sensing technology we have tried in some premium brands lately.
Another area that Subaru out-does the premium brands is its effective EyeSight forward collision prevention system.
EyeSight is rated “Superior” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and it is available at a much lower cost than any other brand’s similar safety suite.
All the other goodies are here too. Rear cross traffic alert, rear-view camera with proximity sensors, and lane departure warning with a convenient shut-off switch (surveys say nobody likes lane departure warning in any car unless the driver is fully up to speed).
Subaru also goes its own way with its horizontally-opposed boxer engine, where the pistons are arranged in pairs that go side to side. The upshot of this is that the crankshaft is in the middle of the car and very low compared to other cars with in-line fours or V6 engines, and this helps to make the AWD system simpler.
The Legacy 2..5i Touring’s horsepower rating of 175 is typical for its peer group, but its CVT is not. The constantly valuable transmission in the Legacy 2.5i Touring is notably less annoying than all other CVTs we have tested, and it helps the Legacy feel faster than it is. The Legacy feels peppy off the line and accelerates well.
In fact, it seems to have the exact opposite personality of some of the lagging turbo cars in some entry-premium models this size we have tested.
On the other hand, Subaru’s engines have been typically noisier that those of its competition, and Legacy’s was as well. Subaru tries to mask it with noise insulation, which you can see in the front fenders, behind the door hinges.
Over the road, this Subaru on 50-series Goodyear Eagle LS2 18″ tires has a slightly more comfortable ride than the Cadillac CTS4 with Magnetic Ride Control I tested a few weeks back. It is also a bit more comfortable than the Jaguar XF I recently tested.
Many times, the low-profile tires and suspension tuning of luxury cars has become too stiff to call comfortable, but the Legacy’s ride did not detract from steering feel or turn-in, and I found the Legacy 2.5i Touring fun to drive. Would I chose it over the Jaguar or Cadillac to actually go touring? No, but those cars cost more than twice as much.
Worth noting is that Subaru’s J.D. Power customer service rating is below average, Although Subaru’s quality scores have been improving, there’s a new TSB for excessive oil consumption rearing its head. Consumer Reports says the Legacy line has “Very Good” reliability, but J.D. Power ranks Subaru much lower in quality.
The Legacy’s Consumer Reports owner satisfaction score of 84 is at the top of the list among mainstream mid-sized sedans. By comparison, the premium Acura TLX sedan scores a 72 in owner satisfaction.
Clearly, the 2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Touring has much to distinguish it.
There is no safer vehicle in this size category, its fuel economy is outstanding, and it also has excellent infotainment and interior amenities. The ride is among the best we have experienced.
Why this sedan is not neck and neck with the Camry and Accord in sales has a lot to do with Subaru’s past history of questionable reliability, and the company’s regional focus. The Legacy 2.5i Touring is hard not to consider, particularly if all-wheel drive and safety are important to you.
2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Touring
Base Price: $21,745
Price As Tested: $31,030 (Including destination charge)
- Price As Tested Includes Option Package 23: Nav, Eyesight, Power Moonroof, Keyless Access
- Comfortable Ride
- Fuel Economy
- Noisy Engine
- Finish Details (Visible Insulation)