2015 Subaru Legacy Debuts at 2014 Chicago Auto Show

The 2015 Subaru Legacy follows closely in the footsteps of the Legacy concept shown just a few months ago at the 2013 Los Angeles auto show. Wrapped in a more stylish design, the new Legacy is roomier, more fuel efficient, and offers more convenience and safety features than before.

Like any new, self-respecting midsize sedan, the 2015 Subaru Legacy adopts a graceful roof that is meant to make this four-door car look more like a two-door coupe. The base of the windshield is two inches farther forward than before, creating a fast, shallow angle for the windshield as it sweeps back to the A-pillars. The rear glass also flows into the trunk lid at a shallower angle than before, reducing aerodynamic turbulence. Meanwhile the nose of the 2015 Legacy resembles that of the Legacy concept in the way the grille and headlights present an equally sleek face beneath a new, lightweight aluminum hood. At the rear you'll find fast-acting LED taillights that also reduce power consumption. Altogether, the 2015 bodywork is said to be 10 percent more aerodynamic than the 2014 Legacy, reducing fuel consumption and making the car quieter besides.

The 2015 Subaru Legacy rides on the same 108.3-inch wheelbase as the 2014 car but grows 1.6 inches in length and 0.7 inch in height. Despite the modest exterior changes, rear legroom and front and rear shoulder room all increase slightly compared to the outgoing car, although headroom is reduced. The Legacy's trunk also grows 0.3 cubic feet, to 15.0.

More power, less fuel

The 2015 Subaru Legacy continues to offer a choice between a 2.5-liter flat-four and a 3.6-liter flat-six engine, both of which come with all-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A six-speed manual transmission, previously offered for the base model Legacy, is no longer available for the 2015 model year.

The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has been revised to reduce internal friction, increasing power by 2 hp to 175 hp. Peak torque remains 174 lb-ft, but Subaru says that the engine's torque band is now broader for improved drivability with the CVT. Four-cylinder versions of the Legacy come with active grille shutters as standard, which automatically close to reduce aerodynamic drag. Fuel economy is expected to rise to 26/30 mpg (city/highway), up from 24/32 mpg for the 2014 Legacy 2.5i.

The 3.6-liter engine is unchanged and continues to offer 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, but fuel efficiency is also expected to rise slightly, from 18/25 mpg to 20/28 mpg.

New engine mounts and improved acoustic insulation are said to keep the cabin quieter. Meanwhile, revised suspension improves handling, and a torque-vectoring front differential adapted from the Subaru WRX and WRX STI reduces understeer by applying the brake of the inside front wheel during fast cornering.

More luxury, more entertainment, more safety

Inside the cabin of the 2015 Subaru Legacy, the interior materials are nicer all round, with thicker padding for the armrests and center console, as well as more soft-touch materials on the dashboard. The center console is said to be large enough to accommodate an Apple iPad, and some infotainment systems have two USB ports, allowing for charging and playing music from two different devices at once. A twin-binnacle instrument cluster includes a small LCD trip computer at its center, along with a color eco-indicator designed to encourage fuel-efficient driving habits.

New technologies include one-touch lane-change signals, as well as the latest version of the Subaru EyeSight forward-facing cameras. The EyeSight system provides features like adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning, and it's available on the Legacy Premium and Limited. Also new for the 2015 Subaru Legacy is a rear-facing radar that provides blind-spot warnings, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change assist functions. LEDs in the mirrors warn of vehicles in the driver's blind spots, while an indicator in the backup camera display warns of cross traffic when pulling out of a space.

The base 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i comes standard with plenty of equipment, including 17-inch wheels, an infotainment system with Bluetooth and Pandora connectivity, active torque vectoring, and keyless entry. Moving up to the 2.5i Premium adds 17-inch alloy wheels; an All-Weather package that bundles heated front seats and mirrors, and a windshield wiper heater; a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with dual USB ports; illuminated inside door handles; and dual-zone automatic climate control. A navigation system, blind-sport warning, and the EyeSight safety cameras are optional.

The 2.5i Limited adds 18-inch wheels, a 576-watt Harman/Kardon sound system, blind-spot warning, and fog lights. Options include pushbutton starting, navigation, EyeSight, and a power sunroof. The top-end model, the 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited, builds on that with dual exhaust tips, enlarged front brake rotors, and HID headlights.

The 2015 Subaru Legacy goes on sale later this year.

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