Test Drive: 2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Touring

After seven days, 1,200 kilometres, and no less than two highway trips at 4.5 hours apiece, your writer and one 2016 Subaru Legacy Touring had become properly acquainted on the open road. Interestingly appropriate, too: the tester wore the Touring designation, suggesting an inclination towards delivery of comfortable hours-long voyages.

Over many miles, the tester proved itself to be an excellent long-haul highway companion.

Touring indeed. Over many miles, the tester proved itself to be an excellent long-haul highway companion for a variety of simple and effective reasons.

First, a peaceful smoothness. The Legacy’s CVT transmission doesn’t shift through stepped gears, so a slight squeeze on the throttle is met by a slight surge ahead, without a downshift, or associated squirm from the driveline. When climbing hills, passing, merging, or adjusting one’s velocity for changing speed limits, the 2.5L boxer engine is smooth and relaxed. It’s notably quiet and effortless at low revs, even if it does get somewhat hoarse when pushed. Push the throttle harder, and the CVT imitates the kick-down and upshifts you’ll feel in a regular automatic; but when driven gently, it’s smooth, seamless, and step-less.

Then, the ride. Legacy feels big and solid on its feet, the long wheelbase helping it soak up imperfect road conditions with little fuss. Suspension is set on the soft side, though not excessively. Even moderately rough highway stretches do little to entice harshness or noise from beneath, and from the cabin, the Legacy feels and sounds rigid, dense, and substantial. Notably, that feel and sound are largely maintained regardless of the surface beneath. Even rougher roads are met with the same response from the underpinnings: little more than a slight roar from the suspension, and a thick, solid sensation that calls ride quality of numerous luxury-branded models to mind. The suspension feels dialed-in, calibrated, and fine-tuned, almost no matter what’s passing underfoot.

Steering is nicely set up for hours of cruising, too. There’s enough weight to keep the Legacy centred solidly within its lane, and a steering ratio that’s a touch on the quick and playful side, though set finely against the suspension calibrations. At speed, the steering is fuss free—Legacy follows your direction with minimal need of correction, though the quick ratio, rigid body and softly sporty suspension elicit favourable reactions should drivers whip it around a little.

Legacy’s driving environment further supports long-haul comfort. The driving position is laid back, though tall windows, generous visibility and good outward sightlines give drivers a superior command of the goings on in the world around them. Plenty of at-hand storage, covered and otherwise, helps to keep things organized and uncluttered on the move, and the centre console is mounted low in the cabin, enhancing the sense of space. The bright and airy two-tone colour scheme displayed throughout the tester’s cabin furthered the effect. Rear seats are adult friendly, and even four leggy adults could travel with space to spare.

 

Decent fuel mileage and a fairly large fuel tank meant that even two hours into a highway cruise, the tester’s fuel gauge had hardly budged. On my watch, mileage measured by hand, split about 60 percent highway and 40 percent around town, landed at 9.5 L/100 km. Your results will vary.

Finally, the EyeSight system, which, among other things, powers the adaptive cruise control, demonstrates exemplary programming. Some adaptive cruise systems feel clumsy—jamming the brakes on suddenly as your vehicle approaches another slower one, or pausing a few moments before speeding up after drivers have pulled out to pass. The Legacy’s adaptive cruise responds well ahead of time, and smoothly. Notably, extra throttle is applied the instant the way is clear after a lane change to pass – meaning the Legacy speeds up right away, not four seconds after and leaving irritated motorists in its wake. Here’s an adaptive cruise control system you literally shouldn’t ever need to fiddle with once it’s set. Notably, as the system is powered by cameras inside of the car in a swept area of the windshield, not exterior-mounted radar, there’s nothing to get covered with snow or sleet and cause the system to conk out until you pull over and clean it. Add in the automatic lights and automatic climate control, and you’ve got a truly set-it-and-forget-it drive.

Other notes? Full-throttle performance is adequate, comparable to other four-cylinder models in the segment. The boxer engine isn’t bothered by full-throttle operation, though numerous competitors do run more quietly and smoothly when opened up. Brakes are slightly more precise and urgent than the norm in this segment, once an initial inch or two of numb pedal travel is overcome to get them biting.

Gripes? The navigation and central command system lets things down a little, and as I’ve noted in other Subaru models, the in-dash computer, climate control system, steering-wheel controls, and central command screen all have their own different visual theme, colour scheme, and fonts—which fails to truly tie the cabin together where little details are concerned.

Ultimately, when priorities include a pleasant overall driving experience that’s long-haul ready, consistently excellent ride quality, and a pleasing sense of space and visibility, Legacy should hit the mark.

Of course, Subaru’s mid-sized sedan is far from the only model in its segment to offer attributes like those listed above. The new Chevrolet Malibu feels just as upscale, solid, even better-sorted on rougher roads, and the steering system is sharper and more precise. The updated-for-2016 Honda Accord boasts excellent ride quality in a similar ballpark, though its steering isn’t as natural. The Mazda6’s engine is significantly quieter and smoother when worked hard.

Legacy is, however, one of the only models in its segment to offer a few other things. Key among them are a manual transmission, even available on this Touring model (though, not with the Eyesight system), and all-wheel drive (AWD), which is fairly rare in the segment, and all but within unicorn status with a manual gearbox.

So, shoppers after a great, all-weather-ready touring sedan may be delighted to see the availability of a manual gearbox, and those after an affordable, manual-equipped family sedan will likely find the Legacy Touring’s great cruising dynamics a delightful bonus.

Pricing from $26,495 for the Legacy Touring with six-speed stick, and $28,995 for the Legacy Touring with CVT and Technology Package.

Warranty:
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/unlimited distance roadside assistance

Competitors:
Chevrolet Malibu
Chrysler 200
Ford Fusion
Honda Accord
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Optima
Mazda6
Nissan Altima
Toyota Camry

2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Touring with Technology
articles_PricingType 2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Touring with Technology
Base Price $28,995
Optional Equipment None
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,675
Price as Tested $30,770
Optional Equipment