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2015 Legacy 3.6R Limited: Subaru refines its family car

by: JOHN M. VINCENT - The redesigned 2015 Subaru Legacy is large and more refined, but still comes standard with all-wheel-drive.Subaru's 3.6-liter Boxer engine is one of the company's best-best secrets. Everyone knows every Subaru comes standard with all-wheel-drive in every model, except the BRZ sports car. And many people know all of Subaru's engines are flat designs — called Boxer — with opposing cylinder, just like traditional Porsche sports cars. But not everyone knows Subaru also offers a six-cylinder Boxer as the optional engine in its redesigned midsize 2015 Legacy sedan, transforming the respectable family car into something of an upscale cruiser.

Subaru has won a loyal cult following by making practical, reliable and somewhat quirky cars and SUVs over the years. The company's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system has made them a favorite in the rainy Pacific Northwest, where a lot of driver place reliability ahead of styling and refinement. But Subaru has started upgrading their vehicles in recent years, beginning with the compact Impreza and moving onto the Legacy and Forester and Outback crossovers this year. The Outback is the only other Subaru that can be ordered with the Boxer 6.

As a result, the Legacy now feels and drives like a much more substantial car this year, especially when equipped with the optional 3.6-liter engine that produced 256 horsepower and 247 foot pounds of torque. Mileage suffers in comparison to the standard 2.5-liter Boxer 4, of course, but the responsiveness is more in line with the Legacy's firm ride and much more quiet, refined interior.

The redesigned Legacy is now one of the largest midsize sedans on the market, offering good outward visibility to both front and rear passengers. Our test model also came with leather seats, the optional navigation system and an upgraded six-speaker stereo that made a overnight trip from Portland to Tacoma a pleasure. If the dash had been covered in leather instead of soft plastic, the impression of a more luxurious vehicle would have been complete.

Subaru is also offering a new safety system on the Legacy called EyeSight. It includes adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system and a collision-warning/mitigation system that will apply the brakes to avoid a front-end collision.

And of course, Subaru is still the only company to offer all-wheel-drive as standard equipment on an affordable family sedan. It available on the new Chrysler 200 and Ford Fusion, but only as extra-cost options.

2014 Subaru Legacy

Base price: $21,691

Price as tested: $33,380

Type: 4-door, 5-passenger all-wheel drive hardtop

Engines: Flat 2.5 4, Flat 3.6 6.

EPA estimated mileage: 21 city/28 highway

Overall length: 188.8 inches

Curb weight: 3,468 pounds

Final assembly: Lafayette, Indiana