To say that Subaru plays it conservatively with major redesigns is quite the understatement. Just look at the new Forester and XV/Crosstrek for example – both saddled with styling that arguably resembles previous iterations of each car.
This trend with the Japanese automaker shows no sign of abating. Next in line for a total refresh is the Legacy sedan, which means that a new Outback is on its way too.
Now entering its 7th generation, Subaru once again appears to be playing it safe, but is this the right move? Let’s illustratively delve further.
Handsome, Yet Restrained
Looking somewhat of hybrid between the current car and Mazda6, the all-new Legacy has a fastback profile with all-wheel drive proportions. In fact, the glasshouse, chrome side window moldings and rear quarter glass is almost a dead-ringer of its Mazda rival.
Frontal styling is attractive enough, with revised LED headlights and wide corporate trapezoidal grille. Side surfacing has an interesting character line that curves up at the front fenders, then flows towards the rear. Lobster-claw LED taillights and black lower bumper treatment are fairly generic, with dual exhausts visibly present on turbocharged variants.
Under The Skin
Legacy will finally move to Subaru’s global modular architecture, which already underpins the Impreza, Forester and Ascent. This move should make for a better driver’s car, whilst allowing for potential electrification down the track.
Occupants will be well catered for, with further improvements in rear leg and shoulder room. Features include Wi-Fi connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and EyeSight driver assistant system with a suite of active driver aids; including Lane Keep Assist, Pre-Collision Throttle Management and Lead Vehicle Start Alert.
As for engines, expect the FB25 2.5-litre, direct-injection petrol with start/stop, cylinder-deactivation from the new Forester, and the 260-horsepower (194 kW), FA24DIT 2.4-litre turbo that serves duty in the Ascent 3-row SUV (return of the GT anyone?). As with most other current Subaru’s, power will be channeled through an updated CVT transmission and symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
What isn’t likely to box-on is the 3.6-litre flat six; unless Subaru have invested heavily in updating it, it’s unlikely to reappear. Which is a shame – because how many mainstream brands offer a flat six? None.
The Disappearing Act
Staying committed to a segment being deserted in favor of crossovers is a risky strategy. U.S. Legacy sales have dropped 16 percent as of June this year – mirroring a similar slowdown of the total midsize sedan market.
Some competitors, like Ford’s Fusion will be exiting the segment all together; will Ford’s withdrawal benefit Subaru? It’s hard to say, especially with Subaru’s conservative styling and Toyota Camry & Honda Accord still sticking around.
The Legacy (or Subaru Liberty for our Aussie readers) is expected to debut early next year, with sales starting late 2019 as MY2020 model.
Do you think Subaru has done enough to keep interest in the mid-size sedan segment? Share your thoughts in the comments below.