2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R AWD - Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall Family Haul - Quick Review

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(Contributing Editor: Tomasz Paluch, Roadblazing.com)

Car and Driver recently culled some data showing that only 8-10% of American buyers of volume family cars demand the greatest possible tractive control afforded by All-Wheel Drive.

This despite 52-60% of non-luxury crossovers and sport utility vehicles being equipped with AWD.

A couple volume makers, notably Ford and Chrysler, offer AWD as ‘lip service” option only on their higher trim family cars.

But only one automaker deigns it compulsory on all it’s family vehicles.

Yes, it’s Subaru, a company 27% owned by Toyota, which doesn’t do segment dominant Camry in all-wheel drive.

For 2015 Subaru redesigned a previously staid if not stagnant Legacy mid-size family sedan. If the re-style hasn’t quite boosted Legacy’s 60,000+ annual sales to Camry’s 428,000 stratosphere, it’s a shame. Here’s why.

WHAT: 2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited AWD

WHAT (A) DIFFERENCE:

In Looks: the new 6th Generation Subaru Legacy (Series BN-BS)  has finally caught up to the 8th Generation Honda Accord (CS1-CS2). That is the previous generation Accord. Modern elements include de-rigeur tweezed wrap around headlight assemblies, white LED furrows…even a shrunken Aston-Ford hexagonal grille; Still Legacy remains chunky, devoid of character lines, and with a particularly bland tail treatment, placing it atop the HARD-TO-TELL-APART heap, next to the Volkswagen Passat .

WHY:  family sedan + standard  AWD = skip the SUV for snowbelt traction;

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late fall 2015

WHERE: Subaru new car dealers

WHERE MADE: Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.A.

HOW STRONG: 3.6L DOHC 24V gas flat-6 = 256  hp; Continuously Variable transmission adds torque converter for more stepped action; Despite engine pulling hard to 5500 rpm motion lags for less enthusiasm than Camry or Accord V-6s; boxer motor gurgle;

HOW LIMBER: Electric assist steering fast but fidgety on center; Uprated fully independent chassis, with thicker sway bars, make for overall taut but rarely jarring ride; Not much plow though a little roll in  corners able to hold the line; Initial brake pedal response disinterested.

HOW FAR: 22 mpg combined; Disappointing as a few automatic transmission equipped V6 mid-sizers return 25 mpg.

HOW ACCOMMODATING: Low front cowl and beltline with tall greenhouse; Airy cabin; Rear seat passengers will appreciate generous knee room;

HOW USEFUL: Trunk fits 2 full size and two carry-ons; That’s before folding down rear split seat backs; Thin door panel & large Bose speaker housing deplete door pocket storage; Glove box adequate; Smart phone size tray is fore of shifter; 2x USB ports 1x 12V power outlet inside front center armrest bin.

HOW SAFE: IIHS 2016 Top Pick Plus: 8 airbags, Lots of high tensile steel; Driver assist technology: BSW & LDW, Rear camera w/ park gridlines, Rear Cross traffic warning, Lane Keep Assist, available Eye-Sight stereoscopic pedestrian collision brake avoidance & Adaptive Cruise Control;

HOW FRIENDLY: Rich looking 4-layer multi-tone dash & door panel;  10-way power driver seat w/ 2 position memory conforming; Seat cushion rigid enough to cut off circulation;  Small radius heated leather-wrapped helm feels emaciated and could stand some greater telescoping; Redundant steering wheel switches need improved tactility and appear add-on;   2-zone auto climate control LED display at mercy of sun glare; Seat cushion rigid enough to cut off circulation;

  Sporting crisp twin analog ELD tach / speedo gauges, flank TFT  multi-function display, relying on excessively repetitive steering wheel switch sequences to navigate menus.

7″-inch LCD Starlink media display = phablet sharp contrast, capacitive touch controls; informative drivetrain graphics: Too glossy, slightly laggy and sun-wash prone, especially with open moon-roof.

HOW “APP” -LICABLE: Android Auto and Apple Car Play infotainment interface update are on tap for 2017; For now: Starlink apps: Pandora, Aha & Stitcher require separate activation; Smooth & powerful 575 Watt Harman Kardon; Voice recognition challenged navigation and communication; 4 month Sirius XM Travel Link trial: fuel, movie listings, sports scores;

Trick Apps: cloud service Calendar, real time Weather and streaming News headlines [from Yahoo, CNN, Fox].

HOW MUCH: $33,080 , fully loaded 2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited.

WHAT’S MISSING: > On-center steering correction; < Transmission power sapping; > Simple gauge cluster MFD perusal; +1 Responsive touch LCD infotainment screen; +1 Integrated redundant steering wheel spoke switches,

ANY COMPETITION:   Ford Fusion Titanium 2.0L Ecoboost AWD : +1 ride composure, driving engagement & sublime styling; Chrysler 200S V6 AWD: +1 fresh penning & transmission.

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