When a company sets out to conquer any given market, they often start out by showing the world just how unique their products are, by creating something that is way outside of what it expected within that market. While that creativity may provide rewards in the form of media exposure and consumer interest, it doesn’t necessarily result in sales that are strong enough to overthrow the traditional leaders.
In the automotive market, where mainstream consumers often look at vehicles as an appliance. Take the two most recent Hyundai Elantra models as an example: The company had already proven the quality of their cars, so they created a super sexy version that looked unlike anything available. They won a whole bunch of conquest sales, but when it came time for a redesign, they dialed the style back in favour of a more mature look. More like a Camry or Accord. Why? Because those two cars are the standard of the market. Gold star appliances that non-car people line up for and for good reason, they are really, really good cars. They just aren’t exactly cars that inspire passion and that is fine, because they sell and car companies are in the business of selling cars.
So why am I going on about the Elantra, Accord and Camry in a review of the Subaru Legacy? Well, I was visiting a friend’s garage one day during the week and as he glanced out of the bay door, he asked “is that an Accord or a Camry?” He wasn’t kidding, he was sure it was one or the other, but couldn’t quite figure it out.
So, what Subaru is offering with the Legacy is a mid to large sized sedan that has a pleasant, somewhat generic shape that can easily be mistaken for the two benchmark models in the segment. That is a good thing. Perhaps more importantly, for the brand loyalists at least, the Legacy drives more like a Subaru. Even with one of the quietest cabins that Subaru has ever offered, the thrum of the company’s signature flat-4 powerplant is always there. For fans, that is comforting. Those new to the brand likely won’t notice, because the cabin is so quiet.
Rather than go the traditional new car review route and prattle on about the driving experience, let me get straight to the reasons that I truly believe the Legacy is the best value in the segment.
Base Price: Canada U.S.A.
2017 Honda Accord $24,590 $22,455
2017 Subaru Legacy $23,495 $21,995
2017 Toyota Camry $25,170 $23,070
There is more to just having the cheapest entry fee though.
Even at its lowest trim level, the Subaru offers all wheel drive, where the other two entries are only available with front wheel drive.
The Canadian consumer, and those in much of the northern half of the States, has to drive in Winter. That means snow. That means that traction is important. The least expensive of these three choices in the segment includes one of the most important mobility features on the market. It isn’t available in the other two.
Given that most of the buyers in this segment might as well be shopping for a new refrigerator, it seems to me that the unit with the lowest price, yet has the most important extra feature is included, is the smartest decision.
Our tester was a mid-range Touring model with a few goodies that the base model does not include. Most importantly for this household, it was equipped with a manual transmission. The Touring package also includes sunroof, passive driver aids and an easy to use infotainment system with a bright 7″ touch display.
Cloth seats are cozy on a cold morning and the back seat is large enough to be comfortable for 3 teens. The trunk is suitably large for the day to day needs of most families, easily swallowing two hockey bags.
If you are in the market for a family sedan, by all means drive the Accord and Camry, you need to do that. Then, head over to your local Subaru dealer and take the Legacy for a spin. Take a look at the price. Then think about the climate you live in. If Winter weather involves white stuff, then you know what the smart thing to do is.