As quirky Subaru knows, eccentrics can easily stumble into the murky mainstream.

It just happens, kind of like 40th birthdays. One day you wear a tiny earring and Doc Martens to work and the next, a Brooks Brothers suit and Capital One haircut.

Welcome, my son, to the machine.

The first Subie I drove — the one that seared me like a prison tattoo — sported eye-frying electric-blue paint, gold wheels and a wing so big it probably caused a shift in the jetstream.

My neighbors probably thought I had joined a cult.

That STI made noises I had never heard before, emitting flat, hoarse honks and mumbled growls from cylinders seemingly cast in some mystical garage in Japan.

Boost in the turbocharged STI came on with a bang, threatening to pop the hood loose and shoving the squat little sedan down the road with fine, tire-clawing violence.

I liked it so much I kind of wanted to sleep in it just to absorb its odd, intergalactic energy.

I didn't feel that way about the 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i I had recently — nor was I supposed to.

A wave of cheery crossovers — their consoles probably stuffed with granola and trail mix — churn highly successful Subaru these days.

In fact, the Japanese automaker sells more vehicles in the U.S. now than Volkswagen, something that would have seemed improbable 15 years ago.

But high-riding, all-wheel-drive Subaru has never left much of a mark on the lucrative midsize sedan segment, which might explain the bigger, heavily restyled 2015 Legacy.

On the day it was delivered, I walked right past the stolid-looking tan sedan, figuring my extrovert Subaru must be parked on the other side of that Camry or Altima or whatever.

Not exactly. While the Legacy sported metallic tan paint — whoopee — it mostly looked unremarkable.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing in midsize sedans. Slightly wider and longer than last year's model, the new Legacy felt large and offers the most interior space in the segment, Subie says.

A long, flat hood added to that impression, while a slightly rounded front featured a three-bar grille and projector-style headlamps — pretty standard fare in midsize cars.

Big doors and mostly flat sides got a bit of definition from character lines running the length of the body while smallish 225/55 tires rolled on 17-inch wheels.


In back, Subaru maintained the Legacy's born-to-be-mild image with a polished exhaust tip proudly sparkling from a tiny single pipe. Point me toward the Autobahn, Andy.

But I really should be more open-minded about the Legacy, a sedan that has features and value that few in the midsize segment can match.

Consider this: Beneath the Legacy's milquetoast exterior lies an unusual horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine spinning all-wheel drive.

Moreover, those features come in a sedan that is competitively priced ($27,480) and gets dramatically better fuel economy than last year's model — 26/36 compared with 21/28.

That's pretty compelling stuff.

As you might expect, the Legacy is no sport sedan like my first WRX STI.

At 3,455 pounds, the Legacy is almost too heavy for the modest 175 horsepower produced by its 2.5-liter boxer engine.

But the engine seemed tuned for low- and mid-range response, generally feeling pretty lively around town and pulling to 60 in a fairly reasonable 8.8 seconds, according to Car and Driver.

Unfortunately, the power flowed through a continuously variable transmission, which, with no real gears, moaned and brayed a bit.

Although the sedan jumped pretty smartly away from stops, any deep dips into the throttle quickly elicited the barnyard noises.

Personally, I would be willing to give up some of the Legacy's impressive mileage and even pay more for a real eight-speed automatic.

However — like a surprising blind date — the big, kind of soft-feeling sedan offered some moves you might not expect.


Much of the time, the Legacy stepped gently and confidently over road surfaces, rarely hinting at any athleticism.

But push it hard into a corner, and it turned in with good-natured compliance, leaning some but ultimately digging in with almost STI resolve.

Between the grip from all-wheel drive and the low center of gravity provided by the boxer four-banger, the Legacy could hustle through corners with some grace.

Its steering even seemed involved. Quick with decent feel off-center, the steering kept things interesting.

Every time I threatened to get a little carried away, though, I could look around at the Subie's fairly well-appointed interior and remember I was in a solid-citizen grocery-getter.

Mine was cast in tan and black. A conventional black plastic dashboard housing black-faced gauges rolled down onto a tan lower dash.

The Legacy's door panels also were mostly black plastic with tan centers and padded armrests. Meanwhile, the car's seats were stitched in a grippy tan cloth-like material and offered pretty good support.

A broad black-plastic console curved up into a prominent center stack with a 7-inch touch screen capable, I'm pretty sure, of patching you through to the Prez via satellite if that's your idea of infotainment.

Overall, the materials were OK, the execution better.

And as you might expect in this segment, headroom and legroom in back were expansive.

Maybe Subaru will finally get lucky with this Legacy.

The car provided more than I had anticipated in a pedestrian sedan: a likable, sometimes mildly amusing engine, all-weather traction from all-wheel drive and a few hidden handling charms.

Now, Subaru, how about fishing the car out of the mainstream and giving us an edgier sport variant?

You don't have to include a wing.