2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R vs Chrysler 200S

Two All-New, All-Wheel Drive Family Sedans Square Off

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R vs Chrysler 200S

For years, anyone in search of a mainstream all-wheel drive family sedan only had one solution: the Subaru Legacy.

Even then, the Legacy wasn’t exactly mainstream with its symmetrical AWD, boxer engines and high-riding Outback variants. But over the years the Legacy crept closer and closer to being a “normal” family sedan in the quest of higher sales.

2015 Chrysler 200S nose closeAt the same time, other mid-size sedans started to get closer to the Legacy. In 2012 Ford started offering an all-wheel drive option on the Fusion, paired to the company’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. Chrysler also dabbled with all-wheel drive versions of the Sebring sedan, but never seemed serious about making a big splash in this sub-segment of family sedans. That is, until now.

Legacy and 200 Saunter Towards the Mainstream

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Completely reborn for the 2015 model year, the Chrysler 200 features seductive new sheet metal built on a stretched version of the Dodge Dart platform. Power comes from a 184-HP four-cylinder engine or an optional 295-HP 3.6-liter V6. But the big news for the 2015 200 has to do with what comes after the engine. All models get a brand-new nine-speed automatic transmission while V6 models can also be had with all-wheel drive.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Chrysler 200S Review

2015 Subaru Legacy front profileNot about to be outshone in a segment it owned for decades, Subaru introduced an all-new version of the Legacy this year as well. Unlike the 200, the Legacy is less of a revolution in design. Although the exterior and interior have been thoroughly updated, the car’s mechanics are essentially carryover items with one exception; six-cylinder models ditch the five-speed automatic transmission and adopt a chain-drive continuously variable (CVT).

The 3.6-liter “Boxer” six-cylinder engine still makes 256 HP and 247 lb-ft. of torque. That is significantly less power than the 200S produces, but in a straight line it doesn’t feel like it. Weighing about 150 lbs. less than the AWD 200S, the Legacy’s CVT keeps the engine in the power band at all times to maximize performance.  In a straight line contest the 200S would easily beat the Legacy, but the nine-speed automatic in the Chrysler makes the car feel slower than it really is.

CVT vs. Nine-Speeds

2015 Chrysler 200S vs 2015 Subaru Legacy noses

Quiet and efficient, the nine-speed needs more development work. At low speeds, it trips up on itself and hesitates before upshifting. Juddering and jiggling are present during stop-and-go traffic and downshifts for highway passing maneuvers are downright painful as the transmission leisurely works its way through each gear on its way to a proper passing ratio. Basically, the Subaru’s CVT is one of the best gearless transmissions on the market whereas the technological marvel that is the Chrysler nine-speed is not a very good automatic.

But, even with less power and an ultra-efficient CVT, the Legacy couldn’t match the 200S in our real world fuel economy testing when equipped with six-cylinder engines. Despite being rated slight higher at 20 MPG city and 29 MPG highway compared to the 200S’ ratings of 18 MPG city and 29 MPG highway, the Chrysler edged out the Subaru with a return of 25.9 MPG compared to 25.3 MPG.

Full-Time AWD vs. Part-Time AWD

2015 Subaru Legacy rear 3q

Part of the fuel discrepancy could be attributed to the respective AWD systems. The Legacy continues on with Subaru’s full-time, active-torque split AWD that sees power sent front and rear at all times. The 200S on the other hand will decouple the rear-axle in order to reduce parasitic loss and improve fuel economy during regular driving conditions. When needed though, the car will send up to 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels. AWD purists will despise this slip and grip system, but unless living on a greasy, muddy mountain, Subaru’s AWD system is overkill for the majority of driving situations.

Neither of the cars are sporty to drive, nor should they be. Designed for everyday drivers, the Legacy holds the edge here with better sightlines, a seamless transmission and low-effort driving controls. It’s very easy to get behind the wheel of the Subaru and feel instantly comfortable.

Conservative vs. Stylish

2015 Subaru Legacy interior 1

Subaru has been working hard on improving its interiors and it shows. Still not a class leader, the 2015 Legacy has much nicer materials inside now and better overall design, including an infotainment unit that is actually integrated into the center console. Compared to the 200’s interior though and the Legacy looks conservative and boring.

More modern and stylish, Chrysler did a done a good job inside the new 200S. That’s not to say everything is perfect as a few questionable styling elements snuck into the generation family sedan like blue-tinted wood-trim and captain-obvious labelling of the speedometer and tachometer.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Subaru Legacy Review

2015 Chrysler 200S interior front seatsThe Legacy’s front seats edge out the 200S’ due to the inclusion of a mesh-like insert in the Chrysler that isn’t attractive at all. Rear seat space also favors the Subaru with 38.1-inches of rear legroom on hand, half an inch more than in the 200S. More importantly, since the Legacy has more of a square exterior shape, real world passenger comfort trumps the Chrysler as head room is sorely lacking in the back of the 200S.

When it comes to the exterior of the two cars, there is no contest. Although much improved and contemporary looking, the Legacy cannot match the 200S when it comes to style. High-tech LED lights highlight the front and rear of the car, while S models like our tester have a darker, more sinister look thanks to glossy black trim and accent pieces as well as bumper-integrated exhaust tips. Chrysler probably has the best looking mid-size sedan on the market. When’s the last time that could be said?

Compare Specs

2015 Chrysler 200S AWD
2015 Subaru Legacy Limited 3.6R
Vehicle 2015 Chrysler 200S AWD Advantage 2015 Subaru Legacy Limited 3.6R
Engine 3.6 L Six-Cylinder - 3.6 L Six-Cylinder
Horsepower 295 hp 200S 256 hp
Max. Torque 262 lb-ft 200S 247 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 18 MPG city / 29 MPG hwy Legacy 20 MPG city / 29 MPG hwy
Observed MPG 25.9 mpg 200S 25.3 mpg
Weight 3,795 lbs. Legacy 3,662 lbs.
Front Legroom 42.2” Legacy 42.9”
Rear Legroom 37.6” Legacy 38.7”
Rear Cargo Capacity 16.0 cu. ft. 200S 15.0 cu. ft.
Starting Price $22,695 - $22,490
As Tested Price $35,360 Legacy $33,380

A Question of Value

2015 Chrysler 200S interior front top

And that brings us to the question of value. Both cars start within spitting distance of each other as a base Legacy commands $22,490 after destination charges compared to the 200’s entry price of $22,695. Step up to the high-end of the model hierarchy though and things begin to separate.

A fully loaded Legacy 3.6R Limited comes equipped with Subaru’s Eye Sight crash detection and adaptive cruise control system, for a final bill of $33,380. Ringing in at $35,560, the loaded up 200S ups the ante with a panoramic sunroof, but is not available with adaptive cruise as the 200C model must be selected that not only costs more money, but also loses some of the 200S’ style.

2015 Chrysler 200S vs 2015 Subaru Legacy parallel

The Verdict

The new Chrysler 200 is a quantum leap ahead of the old model and offers so much style, power and technology compared to the old 200, it probably deserved a new model name. The problem is, the car isn’t quite refined enough to compete in the near luxury class against the likes of the Acura TLX or Volvo S60, yet it’s too stylistically compromised to compete as a proper family friendly mid-size sedan.

On the other hand, the new Legacy is basically an all-wheel drive Honda Accord, which is a big complement to the Subaru sedan. It does everything right in a family friendly vehicle, while remaining anonymous and inoffensive. And when the weather turns nasty, the Legacy is more than ready to tackle the worst Mother Nature can throw at it.

2015 Chrysler 200S

2015 Subaru Legacy Limited 3.6R

  • bcl187

    If choose the 200s I prefer a ZF then a CTV…Chrysler wins:)

  • Marty

    I would never pick a Chrysler over a Subaru, based on reliability and problem history alone. Throw in the weather capabilities of the Legacy, and Subaru has the clear winner.

  • David

    Based on cars.com pricing the Chrysler 200 is $2K-$3K less than a v6 Subaru

  • drex95

    Best looking mid-sized sedan on the market? Well, they certainly get a D- for originality, since from most angles, it’s nearly indistinguishable from a Mazda 6, The front end is less unoriginal, but it’s uninspired and droopy looking, like it’s going to doze off at any minute. If they were making the effort to improve this version of the 200 over the previous eyesore version, they should probably have avoided being so heavily “inspired” by an existing competitor. And with their track record, anything based on a Fiat platform has a long way to go to prove itself reliable enough to buy.

    Though the Legacy shows some progress, it looks like an attempt to mimic the Sonata that fell far short. It still carries some of the stiffness and tall appearance of the previous generation and the roofline just doesn’t flow well. I don’t think the restyle is attractive enough to make people want to buy it because of the styling… maybe at best they’ve made it less unattractive, so the styling becomes less of a show stopper. They made no apparent attempt to give the dashboard some style, with the most boring look in a mid-sized sedan since the Passat. Bias against CVTs will also continue to work against it, but if it’s as good as the CVT on the Accord, the general public will probably warm up to it.

  • guest

    And you are a bullshit because I prefer the CVT over the 9-speed FOREVER!

  • Called It

    Richard Joash Tan, you aren’t fooling anybody. Your ridiculous rants and borderline insanity are impossible to miss. 😉 Doofus.

  • Pay-droh

    Agreed. I also wonder how the gear selection wheel and other switchgear actually feel to use. My guess is that it’s flimsy.

  • travman

    I traded off my incredibly boring 2012 Outback for this new 2015 200C with a v6, but only fwd. After spending two years with all wheel drive, I have found that living in the DC region, it’s a complete waste. Plus, I despise that CVT. It’s boring, noisy and I hate the clunking noise it makes when shifting into gears. I don’t have the experience apparently with other so called good transmissions, because I find the ZF 9 speed to work well, better than other cars I’ve owned like a 2003 Mazda 6 with a 5speed auto with v6. So far this zf transmission runs well particularly after the system has learned my driving habits. Subaru and Quality? Yea, I don’t see it like some of you do. What I had was a car that needed it’s timing belt changed every 60k miles on it at an expensive cost of $600. Very noisy engine and whining transmission. Outdated technology and at best……..ok at best it had a bit more room in the back seat. Every dealer I went to for testing out a new car told me the same thing. We get many Outbacks because people get tired of how uninspiring the car is. So go ahead and defend the boring car, we know those of you whom love the Subaru’s would never look elsewhere or keep an open mind.

  • travman

    No, it’s not flimsy. I find it easier to use than the clunkiness of the CVT I had in my prior Subaru. Plus Chryslers when properly taken care of will last a long time. I have family members whom still own their 99 300m and 95 Ram since new. No problems with them. I find it funny that so many people are big on buying an AWD system, when not many of them go off road. Plus when the weather is bad like having snow storms, we have plows to clear the roads.

  • guest

    And you are a bullshit because the 200C is the MOST BORING car on the face of the planet! Plus, I love the CVT, because it’s fun, it’s quiet and I love the clunking noise, so I find the ZF less reliable. And Subaru has the best technology and quality in the UNIVERSE! So go ahead and bash me! I know those of you like travman love Chrysler WILL never EVER EVER look elsewhere or keep an open mind! I love Subaru and I won’t look elsewhere either, but I keep an open mind. And that is why YOU ARE A BULLSHIT!!!!!!

  • Kaczu

    Something didn’t seem right with this review regarding the ability to get Adaptive Cruise, Park Lane Assist, etc. So I went on Edmunds to price it out and wouldn’t you know it you can get all of the features that the Suburu had for a cheaper price if you get rid of the ridiculous panoramic sun roof. Total came to $34,675.

  • guest

    Typical response from a small brain called guest

  • travman

    Guest….you make this too easy to bash you. It’s apparent you are very passionate about Subaru. I apparently hit that nerve to set you off. But that’s good your passionate about something. Your passion is……Subaru…..yea….

    I enjoy my Chrysler, but holy cow dude, I don’t love any cars. It’s just a stupid car. Wow! My passions are elsewhere.

    Remember my posting was my opinion on 3 different cars from 3 different manufacturers. Your posting was of 1. Who is keeping an open mind?

    I could tell you that I’ve owned and enjoyed cars from 5 different manufacturers (well maybe 4, I really didn’t enjoy Subaru), but after seeing your posting, you wouldn’t believe me.

    By the way, dude or dudette, cut back on the coffee or whatever your on, you are way too hyper sensitive. You got to be careful, people like you may have heart attacks.

  • Ralph Weller

    I have to agree with the 2012 Outback being boring. I traded mine in about a month ago for a 2015 Outback. What a hell of difference 3 years make in technology, particularly the CVT. Nice car, no longer boring and loud but, I don’t get to use the AWD in Southern California but occasionally. I need to replace an ageing 350Z shortly that by far has the most lousy ride of all cars ever created, and the 200S (V6) has been on my radar screen. 9 speeds of a marginal automatic, no matter how bad, seems a lot more enticing than 6 speeds of 350Z manual with the pile of city driving I do. Yes, the new Legacy is also on my list of cars to take a look at since the Outback and Legacy are mechanical and interior clones of one another.

  • Rocket

    Storage under the cup holders so you have to remove drinks to access it? Kinda silly. And swing arm trunk struts? Kinda cheap. What was Chrysler thinking?

    This “state of the art” 9-speed is clearly still a work-in-progress. I walked away from a potential Cherokee purchase because of it. Chrysler better get it figured out.

  • Yal100

    What the article fails to mention is that at the base price the Subaru STILL comes with AWD. If you live anywhere with snow and can only afford the base you’ll pick the Suby everytime! 🙂

  • bcl187

    That’s BS! I’d take a Chrysler 200c over that boring piece of junk! Chryslers been on fire and I’ll always buy EM!!

  • jared

    awd saves drivers arses in icy road conditions on non salted roads.

  • Jay Last

    What I like about your post is that you gave YOUR experience with the cars in question. You didn’t then say “All Subarus are crap” etc.

    And frankly, when people complain about how ugly Acuras are for example, I feel like saying take a look at any Subaru (granted, they’re not considered to be luxury cars, but still..)

  • Jay Last

    AWD helps you start to move the car in bad weather. It does absolutely nothing once under way and moving on icy roads. Physics.

  • guest

    And you are a BULLSHIT because I’d take the Subaru Legacy over that boring piece of BULLSHIT Chrysler junk! Subarus have been the loyal following and I WILL always buy LOTS AND LOT OF EM!!!!!!!

  • antiguest

    Wow, you need to learn how to write better, or speak better English please!

  • travman

    It’s good to hear that the newer CVT is better. Honestly I am glad Subaru’s do have a loyal following. They’re not bad cars, but it’s not for everyone.

  • travman

    Actually you can still reach the storage area under the cub holders by opening up the armrest. It’s just added storage that would have been used otherwise for a shifter and cupholders. I will agree with the swing arms. Chrysler should have done what Ford did with the Fusion and put covers over the swing arm areas. I heard and maybe wrong the 9 speed in the 200 is better than the Cherokee when it first started out, but I’m finding out many people still don’t care for the way it shifts. I’m ok with it and think it does well.

  • travman

    Thanks, I do actually believe that Subaru’s are good cars. I just didn’t like it. I bought the car to make my Wife happy, but it didn’t make me happy. I have coworkers that own Subaru’s and have had them for a long time and love them. I didn’t have the same experience.

  • travman

    I used to live in Mi with a rear wheel drive 1980 Caprice. I still remember have to scrape off 1/2 inch of ice on the car and the ground around the wheels to get the car going. AWD is not going to help in icy conditions like this. With snow, yes, not ice. I see that all the time people thinking they can drive well in ice with their 4wd vehicles only to get wrecked.

    Surprisingly to me, my past vehicles that did the best in ice happened to be my 2006 Kia Sedona LX. Surprised the heck out of me that I was able to gently drive over a sheet of ice in PA to see family one Christmas.

  • yes

    The CVT in the 3.6 and turbo subarus is completely different than the one in the base 2.5. The high torque CVT as its called is absolutely fantastic and a blast to drive. Go take a new WRX for forester XT for a spin. The 2.5 CVT on the other hand is your typical boring CVT. This test was based on the 3.6 with the HTCVT. AWD is also fantastic in the rain which most people seem to forget about.

  • ByeByeChrysler

    The problem with the 200S, and every Chrysler, is that Chrysler will abandon their customers in about 2 years and redesign the whole thing, leaving everyone with an old, odd looking pile of American junk. Add to that the dependability of Chrysler and you have a recipe for depreciation that will leave the Chrysler customer in a lurch.

  • Mark G

    I would never buy a chrysler

  • guest

    My wife and I are still not sold on the HT CVT. We’ve driven them extensively and just can’t do it. We have (and had) a ’10 XT, ’13 XT, and 14 3.6R. We drove the 2.0 XT when it came out and were floored at how lackluster it performed. We kept reading reviews on how much better the CVT was and finally went and drove another, still no change. A year goes by, still more positive reviews, we go back, same experience. Even as of last month, we drove both a Legacy 3.6 and an XT for two days…. we won’t be buying one. So once Subaru ditches the MT in the WRX, we are done being (new) Subaru owners.

    We own and drive them because they are fun. If I wanted a Honda Accord, I’d go buy a Honda (or a Chrysler.)

    And on the topic of the WRX, we won’t be getting a 15 either. We much prefer the feel of the 5spd over the 6. Just when you want to hit the middle of the power band the 6spd falls off at 4k. Nice to have a stiffer body, but we simply prefer the older power train.

  • Guest1

    And you are a BULLSHIT because I’d take the Chrysler 200 over that boring piece of BULLSHIT Subaru junk! Chyslers have been the loyal following and I WILL always buy LOTS AND LOT OF EM!!!!!!!

  • Jacques

    I agree with the 200C is the MOST BORING car on the face of the planet! Plus, I love the CVT, because it’s fun, it’s quiet and I love the clunking noise, so I find the ZF less reliable. And Subaru has the best technology and quality in the UNIVERSE! So go ahead and bash me! I know those of you like travman love Chrysler WILL never EVER EVER look elsewhere or keep an open mind! I love Subaru and I won’t look elsewhere either, but I keep an open mind. And that is why YOU ARE A BULLSHIT!!!!!!

  • Bill Roemhild

    An the Chrysler will be broken down on the side of the road years before the Subaru.

  • bena fein

    disgusting. 25 mpg avg. You people must long for 1992. Grow up.

  • Jim Williams

    I got a Legacy 3.6R. Absolutely love it. Too many reviews are bogged down with the reviewer’s personal opinions. Conservative? I think it looks great both inside and out. Again, that’s personal opinion. And Consumer Reports gave it the highest rating of any car in it’s class. It had a better number than some $50,000 to over $100,000 cars. The Chrysler didn’t even come close. I have no regrets buying my Legacy.

  • Daz Butch

    Oviously that DICKHEAD is to embarrassed to use his real name.

  • Robin

    Hey Jim,

    Got one a month ago (3.6 R). Totally love it. Everything about it. Such a smooth ride, great suspension, strong engine – a true joy to drive.

  • Jim Williams

    Only a fool would spend that kind of money based on brand name instead of research. On fire? Lets see here, out of 18 vehicles that are part of the Chrysler, Jeep and Fiat group only 2 of them made the Consumer Reports recommended list and no the 200 wasn’t one of them. The worlds most trusted independent testing organization only found 2 out of 18 worth buying? Again, on fire? No. Burnt out pile of ashes? Yes.

  • Jim Williams

    So you’re comparing last years model to your new car. Wow, that’s fair now isn’t it?

  • Jim Williams

    That’s true. No car will satisfy everyone. But anyone who just impulse buys or fanboy buys without researching what they’re paying for is an idiot. That’s true with any product but especially expensive automobiles. Car companies just love those kind of people.

  • Brendan McCormick

    I have always been a Subaru lover. At one point I saved up enough CASH to straight purchase a 2006 Subaru STi, but declined to make the order after hitting a deer and thinking that I would NEVER live with myself if I destroyed an STi. Many years later I was CONNED into test driving a 200S and I wasn’t even looking to buy a car. Within a few months I sold everything I had and purchased a 2015 200S. It is the only car I’ve EVER purchased brand new and I really enjoy driving it. If I had to find something that I don’t like is headroom with the sunroof. I have to recline so far that the steering wheel is too far away.

    The 200S goes like the beans and no one notices me, so it is a wonderful sleeper. I’m happy with the fuel economy and even the interior style. I don’t find myself in love with Subaru quite as much, but I also admit that the 200S is not quite as serious off-road, but I have done enough sideways driving on gravel to know that it will do it and happily. Can you fairly compare two cars? Everything is a give and take. There are compromises, so you can’t, without a clearly defined criteria to judge by. The Subaru is a better car under some criteria and the 200S is better under others. I’m happy with the 200S and I was NOT interested in US cars, but after being tricked – I’m happy.

    I did find one for over $10K under MSRP and that had EVERYTHING to do with even allowing me to purchase a new 200S at all and might have something to do with how much I like it… I think I would still have bought it at $35K though I would’ve chosen a different color than Velvet Red.

  • Kimberly Dickawicz

    That’s true the minute I drove off the lot it depreciated my car is worth in trade at 9,000 I owe about 14,000 I love the car. Although I love Subaru too. It had only 28,000 on her for miles when I did buy it.