If asked to name a good family sedan, how many folks would mention the Subaru Legacy? Not many, but perhaps more would if they knew about its standard all-wheel drive and available safety technology. Buyers also get all the room and conveniences they expect in this class.
The Honda Accord needs no introduction. The refined sedan is a perennial contender for the title of bestselling car in the U.S. But that does that necessarily make it a better choice than the Legacy?
Where the Legacy Stands Out
The Subaru wears button-down styling enhanced by some well-placed creases and a touch of muscle. Underneath all that is what draws buyers: Subaru's time-tested symmetrical all-wheel drive system. When equipped with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder and available continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Legacy delivers the same fuel economy as two-wheel drive competitors.
Buyers accustomed to a certain level of luxury can find it in the Limited model, which comes with leather seats, wood trim, a Harmon Kardon audio system and a 256-horsepower V6.
Subaru deserves a lot of credit for the optional EyeSight system, which offers safety technology usually reserved for luxury vehicles. EyeSight offers adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, automatic pre-collision braking and throttle management, and lead vehicle start alert.
Why the Accord Is So Popular
After generations of incremental upsizing, the Accord reversed course in 2013, producing a leaner sedan with improved driving dynamics. It's markedly more athletic than its predecessor, with quick steering and a medium-firm suspension that enable the Accord to handle with surprising precision.
Despite its renewed emphasis on performance since 2013, the Accord keeps its family values. There's more rear legroom and trunk space than before, and the engines have been tweaked for better fuel economy. Buyers interested in getting the most from the Accord's nimble handling can opt for a 278-horsepower V6 that delivers exciting performance for this class.
The Bottom Line
With the Subaru, drivers get all-wheel drive without having to spend a penny extra or sacrifice fuel economy. The Honda delivers everything buyers expect in a top-tier midsize sedan, plus thoroughly enjoyable driving characteristics.
Our Verdict: Honda Accord
The Accord remains what it's always been: A spirited blend of family-car virtues with no disappointments.