Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

As Much WRX as Sensible Sedan, the Redesigned 2015 Subaru Legacy Kicked the Stuffing Out of the Pacific Coast Highway

2015 Subaru Legacy.
I'm not the kind of guy who has so much adventure in his blood that he merrily hops aboard a plane run by an airline with which he has no clout. For me that basically means any airline other than Delta. I simply don't like doing it, particularly for multiple flights across country or out of the good old U.S. of A.

Is Delta better than every other major airline? Hardly, but it is the airline with which I have a 25-year history and about 1.7 million miles under my belt. When issues develop, which they are want to do, I can generally throw my weight around and get things solved post haste. Having some degree of standing with an airline greases the wheels when problems arise and changes must be effected.

Because I don't fly as much as I used to, my clout doesn't pack the sting it once did; but it remains sufficient that I can generally get booked on the next flight when the original flight is delayed for hours or canceled. If you've ever been trapped in an airport for a day or two waiting for a seat to open up after your flight has been canceled, you know exactly where I'm coming from. 

Delta flies a lot of places, but not to Monterey.
I wrote the above preamble simply to explain my hesitation at booking my flights to the recent Subaru Legacy media event in Big Sur, Calif. The nearest airport to the event's staging area is Monterey. It's one of those “you can't get there from here” airports. Delta doesn't even service it. I had to fly U.S. Air. U.S. Air? Oh the humanity!

In an attempt to reduce the likelihood of something going wrong, I flew in and out of Atlanta to hold the number of flights each way to two rather than three. That wasn't much of a stretch for me; I often stage my trips – especially those heading west – out of Atlanta. 

Joni enjoying the view.
Subaru puts on some terrific media events, but the Legacy program had the added feature of including a spouse, significant other, partner, friend or whatever. With my reservations about dating, I don't have a lady in the batter's box, or even on deck. Nope. I had to call one up from the reserve roster. My gal pal in Illinois and I fill in whenever the other is desperate for a companion for a wedding, funeral or some other function where it is less complicated to fly someone in than show up single. Joni had an even tougher set of connections thanks to flying out of Moline.

We arrived in Monterey separately and consequently arrived at Big Sur's Ventana Inn separately. I had about four hours of lead time to shoot some photos and guzzle a few glasses of wine at the hospitality suite. I thought the timing ideal. She wasn't impressed with my head start.

My room at Ventana Inn.
The Ventana Inn is a gorgeous property. Not quite on the beach, many rooms, as mine did, have an ocean view and fire place. King-size beds to get lost in, huge soaking tubs and private patios with a hot tub are found in each room. Oh, and there's a spa, too. I was manhandled by Michelle for 50 minutes with a deep-tissue massage at 7 a.m. the next morning. It was glorious!

With the product presentation beginning at 8:30, I had to do some scrambling to choke down my room-service breakfast, shower after my massage and get to the presentation. 

I was impressed with the 2015 Legacy from my 40 mile coastal drive from the airport the previous day. Subaru wants us to think of the redesigned Legacy as a WRX for families. Indeed, the engineers have managed to inject the suspension and steering with a heaping helping of WRX DNA. It handles more like a sport sedan than the sensible all-wheel-drive people hauler it's supposed to be. Sensible can be fun.

Cabin of the 2015 Legacy.
Available in four trims from the $21,695 2.5i to the $29,595 3.6R Limited with its six-cylinder engine, Legacy is built in Indiana. Every Legacy is loaded with safety and infotainment gear. Either standard or optional are things like EyeSight front collision prevention, rear vehicle detection, blind spot detection, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert. New front-seat cushion airbags help keep occupants snugly in place during a frontal crash.

The starter 2.5 flat-four-cylinder engine delivers 175 horsepower to the four wheels via a CVT. This is good for 30 mpg in combined city/highway driving. Stepping up to the 3.6-liter six gets you 256 horsepower and 23 combined mpg. And remember, that's with AWD.

Despite including a gaggle of curves and hills, our morning and afternoon drive routes were pretty simple. We just stuck to California 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) south to Hearst Beach and then back to the Ventana Inn by the same road.

Joni did her fair share of white knuckling. The Legacy handled great and the road was packed with twisties. I offered her the opportunity to drive part of the route. She opened her eyes long enough to register shock at such a suggestion before squeezing them shut again. 

All it needs is a moat.
In between the morning and afternoon drives, we enjoyed an ocean-side picnic at Hearst Beach and then took a three-hour tour of Hearst Castle. Nearly three decades in the making, this palatial home is absolutely incredible. Apparently no one ever told Randolph Hearst that less is more. Our tour guide was a treasure trove of facts and gossip about the mansion, the Hearsts and their guests.

You rang?
On the way back, we also made an unscheduled stop near Point Piedras Blancas to gander at the scores of elephant seals basking in the afternoon sun on the beach.

All of these bad boys are alive and well. They are just enjoying a little siesta.
The entire day made me feel much more like a tourist than someone who was technically working. I like that.

At cocktail hour our final night. Yes, we're twins and Mom still dresses us alike.
Our first flight the following day to get us to our respective homes was at 6:15 a.m. Ouch. That meant a 3 a.m. wake-up call. Yikes!

Well, it seemed like a good idea when we booked it.

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