Bang on time, the Subaru Legacy has been given a facelift in time for the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, almost exactly three years after it was unveiled at the same show. The staid D-segment sedan has been sharpened up inside and out, making it more refined to look at, sit in and drive.

The sportier front fascia is dominated by a wider grille, now with the new Subaru wing element and redesigned slats. It is flanked by redesigned headlights with “Konoji” angular C-shaped LED daytime running lights, while the air intakes are lower and wider, and feature chrome fog light surrounds. Speaking of which, LED fog lights are available as an option.

At the rear, a wide diffuser-like element gives the car a more planted stance despite the 1,839 mm width remaining the same as before. There are also new high-contrast wheel designs and two new colours – Magnetite Gray Metallic and Crimson Red Pearl.

Inside, there are more premium materials, as well as a redesigned centre console and a sportier steering wheel. The dashboard, seats and door panels feature stitching on the Premium trim and up, along with gloss black trim and silver control bezels. A grey interior colour scheme joins the existing black and ivory options.

Other changes include the air conditioner, which cools the interior more quickly and provides a more uniform temperature throughout the cabin; the temperature setting has also been moved to inside the control dial to make it more intuitive to operate. In addition, interior power has been made to stay on for a short time after the ignition has been switched off, and the clock is also now larger and more legible.

New for the 2018 model year is the latest Starlink infotainment systems with over-the-air updates and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The base 6.5-inch unit is larger and quicker, while the 8.0-inch system has a faster CPU for increased startup speed and TomTom navigation. Voice control is improved through the use of twin microphones, and drivers can more easily use Apple Siri or OK Google commands.

Safety-wise, the Legacy now gets Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB) with visual and audible warnings, a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), a standard-fit reverse camera with steering guidelines and optional adaptive headlights. Hill start assist is now standard as well, while the EyeSight system, including adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist is optional on most models.

Also added are standard welcome lighting, auto door locks, improved ISOFIX child seat latches and a Starlink Safety Plus suite of emergency and alert services, free for the first year and US$99 (RM440) a year thereafter. Starlink Safety Plus & Security Plus with additional security functions is available as an option.

Engine choices remain the same as before – a 2.5 litre flat-four producing 175 hp at 5,800 rpm and 235 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, or a 3.6 litre flat-six developing 256 hp at 6,000 rpm and 334 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. A Lineartronic CVT with shift paddles and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive remain standard.

However, there are new features to improve refinement, including a quieter ultra-short-pitch chain for the CVT on 2.5 litre models as well as adjustments to engine timing under acceleration. There are also reshaped exterior mirrors, sound-insulating inner film on the front side windows and thicker rear wheel well aprons.

Meanwhile, the dampers have been retuned to reduce initial bump shock and body roll in the corners, the electric power steering made smoother and more linear and the brake pedal feel firmer and more direct.