Subaru Impreza — All-wheel drive fun on a budget


By Kelly Foss –

Subaru has successfully built a loyal customer following over the years. Their highly rated vehicles are known for their inclement weather off-road capabilities and their reliability. The Impreza compact sedan was recently got a major refresh and offers a broad array of choices, .

So how does the Impreza compare with the pillars of the compact sedan world, the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla? The answer is, quite well actually.

One big change this year is that the Impreza is entirely new underneath. All Imprezas are now built on Subaru’s new Global Platform, which means that it has 70% more torsional rigidity and 40% more crash-energy absorption compared to previous models. Safety has always been a Subaru hallmark, and the new platform delivers. Other Subaru vehicles will follow.

Being a Subaru, the Impreza starts out life designed and equipped differently from other vehicles in its class. The biggest difference is the drivetrain. All Impreza’s are equipped with Subaru’s famous all-wheel drive system. That means from the same vehicle platform and drivetrain, Subaru can offer a broad array of vehicles. The “standard” Impreza competes with most compacts sedans except that it comes standard with a highly capable all-wheel drive system.

The fuel economy is just a touch lower than its competitors due to the extra equipment, but the car can do things and go places that most of its competitors can’t. The highly capable off-road XV Crosstrek (which also includes a hybrid to the Subaru line) is an Impreza derivative. Additionally, 2 Impreza performance models the WRX and the WRX STi are also offered.

Another significant differentiator is Subaru’s horizontally opposed, Boxer (flat) 4 cylinder engine. This design provides more power and because the engine is flat and sits low, the car has a lower center of gravity and therefore better handling. This year, the 2.0-liter engine gets direct injection and an increase of four horsepower, for a total output of 152 horsepower.

Exterior updates give it a slightly more grown-up aesthetic, though it holds onto its fun, counter-culture styling. It’s slightly larger than before and includes more refined features on the inside, as well. As always, the Impreza is offered in either a 4 door sedan or a 5 door hatchback. Trim levels include base, premium and luxury.

All models come with a Linetronic CVT automatic transmission to handle the power. While manual transmissions aren’t yet in the works, you can opt for paddle shifters on higher trim models. The “standard” and XV Crosstrek Impreza’s are fitted with a 2.0 liter 148 horsepower 4 cylinder engine. The performance WRX models have a turbo and a power rating of 268 horsepower. The WRX STi which is basically a street legal rally car and has a more aggressively tuned is a turbocharged 2.5 liter with 305 horsepower.
No matter which variation of Impreza you opt for, you won’t be disappointed. Its all-wheel drive capability and reputation for reliability set it apart, but it’s also just really fun to drive.

I’ve driven all the Impreza’s and every one of them excels in their niche.

Starting Price – Subaru Impreza about $19,000

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