The Subaru Impreza is the compact car of the Subaru lineup and one of the most affordable vehicles that the Japanese automaker offers. Despite its starting price of under $20,000, the Subaru Impreza still offers standard all-wheel-drive and is considered one of the safest cars in its class. It’s also one of the cheapest AWD vehicles you can buy and is available as both a sedan and a hatchback. Like many other vehicles in the Subaru lineup, it uses the brand’s Global Platform and is offered with the EyeSight suite of driver assistance and safety equipment.
The Subaru Impreza is now in its fifth generation and has been around since 1992. It has always offered a good blend of safety and affordable all-wheel-drive surefootedness. The Impreza has become known for its practicality, reliability, and no-nonsense approach to design, though this newest model made some huge strides in interior quality and features, so it’s no longer the boring, spartan car you might remember.
Many enthusiasts remember the rally-inspired WRX and WRX STI, which have now been separated from the Impreza lineup, though Subaru’s rally and performance expertise does trickle down to the Impreza’s engineering.
All North American models of the Impreza are built in Lafayette, Indiana, at the by Subaru of Indiana Automotive plant. Models destined for markets outside of North America are built in Japan.
Pros/ Standard all-wheel-drive, Lots of safety and driver assistance features, Fuel efficient CVT, Affordable, Reliable
Cons/Not exactly pretty, Boring to drive, Slow/dated-looking infotainment system, feels slow
Bottom Line/The Subaru Impreza is a safe and confident driving compact car that’s extremely affordable to buy and run.
Table of contents
Subaru Impreza Specs
Engine: 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder
Output: 152 hp, 145 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Five-speed manual / CVT
Fuel Economy: 24 city, 32 highway, 27 combined (manual) \ 28 city, 38 highway, 32 combined (CVT)
Cargo Space: 12.3 cubic feet
Engine: 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder
Output: 152 hp, 145 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Five-speed manual, CVT
Fuel Economy: 24 city,31 highway, 26 combined (manual) / 28 city, 36 highway, 31 combined (CVT)
Cargo Space: 20.8 cubic-feet (seats up), 55.3 cubic feet (seats folded down)
Subaru Impreza Fuel Economy
The Subaru Impreza has been fully tested by the EPA. The compact car is available in two body styles and each one has different fuel ratings.
The base sedan with a five-speed manual earns 24 MPG in the city, 32 MPG on the highway, and 27 MPG combined. The Sport trim with the five-speed manual earns 23 MPG in the city, 31 MPG on the highway, and 26 MPG combined. The CVT-equipped base Impreza sedan is much more fuel efficient, earning 28 MPG in the city, 38 MPG on the highway, and 32 MPG combined. The Sport model with the CVT earns 27 MPG in the city, 36 MPG on the highway, and 30 MPG combined.
The hatchback version of the Impreza has slightly different fuel ratings. The five-speed base model of the Impreza hatchback is rated to earn 24 MPG in the city, 31 MPG on the highway, and 26 MPG combined. The Sport version of the manual Impreza earns 22 MPG in the city, 30 MPG on the highway, and 25 MPG combined. Five-door hatchbacks with the CVT are far more fuel-efficient, with base models earning 28 MPG in the city, 36 MPG on the highway, and 31 MPG combined. The Sport model with the CVT will earn 27 MPG in the city, 35 on the highway, and 30 MPG combined.
The fuel-tank size of the Impreza is 13.2 gallons and you can run the Impreza on regular-grade gas, which will also help keep things affordable.
Subaru Impreza Safety Rating
The Subaru Impreza, like many of its mates in the Subaru lineup, has earned a Top Safety Pick + rating by the IIHS, the highest possible rating. This means the Subaru Impreza is one of the safest small cars on the market, as it has earned top marks in all crash tests, earns top scores for its optional crash avoidance technology, and top grades for its optionally upgraded headlights. The Impreza also scored high marks for its LATCH child seat anchors, meaning they were very easy to use.
While the IIHS docks points for the standard headlights, it’s clear that the Subaru Impreza is the compact car to get if safety is a major concern.
Subaru Impreza Features
The Impreza comes standard with all-wheel-drive, no matter the trim level or transmission. Buyers who want to save some money can do so with the five-speed manual, while those who want better fuel efficiency will opt for the CVT, which features seven pre-set gear ratios to manual shift. The vehicle comes standard with a 6.5-inch touchscreen that includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. There are also folding rear seats with a 60/40 split. Tire pressure monitoring with individual tire pressure display is now standard across all lines of the Impreza. Models with CVTs can be had with the EyeSight driver assistance and safety features and can be had with a special color LCD gauge cluster.
The Premium trim models get special black machine-finished wheels, as well as an all-weather package that adds heated front seats, heated windshield, and heated side mirrors. There are also two USB ports in the rear of the cabin.
The Sport trim has special suspension tuning and a short throw shifter for manual-equipped models. There is also a new Active Torque Vectoring system in this trim level. The Sport has LED daytime running lights, blacked out grille and body color panels as well as side mirrors with integrated turn signals. The Sport also has a blacked out spoiler in both sedan and hatchback body styles. The interior of the Sport features unique black upholstery with red stitching. The Sport also has keyless access, push-button start, aluminum pedals, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Limited model is the fully loaded version of the Impreza. It has special LED daytime running lights, as well as 17-inch wheels. There’s more exterior chrome trim and it also features a side mirror with integrated turn signals. The interior features leather-trimmed upholstery as well as a six-way power adjustable seat. It includes automatic climate control, an 8-inch infotainment system, keyless access, push-button start, and buyers can add a navigation system or upgraded harmon/kardon sound system. Limited models come with all the safety equipment that makes the Impreza stand out, including EyeSight, high beam assist, steering responsive headlights, and a reverse automatic braking system (RAB). The EyeSight suite incorporates adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking as well as a lane departure and sway warning. Buyers can also get blind spot detection with lane keep assist and rear cross traffic alert.
Subaru Impreza Pricing
The Subaru Impreza starts at $19,480 including destination and delivery for a base 2.0i model that uses a manual transmission. The CVT is an extra $1,000 option for this model. The five-door version of this model is just $500 more.
The 2.0i Premium model comes with a CVT and starts at $22,480. It offers two packages: the $1,395 EyeSight Driver Assist package and the $2,395 EyeSight Driver Assist with moonroof package. Like the base model, the hatchback version of the Premium model is just $500 more than the sedan.
The 2.0i Sport Sedan starts at $23,080 with a 5-speed manual transmission. Subaru offers the CVT in this trim for just $800. The five-door version of this Sport model is just $500 more.
Finally, the 2.0i Limited models start at $26,075 for sedans. It comes with a CVT as standard equipment, and also features the EyeSight safety features. Buyers can add two extra cost equipment packages. One adds a Moonroof and Blindspot detection system which costs $1,400 while the second package adds the Moonroof, blindspot detection, a bigger infotainment system with navigation and an upgrades harmon/kardon sound system. This package is an extra $2,750. The five-door model of 2.0i Limited is an extra $500.
Subaru Impreza Competitors
The Impreza’s closest competitor is the Mazda3 which is also offered with all-wheel-drive and available as a sedan or hatchback. The Subaru Impreza also competes with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Volkswagen Jetta/Golf, Kia Forte, and the Nissan Sentra.
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Future Subaru Impreza Plans
The Subaru Impreza currently rides on the Subaru Global Platform, so any changes to that platform will be shared across the lineup. It’s unlikely Subaru will make any big changes to the Impreza any time soon, but maybe Subaru would be wise to enhance or replace the engine in this compact car. It’s the vehicles biggest weak point, and the automaker has a number of new and upgraded engines that could definitely help make the Impreza more appealing to buyers who want more power without getting a more expensive WRX model.
Subaru Impreza Review
By Dan Ilika
You’d be hard-pressed to find more than a smattering of Subaru loyalists willing to describe the Impreza as stylish or fun to drive.
Sure, there are the brand’s vaunted WRX and STI models, but when it comes to the car from which those two get their roots, the Impreza is little more than an A-to-B commuter with the added bonus of standard all-wheel drive. But the smallest of Subarus on the North American market has earned a reputation for reliability over the years, proving itself more than capable of going head to head with the segment’s best. And now the automaker is gunning even harder after the compact competition with an all-new Subaru Impreza that features an updated design with improved driving dynamics to match.
Of all the changes made to the Impreza in its fifth generation, the most drastic is the platform that underpins it. The car marked the first of many models, including the new three-row Subaru Ascent, that rides on Subaru’s new global architecture, a modular platform developed with a focus on rigidity and safety.
The new platform gives the Impreza a 40-percent boost in crash energy absorption compared to the outgoing model, while overall stiffness is drastically enhanced, and works with a new suspension setup to provide better responsiveness and ride quality.
With the new architecture forming the Impreza’s foundation, the car in both sedan and hatchback body styles rides on a wheelbase that’s an inch (25 millimeters) longer than before, while the overall length and width have each been stretched about 1.5 inches (38 mm), resulting in more room for second row passengers. Interestingly, the Impreza’s overall height has been reduced by about 0.4 inches (10 mm) but headroom, both front and rear, has been improved slightly this time around.
The majority of our time in and around Monterey, Calif., with the new Impreza was spent in the hatchback, which proved spacious for both passengers and cargo. The front seats provide plenty of room to get comfortable, while leaving more than enough space in the back for an extra passenger or two. Legroom in the back maxes out at 36.5 inches (927 mm), which is plenty, and outdoes both the overhauled Mazda3 and the new Honda Civic hatchbacks, however slightly, when it comes to accommodating additional passengers. When it comes to headroom, the new Impreza falls short of the competition on paper, but won’t leave anyone this side of 6-foot-5 feeling claustrophobic.
The hatchback’s cargo room has also been increased, with 20.8 cu-ft (589 liters) on offer behind the rear seats, and 55.3 cu-ft (1,566 liters) with them folded flat. The latter measurement puts the Impreza in the conversation for best-in-class cargo capacity, besting both the Mazda3 (47.1 cu-ft, 1,334 liters) and Civic (46.2 cu-ft, 1,308 liters) with the second row stowed. The five-door also benefits from a wider trunk opening than before, with the new architecture allowing for the incorporation of a square tailgate frame that provides plenty of room to load larger items.
Evolution of Design
Like the platform on which it rides, the new Impreza also ushered in a new design language for the automaker that, while slightly on the conservative side, is certainly a step in the right direction. The Impreza can now rank among the best-looking cars in the segment, with the design language translating well to both sedan and hatchback forms. The body is much more sculpted this time around, with plenty of character lines that combine with new head- and taillights that cut down on the old car’s blandness.
Inside, the Impreza takes a massive step forward in terms of layout and design — particularly in higher trim grades. Clean lines divide the space nicely, vaulting the car’s cabin out of the dark ages of old and into the modern era. There’s still plenty of hard plastics used throughout, even in top trim, but the seats are comfortable and the controls are intuitive.
But the biggest addition, both aesthetically and practically speaking, is the new eight-inch touchscreen that comes into play on Sport models and above. Like the 6.5-inch touchscreen that comes standard, it runs Subaru’s Starlink infotainment interface, a system that has proven itself frustrating and complicated to use. But most of that has changed in its new iteration, and it now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility across the trim range, a welcome addition that makes up for past shortcomings. Even without a phone paired to the system, the interface is attractive and easy to use, though it can be laggy at times and slow to respond.
For all that’s new about the Impreza, both inside and out, it’s still the same-old when it comes to the powertrain — at least on paper. Lift the hood and you’ll be greeted by the same 2.0-liter boxer engine as before, though it has been reworked extensively. The majority of the four-cylinder’s internal components have been replaced, while direct injection has been added, along with new intake and exhaust components, to improve emissions.
Engine output remains relatively static, with 152 horsepower on offer to go along with 145 lb-ft of torque, but the engine’s torque curve has been flattened on the top end to provide longer spells of maximum power, which comes in handy while merging onto the highway or passing slower traffic.
The same two transmissions are offered again, with the choice of a dated five-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic that, like the engine it’s paired to, has been overhauled. It still features the rubber-banding typical of CVTs, but a new seven-speed manual mode has been added that makes it feel a lot more like a traditional automatic.
Fuel economy for the CVT is estimated at a combined 32 mpg (7.4 L/100 km) for the sedan, 31 mpg (7.6 L/100 km) for the 5-door. The manual transmission is a fair bit worse at 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) Both ratings are in line with the rest of the segment, an impressive feat considering the Impreza comes fitted with standard all-wheel drive.
Impressive Driving Dynamics
Combining the new platform and suspension with the old powertrain, Subaru’s engineers virtually nailed it with this new Impreza. The outgoing model’s drive could only be described as boring, with very little to get excited about. But the new version hits almost all the marks. It’s compliant, quiet and comfortable, the perfect recipe for cruising or commuting, but the stiff new chassis means you can toss the Impreza into a corner and live to tell the tale.
The steering is crisp, while the brake-based torque vectoring system, which comes into play on Sport models, provides turn-in response not often found in this segment. The key to a good torque-vectoring system is its relative imperceptibility. While you should know it’s working, it shouldn’t be jarring in doing so, rather working to smoothly pull the car tighter into a turn. And that’s exactly what the Impreza’s system does, providing plenty of bite as corner radiuses shrink.
Of course, there are two sides to this newfound driving fun. On one hand, it provides plenty of corner-carving ability for a reasonable price. On the other, the Impreza isn’t going to overwhelm anyone with power, and those who want increased speed need to upgrade to the more expensive WRX. The ride is slightly less compliant than the Impreza’s, but it’s a more well-rounded performance package for the price premium.
The Verdict: Subaru Impreza Review
The improvements that have been made to this car are truly outstanding, cementing the Impreza as a real rival to the segment’s best. It can also line up with its adversaries when it comes to price. It’s in line with the likes of the Civic and Mazda3 out of the gate, and stays that way as you climb through the trim levels. Sure, the Impreza can be slow, but the hatch and sedan provide plenty of bang for the buck.
Check out this video review of the Subaru Impreza. The video is from 2017, but the car hasn’t changed since then:
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|Engine /||2.0L boxer 4-cylinder|
|Torque /||145 lb-ft of torque|
|Transmission /||5-speed manual or CVT|
Our Final Verdict
The Subaru Impreza is a pragmatic choice for people who want an affordable compact car with all-wheel-drive that is safe and practical. Although the Subaru Impreza isn’t the best vehicle in its segment, it offers something that none of its competitors do: standard all-wheel drive. This has always been the Impreza’s calling card, but with this new generation model, it also brings many other features to the table as well.4