What it is: The Impreza is Subaru’s mid-sized sedan that is all new for the 2017 model year. To me, Subaru is known for two things: safety and performance. Subaru has a slightly cluttered lineup with many different sedans and wagons of slightly different sizes, but the Impreza is Subaru’s most affordable of the group. It starts at $18,495 and offers both four-door and five-door (hatch) versions paired with one engine choice and either a CVT or manual transmission.
The one engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 152 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque, which is certainly a little lethargic for this size vehicle. My bigger complaint is actually the CVT which, while it maximizes fuel efficiency, certainly does not maximize driving performance. To be fair, Subaru does sell the Impreza-based model, the WRX with more horsepower, but it starts $8,500 higher than the base Impreza, and I don’t think many buyers would overlook the WRX if the Impreza had 15-30 more horsepower.
My test model was the higher-end Sport trim, which will run you a modest $4,100 more than a base model. Included features are a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, aluminum pedals, multi-function display, keyless access with push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-inch multimedia system with Carplay and Android Auto compatibility, and a rear spoiler. If you get the manual transmission, you get an STI short-throw shifter as well. The Impreza Sport certainly looks the part, but there’s not much under the hood to back it up.
My test model had a few options as well. The CVT was $800 (blech) and a combo package of Eyesight, a moonroof and an upgraded harmon/kardon audio system for $2,945. You can leave out the Eyesight for $795 less, but you shouldn’t because Eyesight is Subaru’s driver assist technology package. It gives you adaptive cruise control, pre-collision automatic braking system, lane departure with sway warning and lane keep assist. These safety add-ons are wonderful, and you definitely would want your loved ones to be driving with them.
MPG: 27 city/36 highway
Price: $18,395 base price. $26,560 as-tested.
Downsides: Lackluster performance.
Wrap-up: Maybe this review would be much different if I was driving the five-speed manual transmission instead of the CVT. I loved the way the Impreza Sport looked, but I would be lusting at every WRX that drove by with its turbocharged 268-horsepower engine. Subaru has done a great job with the new interior and I have no doubt that the Impreza will grant you years of happy and worry-free usage, but hopefully Subaru will kick up the juice a bit in the future.
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