Full 2006 Subaru Impreza Review
What's New for 2006
For 2006, the Subaru Impreza benefits from a styling refresh, new trim levels and minor mechanical updates. On the outside, there's a new three-section grille and swoopier headlights, subtly restyled fenders for the sedan and new taillight clusters. New trims include a less expensive WRX TR sedan and an upscale WRX Limited sedan and wagon. The 2.5 RS trim level becomes the 2.5 i. Mechanically, the WRX's engine goes from 2.0 liters to 2.5 liters of displacement and now makes 230 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. Other Imprezas get a horsepower boost from last year's 165 hp to 173. The WRX line also gets aluminum front suspension links, standard 17-inch wheels, upgraded brakes with red four-piston calipers up front, and a quicker steering ratio.
Are you looking for a small car or wagon? Just about every automaker offers one. How are you to choose? Well, if you want your car to be more than just basic transportation, consider the Subaru Impreza. It's been on the market for over a decade now, but only in the last several years has it gained the kind of style and performance that make it such an appealing vehicle. When it was last redesigned in 2002, the Subaru Impreza not only gained more room and features, it spawned a high-performance model known as the WRX. Packing a turbocharged engine and a sport-tuned suspension, the Impreza WRX can keep pace with many cars costing thousands more. It's even available as a wagon.
If the Impreza WRX doesn't suit your needs, there are other trim levels available, including the Outback Sport, a more rugged version for buyers who want extra utility without having to pay for a full-blown Outback. All trim levels offer well-laid-out interiors, numerous options and solid build quality. Standard all-wheel-drive continues to be the Impreza's drawing card, and a healthy price reduction on base models this year makes buying the 2006 Subaru Impreza a pretty irresistible proposition.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Subaru Impreza is available in sedan and wagon body styles and a wide array of trim levels. The 2.5 i sedan and wagon have 16-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, air conditioning, sport seats with height adjustment for the driver, a CD player, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The Outback Sport wagon adds two-tone paint, heavy-duty suspension tuning and a bit more ground clearance, foglamps and cargo tie-downs. The Outback Sport Special Edition sedan and wagon build on these features with a premium audio system, in-dash CD changer, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather steering wheel and shifter, and a rear spoiler.
The high-performance Impreza WRX comes in three different versions: WRX TR, regular WRX and WRX Limited. The TR features a functional hood scoop, limited-slip rear differential, stiffer suspension, bigger brakes and unique wheels. The standard WRX adds STi ground effects, foglamps, aluminum pedal covers, automatic climate control, premium audio with CD changer and performance-design seats. The luxury-oriented Limited features leather seating, heated seats and mirrors, and a moonroof.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering all 2.5 i and Outback Sport models is a 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that makes 173 horsepower. A more powerful engine can be found in the WRX sedan and wagon. This turbocharged 2.5-liter mill (also a flat four) kicks out an impressive 230 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard on all Imprezas.
All Subaru Impreza models have standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes. Side airbags are standard on all models. In government crash testing, the Subaru Impreza earned four stars (out of five) for driver safety in frontal impacts and five stars for front-passenger safety. Five stars were awarded for front-seat side-impact safety. The IIHS named the Impreza a "Best Pick" in frontal-offset testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
Though by no means a match for the cockpit of a Jetta, the Impreza's dash is modern enough in appearance, and the materials used are of good quality. For cargo, the wagons can hold 27.9 cubic feet of stuff, or 61.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat.
There's no question that the 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan and wagon are an absolute blast to drive. Previously, the WRX's power delivery was soft at low rpm but the new 2.5-liter turbo provides more bottom-end pull and an even deeper midrange. Handling is superb thanks to a well-tuned suspension and standard all-wheel drive. Although not nearly as fast, the 2.5 i sedan and wagon are equally enjoyable to toss around on a twisty road. The Outback Sport may have a sportier look, but the less expensive 2.5 i wagon is the better handler.