Subaru makes great cars. This is my third. After having owned 2 used Legacys, over the last 10 years, I decided to spring for a brand new Impreza. For a small car the larger than normal 170 HP really gives it some kick and the AWD and stability control make it do amazing things. Best car in its class. In fact it outclasses everything else which is why it is so under reviewed. It must just confuse auto reporters about how this car fits in with everything else.
Solid, spritely, road hungry feel. I'm 186 cm tall, and I have enough room, even in such a small car.
Subaru's interiors have always been dull. The finishings feel cheap. The only annoying design problem is the door window frame, it is somewhat sharp, so it feels uncomfortable to rest your arm on when you have the window rolled down.
I searched for the most fuel economic (freeway), AWD (for frequent dirt-roading/all weather) on the market with good interior loading capacity. This car blew the SX4 Crossover AWD (which I test drove) out of the water, especially in loading capacity, and was ~$10k cheaper than the Ford Escape Hybrid (which was great to drive but had about the same fuel economy as the Impreza 180hp). I've already driven through fields with my Outback Sport in wet weather and it plowed through it like a champion - I can't wait for snow to come this season! This car has already been superior on road trips. I've noticed the gear ratio used makes for a slight lack of power switching from 4th to 5th. @ ~50-55 mph
25/29 cty/hwy fuel economy, AWD excellence, awesome safety features including surrounding airbag protection, 6' length capacity in the back with seats down (they lay flat! :)), e.g. you likely wont need to use the roof rack, and can remove it for better MPG. Aux plug for MP3!
The mentioned slight lack of power when switching from 4th to 5th gear at ~50-55mph (the manual suggested switch speed for 5th gear). 4th gear obtains excellent torque in which waiting till ~55+mph to switch to 5th fixes this problem. (Also, problem disappears with 226hp models or automatic).
A fun car to drive. Not nearly as comfortable as my older VW, but for the same price, I have better handling, AWD for winter snow & ice, and better reliability. The premium package is a must. In Canada, it is the Sport Package, and heated seats are now a necessity, (I had them in the VW, and will never be w/o them again). The 170hp/170lb-ft N/A engine is adequate, but if you want some thrills, you may be disappointed. I am selling my '08 2.5i and have already ordered an '09 STI.
AWD, heated seats, boxer engine rumble, hill-holder clutch/brake, MP3/iPod capable stereo, great handling, great gas mileage
Distance to empty mileage indicator, auto-locking doors, auto-unlocking doors on handle pull, lumbar support, better speakers, faster fast-forward / reverse scan on CD player, height-adjustment on passenger seat
I love my impreza 5-door I looked at a few other cars (Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, and Suzuki SX4 Sport) and found the Subaru to be my favorite. The AWD is a major advantage over the other cars i looked and and it is fun to drive, I can't wait for the NY winter. Also the versatility of the 5-door.
Interior design, exterior design (although 06-07 models looked more sporty) awd, long list of standard features, price, driving experience, versatility of the 5-door.