The Impreza's saving grace is two-fold: Its all-wheel drive is rare in the segment and it's less expensive than most FWD competitors. But it's slow, and the continuously variable transmission (CVT) causes annoying engine drone. Fuel economy is below average, while interior space and build quality are average.
PerformanceThe Impreza's overall performance is below average in the segment. Its acceleration is slower than many competitors and the handling, unless you're in a low-grip situation, is just average.
Slower than many competitors thanks to a smaller engine and CVT.
The Impreza's average braking performance is neither impressive nor troubling. Low-grip tires hurt it here.
Electric-assist steering provides average feedback and relatively light steering effort. Most folks will find it about right.
Modest grip limits are aided by all-wheel drive, which allows alternative lines and further control of the chassis, even when you're driving below its full handling limits.
Most drivers will appreciate the Impreza's softly sprung chassis in everday use. But the rubber-bandy CVT will require some adjustment.
Better in low-grip situations than most competitors, but not an "off-road" vehicle.
ComfortComfort is average to good in the Impreza. Its suspension is compliant and offers ample travel to soak up road irregularities. There's more body roll, pitch and dive than some competitors, however.
Seat comfort is good, as is adjustability. Lateral support is minimal, however.
Ride comfort is good in the Impreza. There's an abundance of wheel travel to accommodate uneven terrain, and damping is adequate but mild.
At cruise on the highway the Impreza isn't any louder than its competitors, but some buyers will notice engine drone during acceleration.
InteriorThere are no upscale trimmings but the Impreza's interior is a functional and utilitarian setup that should serve most people well. Our long-termer proved durable.
Three-knob HVAC controls (auto climate control on Limited models) are easy to use, but the navigation system interface is awkward and complex, as is Bluetooth phone pairing.
Ingress and egress are average in the Impreza. Minimal lateral support in the front seats makes sliding in and out easy. Rear seat space is relatively easy as well.
Sense of space is good in the Impreza. This is a comfortable car in which to spend a day. There's no sense of confinement.
We observed no obvious blind spots while driving the Impreza. There's a big greenhouse providing adequate rear-quarter views.
The Impreza's cargo area is bigger than many of its compact five-door competitors, both behind the rear seats and when the seats are folded flat.
ValueThere's unusual value in the Impreza because of its all-wheel drive. If you need this feature you'll be hard pressed to find it elsewhere at this size and price. Even if you don't need AWD, the Impreza is a practical commuter.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Nothing in the Impreza feels fancy, but it also doesn't feel cheap. The interior materials are reasonably durable and look like they'll stay together. No squeaks or rattles.
All-wheel drive is the Impreza's stand-out feature. We rate it highly here because AWD is available for less than many competitors' FWD models.
Considering the value of its AWD, the Impreza costs less than many competitors. And we're talking by thousands, not hundreds.
All-wheel drive drags down the Impreza's fuel economy relative to its competition, something we can't ignore in this fuel-conscious segment. We usually averaged around 26.0 mpg.
Basic: three years/36,000 miles, roadside three years/36,000 miles, drivetrain five years/60,000 miles. These are average warranty numbers for the segment.
Subarus offer a unique appeal that's not available in more mainstream offerings. The CVT will drive away some buyers, but many won't notice. A manual transmission is available.
Fun To DriveUnless you're benefitting from its all-wheel drive, you'll likely not find the Impreza particularly fun to drive. It's soft and slow and not terribly responsive.
Don't plan on setting any on-ramp records in the Impreza. AWD helps out in some handling situations, but many competitors are more fun. Most offer a more connected feel, too.
Certainly the Impreza has ample personality. But unless you're a Subaru fan this is easily overlooked. Recent Imprezas offer less personality than their funky forebears.