Full 2013 Subaru Impreza Review
What's New for 2013
After a full redesign last year, the 2013 Subaru Impreza now comes standard with Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, an auxiliary audio jack and steering wheel controls. A rearview camera is now included with the navigation system.
Until its redesign a year ago, the Subaru Impreza offered little more than alternative appeal. Below-average fuel economy and substandard interior materials left the Impreza with one selling point: standard all-wheel drive. The latest car is more well-rounded, however, and the 2013 Subaru Impreza further capitalizes on its newfound acceptance with a few improvements. Bluetooth now comes standard on all models, along with iPod connectivity and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The optional navigation system package now also includes a rearview camera.
The Impreza still retains the qualities that vaulted it into the mainstream: spacious interior, a compliant ride quality and class-competitive fuel economy. The Impreza's big draw remains its standard all-wheel drive, which has kept the Subaru in good graces with drivers living among a full range of wet and slippery seasons.
If all-wheel drive isn't a priority, other small sedans or hatchbacks may hold more appeal. The 2013 Ford Focus offers a nicer interior and superior high-tech features, while the 2013 Mazda 3 feels more nimble around town. The stylish 2013 Hyundai Elantra (and Elantra GT) is another enjoyable sedan/hatchback combo to consider. All of these cars return better fuel economy, too. Still, with its space, utility and sure-footedness, the Impreza remains a solid choice among this group.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Subaru Impreza is available as a sedan or hatchback in 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited trim levels. The hatchback adds 2.0i Sport Premium and 2.0i Sport Limited trims. The WRX and STI trim levels are high-performance versions of the previous-generation Impreza and are covered in a separate review.
The Impreza 2.0i comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, a trip computer, Bluetooth (phone and audio streaming) and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, iPod connectivity and auxiliary audio input.
The Impreza 2.0i Premium adds 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, an adjustable front center armrest, a cargo cover (hatchback) and a six-speaker sound system. The Alloy Wheel package adds 17-inch wheels and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. The All-Weather package adds heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer and heated front seats.
The 2.0i Limited includes both of the Premium's packages and adds automatic headlights, foglights, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a rear center armrest, a touchscreen audio interface and HD radio.
The 2.0i Sport Premium adds standard roof rails to the regular Premium equipment list and includes the Alloy Wheel and All-Weather packages, while the 2.0i Sport Limited bundles these additional features to the extras included on the 2.0i Limited.
The Premium, Limited and Sport Limited can be equipped with a sunroof and a navigation system package, the latter including a touchscreen interface, a rearview camera, voice controls, HD radio, satellite radio and real-time traffic.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Subaru Impreza 2.0i models feature a 2.0-liter, horizontally-opposed "boxer" four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. A standard five-speed manual transmission comes coupled to an all-wheel-drive system with a 50/50 front/rear power distribution. An optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) couples to a different all-wheel-drive system that apportions more power to the front wheels, but vectors power rearward when traction is needed. In states with California emissions standards, this engine is available with Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) certification.
In Edmunds performance testing, a CVT-equipped Impreza spanned zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds -- slow for a compact sedan, but not unreasonable given the additional weight of the Impreza's all-wheel-drive system. EPA-estimated fuel economy with the manual is 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway (33 for the hatchback) and 28 mpg combined. The CVT improves those estimates to 27/36/30.
Every 2013 Subaru Impreza comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and whiplash-reducing front head restraints.
In Edmunds brake testing, an Impreza 2.0i Premium with 17-inch wheels stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for the class. Government crash tests yield four stars out of a possible five for overall protection, with four stars for total frontal crash protection and four stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded its highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Impreza's interior design is pretty conservative, a look that might turn off buyers looking for more flair. Others will find it clean, time-tested and high-quality, as the dash and door sills have soft-touch trim and panel gaps are tight. The front seats are comfortable, the rear seat is one of the roomiest in the segment and cargo space is generous: 12 cubic feet in the sedan's trunk and 22.5 cubes in the hatchback with its rear seats up.
Music lovers take note, however: The Impreza's sound systems are pretty awful. Audio quality is subpar and the available touchscreen infotainment interface, while an improvement over the base system, offers only small, finicky touchscreen icons and locks out some basic audio functions while driving.
The 2013 Subaru Impreza 2.0i offers secure handling, firm steering and braking, and a compliant ride that feels substantial even over substandard pavement. The four-cylinder returns excellent fuel economy for a car with all-wheel drive, but acceleration suffers; this is one of the slower cars in its class. Folks living in the snow and rain belts, however, may not mind trading speed for traction and all-wheel-drive stability.
The CVT works as intended, but its touchy throttle response can increase engine speed unnecessarily and exacerbate noise coming into the cabin from the engine bay. If possible, go with the manual transmission.