Subaru Impreza WRX owners are a pretty fanatical lot. They love their cars for their funky body styling, spunky turbocharged engines and athletic handling that would shame many pricier sport coupes and sedans. Yet reading message boards about the redesigned 2008 WRX, you'd think Subaru has made the biggest business blunder since the introduction of New Coke.
The uproar mostly has to do with Subaru's approach. For this new Impreza, Subaru is hoping to attract a wider customer base. It improved the quality of the interior, softened the suspension tuning for a better ride quality and took a more conservative approach toward styling.
Unfortunately, Subaru enthusiasts think that it softened the suspension too much and sanitized the styling to the point of pure blandness. So has the WRX truly lost its mojo? We tested a 2008 WRX hatchback to find out.
Like the previous Subaru Impreza WRX, the 2008 version has plenty of get-up-and-go. Our test car skedaddled to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds and flashed through the quarter-mile in 14.6 seconds, quicker than cars like the Honda Civic Si. Braking was similarly solid, with a stop of 123 feet from 60 mph.
Swapping gears with the five-speed manual's gearshift is pleasant enough, with a fairly precise run through the gates and an easily modulated clutch pedal. Enthusiasts will likely also dig the turbocharged flat-4's healthy growl. Sadly, fuel economy isn't impressive, with EPA ratings of 19 miles per premium gallon city, 24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. In our time with the car, our admittedly heavy feet resulted in a combined figure of 18 mpg.
Anyone who has driven the previous WRX will be most disappointed in the new version's softer suspension tuning. Although the window sticker states under standard features "Suspension: Sport-Tuned," it could've fooled us. Perhaps they meant "sport" in the same light as lawn bowling or badminton.
In an attempt to win over folks who might've deemed the previous car's underpinnings too stiff, the chassis guys went too far the other way. Take on a twisty road and you won't feel the buttoned-down composure you'd expect, but rather an abundance of body roll. As a result, this compact sport sedan doesn't inspire much confidence, nor does it feel all that sporty. Perhaps the assembly line routed the WRX engines into the standard Impreza by mistake? We're not sure. On the upside, the WRX does deliver a compliant ride on pockmarked city roads and during high-speed cruising. But we think most shoppers would trade this for better handling.
The WRX's well-shaped sport seats offer solid long-distance support as well as ample side bolstering, though the latter is of questionable value given the car's lack of cornering prowess. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel and height-adjustable driver seat allowed a wide range of staffers — from 5-foot-5 to 6-foot-3 in height — to find an ideal driving position. And the WRX's relatively high roof line means tall folks can ride comfortably; we had a pair of 6-foot-1 staffers seated one behind the other with ample headroom and without knees touching the seatback.
At speed on the freeway, the WRX offers a quiet ride, with wind and road noise well muted. Hard acceleration brings a strong growl from the engine compartment, but as mentioned before, we imagine that enthusiasts will take delight in the sound. We certainly did.
The climate control knobs are located rather low on the center stack, but apart from that, most controls in the Subaru WRX are a snap to use. The navigation system features a simple interface and high-mounted screen. It's nice that there are steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, but the small, similar-shaped buttons take a little acclimation before they can be operated without a glance.
Should you choose the hatchback version of the WRX (like our test car), you'll find generous cargo capacity. With the split rear seats up, there are 19 cubic feet available (about the same as a Cadillac DTS). Flip them down and it expands to 44.4 cubes. Our test car was fitted with the optional cargo tray, a grippy mat with a lipped edge, which proved ideal for keeping things from sliding around. Stowing a couple of golf bags or a large suitcase back there is no sweat. Thanks to the roomy cabin and tall greenhouse, securing a rear-facing child seat in the back is also a snap.
Design/Fit and Finish
Even though it sports a hood scoop, 17-inch alloy wheels and spoilers fore and aft, the latest WRX still manages to look rather tame. That undesired effect is due chiefly to the generic grille and bland body styling. The upshot is that the WRX is more invisible to Johnny Law while cruising the interstate than its harder-edged, extroverted STI sibling.
The cabin is much more attractive than the exterior, with a sweeping dash design, tasteful faux metallic accents and solid build and materials quality throughout. A large tach sits front and center, emphasizing the WRX's feisty performance.
Who should consider this vehicle
Those who value straight-line gusto and the all-weather grip of all-wheel drive but don't care much about athletic handling may want to check out the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX. Everyone else should consider the worthy rivals shown below or just wait until next year, when Subaru is slated to firm up the WRX's suspension and give it more power to boot.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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Save up to $300 on one of 97 used 2008 Subaru Imprezas for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $4496 as of Feb 23, 2018, based on data from 18 dealers and 38 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 1 to 5 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2008 Subaru Impreza trim styles:
The used 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX is priced around $12596 with average odometer reading of 102611 miles.
The used 2008 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport is priced around $8373 with average odometer reading of 95831 miles.
The used 2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i is priced around $6423 with average odometer reading of 99674 miles.
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What options are available on the 2008 Subaru Impreza?
Available Subaru Impreza 2008 Submodel Types: Wagon, Hatchback, Sedan, WRX STI, WRX STi, WRX STI Limited, WRX STI Special Edition, Coupe
Available Subaru Impreza 2008 Trims: 2.0i Premium, 2.0i Premium PZEV, 2.0i Limited, 2.0i Sport, 2.0i PZEV, 2.0i, 2.0i Sport Premium PZEV, 2.5i, 2.0i Limited PZEV, 2.5i Premium, 2.0i Sport Limited PZEV, 2.5 i, WRX, WRX Limited, WRX Premium, Outback Sport, 2.5 RS, 2.0i Sport Premium, 2.0i Sport Limited, Outback Sport Special Edition, WRX STI, WRX STi, 2.5 i Special Edition, 2.5, WRX TR, Outback, TS, WRX STI Limited, WRX STI Special Edition, 2.5GT, L, LX
Exterior Colors: Ice Silver Metallic, Crystal White Pearl, Crystal Black Silica, Magnetite Gray Metallic, Island Blue Pearl, Venetian Red Pearl, Lapis Blue Pearl, Crimson Red Pearl, Quartz Blue Pearl, Lithium Red Pearl, Marine Blue Pearl, Jasmine Green Metallic, Platinum Silver Metallic, Carbide Gray Metallic, WR Blue Pearl, Deep Cherry Pearl, Camellia Red Pearl, Dark Gray Metallic, Obsidian Black Pearl, Spark Silver Metallic, Crystal Gray Metallic, Steel Silver Metallic/Spark Silver Metallic, Lightning Red, Plasma Blue Pearl, Satin White Pearl, Urban Gray Metallic, San Remo Red, Deep Sea Blue Pearl, Newport Blue Pearl, Sage Green Metallic/Steel Silver Metallic, Sky Blue Metallic, Aspen White, Regal Blue Pearl, Sedona Red Pearl, Paprika Red Pearl, Steel Gray Metallic, WR Blue Mica, Crystal Grey Metallic, Obsidian Black Pearl/Dark Gray Metallic, Regal Blue Pearl/Steel Gray Metallic, Blue Ridge Pearl, Acadia Green Pearl Metallic, Aqua Blue Metallic/Crystal Gray Metallic, Dark Blue Metallic, Java Black Pearl, Midnight Black Pearl, Pacifica Blue Pearl, Sage Green Metallic, Sage Green Metallic/Ice Silver Metallic, Savanna Green, Savanna Green Metallic/Graystone Metallic, Sunlight Gold Opal, Topaz Gold Metallic, Urban Gray Metallic/Crystal Gray Metallic, Acadia Green Met/Gray, Aspen White/Steel Gray Metallic, Caribbean Green Metallic, Evergreen Metallic/Urban Gray Metallic, Garnet Red Pearl, Gray Metallic/Crystal Gray Metallic, Marine Blue Pearl/Steel Silver Metallic, Midnight Black Pearl/Graystone Metallic, Newport Blue Pearl/Steel Silver Metallic, Newport Blue Pearl/Urban Gray Metallic, Obsidian Black Pearl/Urban Gray Metallic, Platinum Silver Metallic/Steel Gray Metallic, Sky Blue Metallic/Ice Silver Metallic
Interior Colors: Black cloth, Black, Ivory, Black leather, Ivory leather, Off Black cloth, Carbon Black cloth, Ivory cloth, Off Black, Black leather/sueded microfiber, Black Alcantara/Carbon Black leather/sueded microfiber, Dark Gray Knit, Graphite Gray/Carbon Black leather/sueded microfiber, Gray, Carbon Black leather, Blue Ecsaine/Black, Desert Beige cloth, Gray Knit, Off Black/Blue Ecsaine, Medium Gray Flat Woven, Off Black alcantara, Beige cloth, Black/Carbon Black leather/sueded microfiber, Dark Gray Flat Woven, Ivory premium cloth
Popular Features: USB Inputs, Bluetooth, Back-up camera, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Post-collision safety system, Sunroof/Moonroof, Keyless Entry/Start, Leather Seats, Power Driver Seat, AWD/4WD, Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Blind Spot Monitoring, Stability Control, Upgraded Stereo, Aux Audio Inputs, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, Auto Climate Control, Heated seats, Upgraded Headlights, Navigation, Remote Start
The used 2008 Subaru Impreza is offered in the following submodels: Hatchback, WRX STI, Sedan. Available styles include 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), and 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M). Pre-owned Impreza models are available with a 0-liter gas engine, with output up to 0 hp, depending on engine type. The used 2008 Impreza comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed shiftable automatic, 5-speed manual.