Bought this car as my commuter ride - 90 miles/day on mostly open roads, only a hand full of lights and stops. Believe it or not, I'm averaging 34-35 mpg for the last 10k miles. This likely has a lot to do with the lack of stop and go and the elevation (5500-7200'). I'm still amazed that an AWD car can be this nimble, get this kind of mileage, and do so well in the mountains.
Performance for the price, fuel economy, reliability, AWD
I believe they've already made 4 wheel disc brakes standard, I'd also like to see the standard stereo upgraded with the sub and iPod interface (come on, everyone has an iPod these days)
I've had this car for a bit over a year. I bought it as a second car, but with the lease ending on my primary vehicle (Infiniti M35x), this little Subaru Impreza has become my primary vehicle. I must say, I really love this little guy. I was originally drawn to the exterior and the interior design (beautiful), but really fell in love with how it drives. It's great fun. My usual tastes for higher-end cars are turned upside down with this Impreza. I just don't see a reason to upgrade and spend the extra $$$ at this time.
The interior design is untouched in this class of vehicle (sub $20k). It is really beautiful.
I purchased the XM radio module and the subwoofer speaker (fits under the seat.) The dealer installed them and it has really improved the otherwise dismal audio system. I suggest the same to anyone.
I have only owned the vehicle for a few days, but it is incredibly solid and quite fun to drive. Going from a Z28 to a four-cylinder was a bit daunting, but the car feels spritely for 170 ponies. Controls are well laid-out and easy to figure out, and the car responds as though it is meant to be driven. After test-driving a few vehicles (Corolla, Civic, etc) the Subaru was by far the most fun and felt like the best value for my dollar, especially with the full-time All Wheel Drive. The stereo is a bit tinny (base model), but can be easily upgraded. Absolutely opt for the auxiliary-input if you get the base model for MP3 connectivity - it's a blast!
Downshifting and blipping the throttle around corners plants the car firmly - good road manners under any driving conditions, and better than projected fuel economy (I've been getting ~25 combined city/highway and the car is still being broken in) - expecting 30+ with average driving.
Base speakers need upgrading; rear drum brakes on base model are solid, but I'd like to see 4 wheel disc. VDC (traction control) now standard on 09, so I'll curb that one! :)
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.
I just moved to the mountains this past February and knew that I wouldn't be able to survive safely if I didn't have an AWD. After talking to a lot of the locals, I started seriously looking at Subarus. My new little 2008 5-door Impreza is awesome! I love the way it handles, how comfortable it is, how sporty it looks and I have already gotten a chance to see how it handles in the snow... great! It is by far the best car purchase I have ever made.
Steering column (small and tight), interior design, outside design, really everything about it.