2008 Subaru Impreza Review
2008 Subaru Impreza Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Standard all-wheel drive, WRX and WRX STI's punchy turbocharged engines, roomy seating in front and rear.
- Missing some higher-end convenience features, behind-the-times transmissions, below-average fuel economy, sleepy styling except for extroverted STI.
The 2008 Subaru Impreza has been completely redesigned. Roomier and more refined on the inside, the restyled Impreza is meant to appeal to a more mainstream audience. Sedan and hatchback body styles are again available, as are the turbocharged WRX and ultra-high-performance WRX STI.
Apart from the boisterous WRX STI, the finger-in-the-air attitude is gone, replaced by a 2008 Subaru Impreza trying to put its finger on the pulse of the mainstream market.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.23 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Avg. Compact Car
In the 1990s, not too many Americans paid attention to the Subaru Impreza unless they followed the World Rally Championship or had Gran Turismo loaded in their Sony PlayStations. But that all changed with the release of the U.S.-spec 2002 WRX. Here was an all-wheel-drive sedan or wagon with sport coupe-slaying performance, a budget-friendly price and plenty of aftermarket tuning potential. Japanese performance car enthusiasts rejoiced.
Now, six years later, the fully redesigned 2008 Subaru Impreza has arrived. One would think it's time for those Subie fans to hire a DJ, blow up "Rex!" balloons and get out the chips and dip. But one might be wrong. For the third-generation North American Impreza, Subaru corporate has a slightly different plan -- an Impreza for the masses.
Not surprisingly, the 2008 Impreza is bigger. The wheelbase has been extended almost 4 inches for both the sedan and hatchback body styles to increase rear seat legroom. There's also more interior width for passengers and, thanks to a switch to a compact double-wishbone rear suspension design, a wider cargo space.
Subaru has also upped the quality of the interior design and materials, made changes to reduce wind noise, improved the ride quality and added new features like a navigation system. All well and good, we say. A more controversial aspect, however, is the car's exterior styling. Not because the new Impreza looks bad in a Pontiac Aztek sort of way, but because it doesn't look like, well, a Subaru. The slightly goofy but possibly endearing style of the previous Impreza (including all three of its fascias) has been replaced by a sanitized-for-your-protection front end and an uninspiring profile.
Underneath the new skin is some familiar hardware. Once again, the all-wheel-drive Impreza has a horizontally opposed 2.5-liter engine that's normally aspirated in 2.5i trim levels and turbocharged in WRX and WRX STI models. Slight adjustments were made to improve power delivery, but apart from the STI (which gained 12 horsepower) overall horsepower and torque specs are pretty much the same. Subaru has also largely carried over the previous six-speed manual, five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions. With just four cogs to work with, the automatic tranny lags behind a few rivals that offer five or even six speeds.
In most respects, the 2008 Subaru Impreza is a better car. It's more accessible, refined and comfortable, just like Subaru wanted. But except for the brash STI version, lost in the transformation was the Impreza's spunky personality. And without personality, the Impreza must fight fair against cars like the Mazda 3, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Mitsubishi Lancer and Volkswagen Jetta, as well as against their associated performance variants. And in this situation -- again with the exception of the WRX STI -- the sleepy styling, behind-the-times automatic transmission and lack of high-tech features (such as Bluetooth, keyless ignition and a hard-drive-based navigation system) are significant detriments, especially for a redesigned model.
Performance & mpg
Impreza 2.5i and Outback Sport models have a horizontally opposed 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It's rated at 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Impreza WRX models receive a turbocharged version of that engine, which produces 224 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. The WRX STI ups output to 305 hp and 290 lb-ft. All engines send their power to all four wheels. Transmission choices for all but the STI are a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic with manual shift control. The STI comes with a six-speed manual only.
In testing, we timed a five-speed WRX hatchback at 5.9 seconds to 60 mph and 14.5 seconds in the quarter-mile. The WRX STI is quicker still, hitting 60 in just 4.8 seconds and breaking through the quarter in 13.3 ticks.
EPA fuel economy for 2008 is 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway for 2.5i and Outback Sport models, 20/25 mpg for the WRX and 17/23 for the WRX STI. These ratings are below average for the compact class.
Standard safety features on the Impreza include antilock brakes and side curtain airbags. Base 2.5i models have rear drum brakes. Getting a 2.5i with the Premium package is a wise idea as it adds rear disc brakes, the Brake Assist (BA) feature for the antilock brakes, stability control and a hill-holder function for manual transmission-equipped cars. These upgrades come standard on the Outback Sport, WRX and WRX STI. The 2.5i models also have active front head restraints to help reduce crash-induced whiplash.
The previous Impreza made up for much of its faults by being quite fun to drive, especially in WRX form. But where the old car was tossable, the new Impreza WRX feels soft. Standard skid pad, slalom and braking measurements are about the same, but the feel of the car through the steering and the way the car responds during cornering is noticeably less inspiring. When accelerating, the WRX's engine has impressive boost response and midrange punch, but it runs out of steam fairly early. We recommend that enthusiast-oriented drivers choose the manual transmission -- acceleration is sluggish with the four-speed automatic.
The WRX STI, on the other hand, gives enthusiasts exactly what they want -- a firm, communicative suspension, quick steering response, powerful brakes and a potent rush of acceleration whenever the throttle is tickled. Though the standard WRX may have gotten too mainstream for its hard-core fans, those Subie zealots would be hard-pressed to find fault with the new STI.
The most obvious changes for the 2008 Subaru Impreza can be found here. The big payoff for the longer wheelbase comes in the rear seat, where legroom is improved. Larger door openings and rear doors that open to 75 degrees also add to the new Subie's usability. The doors also have framed side windows -- a first for the Impreza and a rarity among Subarus -- that help quiet the interior. A new double-wishbone suspension affords a wider cargo area; a 60/40-split-folding rear seat comes in both the sedan and four-door hatch. Overall interior material quality is a big improvement over the previous car, and as such the Impreza looks and feels more grown-up than ever before.
2008 Subaru Impreza models
The 2008 Subaru Impreza is available as a compact sedan or four-door hatchback. There are four main trim levels: 2.5i, Outback Sport, WRX and WRX STI.
Base 2.5i models come with 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a CD/MP3 player, cruise control, tilt steering and full power accessories. Opting for a 2.5i model fitted with the Premium Package is a good idea. This gets you alloy wheels, an upgraded audio system with an auxiliary jack and steering-wheel-mounted controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and extra safety equipment. It's also the only way to get the optional satellite radio and navigation system. The specialized Subaru Impreza Outback Sport comes in the hatchback body style only. It features much of the 2.5i Premium package model's equipment, plus a raised suspension for extra ground clearance, 17-inch wheels, a two-tone exterior, heated outside mirrors, heated front seats, unique cloth upholstery and a windshield de-icer.
The Impreza WRX has the 2.5i's equipment plus a more powerful engine, 17-inch alloys, a sport-tuned suspension, sport front seats, automatic climate control, electroluminescent gauges and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
There's also a premium package for the WRX. It adds exterior aero trim pieces, the upgraded audio system and the Outback Sport's cold-weather-beating features. Satellite radio and the navigation system are also available on the WRX, but not on the Outback Sport.
The WRX STI ups the ante with even more power, unique body styling, upgraded suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, a CD changer, aggressive sport seats and Alcantara upholstery. The STI also includes SI-drive, a three-mode setup for the engine and electronic throttle maps. Optional for the WRX STI is a pair of packages. The BBS Package adds BBS wheels and foglights while the BBS and Navigation Package includes the former items plus a navigation system (which replaces the CD changer with a single-CD player), a trip computer and Bluetooth connectivity.
Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Subaru Impreza.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.13 out of 5 stars
2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
Bought a used 2008 with high miles to replace an aging Mazda B truck. I also compared a few 2006-2007 models, but no WRX's in the same price range. The 06-07's were much more fun to drive- more connected to the road. The 08 is much quieter and smoother like a "grown-up" car as my wife put it ( she drives an Outback, which we LOVE) I'm a sporty driver with a heavy foot, and the gas … mileage is OK- about 23 for urban- suburban commuting, quite often in bumper to bumper. If you want a gas sipper, look elsewhere. If you want AWD security, your're in the right place. 35 MPG is useless if you can't get out of the driveway.
4.38 out of 5 stars
2008 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport 4dr Hatchback AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl 5M)
This car replaced a beloved 2001 VW Golf GLS 1.8t. I was hoping to find something as fun and comfortable as the VW, but with AWD to get me up our steep Vermont hills in winter in the places where the VW failed to make progress. The Outback Sport has turned out to be much more entertaining than I expected. It doesn't have quite the zip of the VW turbo, but it's plenty fast. The biggest … surprise was the excellent steering and handling: quite an improvement over the somewhat squishy VW. The next biggest surprise was the fuel economy; I'm getting 28 on average, and as high as 32 on some off-freeway road trips.
4 out of 5 stars
Not a WRX, but still love it
2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
This car has never given me any major problems in the short time that I’ve owned it. Already have some good memories with it. I’m 19 years old now, and was in the market for a used Subaru in the spring of 2017 as I have always admired subies. Couldn’t afford a newer Subaru, let alone an older WRX so I settled for the 08 impreza which was the best deal I found in the area at the time. … Exterior is nothing amazing, but better looking than any American sedan of that year. Basic interior as it is a base model, but that doesn’t matter to me (cuz it has aux w/ good speakers!) as it seems cars w/ lots of technology are always breaking (my moms new 2018 Legacy limited had several interior electrical issues in the first couple months of ownership). None of the dreaded head gasket issues that seemed to plague Subaru for many years had affected my car, I think they solved that problem years ago. Boxer engine has a nice little growl to it which I plan to make louder and throatier with some mods. Although it is nowhere near fast, it has decent acceleration and can be pretty quick in sport mode. The winter is a breeze to drive in deep snow w/ subaru’s AWD as I live in Chicago area. Deep snow arrived last winter, first couple hours I saw 5+ cars stuck in the several inches of snow in my neighborhood. this car goes right thru the snow like a champ. Very fun to play with in the snow, will never get stuck. Planning to keep this car for awhile, already began to modify it a little bit. Only thing I had to do so far was replace brake pads, rotors, calipers, brake line flush, etc. because the brakes began to feel very soft and squishy. it was a bit costly (full brake service over $900) but that was the very first time any of those had been replaced on this car. Other than that, cost of maintenance has been minimal, w/ $30 oil changes and such. MPG could be better (average of about 21 city miles isn’t that good for a 4 banger) but gets better on the highway of course. Also, the front left tire keeps losing air, I’ll fill it up and then the TPMS light will come back on within 1-2 weeks which shouldn’t happen. Hasn’t been a major issue, im just gonna swap the boring stock rims for black aftermarkets w/ new tires once i have more money, and voilà. Change oil every 3,000 miles and inspect the engine bay and undercarriage a few times a month and this car will not let you down. Overall, a very reliable car that is fun and easy to drive, especially in heavy snow, and I would highly recommend over any American sedans of around the same age.
5 out of 5 stars
10 Years of Ownership
Alf Anning, 12/28/2017
2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)
I hit a deer today, ending my 10 years and 1 month of ownership of my metallic gray 2.5i Subaru Impreza, and I am very sad. It was a basic vehicle, but I really liked it that way as nothing really broke. I upgraded my stereo on my own this last year so I could have bluetooth connectivity, but other than that, I liked the manual heating selectors and lights as I feel like the electronic … gadgets tend to break very easily. I replaced the clutch around 100k and had a weird issue with the ignition coils that resurfaced later, but was likely due to a bad patch-job by the first mechanic. Outside of that, it got me through more than 155k miles, countless rain and snowstorms, and some very long drives between New England and the Southeastern US. This car was safe and reliable, and I'll miss it especially for that. The AWD was extremely reliable: I never, ever worried when it rained. I drove my wife through a heavy snowstorm when we had just started dating, something she still brings up as a wonderful memory to this day. I didn't love the two interactions I had with the dealership, but if I had to do this again, I absolutely would.
2008 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Features & Specs
- Base MSRP
- MPG & Fuel
- 20 City / 27 Hwy / 22 Combined
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 16.9 gal. capacity
- 5 seats
- Type: all wheel drive
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- Flat 4 cylinder
- Horsepower: 170 hp @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
- Basic Warranty
- 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.
- Length: 173.8 in. / Height: 58.1 in.
- Overall Width without Mirrors: 68.5 in.
- Curb Weight: 3,064 lbs.
- Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place: 19.0 cu.ft.
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Side Impact TestNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintNot Tested
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
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More about the 2008 Subaru Impreza
Used 2008 Subaru Impreza Overview
The Used 2008 Subaru Impreza is offered in the following submodels: Impreza Hatchback, Impreza Sedan, Impreza WRX STI. Available styles include 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M), WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Premium Package, VDC (2.5L 4cyl 4A), WRX 4dr Sedan AWD w/Premium Package, VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav, VDC (2.5L 4cyl 4A), WRX 4dr Sedan AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD w/Premium Package, VDC (2.5L 4cyl 4A), WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD w/VDC, Gold BBS (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD w/VDC, Silver BBS (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), WRX 4dr Sedan AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav, VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav, VDC (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Premium Package, VDC (2.5L 4cyl 5M), WRX 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Premium Package, VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 4A), WRX 4dr Sedan AWD w/Premium Package, VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 4A), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD w/Premium Package, VDC (2.5L 4cyl 5M), WRX 4dr Hatchback AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), WRX 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Premium Package, VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav, VDC (2.5L 4cyl 5M), WRX 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav, VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav, VDC (2.5L 4cyl 5M), Outback Sport 4dr Hatchback AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl 5M), Outback Sport 4dr Hatchback AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl 4A), WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD w/VDC, Nav, Silver BBS (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD w/VDC, Nav, Gold BBS (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M). Pre-owned Subaru Impreza models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 170 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2008 Subaru Impreza comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed shiftable automatic, 5-speed manual.
What's a good price on a Used 2008 Subaru Impreza?
Price comparisons for Used 2008 Subaru Impreza trim styles:
- The Used 2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i is priced between $5,500 and$5,500 with odometer readings between 148000 and148000 miles.
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Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Subaru Impreza for sale near. There are currently 2 used and CPO 2008 Imprezas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,500 and mileage as low as 49259 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Subaru Impreza.
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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Subaru Impreza?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.
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