2009 Subaru Impreza Review

Pros & Cons

  • Standard all-wheel drive, roomy seating front and rear, punchy turbocharged engines, highly capable handling in WRX and WRX STI trim.
  • Some increasingly common high-tech features are unavailable, outdated four-speed automatic transmission, below-average fuel economy.
List Price Range
$7,300 - $12,413

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Although the Impreza lost some of its quirky Subaru personality during last year's "we're going mainstream" redesign, the 2009 WRX model has happily been restored to its former high-performance glory.

Vehicle overview

Since the 1990s, the Subaru Impreza -- particularly the hopped-up WRX version -- has enjoyed a cultlike following, initially fueled by its success in both real (World Rally Championship) and make-believe ("Gran Turismo") racing. Earlier this decade, the WRX finally made it stateside, giving both Speed Channel and PlayStation junkies something a little more satisfying to manipulate with their hands besides a TV remote or video game controller. However, last year's complete redesign of the Impreza lineup left those die-hard fans angry at the Japanese performance car gods for softening the WRX virtually beyond recognition. The 2009 Subaru Impreza should assuage their concerns, as the WRX model is back to its rip-snorting self, and the base Impreza continues to be an intriguing alternative to the compact-car status quo.

Last year's WRX was indeed a head-scratcher. On top of the bland exterior styling endemic to all new Imprezas, Subaru thought it would be a good idea to soften the suspension of this edgy turbocharged model. Like the tepid styling, the latter "improvement" was ostensibly intended to imbue the Impreza with broader appeal to the masses. The car's ride quality was no doubt improved, but it gave this former street thug all the attitude of a Corolla, albeit one with a turbocharged engine.

Fortunately, the 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX got its mojo back, thanks to a firmer suspension and 41 more hp. As if to emphasize its rediscovered high-performance identity, the WRX is now only available with a manual transmission. However, last year's version of the softer, gentler, less-powerful WRX with an automatic transmission actually continues on, rechristened as the Impreza 2.5 GT.

As for the regular 2009 Subaru Impreza, it's a midpacker in the highly competitive compact segment. Strong engines, standard all-wheel drive and solid crash test scores are certainly points in its favor. However, compared with rivals such as the Mazda 3, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mitsubishi Lancer and Volkswagen Jetta, those assets are offset by subpar fuel economy, an outdated automatic transmission and the lack of a few high-tech features such as fully integrated Bluetooth (you must buy the microphone separately), keyless entry and ignition and a hard-drive-based navigation system. As a high-performance street rod, the WRX (or the even more capable WRX STI) is a top choice. As a compact sedan or hatchback, the regular Impreza holds its own, but we'd recommend taking a close look at its many appealing rivals as well.

2009 Subaru Impreza models

The 2009 Subaru Impreza is available as a compact sedan or a four-door hatchback. There are five main trim levels: 2.5 i, Outback Sport, 2.5 GT, WRX and WRX STI.

Base 2.5 i models come with 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a CD/MP3 player, cruise control, tilt steering and full power accessories. A touch of luxury is available via the premium package, which adds foglights, alloy wheels, a power sunroof, an upgraded 10-speaker audio system (with a CD changer, an auxiliary input jack and steering-wheel-mounted controls) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The premium package is also the only way to get the optional satellite radio and navigation system.

The Outback Sport comes in the hatchback body style only and features much of the 2.5 i premium package's equipment as standard along with a raised suspension for extra ground clearance, 17-inch alloy wheels, a chrome grille, a two-tone exterior color scheme, heated outside mirrors, heated front seats, unique cloth upholstery and a windshield wiper de-icer. The 2.5 GT is essentially last year's WRX with an automatic transmission, and it comes with a 224-hp turbocharged engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a power sunroof, heated front seats, automatic climate control and electroluminescent gauges.

The Impreza WRX features a 265-hp turbocharged engine, an aero body kit (including front and rear spoilers and side ground effects), 17-inch alloy wheels fitted with high-performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, sport front seats and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls. As with the 2.5 i, there's a premium package for the WRX that adds a power sunroof, the upgraded audio system, heated front seats and side-view mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.

The WRX STI ups the ante with even more power, front and rear limited-slip differentials, unique body styling, an upgraded suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, aggressive sport seats with Alcantara upholstery and a CD changer. The STI also includes SI-Drive, a three-mode system that allows the driver to modulate throttle response. The BBS package adds BBS wheels and foglights; 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.

2009 Highlights

After a full redesign last year, the 2009 Subaru Impreza receives a number of significant changes to the high-performance WRX model. Responding to complaints that the WRX had become too soft, Subaru firmed up the suspension for '09, and there's 41 extra horsepower for good measure. Also, the '09 WRX is only available with a manual transmission, as last year's WRX automatic is now known as the Impreza 2.5 GT. As for base Imprezas, they pick up standard four-wheel disc brakes, stability control and Subaru's incline start assist or "hill-holder" feature for the manual transmission.

Performance & mpg

Impreza 2.5 i and Outback Sport models are powered by a horizontally opposed 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 170 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque. The Impreza 2.5 GT receives a turbocharged version of that engine that produces 224 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. The WRX has a higher-output 2.5-liter turbo rated at 265 hp and 244 lb-ft. The WRX STI is more potent still, with 305 hp and 290 lb-ft. All engines send their power to all four wheels. Transmission choices for the 2.5 i and Outback Sport are a five-speed manual with incline start assist (which holds brake pressure for about a second when the clutch is depressed to simplify uphill starts) or a four-speed automatic with manual shift control. The 2.5 GT comes only with the automatic, and the WRX is five-speed manual only. The WRX STI comes with an exclusive six-speed manual transmission.

Performance of the non-turbocharged Impreza models is adequate, accompanied by Subaru's distinctive boxer grumble, but the turbocharged 2.5 GT and WRX provide more thrilling performance. The WRX STI is quicker still; in performance testing, we hustled this top-dog Impreza to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds and flew through the quarter-mile in 13.3 ticks.

EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2009 Subaru Impreza start at 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined for non-turbocharged manual-shift Imprezas, and they go down from there. The automatic transmission exacts a 1-mpg penalty on the highway in base models, and the 2.5 GT model clocks in at 19/24/21 mpg. The WRX is rated at 18/25/21 mpg, and the STI predictably brings up the rear at 17/23/19 mpg. These ratings are generally below average, particularly for the base Impreza.

Safety

Standard on all Impreza models are antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints to help mitigate crash-induced whiplash.

In government crash testing, the Impreza scored a perfect five stars across the board for driver and passenger frontal and front side impacts and four stars for rear side impacts. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Impreza earned the top ratings of "Good" for frontal offset and side impact tests.

Driving

The base Impreza handles satisfactorily for a compact car, and its tenacious all-wheel-drive grip is a boon in both spirited cornering and cold-weather driving. The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer has more aural character than that of your typical economy car four-cylinder, and it delivers adequate punch when called on. The "new" 2.5 GT is essentially last year's WRX with the automatic transmission, which means it's decently fast in a straight line, but its performance is perceptibly blunted by the lazy four-speed auto. Moreover, the GT (like the previous WRX) is uninspiring when the road gets twisty, owing to its incongruously soft suspension. The reborn WRX, however, is back with a vengeance, featuring upgraded power (not that it was exactly slow in the first place) and considerably more athletic and confidence-inspiring moves through the corners, thanks to its firmer suspension and dedicated (summer only) performance tires. The WRX STI kicks it up a few more notches via its twin limited-slip differentials, powerful Brembo brakes, short-throw six-speed manual shifter and potent rush of acceleration whenever the throttle is tickled.

Interior

Larger door openings and rear doors that open to 75 degrees allow easy access to the 2009 Subaru Impreza's cabin. The doors have framed side windows -- a first for the Impreza and a rarity among Subarus -- that help quiet the interior. A 60/40 split-folding rear seat comes in the sedan and four-door hatch. Overall interior materials quality is solid, and the gauges and the center stack are attractively designed. As such, the Impreza's interior looks and feels a cut above that of many rivals.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Subaru Impreza.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Mini Lexus 300
J Snow,12/11/2009
Previously drove 2000 and 2002 Impreza hatchbacks. This one is by far the quietest and smoothest driving. Gas mileage about same as 2002 2.5l. Really like the window door frames. Hate limited visibility of sloping back of car and temporary roof rack mounting kit. Standard equipment Bridgestone Potenza tires ride well. Added sheepskin seat covers make front seats comfortable. Lost a couple of wheel well plastic screws holding front fender - sloppy construction. 5-speed gear box smoother than past models, accelerates nicely. Less cargo space than past Impreza models. Best looking Impreza so far and dead ringer as little sister to Lexus 300 SUV.
Great for only 7 years, disappointing longevity.
Randy Buss,08/03/2015
Outback Sport 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)
First 7 years it was a good, however, I didn't get longevity from it. On 7-31-15 the engine suddenly blew without reason. Two weeks prior, I checked the fluids (oil in particular) and all levels were good, but on the way home from work I suddenly felt and heard loud clanking sounds along with a drop in acceleration/power going up a hill on the highway. I was fortunate to be approaching a rest area exit when this occurred so as to immediately pull off the highway just as the engine stalled. First thing I checked was the oil level, and the dip stick was completely dry. When the tow truck arrived, the towing mechanic started it and immediately turned it back off and said it sounds like something was ready to fly apart. The next day they informed me the engine is blown and needs to be replaced with a rebuilt or new engine. Estimated cost: $4,500 to $5,000 to replace the blown engine with a rebuilt engine. What upsets me and disturbs me the most about this is I took meticulous care of the vehicle, as I do with all of our vehicles. Furthermore, there were no warning lights that appeared when the engine blew, until the engine stalled out. No low oil pressure lights, no low oil level lights, no check engine lights, nothing! And how is it that it burned through four quarts of the oil withing a two week span. When this occurred the car only had 120,000 miles on it, and was only 7 years old. Granted, I haven't had any issues with it until now, but I also hadn't planned on having to fork out $4000-$5000 for a rebuilt engine, or purchase a new vehicle for at least another 10 years. All of the vehicles I've owned (Pontiac, Mercury, Dodge, Nissan) I've used for at least 15 years each and well into the 250,000 mile range, and I've never had any major problems with them. With the research I've done since this incident, I've discovered a class action law suite against Subaru for an issue with their engines that strongly resembles what happened with my Subaru engine, to which prosecuting attorneys are disclosing facts that Subaru has known about the issue and has neither disclosed information about the engine defect to their customers nor has Subaru done anything to correct the known issue. Instead, Subaru continued to sell cars with a serious engine defect, to which they knew about, which could be life threatening under certain circumstances. Prior to this incident, I planned on making this car last me another 10 years, at which time I would purchase only one more vehicle prior to retiring. As a result of this incident and the class action law suite against Subaru that I've discovered, I will NEVER purchase another Subaru. Since I've now purchased two other new vehicles since this incident with the Subaru, (2016 Honda Fit EX & a 2018 Honda HR-V EX), I've discovered how inferior the Subaru vehicles are in comparison to Honda. If you want comfort, technology, handling, and most of all reliability, go with Honda! I never realized how uncomfortably low and stiff the impreza ride is until I checked out Honda vehicles.
2009 Subaru Impreza - Poor in Heavy Snow
djarvinen,12/17/2010
The 2009 Subaru Impreza we purchased has for the most part been a very good car. It handles well, has plenty of power, controls are well placed, is spacious and has very nice styling. The big problem is handling in heavy snow! The car has a design flaw that allows snow to build up above the front axle which causes heavy vibrations above 45 mph. At 60 mph the vibrations become violent. We were told by the dealership that we would need to use a high pressure hose to clear the snow out (pretty hard to do in inclement weather/conditions).
One Year Old Now
Randy,10/05/2009
I've had my Impreza Outback Sport for a year now. The ride and responsiveness of this vehicle is superb for a smaller car. Interior room and comfort is wonderful, and road noise is minimal. Truly a wonderful vehicle. The only thing this car suffers from is a very poor quality paint. After only six months it had literally dozens of large 1/4" paint chips on the hood and roof, and every time I looked there seemed to be more. Fortunately, Subaru is backing up their product, and it is going in for a new paint job on the hood and roof tomorrow. I wish they would paint the entire vehicle just to make sure the rest of the paint on the car is ok too, but I don't thing that is going to happen.

Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
170 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
20 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
170 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
18 city / 25 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
265 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
18 city / 25 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
265 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2009 Subaru Impreza features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2009 Subaru Impreza

Used 2009 Subaru Impreza Overview

The Used 2009 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 (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Premium Package (2.5L 4cyl 4A), WRX 4dr Sedan AWD w/Premium Package (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), WRX 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD w/Premium Package (2.5L 4cyl 4A), WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Gold BBS (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), WRX 4dr Sedan AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Silver BBS (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Premium Package (2.5L 4cyl 5M), 2.5GT 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 4A), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD w/Premium Package (2.5L 4cyl 5M), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav (2.5L 4cyl 4A), WRX 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 2.5GT 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 4A), WRX 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Premium Package (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), WRX 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Sat Radio, Nav (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), Outback Sport 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), Outback Sport 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M), WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Nav, Silver BBS (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Nav, Gold BBS (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Subaru Impreza?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Subaru Impreza trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX is priced between $9,900 and$12,995 with odometer readings between 105965 and143023 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i is priced between $7,300 and$7,300 with odometer readings between 85367 and85367 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) 2009 Subaru Impreza for sale near. There are currently 4 used and CPO 2009 Imprezas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,300 and mileage as low as 85367 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 2009 Subaru Impreza.

Can't find a used 2009 Subaru Imprezas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Impreza for sale - 6 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $14,578.

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 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.

Check out Subaru lease specials
Check out Subaru Impreza lease specials