2009 Subaru Impreza Review
2009 Subaru Impreza Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- 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- Some increasingly common high-tech features are unavailable, outdated four-speed automatic transmission, below-average fuel economy.
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.
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.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M) 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 $3.56 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$192/mo for Impreza 2.5i
Avg. Compact Car
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Not your neighbors subaru
2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
One month into ownership of my STI, and what a pleasure to drive. Driven hard in the S# mode it is quite the quick sports car, but move into the I mode and it is pleasantly sedate. Owned an E36 M3, 535xi, RX-7, Prelude over the years. This car the best combination of performance and practicality by far. Never considered the brand before, but glad I did. Love the ability to haul people … and golf clubs, and the AWD will be important in the winter. While expensive for a Subaru, a great value. Never had so many people look twice before..the scarcity of the car keeps many wondering what it is.
4.75 out of 5 stars
Mini Lexus 300
J Snow, 12/11/2009
2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)
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.
5 out of 5 stars
2009 Subaru Impreza WRX 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Premium Package (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
I've owned 4 Impreza's so, sure; I drink da Kool-Aid. I had my own mfgr's. rep. business for 17 years and Impza's were THE answer for lots of winter driving all over New England. The performance / price quotient was perfect. Am now retired and driving less than 10k / yr - so I finally got the "slightly" impractical / monster fun WRX 5-door Premium. AWD has saved my bacon for many years … so I had to stay with it - and Subaru reliability has been so solid - had to stay there too. Yep, the audio quality is lacking but I don't really need much juice to listen to my redneck talk shows. FM reception IS very good - we live in the country so it must be. Did spring for Winter 205's on 16x7 Alloys.
3.63 out of 5 stars
2009 Subaru Impreza - Poor in Heavy Snow
2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
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).
2009 Impreza Highlights
|Combined MPG||22 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$192/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||all wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
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.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestNot Tested
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood