2016 Subaru Impreza Review
Pros & Cons
- Standard all-wheel drive provides secure handling and better traction in tough weather conditions
- lots of interior space in the front and backseat
- comfortable ride quality on the highway.
- Lackluster engine power results in slow acceleration
- engine noise is tiresome, especially with the continuously variable transmission (CVT)
- Impreza's sound and infotainment systems are outdated.
Edmunds' Expert Review
There aren't many small sedans or hatchbacks other than the 2016 Subaru Impreza that come standard with all-wheel drive. It's a notable advantage for helping you feel more secure during winter driving. Ready to learn what else about the Impreza makes it a smart choice?
Subaru is probably most well known as a company that makes all-wheel-drive vehicles that appeal heavily to campers, skiers and off-road rally racers. But even if you're the type who won't venture anywhere that doesn't have a shower, there are still many reasons to consider the 2016 Subaru Impreza.
For starters, it is pretty much your only choice for a small sedan or hatchback if you want all-wheel drive. The Impreza comes standard with it, and that extra dose of traction in inclement weather can be a nice thing to have. But there's also a spacious, nicely designed cabin with a rear seat that's among the roomiest in the segment and a well-tuned suspension that nicely buffers passengers from jolts and bumps, yet also provides steady and secure handling around turns. Other Impreza bonuses include a plentiful list of standard features and excellent crash test scores.
Subaru's 2016 Impreza is the only car in the compact class to offer standard all-wheel drive.
The Impreza does have a few faults, though, and it might be wise to check out at least a few other rivals. The 2016 Ford Focus and 2016 Mazda 3 provide quick acceleration, sharp handling and nicer interiors. Both the Ford and Mazda are available in sedan or hatchback body styles as well (just like the Impreza), though neither one is as roomy in back. If you are shopping for a hatchback, the 2016 Volkswagen Golf boasts a perky turbocharged gas engine and a roomy, upscale cabin. For a sedan, Honda's redesigned 2016 Civic looks like it could be the best of its class this year. Overall, though, the 2016 Subaru Impreza remains a solid bet for the driver who wants a family-friendly compact car that maintains its composure in unpleasant weather.
2016 Subaru Impreza models
The 2016 Subaru Impreza is available as a small sedan or hatchback in 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited trim levels. The hatchback additionally comes in 2.0i Sport Premium and 2.0i Sport Limited trims. The high-performance WRX and WRX STI are covered in a separate review.
The Impreza 2.0i comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, a rear spoiler (hatchback), full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.2-inch touchscreen interface and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, USB/iPod integration, HD radio, an auxiliary audio input and smartphone integration with Aha, Pandora and iHeartRadio. Starlink Cloud apps add news, weather and calendar functions as well as several more music sources.
The Impreza 2.0i Premium adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear stabilizer bar, body-color exterior mirrors, chrome interior door handles, an adjustable front center armrest, a cargo cover (hatchback) and a six-speaker sound system. The optional Alloy Wheel package adds 17-inch wheels, a sunroof and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Also included is an All-Weather package with heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer and heated front seats.
The 2.0i Sport Premium hatchback adds roof rails, foglights, body-color rocker panel extensions and sport fabric upholstery to the regular Premium equipment list. Its standard 17-inch wheels also have a darker "gunmetal gray" finish.
The 2.0i Limited includes all of the above extras and adds automatic headlights, foglights, chrome exterior trim, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a rear center armrest and a 7-inch touchscreen interface with swipe/scroll capability, satellite radio, voice controls, dual USB ports and text-to-voice messaging functionality. Options include the sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, a navigation system. Meanwhile, the 2.0i Sport Limited hatchback bundles the Sport Premium model's additional features with the amenities of the 2.0i Limited, and it adds a special silver-accented front grille. Options for the Sport Limited mirror those for the regular Limited.
Depending on the trim level you pick, you can also get Subaru's optional EyeSight system, which includes adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking, lane departure warning and steering-responsive foglights that enhance corner illumination when turning.
Performance & mpg
The 2016 Subaru Impreza has a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed "boxer" four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque.
Based on EPA ratings, the 2016 Subaru Impreza provides remarkable fuel efficiency for an all-wheel-drive car.
The 2.0i and 2.0i Sport Premium come standard with a five-speed manual transmission coupled to an all-wheel-drive system with a 50/50 default front/rear power distribution. Optional on those trims and standard on the others is a CVT paired with a different all-wheel-drive system that apportions more power to the front wheels by default, but transfers power rearward when more traction is needed.
EPA estimated fuel economy with the manual transmission for both the sedan and non-Sport hatchbacks is 28 mpg combined (25 city/34 highway). The Sport hatchbacks drop but 1 mpg from both city and highway ratings (24/33) but keep the 28 mpg combined rating. When equipped with the CVT, the sedan and non-Sport hatchbacks rate 31 mpg combined (28/37), with the Sport keeping the same 31 mpg combined rating but dropping 1 mpg from both its city and highway (27/36) ratings. These are competitive numbers for the class -- and remarkably high for an all-wheel-drive car -- but we've been hard-pressed to meet them in past testing.
In Edmunds performance testing, a CVT-equipped Impreza sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds, while a CVT hatchback made the same run in 9.7 seconds. These times are slow for a compact sedan or hatchback, though that's somewhat understandable given the extra weight and drag of the AWD hardware.
Every 2016 Subaru Impreza comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and whiplash-reducing front head restraints. A rearview camera is standard on all models, while adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and lane departure warning are available as a package on select models. There's also a suite of Starlink Connected Services, including automatic collision notification service, emergency assistance, stolen vehicle recovery and remote door lock/unlock.
In government crash tests, the 2016 Impreza received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact safety and five stars for side-impact and rollover safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded the Impreza its highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, small-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. The Impreza's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, an Impreza sedan with 17-inch wheels stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for the class. An Impreza hatchback, also with 17-inch wheels, covered the same ground in 119 feet, which is slightly better than average.
The 2016 Subaru Impreza's four-cylinder engine provides adequate acceleration around town, but you'll need to plan ahead for highway passing maneuvers. Overall, the Impreza is one of the slower cars in the small sedan/hatchback class. Not helping matters is the CVT, which responds too eagerly to throttle inputs, increasing engine speed unnecessarily and amplifying the racket under the hood. At a steady cruise on the highway, the Impreza isn't any louder than its competitors, but the level of engine noise during harder acceleration grows tiresome. The manual transmission helps matters, but its abrupt clutch take-up can make it difficult to drive the Impreza smoothly in heavy traffic.
Around turns, the Impreza won't immediately wow you with its catlike agility. But if you press on more aggressively, you'll find that it's actually blessed with secure handling, precise steering and confident braking, particularly with the 17-inch wheels and tires. Another nice quality is the smooth and compliant ride. Even driven over broken pavement, the Impreza feels well built and substantial.
The 2016 Subaru Impreza's interior design is pretty conservative, which might turn off buyers looking for more flair. Others will find it clean and likely to withstand the test of time. Materials and build quality are decent for the segment, highlighted by soft-touch materials and tight panel gaps. On a sour note, the Impreza's audio systems deliver disappointing sound quality, even by the modest standards of this class.
The 2016 Impreza has a conservative-looking interior, but a touchscreen interface is standard on every trim level.
The front seats are comfortable on long road trips (although there's little in the way of lateral support), and head- and legroom are above average for the class. The rear seat is one of the roomiest in the segment, making this Subaru eminently suitable for small families. Cargo space is also generous, measuring 12 cubic feet in the sedan's trunk and 22.5 cubes in the hatchback's trunk. Folding the hatchback's rear seatbacks down opens up a healthy 52.4 cubic feet.