2017 Subaru Impreza: Monthly Update for April 2017
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Manager of Content Strategy
Where Did We Drive It?
This is the first monthly update for our long-term 2017 Subaru Impreza since the Introduction went live, which makes it a little special. We were still getting to know our Impreza in April, so you'll find a number of first impressions in the comments below. The Impreza definitely made the rounds this month, heading deep into Orange County with Editor Dan Frio and way up north to Fresno with Editor Brent Romans.
So far, we've been impressed by the responsive handling and user-friendly touchscreen interface, and multiple editors have said they simply like the car — there's something fundamentally endearing about it. We're not sold on the powertrain, however, from the underwhelming 2.0-liter flat-four engine to the uninspiring continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Maybe it'll grow on us, but at this point in the long-term Civic's test, we were already raving about the Honda's turbocharged performance. Also of note, both Frio and Romans called out the Impreza's sunroof shade — not usually a hot topic among vehicle testers — for its substandard construction.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
The Impreza isn't off to a rousing start on this front. Despite EPA estimates of 32 mpg combined and 38 mpg highway, our average is mired in the mid-20s, with an all-time high that barely exceeds the EPA combined figure. It's early, of course, but we have yet to be impressed. Here's how the current data breaks down.
Average lifetime mpg: 26.3
EPA mpg rating: 32 combined (28 city/38 highway)
Best fill mpg: 32.6
Best range: 364.1 miles
Current odometer: 2,221 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"We received notification recently that our long-term Subaru Impreza was part of a new service campaign recall, WTP-75, specifying that the ECU [engine control unit] be reprogrammed. Apparently, winter-blend gasoline under certain conditions could vaporize, causing engine hesitation or stalling at low speeds. I hadn't noticed any of this with our test car, but brought it in for service anyway. My local dealer (Lithia Subaru of Fresno) took care of the reprogramming in about an hour. Our Impreza is back in action." — Brent Romans, senior editor
"Dear long-term Impreza: Are you suffering from low T? Your 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and CVT just don't get me excited. I know, I know, it's all about fuel economy these days. But you're undeniably slow, and I often find I'm revving your engine more than I should just to keep up with traffic. Your CVT doesn't have a Sport mode, either. Compared to the turbocharged Honda Civic, you just can't win my love. I'm sorry. Oh no, don't cry! It's not you, it's me. Wait ... no, it's you." — Brent Romans
"Really like a lot about this car. It's light but doesn't feel insubstantial. Simple, but has most of what you want for daily use. But the CVT is a deal breaker. Am still trying to wrap my head around Impreza with a CVT, even though I know it's been around awhile. It just seems wrong, like a peanut butter and ketchup sandwich. And this CVT is just no fun, even with the paddle shifters that foster the illusion of doing something useful. To give the Impreza the spurs and approximate a downshift, you pull the paddle twice, wait through the lag, then endure an unpleasant racket from under the hood to slingshot around slower traffic. Didn't this company once win rally championships?" — Dan Frio, automotive editor
"I like the sporty handling our new long-term Subaru Impreza seems to have. I haven't been able to take it out on any twisty roads yet, so consider this preliminary opinion. But just throwing it around a few local turns near my house, I've been impressed with our Impreza. It turns in quickly, the body stays pretty flat in corners, and the tires offer decent grip. Like a Mazda 3 or a Honda Civic, it's a car I think you can have some fun driving when the road bends." — Brent Romans
"I actually like this car a lot. It feels lively at city speeds (although flooring it betrays just how little power there really is), and it's generally nice to drive." — Will Kaufman, associate automotive editor
"Subaru's latest Starlink infotainment system seems to work pretty well. It has physical buttons for the menu shortcuts, 8 inches of touchscreen real estate, a tuning knob, quick responses and big virtual buttons. I haven't played around with any of the smartphone apps but all the good stuff, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is included. Using this system is easy." — Brent Romans
"How many times have you been embarrassed at a stoplight when you didn't notice the light turned green and the driver behind you blared his horn to get you moving? Our Impreza has a neat bonus feature to help you out. It monitors the stopped car ahead of you. If that car starts to move off, and you're still stationary, it gives you a subtle beeping warning. The timing of the beep seems ideal. It's not too quick to be annoying, but not too slow that the driver behind you is likely to go for the horn." — Brent Romans
"Subaru EyeSight is the big new technology in this car, and I'm a little ambivalent. On the one hand, nothing it does is overly intrusive, and many of its features are useful. It's definitely made for a world where people have their eyes on their phones or infotainment screens instead of on the road, and it addresses not just the dangers that creates, but the annoyances — it beeps at you if the car in front has moved away and you haven't taken your foot off the brake. It's also the only way to get adaptive cruise control, and it's a good ACC system. But on the other hand, while EyeSight's warning beeps aren't very loud, they're a consistent sound in the cabin when dealing with L.A. city and highway traffic. Maybe this is a personal gripe: I don't like the idea that the future of safety is my car looking over my shoulder while I drive. Ultimately, I'd still get the car with EyeSight because that's the only way to get ACC." — Will Kaufman
"I respect the high amount of safety tech Subaru has packed into the new Impreza. But I'm less fond of how the car constantly keeps a warning light on in the gauge cluster if you turn the lane departure warning system off. I turned it off for a reason — unlike, say, blind-spot monitoring, I find lane departure more annoying than valuable most of the time — and I don't need the car to constantly remind me of it. Having that warning light always on makes me think there's something wrong with the car even though there's not." — Brent Romans
"The interior is an improvement over a lot of past Subarus, especially when it comes to sound deadening." — Will Kaufman
"Like the last Impreza, this one also feels a bit like a tin can, especially in the all-important Door-Close Thunk Test. Suffice it to say, there's not much heft to that sound, although Subaru has proven over and over again that its cars don't wilt against a little hard use. While it's nice to know we could kick the Impreza around a bit in the snow or a graded dirt trail, it's still a bummer that at less than 1,000 miles we've got what appears to be a chronic sunroof shade rattle. No amount of sliding or finagling seems to dampen it. It's as if the shade is resting in its tracks too loosely. We'll need to investigate a fix, but it's a disappointment this early into our test." — Dan Frio
"Our long-term Impreza's sunroof shade is flimsy and poorly made. Issue No. 1: Its grab handle has come out on one side. I'm pretty sure I could just pull the whole thing out with a tug. The shade also vibrates occasionally with an annoying buzz when I've got the car's sound system turned up loud. It's likely due to the more prodigious bass output coming from our Impreza's optional Harman Kardon sound system. It's like Subaru made the shade out of a piece of cardboard and covered it in rough fabric. From a new vehicle standpoint, the quality here is very disappointing." — Brent Romans
"I wish the seats were a tad softer, but overall they're comfortable, and I never found myself fidgeting to avoid pressure points." — Will Kaufman
"The new Impreza has an unabashedly small-car character from the driver's seat. Unlike the latest Civic, which I've recommended to multiple would-be Accord owners because it feels big enough to be a substitute, the Impreza reminds me not a whit of the midsize Legacy. But that could be a good thing if you're tired of every generation feeling larger than the last. This Impreza stands small and proud in a segment that some might argue is getting too big for its britches." — Josh Sadlier