2017 Subaru Impreza: Monthly Update for February 2018
by Cameron Rogers, Staff Writer
Where Did We Drive It?
Even though it's the shortest month of the year, February was the first time in a long time that our 2017 Subaru Impreza hit the 1,600-mile monthly target we set for each vehicle in the long-term fleet. In the interest of full transparency, it was actually 1,596 miles, but it's close enough that we'll consider it a success. The Impreza was mostly used for commuting duties until the end of the month, when editor Mark Takahashi took it on a road trip and broke a long-standing fuel economy record.
Unfortunately, the Impreza is nearing the end of its tenure in our long-term fleet, and it's nowhere close to the 20,000-mile goal we set for each of our long-term cars. That's a shame because we've mostly used the Impreza for commuting, and its overall fuel economy is well below its 32 mpg combined score. In fact, it's a few mpg off the city score, too. We're going to do our best to knock out the remaining 3,700 miles in March, so stay tuned for a multitude of road-trip impressions next month.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
The Impreza hit our 1,600-mile monthly goal for only the third time since it entered the fleet. At 25.6 mpg, monthly fuel economy was unimpressive, though it was slightly better than the overall average. February's average was especially disappointing given that Mark set a new best-fill record with 33.5 mpg. (The previous record stood at 32.6 mpg for nine months.) We'll shoot for even better results in March.
Average lifetime mpg: 25.3
EPA mpg rating: 32 combined (28 city/38 highway)
Best-fill mpg: 33.5
Best range: 364.1 miles
Current odometer: 16,313 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"I took the Impreza in for its 15,000-mile service. After an oil change, tire rotation and general inspection, we left $171 poorer. That included $42 for 7 quarts of oil, $7 for an oil filter, about another $1.50 for a gasket, and $23 for a cabin air filter.
"Irvine Subaru completed the job in 90 minutes and charged us $91 for the labor. This all seems a bit rich for a Subaru and, admittedly, maybe we didn't need the cabin air filter (or maybe we did, given the general air quality we drive through every day). Had we declined that service, we could've shaved a few bucks off the bill. Regardless, the visit was pleasant and efficient (we'd called ahead for an appointment), so no complaints from the customer service angle." — Dan Frio, staff writer
"I've figured out why the Impreza is so uncomfortable for me. As Brent noted months ago, I'm not a fan of the headrest, cramped footwell or seat (the front of the seat bottom doesn't raise enough for my liking). I noticed another fitment issue while I drove it last weekend.
"The pedals are situated far too close to the driver, and it's a major problem for someone with long legs like me. With the Impreza's seat set as comfortably as it can be, only a few inches of my thigh actually touch the seat, with my knees high up in the air and my ankle at a nearly 90-degree angle when it's resting on the accelerator, without actually stepping on it. It's not long before my ankle starts hurting, making a long road trip in the Impreza an impossibility.
"Even at 6-foot-4, I can fit in most cars. I actually prefer smaller vehicles and loved previous long-termers like the 2016 Mazda Miata and the 2014 Mini Cooper. I can find a good driving position in almost any compact car, with the exception of the Impreza. Even though I don't like the powertrain, it's the terrible driving position that would put the nail in the coffin if I was a potential buyer." — Cameron Rogers, staff writer
"As others have noted, the Impreza is not a quiet car, at least at highway speeds. There's wind and road noise, and it feels and sounds a bit hollow. More sound deadening in the firewall, doors and pillars — better window seals — might help. But then you're talking more mass, more weight, and with just 152 hp and 145 lb-ft torque, that's something the Impreza can ill-afford. I think Subaru found the right balance between handling performance and refinement. After a few days with the car, I could tune out the noise." — Dan Frio
"Slightly wasted opportunity with this mobile phone tray area forward of the gear lever. Should be two USB ports in there alongside the 12-volt power point. It's good that there are two ports in the center console under the armrest to keep phones out of sight (out of mind, if you prefer). Those ports would still be useful for rear-seat passengers even if you'd need longer cables." — Dan Frio
"There are several small things about the Impreza that, while not exactly annoyances, are reminders of where Subaru shaved a few dimes and pennies. Only one of the rear seatbacks has a pocket, for example. With two kids in the back seat, each perhaps armed with a tablet, portable game, book or magazine, are you going to put all that stuff in one seatback pocket? Buyers' expectations are rising. When you drop more than $20,000 on a car, you shouldn't feel like you bought a ticket on a budget airline." — Dan Frio
"I really like the Impreza's rear cross-path detection system. These systems are designed to warn the driver of moving objects behind the car while reversing, like when you're backing out of a supermarket parking spot and another vehicle is about to drive through your path. Oftentimes the alerts are loud and overbearing, but the Impreza gives you a restrained combination of blinking lights on the rearview mirrors and a soft but insistent beeping noise. It's impossible to miss the warning, yet I don't find it annoying in the least. As a bonus, it also seems to work really well. Yesterday a parking attendant's golf cart was approaching while I was backing out in the company garage, and the system alerted me before I saw the cart myself. Pretty cool." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager, content strategy
"Three information displays in a car is a bit much. I'm talking about the small display in the gauge cluster, the main touchscreen display in the center console, and the narrow, tertiary upper display. There's a lot of info spread between these three sources, although it's arguable how much of it justifies a third display. In that upper display, you can cycle through a clock, a screen that shows you which safety systems are active, and one that shows you all-wheel-drive power distribution in real time, among a few others.
"There's one that shows coolant and oil temp, which strikes me as the only useful data offered in that display. You cycle through these screens via a cluster of thumb switches appended to the steering wheel. It's not pretty. Two analog gauges alongside the tach and speedometer solve this. Others have tried this three-screen approach before as well. Honda comes to mind with its earlier i-MID contraption. It was lame and thankfully it's gone. Hopefully, Subaru scraps this gimmick soon, too." — Dan Frio
"I don't know why I like the Impreza as much as I do. I mean, I don't dream about it or anything. I wouldn't trade it for a Challenger. But I like it. It's not fussy. Maybe that's a backhanded compliment, but I like a light, agile car that I can jump in, back out of the driveway, and zip down the road to the grocery store. Not have to worry about parking. I love me a Challenger, but I don't need its lumbering lope when I'm just going out to fetch some eggs.
"And yet. 'If it only had a manual,' I thought, 'this is a car I might buy.' And lo, you can get an Impreza Sport sedan with a five-speed manual hooked to its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It also comes with 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, nifty interior trim bits, and all-wheel drive. That will cost you $22,955.
"Add the sole option package that comes with a sunroof, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a Harman Kardon premium audio system, and you're looking at $25,105. Not a bad deal. Throw on some decent performance-ish tires and you've got a sweet sled that will handle the curves with gusto on dry days and curves with care on rainy days.
"Then I read about the 2018 Accord. For $26,670, you can get the Accord Sport with its 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder and six-speed manual. It packs more punch than the Impreza — 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque compared to the Impreza's 152 hp and 145 lb-ft. It also comes with 19-inch wheels, a power-adjustable driver's seat, and the Honda Sensing driver aids. We've found that tech somewhat glitchy in our recent Hondas: abrupt, unintended emergency braking, so-so lane keeping assist, batty adaptive cruise control.
"But hard to argue with the near-universal praise for the new, redesigned Accord's driving demeanor and upgraded cabin quality. For $1,500 more, it's probably worth the stretch. Then again, with all-wheel drive and a manual gearbox for around $25,000, the Impreza Sport offers knockout value." — Dan Frio