2017 Subaru Impreza: Monthly Update for June 2017
by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Manager
Where Did We Drive It?
This month, the staff sentiment seems to be split when it comes to our 2017 Subaru Impreza's transmission. Some find the Subie's continuously variable automatic transmission's habit of simulating gear ratios more favorable to the usual unrelenting buzz of more traditional CVTs while others think it defeats the purpose of having a CVT in the first place. One thing we all can agree on, though, is that our Impreza's fuel economy has been somewhat of a disappointment. This looks like a familiar story from 2012.
We logged just shy of 1,000 miles, mostly around town, compared to nearly 2,000 miles last month. Dan Edmunds, our vehicle testing director, ventured out to historic Route 66 for a weekend, while Senior Writer Carlos Lago expanded his horizons at the local Yogurtland — he highly recommends the salted caramel pecan.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
The Impreza's reputation for underperforming fuel economy continues its downward trend from an average of 25.6 last month, to 25.2 mpg this month. We saw a single tank over 31 mpg, but most were in the low 20-mpg range or below. If you own a similar Impreza model, we're interested to hear if your experience differs.
Average lifetime mpg: 25.2
EPA mpg rating: 32 combined (28 city/38 highway)
Best fill mpg: 32.6
Best range: 364.1 miles
Current odometer: 5,374 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"This cruise control is weird. Usually, a quick tap on the accel/decel buttons will give you a 1-mph speed change, and a lingering push will get you a 5-mph change. But the Impreza is backward: A quick tap gets you 5 mph; a press and hold gets you 1. I hate this. It's counterintuitive and maybe even dangerous if you inadvertently tap it. Other things to note: You are able to switch off adaptive cruise, but every time you key off you have to rearm the cruise control and it always defaults to the adaptive setting. Also the car slows in corners while cruise is active." — Dan Edmunds, director, vehicle testing
"I generally find the Subaru EyeSight system to function pretty well. Today was especially impressive — the system was able to detect an empty trash bag floating through my lane on the highway and warned me of its presence. Thankfully no evasive maneuvers were required — we've heard trashbags don't feel pain — but I feel like the system gave me enough lead time in the case that I did have to take action. Pretty cool stuff." — Jonathan Elfalan, road test manager
"Count me as a fan of this latest-generation Subaru CVT automatic. It never seems to call attention to itself with any of the slurred CVT weirdness of the past, and the drive up and over the Cajon Pass on Interstate 15 was smooth and loaded with zero-shift goodness. It helps that the engine noise is fairly well subdued, too. This package feels better than a traditional automatic." — Dan Edmunds
"Finished the weekend with a distaste for the CVT. The transmission fakes gear changes at medium throttle, which feel unnatural and worsen acceleration. Dig into the throttle, like when you're merging onto a road with quick-moving traffic, and the Impreza initially responds like you'd expect. But right before the engine reaches its 4,000-rpm torque peak, the acceleration flattens out and engine speed falls. It takes a beat before it resumes. This also happens at higher speeds. I assume this behavior is to make the CVT feel more like a standard automatic, but the effect feels strange and makes it seem like the engine is always hunting. This makes for an uneven, nonlinear response when you keep your foot in the same position. It also makes the car slower. A CVT is capable of continually and smoothly adjusting ratios to keep the engine at its ideal rpm. By simulating gearshifts, this CVT undermines one of the benefits CVT technology provides." — Carlos Lago, senior writer
"What's with the steering? It's super sludgy around center. It's not that it's too heavy; it's that the on-center weighting is poor. Feels like the rack is filled with molasses. Odd." — Jason Kavanagh, engineering editor
"Others have complained about this Subie's lack of power, but I thought I should reserve judgment until I could experience it for myself. Their complaints are not misplaced. Having done the monthly update last month, I can see why our Impreza's fuel economy has been so disappointing. Driving around California you essentially have to floor it almost everywhere to keep up with traffic. The low-end torque feels pretty good at the start, but then you realize there isn't much power beyond it. It's such a shame that there isn't an engine between this and the Impreza WRX, because it actually handles decently. If this thing had Honda's turbocharged four-cylinder, it would probably be one of my favorite compacts." — Jonathan Elfalan
"A couple of mirror-related comments. The side mirrors are door-mounted, which is great. This significantly improves visibility compared to when mirrors are located at the base of the windshield pillar. However, these mirrors do not adjust outward far enough. From my seating position (roughly a third to a quarter forward of the farthest seat position from the steering wheel), the mirrors stop moving outward at the point when the side of the car is at the inner edge of the mirror's view. Basically, the Impreza's mirrors do not have enough range to accommodate the mirror-setting technique published by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) in 1995. Which is, of course, how everyone should be setting their mirrors to minimize blind spots." — Jason Kavanagh