Read the introduction of this vehicle to our long-term fleet.
See all of the long-term updates on this vehicle.
What We Got
Small SUVs may be all the rage, but there has never been a better time than now for compact cars. Whether a big seller like the Honda Civic, an underrated competitor like the Mazda 3, or even Subaru's performance-oriented WRX, compacts really are better than ever.
But Subaru's standard compact car, the Impreza, has never been what we'd call a class leader. It may be the cheapest way to get an all-wheel-drive sedan or wagon, but beyond that it never lit the world on fire. With this latest generation, Subaru made a concerted effort to broaden the appeal of its smallest car, packing it with technology, improving interior quality, and generally redesigning it to better compete with class leaders.
We wanted to see how well Subaru pulled off its ambitions. With the range-topping Limited trim level, we were able to test every feature. Additional equipment such as a sunroof, an upgraded stereo, Subaru's EyeSight driver aid system, and navigation came with what's called the "Option Package 35." Our car came with the only engine available: a 152-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder. A six-speed manual transmission is available, but we opted for the continuously variable automatic transmission, joined to Subaru's standard all-wheel-drive system.
Did Subaru succeed with the Impreza redesign? Here are some highlights from the year with our Bluebaru.
"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, senior 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, road test manager
"I dig the way our Impreza takes a set around turns. Interestingly, though, it's not a quality that's immediately apparent. Unlike, say, the Mazda 3, the steering is a bit heavy and not particularly quick. It doesn't encourage you to drive with enthusiasm, at least initially. But grab the Impreza by the proverbial scruff of the neck and turn in with authority. It rewards you with impressive stability and balance, and the all-wheel-drive system allows you to feed in some gas without losing traction. It's a fun car to drive around turns once you're familiar with it. In fact, it's my favorite quality about our long-termer right now." — Brent Romans
"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, director of vehicle testing
"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
"I've driven our Impreza about 800 miles in the past week, and much of that was on the highway. Overall, it's decently comfortable for long drives. Wind noise isn't very noticeable, but there is a fair amount of tire noise, particularly on concrete roadways. The ride is choppy on rough pavement.
"As for the driver's seat, I've been comfortable enough for four or five hours of driving. But I could see where others won't be. My co-worker Cameron, for instance, told me how he dislikes the forward-canted head restraint, cramped footwell next to the gas pedal, and lack of a tilt function for the power seat base. It's a deal breaker for him. I can see his point." — Brent Romans
"It was my first time in the Impreza, and I instantly felt comfortable in the driver's seat. With just a couple of adjustments and support from the firm bolsters, it felt like I had been driving the car forever." — Kathleen Clonts, copy chief
"I pointed the Impreza south towards a media event in Rancho Santa Fe, which is just short of San Diego. With a full tank, it was going to be a nonstop 116-mile blast, or so I thought. Even though I left well before typical peak traffic time, I ran into some significant slowdowns that turned a two-hour trip into a three-hour-plus ordeal.
"Fortunately, the Impreza's seats agree with me. This was somewhat surprising since I usually adjust the seat for maximum lumbar support. The Subaru had no such adjustments, but the overall shape was good enough. The seats also managed to breathe quite well, even though the outside temperature was more than 100 degrees. My return trip to L.A. and another trip to Laguna Beach were equally comfortable." — Mark Takahashi, senior writer
"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, staff writer
"It's my first time in this new Subaru, and the interior quality has taken a palpable step up since the last one. And the driving position is easy to set to my liking thanks to a generous range of telescopic adjustment in the steering column." — Dan Edmunds
"I like the layout and look of the Impreza's interior. The physical shortcut buttons below the touchscreen are useful, as are the audio volume and selection/tuning knobs. They combine nicely with the other functions available through the touchscreen. The three-knob automatic climate control system is easy to set and use, too. Visually, there's just enough metallic accents to break up the monotone black plastic. The stitched seam along the passenger side of the dashboard is kind of cool, too." — Brent Romans
"With designers placing window sills higher and higher, it was nice to get into the Impreza and revel in its outward visibility. Sight lines to the front quarters are particularly good thanks to door-mounted mirrors that provide additional glass area in this usually blocked-off area. It seems that the Impreza's overall greenhouse (the top part of the sedan that's covered by glass) is larger than it is in other cars of its size." — Calvin Kim, road test editor
Audio and Technology
"I'm the first to admit it: I'm like the opposite of an early adopter when it comes to in-car tech. And if we're being honest here, I sometimes try to avoid it. When presented with new features, the dinosaur in me says, 'I've lived this long without it; I don't see how I need it now.' I'd like to tell you about the progress I've made courtesy of our Impreza and its EyeSight system.
"This thing does tech right, in my opinion. And that means it doesn't beat you over the head with it. Instead, helpful little notifications like 'Vehicle Ahead Has Moved' or quick lane departure warnings are welcome and unobtrusive, and they don't get in the way of, you know, driving. I love the adaptive cruise control because it's simple to use, even in stop-and-go I-405 traffic. The 'Obstacle Detected' warning and pre-collision braking weren't overly aggressive like systems on other vehicles we've had in our fleet. (I'm looking at you, dearly departed Volvo S60.)
"I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Impreza is helping me adjust to the times. And I suppose that's a good thing. Now if only the Impreza could help me find a way to keep these kids off my lawn." — Matt Jones, senior consumer advice editor
"So the infotainment system uses two screens, and as others have noted, it's one of the better executions. This is in part because the two screens are completely different in format and can show vastly different things. The top screen, for example, can show an accurate line-art image of the car, complete with matching headlights and taillights that turn on and off with its full-size physical counterpart. It's all very cute, except for the fact the turn-signal blinker speed doesn't match." — Calvin Kim
"I like the Impreza's touchscreen interface. The graphics are colorful and crisp like a smartphone, and response times seem quick. Better than our departed long-term Civic's touchscreen? I'd say it's not even close. Subaru takes this round in a landslide." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager of content strategy
"The Impreza's Starlink system is aesthetically pleasing and a big improvement on the previous gen's infotainment interface, but I came across a big glitch this week. Someone had left an XM radio station on with the sound at about half-volume. I went to change the station, pressed the Radio icon on the screen and everything froze. The screen was stuck with 'Subaru Starlink' plastered across it and none of the buttons, knobs or various controls on the dashboard or the steering wheel worked — but the radio station kept playing.
"I stopped the car multiple times, turned off the ignition, got out, locked it, unlocked it and got back in (all in hopes of resetting the system) but nothing worked. The volume stayed the same, the radio station stayed the same, but I had no control over either. After having the Impreza parked for a few hours, I came back out to try again. Success! Everything was back in normal working order like the freeze had never occurred. It was definitely a strange occurrence though and one we'll be looking out for in the future." — Travis Langness, staff writer
"Android Auto is still a relatively new feature for both cars and phones, so there are bound to be bugs, but our Impreza has given me more consistent issues than any other car I've driven. Sometimes, Android Auto just fails to connect, and there's no way to force it to work. Manually launching the app, unplugging and replugging the phone, restarting the phone, restarting the car, unplugging the phone, restarting both it and the car, and then plugging the phone back in — the only cure seems to be patience. After a while, it starts working again. It's a frustrating issue, especially during my morning commute when I rely on Google Maps to tell me if there are major traffic issues I need to avoid." — Will Kaufman
"Carlos and I have experienced similar issues connecting our Google Pixels and using Android Auto on the infotainment system. When we plug in our phones immediately after starting the car, Android Auto doesn't start. The button appears on the display, but tapping it does nothing. However, after unplugging and plugging the cable in again, it works just fine. If we wait 10 or 15 seconds after starting the car, Android Auto works as intended. Otherwise, everything else is flawless." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle testing technician
"Carlos had noticed a few bugs while using Android Auto in the Impreza. I wanted to test it with Apple CarPlay over the weekend and noticed a few issues. On two occasions the audio cut out and the CarPlay app crashed. I'm not sure what caused it though. The owner forums seem to show others are experiencing similar issues. While an inconvenience, these systems work nine out of 10 times and I'd rather have one that acts up on me on occasion than nothing at all." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor
"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
"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 seven 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
"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
"Our Impreza is solid car that seems to do everything well. It looks clean, rides comfortably and has nice layout to the interior. However, aside from having all-wheel drive, it doesn't do much to make it stand out from the competition. The Mazda 3 handles better, the Honda Civic will have better fuel economy, and the Kia Forte is probably a better bargain in terms of selling price. I already voted with my wallet and bought a Mazda 3." — Ron Montoya
"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." — Dan Frio
"This horn is from 1982. It's from a 1982 Subaru GL. There's no other way to explain it." — Kurt Niebuhr, photo editor
Maintenance & Repairs
The Subaru-that-could only saw a maintenance bay twice in its tenure with Edmunds, once for a recall issue and once for its 15,000-mile service. That lube job, cabin air filter replacement, tire rotation and inspection set us back $171.
Our Subaru had one recall in the last year: An issue that could cause stalling in cold weather was addressed with an ECU tweak to turn on the radiator fan at slightly lower temperatures.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
Our Impreza's EPA estimated fuel economy is 32 mpg combined (28 city/38 highway), but over its 19,666.6 miles in our fleet, it only averaged 26.1 mpg. Its best fill hit 33.9 mpg, but its worst was a measly 15.7 mpg. Our best range between fill-ups was 364.1 miles.
Resale and Depreciation:
Using the Edmunds TMV Calculator, we estimate a $22,367 private-party sale price for our 2017 Impreza, which reflects depreciation of about 22 percent from the $28,760 sticker price. For context, our long-term 2016 Honda Civic Touring depreciated about 24 percent over its year with us.
Great visibility. User-friendly technology. Excellent active safety features and driver aids. Big improvements in interior quality and noise insulation from previous generations.
The engine is both thirsty and underpowered. The interior still feels cheaper than some competitors. The infotainment system proved buggy. The seats and driving position lack enough adjustability to suit every driver.
For all its features, the Impreza is an easy little car to just hop in and go. Many around the office found it quite likable, but even its fans had to admit that its downsides, especially the sluggish engine and poor fuel economy, were hard to ignore.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||$0|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||$171 (over 12 months)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||None|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||2|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||None|
|Days Out of Service:||None|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||None|
|Best Fuel Economy:||33.9 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||15.7 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy:||26.1 mpg|
|Best Range:||364.1 miles|
|True Market Value at Service End:||$22,367|
|Depreciation:||$6,393 (22 percent of original MSRP)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||19,666 miles|
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.