2018 Subaru Impreza

2018 Subaru Impreza Review

Standard all-wheel drive and an affordable price tag make a compelling case for the 2018 Impreza.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

First off, if you're in the market for a traditional compact car with the stable traction provided by all-wheel drive, you can end your search with the 2018 Subaru Impreza. It's the only car in its class to offer it. But you don't need to live in a climate with a lot of rain or snow to appreciate the Impreza. Redesigned just last year, the current-generation model's build quality and technology interface are vastly superior to its predecessor's. Compared to other models in this class, the Impreza is a standout for its stellar handling, roomy cabin, available hatchback body style, and a number of widely available advanced driver aids.

Still, shortcomings in a few key areas might give shoppers pause. The Impreza's most significant drawback is its lackluster powertrain. Though 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque look healthy on the spec sheet, we've found the Impreza is one of the slowest cars in its class. Matters aren't helped by the car's continuously variable automatic transmission. It isn't quick to react to driver inputs, and when it does finally rev the engine high enough for a speed burst, there's not enough power on tap to muster any meaningful acceleration. Constantly shoving the gas pedal just to keep up with traffic means the Impreza also has a hard time meeting its fuel economy estimates in the real world.

If you can overlook the Impreza's engine and transmission deficiencies, though, you'll find a capable small car with plenty of room, a comfortable ride and that enviable all-wheel-drive system.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Subaru Impreza as one of Edmunds' Best AWD Sedans for this year.



what's new

Automatic wipers are now standard on Premium, Sport and Limited models. Otherwise, the 2018 Impreza is unchanged.

we recommend

The hatchback isn't much more expensive than the sedan, so we'd pick that one for its improved cargo capacity. We think the Premium trim offers the right balance of features for the price. Plus, it's the only trim with which you can order the safety-based EyeSight package without it being bundled with a sunroof. The Sport is another solid pick since it adds desirable options such as keyless entry and a larger touchscreen with satellite radio. Try it before you buy this one, though, since its sporty suspension tuning will likely affect ride comfort




trim levels & features

Like many compacts, the 2018 Subaru Impreza is available as a sedan or a four-door hatchback. Features on the four available trims are identical between the two body styles. The base 2.0i is sparsely equipped, but it does have power windows and a touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability. The Premium counts alloy wheels and heated seats among its additions. Upgrade to the Sport and you get larger wheels, sporty suspension tuning, keyless entry and ignition, and a larger touchscreen. The Limited keeps some of the Sport's luxury features and adds leather and automatic climate control.

Every Impreza is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. (The related, high-performance WRX and WRX STI are reviewed separately.) A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the 2.0i and Sport models, and a continuously variable automatic with wheel-mounted paddle shifters is optional on those and standard on Premium and Limited trims.

The base 2.0i comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, remote locking and unlocking, cloth upholstery, a rearview camera, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a driver information display, a height-adjustable driver seat, cruise control, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, and a four-speaker audio system with a USB port and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

The Premium trim is better equipped, with alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, a sound-reducing windshield, heated front seats, Subaru Starlink services and a six-speaker audio system. The hatchback also adds roof rails and a cargo cover.

An available package combines blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, cornering lights and Subaru's EyeSight suite of driver aids (adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, automatic reverse braking, and lane departure warning and mitigation). A power sunroof is available as a stand-alone option or bundled with the above package.

For drivers who want a more exciting version of the Impreza, there's the Sport. It comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, unique suspension tuning, keyless entry and ignition, an 8-inch touchscreen, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, unique interior and exterior trim, active torque vectoring for improved traction, a CD player, satellite radio and two USB ports.

A package with the blind-spot monitor and sunroof is also available; on the Sport, it further adds an eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. This package can be ordered with or without EyeSight.

At the top of the Impreza range, there's the Limited model. It combines the Premium's features with the Sport tech equipment, further adding 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat and automatic climate control system.

EyeSight, blind-spot monitoring and the sunroof are bundled into a package; it can be ordered with or without the Harman Kardon system and navigation.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Subaru Impreza Limited Sedan (2.0L flat-4 | CVT automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration2.5 / 5.0
Braking4.0 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling4.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5.0
Climate control3.0 / 5.0

Interior

4.5 / 5.0

Ease of use4.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.5 / 5.0
Driving position4.0 / 5.0
Roominess4.5 / 5.0
Visibility5.0 / 5.0
Quality3.5 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage2.5 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 5.0

Technology

4.0 / 5.0

Audio & navigation4.0 / 5.0
Smartphone integration3.0 / 5.0
Driver aids3.5 / 5.0
Voice control4.0 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
Aside from poor acceleration and a CVT automatic that doesn't always do as we'd expect, the Impreza performs very well. Handling is well sorted, brakes are responsive and confidence-inspiring, and the steering is sporty and communicative. A solid showing for the most part.

Acceleration

edmunds rating
The Impreza seems peppy off the line at first, but this enthusiasm is short-lived. In Edmunds instrumented testing it took 9.4 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph, one of the slowest times in the class. Passing maneuvers on the highway take more planning than they should.

Braking

edmunds rating
The Impreza's brakes feel great. You get good pedal pressure immediately, which makes it easy to modulate, and the brakes inspire confidence when needing to scrub off speed quickly. The Impreza stopped from 60 mph in 121 feet in testing, an average distance for the segment.

Steering

edmunds rating
Steering is quick, responsive and generally pretty sporty. For a car in this class, there's a lot of steering feedback, especially on the Sport and Limited trims. Most shoppers will be happy with the level of steering effort and good on-center feel.

Handling

edmunds rating
Handling is a strong point for this Impreza, regardless of trim level. Body roll is well-controlled, and the car goes where you want and provides you with lots of confidence along the way. Standard all-wheel drive only increases its sense of stability.

Drivability

edmunds rating
The CVT-engine combo rumbles at low speeds and whines at full-throttle acceleration; neither is ideal. But the sticking point is the occasional lack of response from the CVT. The transmission works better when you use the paddle shifters, which shouldn't be the case.

Off-road

edmunds rating
While it doesn't have big approach or departure angles like a true off-road vehicle, the Impreza is the only one in the class with standard all-wheel drive, and in that regard, it is more capable than most compact sedans and hatchbacks.

Comfort

edmunds rating
A relatively quiet and smooth ride makes the Impreza a breeze to drive on the highway. The seats are comfortable and well-bolstered, even if they are a bit on the firm side for extra-long road trips.

Seat comfort

edmunds rating
The Impreza's front seats are well-bolstered, providing good support and firm cushioning. If you're in the saddle for long stints, they may get a little tiring for some. The rear seats are relatively flat but comfortable enough.

Ride comfort

edmunds rating
Ride comfort is excellent with the 17-inch wheels on our test car, and we'd suspect the 16-inch wheels would be, too. The suspension is compliant enough to shrug off small and large bumps without drama and without being overly soft and floaty.

Noise & vibration

edmunds rating
Wind noise is practically nonexistent on the highway, even at 80 mph. Road noise is a bit more pronounced, however, and the engine and CVT whine somewhat unpleasantly under full throttle. Our tester had no rattles or squeaks.

Climate control

edmunds rating
Our test car's optional automatic climate control is easy to operate through the three centrally located dials. A couple of the main air vents are right next to the steering wheel, right where you would grip, unfortunately cooling your fingers quicker than the cabin.

Interior

edmunds rating
Though functionality has always been a strong point, the 2017 Impreza's interior represented a big leap forward for Subaru. Thanks to a spacious cabin, large windows and thoughtfully laid out controls, the Impreza is one of the more ergonomically friendly options in the segment.

Ease of use

edmunds rating
The radio controls, touchscreen interface and climate control knobs are generally easy to read and use, and the secondary top screen is surprisingly useful. Large fonts, high-resolution screens and simple button structures ease the learning curve dramatically.

Getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The seats are mounted high enough that sliding in and out won't be a problem for most average-height adults. The roofline, while lower than the outgoing Impreza's, is still high and provides ample head clearance. Overall, entry and exit are effortless.

Driving position

edmunds rating
The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel allows for a lot of adjustment and the driver's seat offers six-way adjustment, so there's plenty of range for all types of drivers to find a good fit.

Roominess

edmunds rating
This Impreza is bigger than ever before, and it shows. The cabin is on headroom, with tons of legroom in the front and a decent amount of room in the back. Those over 6 feet may find the back seat a little cozy, but that's common for this class.

Visibility

edmunds rating
Visibility is excellent out of the front thanks to a big windshield, small front pillars and small sectional windows near the windshield. A big rear window in both the sedan and the hatchback make for great rear visibility as well.

Quality

edmunds rating
While the interior of this redesigned Impreza is a big improvement, it still isn't quite the class leader, especially the lower trim levels. Our top-shelf Limited trim test car closes the gap a bit and has nice soft-touch surfaces for your elbows to rest on.

Utility

edmunds rating
Between the two available Impreza bodies, we'd recommend the hatchback. The sedan we tested has limited trunk space, but child seat accommodation is excellent.

Small-item storage

edmunds rating
Small-item storage is decent but pales in comparison to class leaders such as the Honda Civic. The center storage console and door pockets aren't as deep or long as we'd like. There are several cupholders though, all capable of accommodating a standard water bottle or soda can.

Cargo space

edmunds rating
Access to the trunk is much wider this year (4 inches wider on the hatchback; 5 inches wider with the sedan) but the trunk still only offers 12.4 cubic feet of storage. That's smaller than in the Mazda 3, Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra. If you want a utilitarian Impreza, go for the hatch.

Child safety seat accommodation

edmunds rating
Car seat accommodation is as excellent as ever. There's easy access to rear seat latches through velcro straps, and there are three anchor points behind the rear seats. There's plenty of space for a big rear-facing seat too, especially since the interior is even roomier than before.

Technology

edmunds rating
Tech is much improved in the newest Impreza, with a redesigned touchscreen and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Our test car had some issues with the touchscreen, but when it is functioning correctly it provides a vastly improved experience over the old system.

Audio & navigation

edmunds rating
Laid out much like a smartphone homescreen, the Limited's 8-inch touchscreen is familiar, easy to see and understand, and responsive to touch inputs. The navigation command structure is simple and finding points of interest is easy. But the stereo's speaker quality and max volume could be better.

Smartphone integration

edmunds rating
Device integration might seem adequate on paper, but we've had some issues in testing. Bluetooth connects to a music source quickly, but the system has frozen on us more than once. When working, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are responsive and helpful in mitigating distraction.

Driver aids

edmunds rating
Adaptive cruise control comes with the optional EyeSight package and it performs well. It doesn't slam on the brakes when you get cut off; it also doesn't follow too far behind. The underpowered engine, though, makes keeping up on hills a bit difficult. Lane keeping assist also works well.

Voice control

edmunds rating
Voice controls are simple, responsive and easily accessed through a button on the steering wheel. You can control radio and connected phone commands via voice control, which is pretty common but effective.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.