Want an affordable and fuel-efficient compact car with all-wheel-drive? Subaru's Impreza sedan and hatchback are your best options - and aside from the thirsty, dated Mitsubishi Lancer, really your only options.
Subaru recently redesigned the Impreza with an emphasis on gas mileage, cutting out excess weight, adding a fuel-thrifty continuously variable transmission and installing a smaller, more efficient engine. While the new car isn't quite as quick as the old model, it's cable of returning up to 37 mpg on the highway - an impressive figure for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.
Outside, the Impreza looks more focused than its somewhat soft and rounded predecessor. Sleek headlights, a Legacy-inspired radiator grille, well-integrated fender flares and an almost fastback-like roofline highlight the sedan. Inside, the interior is simple but highly functional, with a sporty three-spoke steering wheel and intuitive center stack controls.
The Impreza is available with an updated version of Subaru's Starlink infotainment system. Through a user's Bluetooth-connected smartphone, Starlink provides access to Aha radio, which offers tens of thousands of stations of Web-based content like Slacker, MOG and Rhapsody.
Under the Hood
The Impreza is powered by a 2.0-liter flat-four engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft. of torque. It returns 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway when linked to the Lineartronic CVT transmission that comes standard on Premium and Limited models.
The five-speed manual transmission that is fitted to the 2.0i and Sport Premium trims helps the Impreza get up to speed faster at the expense of fuel economy.
All-wheel-drive is standard across the line; it gives the Impreza a sure-footed feeling in slippery inclement weather. In terms of driving dynamics, the car's small size and capable chassis give it relatively nimble feel, but numb steering cuts down on the fun factor. Though slightly firm, the suspension provides a comfortable ride.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Impreza sedan is offered in three trim levels - 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited.
The 2.0i comes standard with air conditioning, power windows and locks, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with a USB input and full iPod integration, a rear-view camera, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6.2-inch infotainment system, cruise control, cloth upholstery and 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps. The 2.0i comes standard with a five-speed manual, but buyers looking to go clutch-less can order the Lineartronic CVT at an extra cost.
The 2.0i Premium adds a two extra speakers for the sound system, body-colored door mirrors, chrome trim on the outside, an adjustable armrest in the cetner console, steering wheel-mounted audio and Bluetooth controls, chrome-look interior door handles a rear stabilizer bar and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The Premium model comes standard with the CVT.
The 2.0i Limited brings leather upholstery on the seats and on the steering wheel, a 7-inch infotainment system, automatic climate control, fog lights, chrome exterior door handles, turn signals integrated into the door mirrors, an upgraded instrument cluster, a rear armrest with dual cupholders and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Options include a moonroof, a navigation system, keyless entry with push-button start and Subaru's well-regarded EyeSight technology.
All Impreza models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's side knee airbags, traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Shoppers considering the Subaru Impreza Sedan should also take a look at similar offerings such as the Mazda Mazda3 Sedan, Ford Focus Sedan, Chevrolet Cruze Sedan, Toyota Corolla Sedan and Honda Civic Sedan - each with its own distinct characteristics within the segment.