Subaru knocks it out of the park with the current Impreza sedan and hatchback -- now among the top-rated cars in the compact class. The Impreza impresses us most with its roominess, user-friendliness, and ride comfort that puts some luxury cars to shame.
This redesign is based on an entirely new platform, one that underpins the current Crosstrek and next-generation Forester.
Practicality, safety and comfort all come to play with the new Impreza. The cabin is roomy, the car's solid structure delivers optimal ride and handling, and Subaru's suite of advanced safety features (called EyeSight) is more widely available.
The upgraded interior and a hint of styling flair show that Subaru might be paying more than lip service to those wanting something more than the automotive equivalent of dry whole-grain toast. Take a look inside up-level models such as the Sport and Limited and you'll see what we mean.
Imprezas have long been among the most comfortable-riding compact cars, and, thankfully, this redesign doesn't break that winning streak. The suspension effectively swallows up broken pavement jolts and rides better than some cars that cost twice as much -- and seems to do so without breaking a sweat.
The new Impreza also gets quieter, which is good news, since noise was a problem that nagged the last version. We certainly appreciated reduced road and wind noise, although some engine thrum is remains noticeable. The ride and the relative quietness bring a newfound feeling of substance to the car.
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine scoots the Impreza along just fine. The improved continuously variable transmission (CVT) has artificial gear changes built into it that also help diminish engine noise.
On the road, the Impreza is a satisfying drive. Steering is responsive and the body remains surefooted in corners, no matter how bumpy the road. Just don't expect to experience the driver engagement level found in some competing models, such as the Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf. Even when we drove it hard on our track, the Impreza remained secure.
Standard all-wheel drive (AWD) adds a peace of mind to those living in the Snowbelt, with little penalty in fuel economy. The Impreza achieves a commendable 30 mpg overall, which is behind its most frugal competitors, the Mazda3 or the Hyundai Elantra (both are pegged at 33 mpg overall), but ahead of several other front-drive challengers.
Inside, the Impreza scores big where it counts: It has one of the roomiest backseats in the class and its infotainment system is easy to use. That system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the down side, the driver's seat doesn't offer enough lower-back support.
Despite the higher price for an all-wheel drive car, the Impreza remains a competitive value even after adding the optional EyeSight safety feature. The hatchback version adds versatility for a modest added cost.
All told, the Impreza is well-rounded, providing compact car buyers room, features, and convenience. It might not be flashy, but the Impreza is just right.