Courtesy of Subaru

Pairing a premium driving dynamic with advanced technology, a legendary all-wheel drive system and proven reliability, the Impreza is going to give the Civic and Corolla a run for its money.

Subaru is a brand long known for producing dependable and highly capable vehicles that are always near the top of their class. Models such as the Outback and Forester are highly decorated and have been very popular over the last two decades due in part to Subaru’s signature all-wheel drive system.

The story hasn’t been quite the same with the smallest sedan in their lineup, the Impreza. Introduced in 1992, the Impreza has trailed its competition for years now (excluding the high performance WRX and STI models) with less-than-exciting looks, cut-rate interiors, lack of technology and hum drum driving dynamics. This is evident in sales where the Impreza stood near the bottom of its class in 2016, selling just under 120,000 units. For comparison, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla each sold more than triple that.

In an effort to revert this, Subaru completely redesigned the Impreza for 2017. The car, now in its fifth generation, shares its architecture with Subaru’s new Global Platform, which will be the basis for all forthcoming Subarus, and nearly 95 percent of the Impreza is composed of entirely new parts.

At first glance, the Impreza’s exterior is short of striking: Its conventional styling is much-improved from earlier models but is ordinary nonetheless. The interior was also completely restyled and benefits from a much more spacious and modern design.

The layout of the cockpit is conventional, fitted with large analog dials for the speedometer and tachometer as well as a miniature display in between. The infotainment system is controlled through an 8.0-inch touchscreen display fitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. This system is a vast improvement for Subaru who lagged behind with their outdated and underperforming systems.

Behind the wheel is where the Impreza felt most improved. The Impreza’s all-wheel drive system and new steering ratios makes the steering feel significantly quicker and tighter. The new suspension damping helped reduce body roll and gave more confidence behind the wheel. Around the corners, the Impreza felt reminiscent of a German car.

However, where the Impreza fell short was the power. The 2.0 liter 4-cylinder now pushes out 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque and is delivered through a CVT transmission. The transmission is smooth and will mimic gear changes with increased throttle but the car feels somewhat underpowered nonetheless. This is especially noticeable when going uphill or trying to overtake on the freeway where the car sounds like it is straining itself. Subaru says the car takes about 8.5-9.0 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour which is pretty sluggish in comparison to its competition. Despite being all-wheel drive, the Impreza still offers competitive fuel economy at 28 miles to the gallon in the city and 37 on the highway.

In the driver’s seat, you’ll notice the more upscale appointments in the redesigned Impreza that really makes the car stand out from its previous generations. The improved materials used on the dash were soft to touch and the steering wheel was wrapped in leather. The cloth seats were plenty comfortable and offered good bolstering. I’m 6’2 and had plenty of leg, knee and head room behind the wheel and I found it to feel more spacious that several larger cars. In the back, the Impreza has what Subaru claims one of the roomiest back seats in its class. Sitting behind someone of my height, I had plenty of room and would be able to fit two other people in the back with me easily.

To anyone in the market for a small commuter car, the Impreza is a brilliant option to look at. Pairing a premium driving dynamic with advanced technology, a legendary all-wheel drive system and proven reliability, the Impreza is going to give the Civic and Corolla a run for its money.

Chief Competitors: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Chevrolet Cruze

Powertrain & Chassis (5) Interior/Exterior


Acceleration 2 Front Seat Comfort/Space 4
Transmission 3 Rear Seat Comfort/Space 4
Fuel 4 Cargo Space 3.5
Transmission 3 Fit and Finish 3.5
Steering Feel & Handling 4.5 Features 4
Brake Feel 4 Interior Styling 4
Ride 3.5 Exterior Styling 3
Overall 3.5