Subaru’s sophisticated, stylish compact four-door sedan and five-door hatchback were upgraded for 2015. All Imprezas, like all Subarus, have all-wheel drive. Coupled with its reputation for ruggedness and solidity, the Impreza earns strong owner loyalty.

Pricing and Equipment

Starting at $18,295 (plus $795 destination charge), the Impreza comes in base, Premium and Limited trim with a 2-liter four-cylinder “boxer” engine and either manual shift or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). We drove an Impreza Limited with the CVT, which goes into most Imprezas.

Standard equipment for the Limited model tested included:

  • Leather-trimmed upholstery
  • Automatic climate control
  • Cruise control
  • 60/40-split fold-down rear seats
  • Six-speaker radio with CD
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone/audio
  • Smartphone connectivity
  • Tilt/telescoping steering column
  • Rearview camera

Options includes a navigation system, moonroof, pushbutton start, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and pre-collision throttle management system.

Performance Pros

Subaru Impreza
  • Continuously variable transmission. Apart from lack of gear changes, you’d hardly know this was a CVT. Critics of CVTs need to give the Impreza a whirl. Fuel-economy figures are impressive, too: EPA-estimated at 28 mpg in city driving and 37 mpg on the highway.
  • Handling. Confident, positive steering feel leaves no doubt that the Impreza will go where it’s pointed, with minimal bother. Sporty it’s not, but an Impreza delivers an easygoing feel on the road, remaining remarkably stable.
  • Ride is comfortable and trouble-free, as the Impreza glides over most roughness and copes admirably with most bumps and holes.

Performance Cons

Not many negative opinions come to mind about the Impreza, and those few aren’t nearly as troublesome as they might be.

  • Yes, a little engine noise can be attributed to the CVT, but only when pushing hard. Even then, it’s more than tolerable, unlikely to annoy.
  • Midrange acceleration. Performance is quite spirited at low speeds, but not quite as swift when pushing the pedal at 50 mph or so. Even then, road speed is rising faster than it seems.

Interior Pros

  • Instruments are easy to read at a glance. The video information screen is rather small, but facts and figures are crisp and clear. It’s also set somewhat low, but that’s typical.
  • Visibility. The view over the driver’s left shoulder is limited between pillar and headrest; but otherwise, visibility is quite good. Imprezas have an unusually low cowl and low steering wheel. You can almost see the front of the hood, which is a rarity on contemporary automobiles.
  • Some Impreza road-testers have complained about artificially sudden throttle tip-in when starting off from a standstill. We weren’t bothered by this characteristic when driving our Limited sedan, which took off in a reasonable way.

Interior Cons

Finding fault with the Impreza cabin is a frustrating task, possible only by resorting to common, non-critical smaller-car flaws.

  • Short driver’s seat bottom. Plenty of cars suffer from short seats, but the Impreza provides good thigh support anyway, as well as very good back support. Even with a sunroof, headroom is ample. The driver’s left elbow is somewhat constricted, but legroom is fine.
  • Center rear-seat comfort. An unfortunate fifth passenger might get a fairly tolerable spot, except for the intrusive floor hump and typical hard seatback. Otherwise, the back seat is roomy, though the headliner looks and feels strictly utilitarian even on the Limited model.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Pleasantries abound in the Impreza, but performance of the CVT is particularly notable, especially compared to CVTs of the recent past. The old sensation reminiscent of a rubber band tied to a loudly-racing engine, which has long drawn the scorn of CVT critics, has practically disappeared.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Except for a somewhat basic, no-frills look to the instrument panel and controls, few faults can be found in the Impreza. In fact, that strictly practical, no-nonsense theme is typically considered an Impreza virtue.

The Bottom Line

Subaru Impreza

Subaru is serious about all-weather safety and capability. If Subaru didn’t put an all-wheel-drive system into every last one of its cars, maybe the company wouldn’t be so well-known among the safety conscious. Making AWD universal has a greater impact on automotive psyches than merely making it an option. Throw in admirable performance and road manners, and the Impreza almost belongs in a class all its own.