Wearing a fresh redesign for 2017, the Subaru Impreza looks sleeker and crisper, headed by a lower front end. New active-safety systems are available for the compact four-door sedan and five-door hatchback. New chassis components promise greater agility and driving pleasure, as well as ride comfort.

Pricing and Equipment

Starting at $19,215 (destination charge included), the compact Impreza comes in four trim levels: base 2.0i, midlevel Premium, the new Sport grade, and a more luxurious Limited. Now incorporating direct injection, Subaru’s 2.0-liter flat (horizontally-opposed) four-cylinder engine makes 152 horsepower (up from 148). Sport and lower-end models are available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but most Imprezas will use a continuously variable transmission. Upper version includes paddle-shift function that selects from seven virtual ratios, mimicking operation of a regular automatic transmission.

All four trims are available in either a four-door sedan body or a more versatile five-door hatch.

Standard equipment on the Impreza Premium sedan ($22,015) includes:

  • Rearview camera
  • Power windows/locks/mirrors
  • 6.5-inch touchscreen
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Heated front seats and mirrors
  • Automatic headlights
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Six-speaker audio
  • Steering-wheel audio controls
  • 16-inch alloy wheels

Navigation and a sunroof are optional, as is Subaru's Eyesight active safety suite.

Performance Pros

Subaru Impreza
  • Standard all-wheel drive. This has been a Subaru hallmark for years and it functions seamlessly, with nearly no driver awareness of transitions to maintain traction.
  • Sensible road manners. A lower center of gravity, plus greatly reduced body roll, improve the Impreza's handling. For even greater agility, the Sport model includes a tauter suspension, 18-inch wheels, and active torque vectoring that helps each wheel maintain road grip and tightens steering feel when cornering.
  • EPA-estimated fuel economy for the sedan is 28 miles per gallon city, 38 highway, 32 combined. Hatchback is estimated slightly lower, at 28/37/31 mpg. Those are solid figures for an all-wheel-drive compact.
  • Simulated gears come into play with the CVT under hard acceleration, even if the selector is not in manual mode.

Performance Cons

  • Shortage of power at higher speeds, though otherwise, Subaru’s CVT manages the power well.
  • When pushed hard, engine noise increases substantially, due largely to the CVT's behavior, in contrast to the usual quiet running.

Interior Pros

  • Seats four adults with ease, unlike some rivals, though a fifth isn’t likely to be pleased. Front seats are comfortable.
  • More expressive cabin design, unlike the indisputably plain dashboard and console in previous Imprezas. Simple knobs and switches control audio and climate.
  • Widened rear doors and hatch (on hatchback body) ease access to back seat. Overall, hatchback is a more functional design than the sedan.
  • Excellent outward visibility, helped by narrow pillars and elimination of the triangular blind spot at door fronts.

Interior Cons

Subaru Impreza
  • Relatively small sedan trunk.
  • Interior materials haven’t quite kept pace, ranking no higher than average.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

EyeSight safety system provides an excellent group of active-safety components. Features added this year include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic reverse braking. Redesign has improved crash-energy absorption by 40 percent, according to Subaru. IIHS gave the Impreza its Top Safety Pick+ award, with top scores in each crash test.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Though impressive and highly recommended, the EyeSight safety group still costs extra. With the possible exception of curtailed power at highway speeds, little unpleasantness can be found in an Impreza.

The Bottom Line

Rivaling such semi-sporty compacts as the Mazda3, Imprezas promise high value. All Imprezas sold in North America are now built in Indiana. This year’s reworking makes the Impreza more fashionable than its rather chunky predecessor. Still, design is straightforward in every respect, with form invariably following function.