The Subaru Impreza has always enjoyed an advantage in the competitive compact car segment thanks to its standard all-wheel drive. The 2019 Subaru Impreza supplies good road manners and has a great safety record to go with it. On the other hand, its interior could stand a styling upgrade.

Best Value

The 2019 Subaru Impreza is a compact model available in two body styles: a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback. This model seats five and comes in four trims: base 2.0i, 2.0i Premium, 2.0i Sport, and 2.0i Limited.

You’ll find one engine and two transmission choices with the 2019 Impreza. A 2.0-liter flat-four engine works with a five-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The CVT includes a sport mode for simulated gear shifts or steps.

The list of standard features includes halogen headlights, 16-inch steel wheels, power windows, power door locks, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, cloth seats and air conditioning. A four-speaker audio system with a 6.5-inch color display is also standard. This system includes Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary ports, smartphone integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and select integrated apps.

We chose the Premium model as it adds several features most customers want, including automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, heated front seats, a six-speaker audio system, and a basic safety package with collision support. Our pick was also for the hatchback over the sedan for the greater versatility. While the sedan's trunk measures a modest 12.3 cubic feet, the hatchback has 20.8 cubes of standard storage space and a robust 55.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

  • Model: 2019 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Premium 5-Door
  • Engine: 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder
  • Output: 152 hp / 145 lb-ft
  • Transmission:CVT
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • MPG: 28 City / 36 Hwy
  • Options:EyeSight Driver Assist Technology Package ($1,395, lane keeping assist, lane departure and sway warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, steering responsive fog lights)
  • Base Price:$22,980 (including an $885 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$24,375

Performance

Subaru Impreza

No other model in this segment offers all-wheel drive, unless you count the pricey Ford Focus RS and the Volkswagen Golf R. Both performance models cost twice the price of the base Impreza. Then again, we won’t compare the Impreza’s all-wheel-drive system with these two stout models.

We like the Impreza’s flat-four engine as it churns out the noises that go right with a sporty model. Trouble is, this 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes just 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque, which means it's out-powered by most competitors. The five-speed manual gearbox could use an extra gear, but it should please most people who would rather change their own gears.

The other choice is the CVT, which has an efficiency edge of about four miles per gallon over the manual. Switch to manual mode and you’ll insist that you’re driving a geared automatic transmission as it “steps” offer a laudable imitation of the real thing.

On the road, the CVT works well with the engine, at least before speed begins to build. Later, the CVT demonstrates lag and this means you’ll need to plan your passing with care. As for climbing a mountain grade, that challenge increases exponentially.

Style

The Subaru Impreza doesn’t have knock-them-dead looks, which used to be typical of this segment. These days, however, models such as the Honda Civic and Ford Focus are real head-turners and make the Impreza look, well, relatively plain.

Whether you choose the sedan or the hatchback, the two models are quite similar in appearance. We think the latter has the advantage from a styling perspective, never mind the versatility it brings to the table.

Although we recommend the Premium model, you won’t go wrong if you prefer the Sport edition. Indeed, with its upscale 18-inch alloy wheels and a body kit that's ideally matched to the Impreza’s design, it offers a styling advantage over the rest.

Inside, the cabin offers no standout styling features, although on the upper trim models the stitching on the dashboard and door panels looks great. The Impreza’s controls are intuitive and include a pair of vents positioned on either side of the touchscreen display. The available eight-inch screen looks better though.

The Best and Worst Things

Safety is always a strong suit for Subaru. This model is no exception, as it has earned top scores from both federal and independent crash testers. The available driver-assist features simply make this a great car in all things safety. The Impreza’s weakest link is its performance. This isn’t the STI and shoppers should manage their expectations accordingly.

Right For? Wrong For?

Subaru Impreza

Customers shopping for a small sedan with an outstanding safety record should hone in on the Impreza. That it offers good road manners clinches it for some. But if you’re looking for a model with more flair and storage room, the Subaru Crosstrek is the better choice of the two.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Subaru Impreza’s all-wheel-drive system gives this model a distinct advantage over its competitors, although it could be better. Yet, when you add everything up, the Impreza has an edge in a very competitive, although shrinking, segment.