Long-Term Review

2017 Subaru Impreza: Winter Road Trip

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author photo by Rob Nestora January 2018

With winter's icy hands knocking on our door and the inevitable lull in activity as everyone prepared for the holidays, I decided to take our 2017 Subaru Impreza on a road trip to visit friends in Colorado. Long road trips are a great way to see the virtues and flaws of vehicles, as I experienced last year in the 2017 Acura MDX and the 2016 Subaru Legacy. Given the 1,400 miles between Atlanta and Denver, I was sure to experience a variety of circumstances to test the mettle of the plucky Impreza.

Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane-keep Assist

Semi-autonomous functions are great features to have on long road trips because they allow drivers to relax a little and enjoy the drive while the systems take over some of the more tedious parts of driving, such as constantly adjusting the speed on your cruise control to keep from colliding with the vehicle in front of you. That being said, the adaptive cruise control included within the Subaru EyeSight system performed remarkably well, no surprise after experiencing the system on the Subaru Legacy last year. The lane-keep assist was also a great help, maintaining my lane as I shuffled through radio stations in search of something to take my mind off the thousands of miles of driving in front of me. Thanks to these features, I was able to make it to Denver in about 21 hours without having to find a place to sleep overnight.

Engine and MPG

Our Impreza Sport came with a 4-cylinder engine, which doesn't provide a huge amount of power but does return respectable fuel economy. Overall, I was able to average 29.1 miles per gallon, with a high of 32.1 and a low of 25.6. This is slightly lower than the Subaru-stated fuel economy of 28 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg in combined driving. There are several potential reasons for the lower fuel economy, such as increased elevation and speed limits of 65+ mph, but it's definitely not close to the 38 mpg highway that was stated.

One thing I did notice was that the engine did strain a little bit in higher elevations. The Impreza managed to get the job done, but I did have to push the gas pedal virtually to the floor while driving up roads in the mountains of Breckenridge. This could be due to the thinner air coupled with the inclines driving up to Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide, but there was a noticeable difference in performance while in the mountains.

Range

One minor drawback to taking the Impreza on this road trip was its smallish gas tank of 13.2 gallons. While this might keep individual gas-station pit-stop costs low, it does mean you have to stop more often to get the fuel the engine needs. The more frequent refueling stops also translate to a longer trip time, which on this trip proved to be a bit annoying but also offered a welcome opportunity to stretch my legs after hundreds of miles of driving.

One thing I noticed on the trip was that the fuel light tends to come on with about 3 gallons left in the tank, so I found myself stopping about once every 300 miles, give or take. The extra room in the tank after the light comes on does provide an ample amount of mileage to find a gas station, which came in handy in spots of rural Kansas, where gas stations can be few and far between. That being said, the longest range I was able to achieve on the trip was 330.6 miles, which ate up 11.33 gallons of fuel. By the time I had returned home to Atlanta, I had filled up the tank 11 times over the almost 3,100 miles I had driven on the trip.

All-Wheel Drive

The Impreza's all-wheel drive performed remarkably well on the snowy mountain roads we discovered. On a completely unplowed and untreated road, the Impreza managed to hold its grip and climb up hills that a front-wheel-drive vehicle would've been unable to conquer. At one point, I was sure I had bitten off more than I could chew while encountering a steep hill with fresh powder -- but sure enough, the capable Impreza managed to make its way up the incline with only a minor amount of slippage.

Seat Comfort

Spending 1,400 miles behind the wheel can be a nightmare in an uncomfortable seat. My lower back is what one might call a "hot mess," so an uncomfortable driver's seat can mean hours of pain and stiffness that I have absolutely no time for. Luckily, the cloth seats of our Subaru Impreza were quite comfortable, despite lacking any power adjustments other than heating. The seats proved to be as supportive and inviting as a hug from Mom, and by the time I had reached my destination, I was tired but fully prepared for a night of pizza and laughs with good friends.

Forward-collision Warning

On my way back to Atlanta, I encountered wet weather that hampered visibility but still allowed the EyeSight system to function. I had just passed a tractor trailer that seemed not to see me as it began to merge into my lane just before I passed it. While I was looking in my rearview to see what the massive truck was doing, the forward-collision warning sounded, signaling stopped traffic ahead. The audible alert allowed me to switch lanes in anticipation of the stopped vehicles ahead and narrowly avoid an accident that could have sandwiched me between stationary cars and a semi loaded with cargo -- making it a feature I'm very, very grateful for today.

There and Back Again

After returning from my adventure behind the wheel of our Impreza Sport, I feel as if I came to know the Subaru much better than I did prior to the trip. I now had no illusions about its capability in various climates and weather conditions, and could truly appreciate what the car could do. Given its thrifty price tag, the 2017 Subaru Impreza is definitely a car I would consider if I lived in colder climates, as well as the warmer one I currently reside in.

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2017 Subaru Impreza: Winter Road Trip - Autotrader