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2015 Subaru Impreza: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader December 2014

For years, Subaru's all-wheel-drive compact cars have offered the public dependable transportation and year-round traction, but were hamstrung by weak fuel economy and somewhat quirky styling. In the 2015 Subaru Impreza, all that's changed. Available as a sporty 5-door wagon or sleek 4-door sedan, the Impreza's continuously variable transmission (CVT) and frugal 4-cylinder engine provide fuel economy figures not far from 40 miles per gallon, while a newly updated cabin and exterior styling make it the kind of compact car that everyone can feel good about owning. A great safety record, excellent resale value and an impressive list of standard features serve to bolster the Impreza's credentials.

What's New for 2015?

For 2015, the Impreza received some major upgrades, including new front and rear styling, a new dash and greatly improved audio and navigation systems. Standard features now include a rearview camera, cruise control and more sound-deadening material inside the cabin. Subaru's EyeSight driver assistance technology (adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane-departure warning) is also available this year, but only on Limited and Sport Limited trims.

What We Like

Standard all-wheel drive; good fuel economy; choice of 4- or 5-door models; standard rearview camera; EyeSight driver assistance system; roomy rear seat

What We Don't

No power driver's seat or power lumbar offered; difficult to read hash marks on climate control knobs; weak acceleration; no high-end audio option

How Much?

$18,990-$26,000

Fuel Economy

The 2015 Subaru Impreza is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine rated at 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. With the standard 5-speed manual, the Impreza receives an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 25 mpg city/34 mpg hwy. Opt for the CVT automatic transmission and those figures climb to 28 mpg city/37 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Impreza compact is offered in two body styles: 5-door wagon and 4-door sedan. Trim levels for the sedan and wagon include 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited, while the wagon offers two additional trims, the 2.0i Sport Premium and 2.0i Sport Limited.

The base 2.0i (sedan, $18,990; wagon, $19,490) includes a 5-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, power mirrors, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, 6.2-inch touchscreen AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers, HD radio, smartphone app integration for Aha, Pandora and iHeartRadio, 15-in wheels with covers, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, a USB/iPod port, a rear window defroster and, on the hatchback, a rear wiper/washer and rear spoiler.

The 2.0i Premium (sedan, $21,790; wagon, $22,290) adds the CVT automatic transmission, a 6-speaker audio upgrade, color-keyed mirrors, 16-in alloy wheels and the All-Weather Package (heated seats, heated side mirrors and windshield de-icer) on manually equipped models.

The 2.0 Sport Premium ($21,790) adds gray-finish 17-in aluminum alloy wheels, striped cloth upholstery, the Cold Weather Package, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and black-finish roof rails.

The 2.0i Limited (sedan, $23,090; wagon, $23,590) brings leather seating, 17-in wheels, automatic climate control, the Cold Weather Package, auto on/off headlamps and an upgraded 7-in swipe/scroll touchscreen audio system with voice control, SMS text messaging and satellite radio.

The 2.0 Sport Limited ($24,090) adds gray-finish 17-in wheels, black-finish roof rails and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The most desirable options are bundled into packages. The Premium trim can be equipped with a power sunroof, alloy wheels and fog lights, as well as the All Weather Package on models with an automatic transmission. Limited and Sport Limited models can be equipped with a 7-in swipe/scroll touchscreen navigation unit, EyeSight driver assistance, steering responsive fog lights and keyless entry with push-button start.

Safety

In crash tests, the Impreza was awarded a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2015 Impreza an overall 5-star rating, consisting of four out of five stars in its front-end crash test and five stars in the side-impact and rollover roof-strength crash tests.

Behind the Wheel

Although it's no sports car, the 2015 Impreza is a very livable daily driver. The Impreza's CVT automatic takes some getting used to, but it does provide quick off-the-line starts and helps the Impreza return some pretty impressive fuel economy figures. With only 148 hp, the Impreza's biggest drawback is its lack of passing power and the ability to quickly climb steep grades. You can save about $1,000 and go with the standard manual transmission, but we found that the shifter feels rubbery and disconnected. Plus, it actually delivers worse fuel economy than the automatic.

On twisting country roads, the Impreza feels responsive and alert, with good feedback from the electrically assisted power steering. Its suspension soaks up most bumps and road imperfections, yet still remains relatively tight during turns. Inside the cabin, you'll find a comfortable environment with well-placed instruments and a lot of information screens to tell you everything from your fuel economy to which wheels are getting power. One complaint: The tiny yellow hash marks on the rotary climate control knobs are hard to see in daylight and not very well-lit at night.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 VW Golf -- The Golf offers a nicer interior and better ride, plus the option of a high-mileage diesel engine. But, front-wheel drive is no match for all-wheel drive, especially in deep snow.

2015 Mazda Mazda3 -- The Mazda3 is far sportier than the Impreza, and it gets better fuel economy. It also offers more high-end features but can run past $30,000 when fully loaded.

Used Audi A3 -- A 2008-2012 Audi A3 can cost about the same as a new Impreza, offers the option of all-wheel drive, and delivers a level of luxury and performance that's a step above the compact class.

Used Subaru Outback -- A 2010-2014 Subaru Outback offers more power, more room and more features, with only a slight penalty in fuel economy. A certified pre-owned car will also come with a full warranty.

AutoTrader's Advice

Unless you absolutely can't live without navigation or satellite radio, the Premium trim offers more than enough standard features to satisfy most buyers. If you're going to splurge, get a Limited or Sport Limited and add the EyeSight driver assistance and navigation. You'll love the added safety features, and you'll still drive away for less than $26,000.

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Certified 2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Premium Sedan
Certified 2015 Subaru Impreza
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Used 2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Limited Sedan
Used 2015 Subaru Impreza
$15,924
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Used 2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited Hatchback
Used 2015 Subaru Impreza
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Used 2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Premium Sedan
Used 2015 Subaru Impreza
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Subaru Impreza: New Car Review - Autotrader