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2017 Subaru Impreza: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2017

The 2017 Subaru Impreza is the first vehicle built on the company's new global platform, a design that will serve as the underpinning for all Subaru cars and SUVs until the year 2025. The new Impreza is noticeably more stylish than the previous year's model, and it's larger both inside and out, too. There's a bit more power under the hood, but not enough to keep the Impreza competitive against cars like the Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic. Then again, none of these rivals offer standard all-wheel drive.

Building on its reputation for safety, Subaru expands the availability of its latest EyeSight collision-avoidance and automatic-braking system, making the Impreza one of the safest compact cars you can buy.

What's New for 2017?

For 2017, the Impreza is all-new, riding on a stronger design that improves handling, fuel economy, crash-test worthiness and interior quiet. First-time features for the Impreza include the option of a power driver's seat, a Harman/Kardon audio upgrade and an 8-inch touchscreen media system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard.

What We Like

Sleek design; impressive fuel economy; generous rear-seat legroom; quiet cabin; quality materials; excellent safety ratings

What We Don't

Weak engine; limited rear-seat headroom; no lumbar support adjustment; radio automatically switches on every time you start the vehicle; EyeSight not offered on base model

How Much?

$19,215-$31,000

Fuel Economy

New for 2017 is a direct injection 2.0-liter flat 4-cylinder boxer engine making 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual is standard on the base and Sport trims, with a CVT automatic offered or standard on all other trims. Despite having standard all-wheel drive, the Impreza returns fuel economy figures of 24 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway with the manual and 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy with the CVT automatic. Highway figures drop by 1 mpg for the hatchback model. The Impreza Sport posts slightly lower figures of 23 mpg city/31 mpg hwy (sedan) and 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy (hatchback) with the 5-speed manual, and 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy (sedan), 27 mpg city/35 mpg hwy (hatchback) with the CVT.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Subaru Impreza comes in two body styles (4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback) and four trims: 2.0i, 2.0i Premium, 2.0i Sport and 2.0i Limited.

The Impreza 2.0i ($19,215 sedan; $19,715 5-door) includes a 5-speed manual transmission, 16-in wheels with plastic covers, steering-wheel-mounted controls for cruise control, audio and Bluetooth, STARLINK 6.5-in touchscreen media with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a rearview monitor, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, incline-start assist, remote keyless entry, a tilt-telescopic steering column and an eco fuel economy gauge. The 5-door adds a rear wiper/washer. Options for this trim are limited to the CVT automatic and a few dealer-installed add-ons, including a very affordable $500 Rockford Fosgate speaker and amp upgrade.

The Impreza 2.0i Premium ($22, 015 sedan; $22,515 5-door) adds a CVT automatic transmission with 7-speed manual shift mode, improved suspension dampers, 16-in alloy wheels, two additional speakers (total of 6), the All Weather Package (heated seats, heated side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer), welcome lighting, a sound insulation windshield and illuminated power window switches on all doors. Five-door models gain roof rails and a rear cargo cover. Options for the Premium trim include a power moonroof and the EyeSight suite of safety features (adaptive cruise control, collision-avoidance and automatic braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and reverse automatic braking). Models with EyeSight also get steering-responsive fog lights and a color LCD display.

The Impreza 2.0i Sport ($22,815 sedan; $23,315 5-door) brings back the 5-speed manual transmission and adds a sport-tuned suspension, Active Grille Shutters, 18-in alloy wheels, Active Torque Vectoring, aluminum pedals, red stitching on the dash, seats, steering wheel and shifter, simulated carbon-fiber trim, an 8-in STARLINK media system with a single-CD player, a rear spoiler and exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals. Options are the same as for the Premium trim.

The Impreza 2.0i Limited ($24,915 sedan; $25,415 5-door) brings the CVT automatic, 17-in alloy wheels, leather seating, automatic climate control, a 6-way power driver's seat, automatic high beams, steering-responsive LED headlights, fog lights, a color LCD monitor, keyless access with push-button start, and a rear seat armrest with cupholders. Options above what's offered on the Premium trim include voice-activated navigation.

Safety

Every Impreza includes front, front side-impact, side-curtain and driver's-knee airbags. Also onboard is electronic traction and stability control, a tire-pressure monitor, a rearview monitor and, on manual models, incline-start assist. Optional safety equipment includes the EyeSight Driver Assist suite with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and reverse automatic braking.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2017 Impreza its highest rating of 5 stars in every crash test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also gives the Impreza its highest rating of Good in every crash-test category, a Superior rating in the crash avoidance and mitigation test and a Top Safety Pick+ rating.

Behind the Wheel

The 2017 Impreza is substantially better than the car it replaces, with a stiffer body, better ride, improved steering response and a feeling of solidity not usually associated with a compact car. The Impreza's interior shuts out most engine and road noise, and the new seats are not only supportive, they're incredibly comfortable even after hours on the road. We do wish Subaru would offer adjustable lumbar support for the driver's seat, however. As for legroom, this 6-foot-plus driver had no issues with the ample legroom, and even with my seat nearly all the way back, rear-seat passengers still had decent knee and legroom.

The Impreza's 2.0-liter engine has been extensively reworked, with 80 percent of the parts being new, including a direct-injection system that allows the engine to operate more efficiently. Still, with only 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque, the Impreza isn't going to win over any Mazda3, VW Golf or Hyundai Elantra owners, that is until there's 7 inches of snow piled up in their driveway. This lack of power coupled with the added weight of the Impreza's AWD system makes for lukewarm acceleration times of about 9 seconds to reach 60 mph, nearly double the time of the WRX STI. Passing power is also in short supply, but the paddle shifters on the CVT do help a bit in this area. The CVT does have its upsides: It delivers smooth, shift-free acceleration and great gas mileage.

Another of our editors, Aaron Gold, drove the Impreza and wrote: "Along with the stiffened structure, Subaru has redesigned the suspension to improve the Impreza's agility without sacrificing ride comfort. We drove both the volume-selling Impreza Premium model and the Impreza Sport -- the latter gets 19-inch wheels and a torque-vectoring system that gently brakes the inboard front wheel as you steer into a corner, helping the car to turn in more sharply. Both cars handled very well, gripping the road like a sports car would (thanks, all-wheel drive) and doing a better job of quelling body roll than the old Impreza.

"Ride quality was good in both models, though we thought the Premium model -- which has 16-in wheels and hence a taller and more flexible tire sidewall -- was a bit more comfortable. The new Impreza has a quicker steering ratio, meaning that it takes less movement of the steering wheel to change direction. Though the new steering system makes the Impreza feel more agile, it darts to and fro on the freeway, and one must be careful to make only small corrections. We were happy with the old car's slightly lazier steering response. Overall, the Impreza is a good handler, but it lacks the fun factor of the Mazda3: It goes through the motions, but doesn't seem to enjoy the ride as much as the Mazda."

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Mazda3 -- The Mazda3 has similar proportions but a slightly smaller rear seat. Its interior is also attractive, but it doesn't offer a big 8-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Mazda3 is a superior performer, though, and its 6-speed manual is one of the best in the segment.

2017 Honda Civic -- Like the Mazda3, the Civic can be either a simple car or an enthusiast's dream. The Civic lineup offers more powerful engine options than the Impreza's, but no all-wheel drive. Along with the Civic sedan and hatchback there is also a coupe model.

2017 Mini Cooper Countryman -- The Countryman can be ordered with AWD, and its turbocharged engine makes it much more fun to drive. The Countryman offers more upscale options and features, but it also costs significantly more when so equipped.

Used Subaru WRX -- A 2012-2015 Subaru WRX will give you much of the same interior space and reliability as the Impreza, but with a lot more power under the hood. However, you'll have to sacrifice the Impreza's EyeSight option and the more advanced media setup.

Autotrader's Advice

We'd be hard-pressed to argue against any of the Impreza models, but if we had to pick one, it would be the 2.0i Sport. This model comes well-equipped and can be had with either a manual or automatic transmission. However, if you must have features like automatic climate control, leather seating and navigation, the Limited is your best bet.

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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.
2017 Subaru Impreza: New Car Review - Autotrader