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2018 Subaru Impreza: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Subaru Impreza, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Subaru Impreza Review

Fresh from its rebirth last year, the 2018 Subaru Impreza proves a car doesn’t need to be powerful to be successful. Riding atop Subaru’s new global platform, the Impreza displays a level of quiet, solidity, roominess and driving enjoyment that eluded previous generations. While the Impreza’s 152-horsepower engine isn’t going to impress driving enthusiasts, it’s good enough to get the Impreza where it needs to go, making the sprint to 60 mph in about 9 seconds. That might seem slow when compared to cars like the Mazda3, Honda Civic and VW Golf until one considers the added weight and power requirements demanded by the Impreza’s standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive setup. Yet despite needing to power an extra set of wheels, the Impreza’s fuel economy remains on par with that of most of its front-drive competitors, none of which can tackle a snow-covered road with the same confidence-inspiring grip as the Subaru.

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 2018?

For 2018, the Subaru Impreza Premium, Sport and Limited add automatic headlight activation when the wipers are turned on. See the 2018 Subaru Impreza models for sale near you

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; EyeSight not offered on base model; SiriusXM only available Sport and Limited trims

How Much?

$19,355-$31,000

Fuel Economy

The Impreza is powered by 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 2018 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 ($19,355 sedan; $19,855 5-door) includes a 5-speed manual transmission, 16-inch wheels with plastic covers, steering-wheel-mounted controls for the 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, 155 sedan; $22,655 5-door) adds a CVT automatic transmission with a 7-speed manual shift mode, improved suspension dampers, 16-in alloy wheels, two additional speakers (for a 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 ($22,955 sedan; $23,455 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, SiriusXM, a rear spoiler and exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals. Options are the same as for the Premium trim.

The Impreza 2.0i Limited ($25,055 sedan; $25,555 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 and a Harman/Kardon audio system.

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 2018 Impreza its highest rating of five 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 2018 Impreza is substantially better than the car it replaced last year, with a stiffer body, a better ride, an 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 driveways. This lack of power coupled with the added weight of the Impreza’s AWD system makes for a lukewarm acceleration time 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."

Other Cars to Consider

2018 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.

2018 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’s also a coupe model.

2018 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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