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2019 Subaru Impreza: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by AutoTrader July 2018

The 2019 Subaru Impreza weds all the functionality and fuel efficiency of a compact car with the all-weather dependability of a small SUV. Although it doesn't have the tall ground clearance of an SUV (you can look to the Crosstrek if that's a concern), the Impreza's permanent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive provides excellent grip on dry pavement and superior traction in snow and rain. Built from Subaru's new global platform, the 2019 Impreza is remarkably quiet and composed. It's also impressively roomy inside, with a large rear seat, wide cabin and decent cargo space.

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 miles per hour in about 9 seconds. That might seem slow when compared to cars like the Mazda3, the Honda Civic and the VW Golf until one considers the added weight and power requirements demanded by the Impreza's all-wheel drive setup. Despite needing to power an extra set of wheels, however, 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.

What's New for 2019?

Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is now available on every trim and made standard on the Limited, which also gains Reverse Automatic Braking and auto high beams. The 6.5-in STARLINK multimedia system in the Premium trim now has SiriusXM satellite radio and a single-slot CD player. The Sport trim adds an STI short throw shifter (5-speed manual only), while the Premium trim gains 16-in black alloy wheels and dual USB ports for rear seat passengers.

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

How Much?

$19,480-$30,000

Fuel Economy

The Impreza is powered by a direct-injection 2.0-liter flat 4-cylinder boxer engine making 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual is standard on the base and Sport trims, with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic offered and standard on all other trims. Despite having standard AWD, 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 2 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) and 27 mpg city/35 mpg hwy (hatchback) with the CVT.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Subaru Impreza comes in two body styles — a 4-door sedan and a 5-door hatchback — and four trims: 2.0i, 2.0i Premium, 2.0i Sport and 2.0i Limited.

The Impreza 2.0i ($19,480 sedan; $19,980 5-door) includes a 5-speed manual transmission, 16-inch 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, EyeSight and a few dealer-installed add-ons, including a very affordable $500 Rockford Fosgate speaker and amp upgrade.

The Impreza 2.0i Premium ($22,480 sedan; $22,980 5-door) adds a CVT automatic transmission with a 7-speed manual shift mode, improved suspension dampers, 16-in alloy wheels, upgraded STARLINK audio with two additional speakers (for a total of six) and satellite radio, 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, lane-keep assist, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and reverse automatic braking). Models with EyeSight also get a tire pressure monitor and a color LCD display.

The Impreza 2.0i Sport ($23,080 sedan; $23,580 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 ($25,880 sedan; $26,380 5-door) brings the CVT automatic, EyeSight, 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 on board 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, lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and reverse automatic braking.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2019 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 2019 Impreza is substantially better than the last-generation Impreza, 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 seats are not only supportive, they're also 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 includes a direct-injection system that allows the engine to operate more efficiently. Still, with only 152 hp 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.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 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 or all-wheel drive. The Mazda3 is a superior performer, though, and its 6-speed manual is one of the best in the segment.

2019 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.

2019 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 2012-2016 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 include either a manual or automatic transmission. If you must have features like automatic climate control, leather seating and navigation, however, 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.
2019 Subaru Impreza: New Car Review - Autotrader