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#18

in 2009 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $9,674 - $14,279
Original MSRP: $17,495 - $26,995
MPG: 20 City / 27 Hwy
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2009 Subaru Impreza Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2009 Subaru Impreza's performance capabilities take a back seat to the car's real asset, which is all-wheel-drive.

  • "We're not talking about a particularly thrilling ride in this one. You will not be tempted to shout 'Wow!' or 'Whoopee!' when rounding a corner. But you will be pleased by the overall stability and competence of the car, including the surprising ability of its 170-horsepower engine." -- The Washington Post
  • "I'd still recommend this car -- very highly, I might add. Why? Because of the way it drives -- or more specifically, the way it drives when something goes terribly wrong right in your path." -- About.com

Acceleration and Power

The Subaru Impreza four-door and five-door have a standard 2.5-liter  boxer engine that makes 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Auto writers say that the engine is not exceptionally strong, but it does deliver pleasing power that should satisfy most drivers. The majority of writers do express disappointment in the Impreza's outdated transmissions: a standard five-speed manual and an optional four-speed electric direct-control automatic with SPORTSHIFT manual controls.

  • "I love the sound of the boxer engine. It's kind of like a muted VW bug." -- Automobile.com
  • "The Impreza 2.5i and Outback Sport use a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that churns out 170 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 170 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm. Those numbers make the Impreza as powerful as just about anything in the class, though the four-cylinders from Nissan and Toyota feel more responsive." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Performance of the non-turbocharged Impreza models is adequate, accompanied by Subaru's distinctive boxer grumble, but the turbocharged 2.5 GT and WRX provide more thrilling performance." -- Edmunds
  • "Another big negative about the Impreza as far as I'm concerned is its relatively unrefined automatic transmission ... the transmission hunts around a lot for the right gear on hilly, curvy roads and runs out of high revs when you accelerate, both at highway and lower speeds." -- BusinessWeek
  • "Even with a 4-speed automatic -- not exactly cutting-edge transmission technology -- my test car accelerated with authority and shrugged off the hills surrounding Los Angeles as if they were the flatlands of Nebraska." -- About.com
  • "Accelerate hard, and the 2.5 GT plants and goes. The AWD system's torque marshaling efforts are more noticeable when the go pedal has been flattened, but that was the only time we noticed it working. While the four-speed automatic transmission doesn't scream for extra ratios, they would be welcome. But the auto is tuned well in this application -- staying out of the way and not enraging the driver." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

The Impreza has a soft ride that some test drivers like and others simply tolerate, but most agree the car's symmetrical all-wheel drive gives it an edge in its class.

  • "The Impreza has a soft, comfortable, compliant ride, and yet should you find yourself with an immediate need to twist the wheel, its all-wheel-drive system hangs on to the pavement for dear life. The steering is light and it's easy to fine-tune the car's path in the middle of a swerve." -- About.com
  • "The suspension is on the soft side as always, but its compliance and good travel are pluses for light off-road or harsh on-road conditions -- notwithstanding plenty of body roll when driven with any sporting intent." -- Road and Track
  • Of the 2.5GT, Autoblog says, "Subaru has gone far enough to satisfy striction junkies with a tenacious chassis that doesn't bash occupants into renal failure. The ride has a level of firm control that we expect from a vehicle birthed in the Black Forest. Impacts are absorbed without a visit to bump-stopville, and higher frequency pavement irregularities are mostly filtered thanks in part to a new multilink rear suspension." -- Autoblog
  • "An anti-skid/traction-control system is newly available -- and rare among mainstream compact cars." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The ride is decidedly firm, but the suspension is difficult to upset, and there are no extraneous body motions. The pedals are heel-and-toe friendly." -- Car and Driver
  • "The brakes provide worry-free stops and good pedal feel." -- New Car Test Drive

Next Steps: 2009 Subaru Impreza

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