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#18

in 2011 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $13,667 - $15,654
Original MSRP: $17,495 - $20,995
MPG: 20 City / 27 Hwy
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2011 Subaru Impreza Performance

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

Although there are a few complaints that the 2012 Subaru Impreza’s cabin is noisy, most reviewers agree that it’s an excellent performer. It comes with standard all-wheel drive and powerful engine choices. Keep in mind, however, that the Impreza's standard all-wheel drive takes a toll on fuel economy.

  • "...rides and handles satisfactorily for a compact car, and its tenacious all-wheel-drive grip is a boon for wet-weather driving. The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer has more aural character than your typical economy-grade four-cylinder, and it delivers adequate punch when called on." -- Edmunds
  • "The Impreza also has a handling advantage versus several competitors. Advanced suspension geometry, a platform built to host the high-performance WRX models, and a low center of gravity thanks to the boxer engine all add up to crisp handling with little body lean in corners. And yet, the Impreza also offers a comfortable ride." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The 2.5GT's engine has less turbo noise, but its overall sound is not as refined as class pacesetters. The hatchback is particularly susceptible to wind, road, and bump noise." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Swing the needle on that prominent tachometer past 4,000 RPM, and the engine's normal gravel throat takes on a steely edge as the engine room delivers 'full ahead'. 224 hp is plenty capable of yanking around the 3,200-lb Impreza 2.5 GT with authority." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The Impreza comes with two engine choices, and every model comes with all-wheel drive. The first is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that puts out 170 horsepower and is standard on the 2.5i, 2.5i Premium and Outback Sport models. The second, available on the 2.5GT, is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that offers an impressive 224 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the 2.5i, 2.5i Premium and Outback Sport. A four-speed automatic is standard on the 2.5GT and available on the 2.5i, 2.5i Premium and Outback Sport.

The base Impreza offers more than enough punch to handle highway passing maneuvers with ease, and reviewers say that it is genuinely fun to drive. For true performance enthusiasts, however, the 2.5GT model is the one you’ve been waiting for. 

Still, where the Impreza falls short is in its fuel economy. According to the EPA, the base 2.5i Impreza is rated at 20/27 mpg city/highway, which is one of the lowest ratings in the class. If you upgrade to the 2.5i Premium model, it drops to 18/25 mpg. This is partly to the Impreza having all-wheel drive.

  • "2.5GT is a bit sluggish from a stop, but speed picks up nicely at higher rpm. The transition where the turbo kicks in is smooth and linear, so we're hesitant to call it 'turbo lag.' Despite having only four speeds, the automatic transmission is a good match for the engine." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The engine produces 170-horspower, enough power for everyday needs and enough oomph for good passing punch." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Power for passing and hill-climbing is fantastic, but there's little advantage around town." -- About.com

Handling and Braking

With standard all-wheel drive, the Impreza’s handling dynamics have an edge over the competition. Test drivers say it grips the road well even in harsh conditions. A big plus is that while the Impreza has a sporty feel to it, the ride isn't too harsh.

  • "All-wheel drive adds handling stability and traction on slippery roads, however, and we found it kept us safe on a snowy ski trip." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Steering feel is responsive, if not as razor sharp as would be expected in a sporty car. Body lean in turns is moderate, and dry-pavement grip is excellent." -- Consumer Guide
  • "A phrase like 'sport tuned suspension' might make your rear end run for the nearest pillow, but Subaru has gone far enough to satisfy stiction junkies with a tenacious chassis that doesn't bash occupants into renal failure. 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
  • "The ride [on the 2.5GT] is soft and compliant, just like the 2.5i, which makes it comfortable for cruising or commuting but problematic in the curves -- if a series of bumps sets the Impreza's suspension rocking, it makes it difficult to keep all four wheels planted firmly on the pavement." -- About.com

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