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#11

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $17,895 - $37,845
Invoice: $17,104 - $35,751
MPG: 25 City / 34 Hwy
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Subaru Impreza Performance

The 2014 Subaru Impreza gets high marks for its steady ride, all-weather capabilities and predictable steering and braking. Reviewers say the base engine has sufficient power around town, but can be slow to accelerate on the highway. They prefer the extra oomph provided by the turbocharged Impreza WRX. Most reviewers say the optional CVT gives the Impreza better fuel economy ratings and is worth the upgrade, though a few point out that it can be noisy.

  • "OK, we will tell you right off the bat that the Impreza isn't a pocket rocket, nor does it take turns like a roller coaster on rails. But that's not its mission. As a daily driver, the Impreza is really quite appealing, and when equipped with the CVT automatic, the Impreza is pretty spritely off the line." -- AutoTrader
  • "At 148 horsepower, the engine is adequate to get the car up to speed, but not in a great hurry." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "Folks living in the snow and rain belts, however, may not mind trading speed for traction and all-wheel-drive stability." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • “The overall driving experience is very confidence inspiring, if not overtly sporting." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Subaru Impreza comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission and a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 148 horsepower. A six-speed continuously variable transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters is optional. The Impreza WRX has a turbocharged 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 265 horsepower, which is paired with a five-speed manual transmission. The high-performance Subaru Impreza WRX STI comes with a 305-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. The base Impreza gets an EPA-estimated 27/36 mpg city/highway when equipped with the CVT, which is excellent for a compact car with all-wheel drive. The base Impreza WRX gets 19/25 mpg city/highway.

Reviewers say that while the Impreza is quick enough around town, it could use more power for highway passing and merging. Test drivers comment that the standard manual transmission doesn’t feel very responsive, but they like the excellent gas mileage that the CVT-equipped Impreza achieves. However, a few reviewers say the CVT can be loud. The turbocharged WRX is more fun to drive, test drivers note, while the WRX STI offers even better performance.

  • "The CVT transmission may not be to everyone's liking, but it does manage to milk the little 2.0-liter engine for maximum power and fuel efficiency. Those who desire more power and less boredom can move to the turbocharged WRX, which still gets fairly good fuel economy but is much more fun to drive. The ultimate WRX is the STI, with more power, a better manual gearbox and additional settings to adjust the center differential for optimum power distribution at the wheels." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Once you get up to speeds over 40 miles per hour, however, there isn't a lot of reserve power for passing slower traffic. There's also a rather harsh sound at full throttle, but that's pretty standard with most CVT transmissions, as the engine revs to its maximum rpm and holds there until the throttle is let up. You can save about $1,000 and go with the standard manual transmission, but we found the shifter feels rubbery and disconnected. Plus, it actually delivers worse fuel economy than the automatic." -- AutoTrader
  • "While the new car isn't quite as quick as the old model, it's cable of returning up to 36 mpg on the highway - an impressive figure for an all-wheel-drive vehicle." -- Left Lane News
  • “With the CVT, Impreza feels eager from a stop, especially around town. Highway merging is a bit more leisurely, but no more so than in most other compacts." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the Impreza’s standard all-wheel drive gives it a planted feel that offers good traction in bad weather. Overall, the ride is smooth and steady, they say, and steering and braking are predictable.

  • "On the road, the Impreza is surprisingly responsive, with good feedback from its electric-assist power steering and a predictable, controlled feel when rounding sharp corners. But the Impreza's real trump card is its permanently engaged Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.” -- AutoTrader
  • "All-wheel-drive is standard across the line; it gives the Impreza a sure-footed feeling in slippery inclement weather. In terms of driving dynamics, the car's small size and capable chassis give it relatively nimble feel, but numb steering cuts down on the fun factor. Though slightly firm, the suspension provides a comfortable ride." -- Left Lane News
  • "The 2013 Subaru Impreza 2.0i offers secure handling, firm steering and braking, and a compliant ride that feels substantial even over substandard pavement." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • "Ride quality is surprisingly supple over most road imperfections, a pleasant surprise given Impreza's sporty intentions." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/14/14

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