2004 Impreza New Car Test Drive
The Subaru Impreza line-up ranges from sporty to outrageous to practical. The practical and innovative Outback Sport remains, but the cheap, value-oriented models are long gone.
The Impreza 2.5 RS is at the sporty end of the spectrum. The 2.5 RS is an affordable sports sedan, fun to drive hard with stable handling and a growling boxer engine. The RS is comparable to other sporty compact sedans, though its brilliant all-wheel-drive system adds to its price. The Impreza TS Sport Wagon combines the practicality of a wagon with the sporty driving experience of the RS.
The best-selling Impreza, however, is the outrageous WRX. Japanese manufacturers have, until recently, been understanably reluctant to offer so-called homologation specials because rallying was about as popular in America as cricket. That's all changed now, perhaps due to rally-based video games or coverage of World Rally Championship events on the Speed channel.
Even more outrageous and into certifiable territory is the WRX STi.
On the practical side is the Impreza Outback Sport. Powered by the sporty 2.5 RS engine, the Outback Sport features a raised suspension for driving on unpaved roads. Its cargo area is trimmed to offer the utility of a small SUV. Rugged-looking design cues add an outdoorsy look. Outback Sport is very practical yet fun to drive.
Fresh styling in the form of new headlamps and redesigned front fascias with a lower hood distinguishes the entire 2004 Impreza lineup. Suspension tuning and brakes have been improved on all 2004 Impreza models for a smoother ride quality, more responsive handling, and improved braking performance.
The Subaru Impreza model lineup includes the Outback Sport wagon ($19,095), the 2.5 RS sedan ($19,395) and 2.5 TS sport wagon ($17,895), the WRX sedan ($24,495) and WRX wagon ($23,995), and the limited-production WRX STi ($30,995). All models come with all-wheel drive. (The value-oriented Impreza models of a few years ago have been discontinued.)
Impreza RS, TS wagon ($17,895), and Outback Sport are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 165 horsepower.
WRX models are powered by a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter engine that generates 227 horsepower. The WRX STi comes with a 300-horsepower turbo/intercooled 2.5-liter engine.
Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions are available on all models but the STi.
All models come with an extensive list of standard equipment. Impreza RS is equipped with an 80-watt AM/FM/CD audio system, air conditioning, power locks and mirrors, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Outback Sport adds 16-inch wheels and, like a tiny SUV, comes with a rubber cargo mat in back.
The STi has no factory options, though ground effects moldings, a rear spoiler, and 17-inch wheels and tires will be available as dealer or port-installed options for the WRX. STi dispenses with floor mats and an audio system, but dealer-installed audio systems are available. There's a choice of silver-colored wheels or gold wheels inspired by the WRC team.
Passive safety equipment includes front-passenger side-impact airbags and three-point front seatbelts with electrically triggered pretensioners and force limiters.