2019 Impreza New Car Test Drive
The Subaru Impreza comes as an all-wheel-drive sedan or hatchback. It was redesigned for 2017, so for 2018 it doesn't get any significant changes. Headlamps come on with the windshield wipers on the top two models.
The redesign made it sleeker and crisper on the outside, more appealing on the inside, a bit more powerful with engines having direct fuel injection, better handling with a revised suspension, and somewhat safer with a body structure having a 40-percent increase in crash-energy absorption, as well as more available active safety systems. The Impreza is built in Indiana.
The standard 2.0-liter flat-four engine makes a slim 152 horsepower. A 5-speed manual gearbox comes standard, while Subaru's outstanding continuously variable transmission is optional on. It's the best CVT in a passenger car that we know of, and what makes it great are the simulated gear changes, seven of them, even without the manual mode.
Rivals to the practical and well-mannered Impreza include sportier compact sedans and hatchbacks, including the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, and Volkswagen Golf and Jetta. The Impreza Sport would compete best against those. Sport models feature lower-profile tires on unique 18-inch alloy wheels, with a suspension tuned to provide a more sporty feel. Standard active torque vectoring produces sharper and tighter steering in corners out on the road, and more security with better grip.
There is a high-performance version of the Impreza, sedan only, the Subaru WRX and even hotter STI. We review those separately.
The best model for fuel mileage is the aerodynamic sedan with the CVT, rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 28 mpg City, 38 Highway, 32 Combined. The hatchback gets a bit less, at 28/37/31 mpg. The Sport model gets one or two mpg less, on account of its wheels and tires.
The 5-speed manual significantly hurts fuel mileage, with 24/32/27 mpg for the sedan and 24/31/26 mpg for the hatchback.
Safety-wise, the Impreza nails it. The NHTSA gives the Impreza a rare five-star rating across the board, and the IIHS gives it top scores in all of its tests, including a new passenger-side small-overlap frontal test. Those scores earn a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS. However, the halogen headlights on base, Premium, and Sport models rate only Marginal compared to the Acceptable and Good scores posted by the two levels of LEDs available on the Limited. The Good headlamps swivel into corners.
Every 2018 Impreza comes standard with a rearview camera, seven airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control. Impreza Premium, Sport, and Limited models can be optioned with Subaru's EyeSight suite of safety equipment including adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking (including in reverse), blind-spot monitors, active lane control, rear cross-traffic alerts.
The 2018 Impreza comes in 2.0i, Sport, Premium, and Limited. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
The Impreza 2.0i sedan ($18,495) or hatchback ($18,995) comes with a manual gearbox; rearview camera; power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; a 6.5-inch touchscreen; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; a 60/40-split fold-down rear seatback; remote keyless entry; four-speaker audio; and 16-inch steel wheels. CVT is optional ($1,000).
Impreza 2.0i Sport sedan ($22,095) or hatchback ($22,595) has manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels with low-profile performance tires, a retuned suspension, and active torque vectoring. Sport models also get simulated leather upholstery, carbon-fiber and aluminum trim, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and a rear spoiler. CVT is optional.
Impreza 2.0i Premium sedan ($21,295) or hatchback ($21,795) includes the CVT with simulated 7-speed manual-shift mode, plus 16-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker audio, a cold-weather package; and automatic headlights. Options include a moonroof, EyeSight active-safety features, and a navigation system with mapping from Tom-Tom.
Impreza 2.0i Limited sedan ($24,195) or hatchback ($24,695) has CVT, 17-inch alloy wheels, pushbutton start, automatic climate control, leather-trimmed upholstery, power driver's seat, 8.0-inch touchscreen, and automatic high beams.