- Powerful engine and capable all-wheel drive
- Quiet, refined interior
- Combination of smooth ride with responsive handling
- Handsome style of Outback Sport
- Low fuel economy for a small car
- Cargo area in wagons is small
- Automatic downshifts roughly
- Could use more rear legroom
Whether as a sedan or wagon (hatchback), the 2009 Subaru Impreza has a distinct personality—bringing good performance and safety—that sets it apart from other small cars.
Last year Subaru revamped its four-model lineup of Impreza four-door sedans and five-door wagons. For 2009 Subaru adds two models to the Impreza lineup with the introduction of the new turbocharged 2.5GT sedan and wagon models.
The new 2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5GT is pushed by a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four engine producing 224 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a standard four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with Sportshift manual control, sending power to all four wheels via Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.
The Subaru Impreza wagons form the foundation for the high-performance WRX, but the more vanilla-flavored Subaru sedan and hatchback are tuned for commuter duty, not high-speed hairpin handling. The driving experience in the 2009 Subaru Impreza feels very sophisticated and refined for a small car, but not that exciting. The Impreza has a relatively soft and absorbent ride, and its interior is now notably hushed from wind and road noise—which were overbearing on previous versions. Although the body leans quite a bit in hard corners, the suspension is very well designed and allows impressive grip and poise, so it's a great package for most buyers concerned with good, safe handling and day-to-day comfort.
The 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter flat-four engine is torquey and responsive at low revs, making it especially well suited to the automatic transmission, though the five-speed manual also brings good performance. The only complaint is that it only has four gears and they're spaced rather far apart, which can lead to rough downshifts at times. Fuel economy is also a disappointment in the 2009 Subaru Impreza; it comes with ratings of only 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway.
Both sedans and wagons do well in crash tests, with top five stars for frontal impact and four- and five-star results in side impact from the federal government, plus top "good" results from the IIHS for both front and rear impact. Electronic stability control and incline start assist are included in the Outback Sport or with the Premium Package but not otherwise available on the 2.5i wagon or sedan. Anti-lock brakes are standard, along with front side airbags and side curtain bags.
The Impreza wagon is offered in two different models: the 2.5i and the 2009 Subaru Outback Sport. A single 2.5i model of the 2009 Subaru Impreza sedan is available, and it includes what's now considered basic equipment on a car of this price, such as air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows and locks, and an MP3-compatible CD sound system.
The 2009 Subaru Outback Sport brings a more rugged look and some enhanced ability, thanks to a raised suspension, larger wheels, and standard electronic stability control. The Outback Sport also gets special side molding, bumper underguards, heated side mirrors, fog lamps, a wiper deicer, heated seats, and the 10-speaker audio system. The 2.5GT features amenities such as a power glass moonroof and fog lights on the outside and electroluminescent instrument panel gauges on the inside. Upgrades to the rest of the 2009 Impreza model lineup include the addition of Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction control system and the Brake Assist safety feature as standard equipment.