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The Subaru Impreza is the brand's champion vehicle when it comes to offering all-wheel drive at an affordable price. With Subaru's affinity for active, outdoorsy people, it's a car that makes sense, with its rugged edge over most other compacts on the market today.
As part of those changes, Subaru introduced less polarizing styling, considerably better fuel economy, and more competitive pricing with a strong feature set. And of course, all-wheel drive remains standard on every Impreza.
The 2013 Impreza is closer to the most popular compacts than it used to be (the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze), but it's more often cross-shopped with the Mazda3, Volkswagen Jetta or Golf, or other affordable all-wheel-drive cars like the Suzuki SX4.
In all standard Impreza models (the higher-performance WRX and STI models are covered by a separate review), a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed ('flat') four-cylinder engine makes 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, transmitting it to all four wheels through either a five-speed manual gearbox or, for better gas mileage, the second generation of Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission. The five-speed comes standard in lower-end models, but it's largely our preference between the two; the CVT is offered in all trims and standard in the high-end Impreza Limited. Handling is responsive and drama-free, but it doesn't quite win in the fun-to-drive category (that would go to the Mazda3 or Ford Focus).
Last year's redesign yielded an exterior that's almost exactly the same size as the model it replaced, yet Subaru has made better use of the space, with a new seat design that has more passenger space and now folds flat. There's also a useful variety of bins, trays, cubbies, and cup holders, along with a pair of 12-Volt power outlets. Our only complaint about the interior is that you hear a bit too much road noise on some surfaces.
The federal government still hasn't tested the current Impreza, but in IIHS testing it's earned the group's Top Safety Pick accolade and lived up to Subaru's generally top-tier safety performance. You'll find all the other safety equipment that's expected in this class, and with last year's redesign Subaru slimmed the pillars for better visibility.
The 2013 Impreza remains offered in base, Premium, Limited and Sport Limited models. Premium models add popular equipment like cruise control and fog lamps. The Limited trim level adds 17-inch alloy wheels and the CVT with 6-speed manual mode and paddle shifters as standard, plus leather seat upholstery, automatic climate control, auto on/off headlights, an AM/FM/CD stereo with HD radio, and some trim options. One of the few options is a navigation system with a 6.1-inch screen.
- 36 mpg, in an all-wheel-drive car
- Standard AWD
- Responsive, drama-free handling
- Easy loading, flat cargo floor
- Attractive styling
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Road noise
- Interior trim still feels cheap
- Lack of advanced infotainment options
- Mandatory AWD