Last year Subaru gave the Impreza a full makeover, keeping essentially the same dimensions but producing a much better-looking vehicle with a sleeker profile, helped by a more steeply raked windshield, a higher seating position, and a lower waistline. For 2013, the Impreza continues virtually unchanged inside and out from a design standpoint.
The Impreza is hardly fashion-forward, but it is no longer dowdy or awkward. Subaru has returned to its traditional trapezoidal grille after recent flirtations with a variety of inconsistent grille shapes and styles. Along with “hawkeye” headlights, the Impreza now has a face that's recognizably related to the better-known Outback crossover utility.
Along the sides, exaggerated wheel arches nod to the Outback, but also serve to break up the height of the flanks. The only disappointing area of the Impreza is the side view of the front fenders, where the wheels appear a size too small for the tall cowl and substantial front overhang.
To our eyes the four-door sedan isn't quite as good-looking; it can come off as tall and stubby from some angles, but the five-door hatchback is quite neatly styled at the rear. A number of Impreza details echo other cars—the front hood line has a touch of Chevrolet Cruze, the taillights a hint of the latest Honda Civic, the sharply defined bumper edges recall the Chevy Volt. And overall, the form is far crisper and more coherent than the 2007-2011 Impreza it replaces.
Underneath, if you care to look, there's been more attention to smoothing air turbulence and a longer undertray also reduce air drag, which helps with that other issue: gas mileage.
Straightforward and functional would be a good way to describe the cabin design. The Impreza has neither the fashion-forward shape of the Ford Focus hatchback nor the interior panache of the Chevrolet Cruze’s twin-cockpit dashboard. But it’s also no longer the wallflower at the ball, and it's lost the gawkiness of the last generation.
A half-oval cowl in front of the driver covers the speedometer and tachometer, with a square digital display screen between them. At the top of the center of the dash, an eyebrow cowl shades a wide multifunction display where less mission-critical data is displayed in larger and easier-to-read type. Modest matte silver accents divide the top dash and door surfaces from the vertical lower portions.
Overall, the Impreza offers a sensible, no-nonsense cabin with few extraneous frills or electronic distractions. Only in a few places does the design come off as cut-rate; the plain, flat silver gear-shift surround is one, the plain black radio surround is another.