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- Sleeker styling, lower nose
- All-wheel drive standard
- Excellent EyeSight safety system
- Tied for most efficient AWD car
- Value for money, built in the U.S.
- Very little high-end power
- Styling busy in some views
- Interior materials only average
- Sedan trunk is small
The 2017 Subaru Impreza blends sensible road manners with all-wheel drive and a digestible price. It's right in line with compact competitors, all of which offer something different in the segment.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza is a redesigned version of the automaker's compact sedan and hatchback, which was last updated for the 2012 model year. The new Impreza has sleeker and crisper styling, a nicer interior, and more standard and optional features, including active-safety systems. In due course, it will spin off a new version of the Crosstrek small crossover as well, but for now the four-door and five-door passenger cars come first. The Impreza comes in four trim levels this year: the base 2.0i, the mid-level Premium, the more driver-oriented Sport, and the luxurious Limited.
While the 2017 Impreza appears to be a nipped-and-tucked version of the preceding model, it actually rides on entirely new underpinnings that Subaru says make the car more agile and fun to drive, offer a more comfortable ride, and provide even better crash protection. It competes with the sportier compact sedans and hatchbacks, including the Mazda 3, Volkswagen Golf and Jetta, and perhaps the Ford Focus. As always, all Subaru Imprezas sold in the U.S. have all-wheel drive as standard—a significant distinguishing feature.
We rate it at 7.0 out of 10, which is reflective of its perfect safety score. Note that the Crosstrek model derived from the previous generation of Impreza is separately reviewed and rated as well. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
Design and performance
The new Impreza is roughly 1.5 inches longer and wider, and about half an inch lower than before, with a more "sculptural" design for the body, Subaru says. That translate to a lower nose, still led off by its trademark hexagonal grille, and a lines along each side that rises over the wheel wells and falls slightly along the doors in between. The window line sweeps up slightly at the rear, and both front and rear light units appear slightly oversized now.
Inside, the interior has considerably more expressive design than the previous car's resolutely plain and straightforward dash, console, and materials. The gauge cluster, the touchscreen display, and the console now have various rectangular shapes with beveled edges, and a hooded secondary display sits at the base of the windshield above the center stack. Matte silver trim sets off the shapes, and Subaru has worked to improve the feel of its soft-touch materials.
The 2017 Impreza carries over its powertrains from the previous year with the addition of direct injection. The output of the 2.0-liter flat-4 engine has risen from 148 to 152 horsepower, and once again it's offered with a 6-speed manual on low-end or Sport models, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that will offer better EPA fuel-economy ratings. High-end models offer a "manual mode" function that lets drivers paddle-shift through seven fixed ratios, though we continue to think that Subaru's CVT is one of the better examples among all makers. Still, there's very little high-end power and the noise level in an otherwise relatively quiet car rises sharply when the car is driven hard.
Subaru has revised its suspension for better roadholding and more rewarding driving. The new car's center of gravity is lower, and it says body roll in the new Impreza has been cut by 50 percent compared to the model it supplants. And the Impreza Sport model gets 18-inch alloy wheels, a suspension tuned for a sportier feel, and active torque vectoring that continually adjusts the torque sent to each wheel to maximize grip under constantly changing road and driving conditions. That torque vectoring produces a notably crisper and tighter steering feel while cornering.
Safety and features
Earlier Imprezas have received impressive safety ratings, and Subaru says the body shell of the new 2017 version improves the absorption of crash energy by 40 percent over than the old car. Subaru has added some new active-safety functions. It will now brake automatically if it senses an obstacle while the driver is reversing, and the standard rear-view camera now has steering lines showing on the display where the car will travel. A high-beam assist function that automatically turns the high beams on and off is available, as are headlights that swivel to light corners when the driver turns the wheel into a turn.
The optional and well-received EyeSight system carried over from last year continues to bundle adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance, and automatic pre-collision braking. It's reasonable to expect that the 2017 Impreza might again be named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and if fitted with EyeSight, a Top Safety Pick+.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza comes in four trim levels. They start with the base 2.0i, move up to the Premium model—the most popular Impreza—and finish with the performance-oriented Sport and the more luxurious Limited at the top of the lineup.
Every 2017 Impreza comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors; a 6.5-inch touchscreen; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat back; and a security system. The Premium adds 16-inch alloy wheels; an all-weather package that bundles heated seats and mirrors; automatic headlights; and on the hatchback, standard roof rails. Options on the Impreza Premium include a power moonroof, various of the active-safety and driver-assistance systems, and a navigation system with maps by TomTom.
Overall, the new Subaru Impreza continues to represent good value for the money, with its standard all-wheel drive and available EyeSight active-safety features. This year, in a first for the model, all Imprezas sold in North America will now be made in Indiana, rather than imported from Japan.