- 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 5-sped 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.
2017 Subaru Impreza
The 2017 Subaru Impreza is a bit more fashion-forward than the chunky last generation, but it remains straightforward inside and out, with form always following function.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza is hardly a radical departure from its predecessor in style and design, but its shape is more fluid, with some added accent lines and what Subaru calls a more "sculptural" design for the body. The brand's cars generally prioritize function over any design flourishes, and this year's Impreza faithfully follows that model.
We rate it at 6 out of 10 points for design, adding a point to our starting point of 5 for a sleek, taut exterior shape that—unlike its competitor the Mazda 3—can actually hold four adults. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
The new Impreza is roughly 1.5 inches longer and wider than the previous generation, and about half an inch lower than before. The nose is lower, led by the latest version of Subaru's trademark hexagonal grille. The headlights are more swept back, and both front and rear light units are slightly oversized. As is typical on all Subarus, its front overhang is long and the distance between the back of the front wheel well and the front edge of the front door is small.
An accent line along each side of the body rises over the wheel wells and dips slightly along the doors in between. The window line also sweeps up slightly at the rear, and the overall effect is to make the latest Impreza slightly sleeker, less upright and chunky, than its straightforward predecessor. From some angles, it's just a little busy; from other angles, we were sharply reminded of the Mazda 3 (though the Subaru actually has a usable rear seat, unlike the compact Mazda).
Inside, the Impreza's interior is somewhat more expressive than the last version's resolutely plain and straightforward dash, console, and materials. The designers have used various rectangular shapes with beveled edges for the gauge cluster, the touchscreen, and the console, as well as a hooded secondary display above the center stack at the base of the windshield. Subaru has worked to improve the feel of its soft-touch materials, and matte silver trim sets off the black dash and door panels. There's also simulated stitching along the edges of some pieces, giving it a less utilitarian appearance. Upholstery and trim on base models is black, with a fetching two-tone treatment on higher level models using beige upholstery that lightens the interior considerably.
2017 Subaru Impreza
Good handling and available torque vectoring make the Sport the pick for enthusiasts—until the WRX arrives.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza is more rewarding to drive than many higher-volume compact sedans, but it suffers from a distinct lack of power in many circumstances, especially at higher speeds. While Subaru’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) isn’t bad, as those go, and the new Impreza still suffers from more noise than acceleration when pressed hard.
We rate it at 5 out of 10 on our performance scale, giving it an extra point for its improved ride quality, but docking it a point for lack of power. In some ways it's a slightly unfair comparison, because Subaru splits out both the WRX performance range and the Crosstrek crossover utility versions from the base Impreza range. That means the Impreza sedan and hatchback alone go up against competitors with more powertrain options—and higher performance powertrains in at least one version. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
The newest Impreza essentially carries over its 2.0-liter flat-4 engine from the previous model, although this year Subaru has added direct injection. That gives an incremental boost in output, from 148 to 152 horsepower, but it's hardly noticeable—and the increase is largely above 4,000 rpm, so you have to wind out the engine to use it. Again the Impreza is offered with a 5-speed manual gearbox on low-end and Sport models, or a CVT that will offer better EPA fuel-economy ratings. Nine out of 10 Imprezas will be sold with the CVT, Subaru says.
As on all high-volume Subaru models, all-wheel drive is standard on all versions of the 2017 Impreza. It works seamlessly, with the driver almost never aware when of power being shifted among the wheels to maintain traction. While we weren't able to test the AWD in adverse conditions, many generations of previous Subaru give us confidence it will do exactly what it promises.
Subaru has revised the Impreza's suspension for better roadholding and more rewarding driving, it says. The new car's center of gravity is lower, and body roll in the new Impreza has been cut by 50 percent compared to the model it replaces.
The Impreza Sport model comes with not only its own 18-inch alloy wheels with lower-profile tires and a suspension re-tuned for a sportier feel, but also the addition of active torque vectoring. The function continually adjusts the torque sent to each wheel, to maximize grip under constantly changing road and driving conditions. When the car is cornering, for example, it will hold a tighter line by varying torque between the inside and outside wheels. The effect can be felt through the steering, and it definitely delivers crisper and tighter cornering.
High-end models offer a "manual mode" function that lets drivers paddle-shift through seven fixed ratios. We continue to think that Subaru's CVT is one of the better examples among all makers, with simulated fixed gears also provided under hard acceleration even without the manual mode. In more reserved driving, the CVT reverts to varying its ratios to keep the engine at its most fuel-efficient speeds.
2017 Subaru Impreza
Comfort & Quality
Quieter than it's predecessor, the Impreza is comfortable for four—we advise opting for the hatchback if you're looking for sheer functionality.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza isn't necessarily a style leader inside, but it's comfortable and quiet under more circumstances, rather less spartan than its predecessor, and supremely practical in its segment. Subaru is proud that it's made the rear-door and tailgate or trunk-lid openings wider even while stiffening the shell considerably, giving better access to the rear seat and allowing wider items to be slid through the five-door's hatch.
For its basic ability to carry adults in any of the seats, the Impreza gets an extra point above average, plus one more for good front seats. That puts it at 7 out of 10 points on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
The front seats of the 2017 Impreza are comfortable for most passengers, with a simple lever to raise the driver's seat height on most models and a six-way power adjustable driver's seat on the Limited model we tested. Seat heaters are available on most models and a very popular option among Subaru buyers in colder climes. The cabin materials in general are a step up from the previous model, with matte silver trim and more soft-touch surfaces. The console is wider, which increases separation between front passengers and makes the cabin feel roomier. The Impreza's trim and upholstery remain about average for the segment, but we found that the two-tone treatment with beige or pale grey upholstery lightens the cabin compared to the all-black color scheme of base models.
With a slightly racier roofline, rear head room is adequate, but not lavish. Rear-seat access this year is better—those enlarged door openings—and four adults can travel comfortably in the Impreza with a bit of bargaining for leg room, though it's more likely that it'll be used by couples and one or both parts of the 60/40-split rear seat-back will be folded down some or all of the time. The resulting load floor isn't quite flat, but it's close enough to make the Impreza hatchback in particular a practical choice that gives most of a crossover's utility in considerably less length and bulk. The sedan's trunk, at only 12.3 cubic feet, is small against most compact sedan competitors, due to the space required for the differential of its standard all-wheel drive. The hatchback is much roomier, 20.8 cubes with the seats up and 55.3 with the seats down.
The interior has the usual assortment of cupholders, door pockets, and other places to store oddments. And Subaru's knobs and switches for the audio system and climate control continue to be pleasantly simple, traditional, and intuitive.
On the road, the new Impreza is quieter than its predecessor, though the engine's relative lack of high-end power means drivers will spend a certain amount of time revving it hard. That increases the noise level considerably. We weren't able to test a 2017 Impreza with the base wheels and tires, though as always, we suspect that their smaller diameter and taller sidewalls would produce a better ride than the larger wheels of the Sport model we drove. That said, the Impreza Sport's 18-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tires rode better than we expected, making it a good compromise for buyers willing to trade slightly lower fuel economy for its sportier roadholding.
2017 Subaru Impreza
You can't do much better than perfect, ask the 2017 Subaru Impreza.
The IIHS gave the Impreza its Top Safety Pick+ award, nabbing "Good" scores in every crash test, top scores for headlights, child seat anchors, and advanced safety features. It's the only small car to gain a clean sheet from the agency.
The federal government also agrees: five stars in every category.
We're giving it a 10 out of 10 on our safety scale. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
All versions of the new Impreza come with seven airbags and a standard rearview camera. The 2017 version is also noteworthy for its excellent outward vision, with slim pillars and door-mounted mirrors that allow a small additional front-door window that eliminates the triangular blind spot at the front of the door found in so many new cars these days.
As in previous years, Impreza models with the highly rated EyeSight active-safety system provide adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning with active lane control. Added to EyeSight this year are blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic reverse braking if an object is detected in the car’s path.
Imprezas with EyeSight also include individual tire-pressure display, adaptive fog lights, and a color multi-information display between the gauges. The top-of-the-line Impreza Limited model includes low- and high-beam LED headlights that turn with the steering wheel, and automatic high beams.
The Subaru Starlink interactive system bundles automatic collision notification, an emergency assistance button, monthly vehicle health and diagnostic alerts, stolen vehicle recovery service, and remote locking and unlocking service. A one-year complimentary subscription comes with the Starlink package.
There's only one real caveat here: the LED headlights fitted to Impreza Limiteds with EyeSight are the only ones rated "Good" by the IIHS. Others are "Acceptable" or "Marginal."
Still, good news here.
2017 Subaru Impreza
Standard all-wheel drive and well-equipped, the 2017 Subaru Impreza is a compelling value for compact shoppers.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza comes in two body styles, 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback, and four trim levels: base Impreza 2.0i, mid-level Impreza Premium, Impreza Sport, and the high-level Impreza Limited. Subaru knows its buyers well at this point, and has grouped options into models and packages that offer an array of vehicles to which many owners will add accessories for wherever they may roam.
The new Impreza has an impressive set of active-safety options bundled together in its highly rated EyeSight package, and is among the most advanced compact cars in that respect. Along with standard all-wheel drive on every Impreza, it represents a good value in its segment.
We rate the new Impreza's features at 7 out of 10 points, with one point each added for good base equipment and an impressive standard infotainment system. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
Every Impreza comes with standard remote keyless entry, seven airbags, a rearview camera, steering-wheel audio controls, automatic hill-holder when stopped on inclines, a 60/40-split folding rear seatback, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The 5-door has standard cargo tie-down hooks and a rear-window washer-wiper, and this year, both body styles offer cargo rails in the roof to which a wide variety of accessory racks and containers can be added.
The base 2.0i comes with 16-inch painted steel wheels with silver wheel covers, a four-speaker audio system, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display in the dash, a multi-information display between the gauges, and standard cruise control.
Subaru says the next level up, the Impreza Premium, will be the most popular pick for buyers. It comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, a 7-speed manual shifting mode for the CVT, a standard cold-weather package including heated front seats and door mirrors, standard roof rails on the hatchback, a six-speaker audio system, and one year’s free-trial subscription to the Subaru Starlink suite of connected services. Options for the Premium include a power moonroof and Subaru’s EyeSight suite of active-safety systems.
EyeSight adds functions
New for this year, the well-reviewed EyeSight package now includes blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic reverse braking if an object is detected in the car’s path, as well as adaptive cruise control, automatic crash braking, and lane-departure warning with active lane control. Impreza models with EyeSight also include individual tire-pressure display, fog lights that move with the steering, and a color multi-information display between the gauges.
The Impreza Sport model, new this year, upgrades to 18-inch alloy wheels with low-profile performance tires, retuned suspension, and active torque vectoring, which varies torque to each wheel to ensure maximum traction during cornering. Sport models also feature simulated leather upholstery and red stitching on a variety of interior trim pieces, various carbon-fiber and aluminum trim embellishments, an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the center of the dash, and a rear spoiler mounted either on the roof of the hatchback or the trunklid of the sedan. Options on the Sport are limited to the moonroof, EyeSight, and a navigation system.
At the top of the range, the Impreza Limited adds 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition, automatic climate control, leather-trimmed upholstery, a six-way power adjustable driver’s seat, the 8.0-inch touchscreen display, and various interior and exterior embellishments in matte silver, carbon-fiber, and chrome. On the safety front, it adds low- and high-beam LED headlights that turn with the steering wheel, and automatic high beams. Turn signals are integrated into the door mirrors, and options again are limited to the moonroof, EyeSight, and navigation.
2017 Subaru Impreza
At 32 mpg combined, the 2017 Subaru Impreza is one of the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive vehicles sold in the U.S.
Every 2017 Subaru Impreza comes with all-wheel drive as standard, and its most fuel-efficient four-door sedan model equals the EPA combined rating of the much pricier Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. That ties the new Impreza for the title of most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive vehicle sold in the U.S. this year.
We rate the 2017 Impreza at 8 out of 10 on our green scale. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
That standard Impreza four-door sedan is rated at 28 mpg city, 38 highway, 32 combined, while the five-door hatchback model comes in slightly below it at 28/37/31 mpg. Those ratings are comparable to some of the less-efficient compact competitors that offer only front-wheel drive, and while they're not much of an improvement over the previous generation, Subaru can still be said to offer fuel-efficient AWD vehicles.
The two Impreza Sport body styles, both new this year as a separate trim level within the conventional Impreza lineup, come in lower still, due to their larger 18-inch wheels and wider low-profile tires plus the extra weight of some of their standard features. Both the sedan and hatchback Sport models rate at 27 mpg city and 30 mpg combined, though the slightly more aerodynamic sedan gains a 36-mpg rating for highway while the blunter hatchback comes in at 35 mpg on that test.