2021 Subaru Impreza

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
December 9, 2020

Buying tip

Buy the hatchback—and the CVT, because manuals don’t get the safety features that we’d require of any modern new vehicle.

The 2021 Subaru Impreza excels at foul-weather traction and value; it’s an exceedingly rational choice among economy cars.

What kind of car is the 2021 Subaru Impreza? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Subaru Impreza sedan and hatchback are the basis for the hotted-up performers enthusiasts know simply as “WRX.” They’re all about sensible transportation, not turbocharged horsepower and variable all-wheel grip, though. The Impreza’s as practical as economy cars come—which makes it a rival for cars like the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, and Kia Forte.

Is the 2021 Subaru Impreza a good car?

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It’s an excellent choice for safety and economy, as well as value. We give it a TCC Rating of 6.3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Subaru Impreza?

Subaru’s drive-mode selector, dubbed SI-Drive, now comes with the Impreza Premium.

In the more popular hatchback body, the 2021 Impreza’s a handsome car with a tapered roofline, slightly swole fenders, and an absence of eyeball-searing detail. Sedans are plainer. It’s welcome in its understatement, though the interior’s composed of a lot of black plastic (shiny and otherwise), lots of cutlines, and a small-ish standard infotainment touchscreen.

Engine output’s a little shy, too. The 2.0-liter flat-4 puts out 152 horsepower, just enough to lug around its roughly 3,000 pounds of car. There’s a manual on the order sheet, but most models have a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that lends it a sprightly feel in urban drives and a thrummy drone under hard acceleration. It’s not quick, but the Impreza is fairly nimble, thanks to all-wheel drive and good suspension tuning that lifts its ride quality while it doesn’t diminish its confident roadholding. 

The Impreza hatchback has great cargo and small-item storage, while sedans lose out with a small trunk. Both have comfortable cloth seats that can be upgraded to heated leather seats with power adjustment, but value is the Impreza’s safe word—that, and safety, with its stellar crash-test scores and scads of standard safety-tech features.

How much does the 2021 Subaru Impreza cost?

It costs a little less than $20,000 in base trim, which includes power features, automatic emergency braking, USB ports, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. High-end Limited versions can approach $30,000 with their leather upholstery, Harman/Kardon audio, heated seats, and power sunroof. 

Where is the 2021 Subaru Impreza made?

In Lafayette, Indiana.


2021 Subaru Impreza


The Impreza’s look is clean and subtle.

Is the Subaru Impreza a good-looking car?

With its hatchback body style, the Subaru Impreza captures some of the essence of more interesting cars without abandoning its virtues of safety, simplicity, and value. 

Sedans have a more dowdy, unadventurous look, which may explain why they sell more slowly. The Impreza’s a 6 here, with an extra point for the tapered roofline, pronounced wheel arches, and the wagon-like profile that graces the hatchback. 

Both versions have a wide grille and a low bumper, with wheel sizes up to 18 inches that give the car a more beefy stance (but do little to the ride). It’s a look similar to that of the Subaru Crosstrek and for good reason—they’re virtually the same car, with the Crosstrek riding higher and wearing more black fender flares.

The Impreza cabin has a tall center stack with a 6.5-inch touchscreen on less expensive models, and a larger and more useful 8.0 inches on Limited and Sport versions. The Limited also wears contrast stitching on its doors and on the instrument panel, which elevates the look a little bit. What you’re buying here isn’t pizzaz, though; Subaru spends all its Z budget in the name.

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2021 Subaru Impreza


Impreza performance focuses on all-weather traction.

The Impreza benefits from the sure-footed feel of standard all-wheel drive, but it’s not going anywhere fast. We give it a point for handling and let inertia take it away, for a score of 5 here.

How fast is the Subaru Impreza?

It’s not particularly quick at all, but the Impreza has plenty of power for day-in, day-out commuting. Its 2.0-liter flat-4 engine produces 152 hp and 145 pound-feet of torque. Drivers can choose a notchy and light-shifting 5-speed manual to wring out the available power, and to try to hit 60 mph in under nine seconds—but most will buy the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which is among the better of its kind. The pulley-and-belt system slips between ratios invisibly, but the engine’s not silent as it works hard to build acceleration. Sport models get seven pre-programmed ratios that feel sort of like gears as they change, but the powertrain’s not the Impreza’s reason for being—the all-wheel-drive system is. 

Is the Subaru Impreza 4WD?

With all-wheel drive standard, the Impreza can tackle snowy and wet roads with more confidence than its front-wheel-drive competition, though we’d still wrap the wheels in good winter tires during the gray season.

At the Premium level and up, the Impreza has SI-Drive, a set of user-selectable modes that can change shift patterns and steering weight, as well as all-wheel-drive power output.

Outside of that weather, the Impreza has great grip. It’s not sporty, in the subjective sense, and steering feedback is minimal, but on its 16- and 17-inch wheels the Impreza has a more absorbent ride than some of its rivals. The Sport versions don’t; their thin-sidewall tires and stiffer shocks transmit just as much bump shock into the cabin as an Elantra or Forte. The Sport versions get a system that grips a front brake to help the car corner more effectively, and it works well to give the economy car a little more vibrant feel.

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2021 Subaru Impreza

Comfort & Quality

The hatchback Impreza has all the space an economy car needs.

The Impreza hatchback’s good front seats and excellent cargo space and utility give it a 7 here—though the sedan would score a point lower.

From the driver’s seat, the rational becomes comfortable in the Impreza. The front seats have manual adjustment but give most drivers an excellent view of the road and good driving position to boot. Limited models have a power driver seat, though it doesn’t offer more lumbar control.

The back bench is fine for a pair of adult passengers. Leg room is good, head room is fine—it’s just not very wide, so three across is asking a lot.

In the Impreza hatchback, some 55 cubic feet of cargo space can be made available by folding down the rear seats. With those seats up the Impreza still offers nearly 21 cubic feet of room—while sedans only have about 12 cubic feet of trunk space.

The Impreza’s built to a price, but it doesn’t appear overly thrifty or inexpensive inside or out.

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2021 Subaru Impreza


The Impreza’s safety is especially good given its price.

How safe is the Subaru Impreza?

It’s very safe. The NHTSA gives it five stars across the board, while the IIHS gives it a Top Safety Pick in models equipped with the CVT. 

Manual-equipped models don’t come with the otherwise standard automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors are offered on the Premium and Sport Impreza, and come standard on the Limited.

Outward vision in the Impreza is fine, worth an additional point to bring it to a total score of 9.

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2021 Subaru Impreza


Value’s the Impreza’s best attribute.

The Impreza lineup of hatchbacks and sedans offers great value, even if its standard touchscreen is a little small and its features and 3-year/36,000-mile warranty are average at best. That earns it a 6 here.

Base manual-transmission Impreza sedans cost $19,720, and pack on value with standard USB ports, cruise control, power features, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen that’s on the small side, though it factors in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. That infotainment system is simple to use, despite the screen size.

A CVT costs about $1,300 more, and the hatchback body style adds another $500. 

Which Subaru Impreza should I buy?

We’d pick the $23,120 Impreza sedan or the $23,620 hatchback. Standard equipment includes better shocks, more sound insulation, satellite radio, heated seats, and two more USB ports.

How much is a fully loaded Subaru Impreza?

It’s $26,820 for the Impreza Limited sedan and $27,320 for the hatchback. Both get leather upholstery and a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen.

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2021 Subaru Impreza

Fuel Economy

Most Imprezas score 30 mpg combined.

Is the Subaru Impreza good on gas?

Yes, unless you opt for the manual transmission. We give the Impreza a 6 here for the strong EPA ratings: those earned by the sedan with the CVT are 28 mpg city, 36 highway, 32 combined. In the hatchback with the CVT, it’s 31 mpg combined.

The Impreza Sport has larger wheels and more gear, so fuel economy dips to 27/35/30 mpg in hatchback form and 27/36/30 mpg in four-door form.

Imprezas with the 5-speed manual transmission are less frugal. Hatchbacks are rated at 24/31/26 mpg; Sport hatchbacks are the lowest of the lineup at 22/30/25 mpg.

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Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 9
Features 6
Fuel Economy 6
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