With a redesign for 2017, the Impreza gets a tad bit longer and wider. The translation is that you’ll feel a bit more comfortable in the back seat, as long as you don’t have a basketball player driving up front or in the passenger seat. The exterior is attractive, though not best in class (few vehicles in this class would win a beauty contest, to be honest).
My top-tier tester featured high quality materials on the inside, including leather-trimmed upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The optional power moonroof was also a nice feature.
Carrying the vehicle around are 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, and you can choose an all-weather package that includes heated front seats; heated exterior mirrors, and windshield wiper de-icer.
Given the option between sedan and hatchback, I would recommend the hatch.
Unfortunately, you get just one engine option on the 2017 Impreza:
It’s a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter setup (152 horsepower, and 145 lb.-ft. of torque), paired with a CVT auto transmission (with manual shift mode and paddle shift controls). You can also choose a 5-speed manual transmission for more direct shifting input.
So how's the drive? It’s definitely not the fastest vehicle in this class from a stop, and acceleration suffers. But it can be fun and responsive if you push it once you get a bit higher in speed, plus it handles well and is very maneuverable on the curves due to its small size.
On the plus side, road noise is mostly kept out due to the insulated windshield, and the pièce de résistance on the Impreza is the standard all-wheel drive, the one feature most likely to drive up Impreza sales in climate-challenged areas in a category that is tougher to compete in than American Ninja Warrior.
Put simply, if you like small cars and want standard AWD, this is your option. Not a bad position to be in for the Impreza.
Before I dive in the myriad tech features, let’s just talk safety for a minute. Subaru is big on safety; it’s one of their big selling points in recent years. With that in mind, part of the redesign of the 2017 Impreza is that the crash energy absorption improved by 40 percent over its previous model.
You have the option (and I would recommend it) to add Subaru’s excellent Eyesight driver assist technology, which includes: Adaptive cruise control; Automatic pre-collision braking; Lane departure and sway warning; Lane keep assist; Blind spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Reverse Automatic Braking. These features all have no doubt saved many lives over the years when human error would have otherwise caused an accident.
The Subaru Starlink infotainment system sits up top of the center dash and is deeply imbedded into the vehicle; featuring rotating info on a screen that is controlled by steering wheel. Info includes: Mpg/miles to empty, date, safety features, water temp, weather updates, navigation and radio info. Also, Starlink features cloud apps including: iHeartRadio, Stitcher, BestParking and Yelp.
Below that screen in the center is a touchscreen, through which the driver can easily control the radio, settings, media, phone and navigation. Voice commands also work well, so there is plenty of redundancy/multiple ways to get things done.
Among tech features on the Impreza are: Automatic climate control system; LED headlights; Turn signals on exterior mirrors; Keyless access; push-button start;
Tire pressure monitor system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the Impreza, for smartphone integration.
The optional Navigation system bumps up your screen size and also includes four free months of Sirius satellite radio; and three years free of SiriusXM Travel Link. And if you like to turn it up to 11, the optional premium Harmon Kardon sound system was excellent and better than most systems you’ll find in this class.
The Impreza does not disappoint in fuel mileage. My real-time numbers, with no effort made to increase gas mileage, were 27.3 mpg. Official numbers are 28 city/37 highway/31 combined. Compared to other compact hatchback offerings, these numbers hold up quite well, only getting bested by a couple competitors, and staying on par with or above the rest.
My test vehicle was the highest trim level (a 2017 Impreza 2.0i Limited model), which starts at $24,595. Adding in moonroof, Eyesight safety system and premium audio system, plus the delivery fee, the total came to $29,260.
The base model, which will lose most of the bells and whistles I mentioned, starts out at $18,395, so you’ve got a good $10K from the top to bottom, depending what level you choose. A couple other compact rides do beat the base price of the Impreza by a couple grand, but they also offer less to the buyer.
Standard features on all Impreza models are AWD, tire pressure monitoring, ABS and brake assist, 7 airbags, fold-down rear seats, and a rear camera.
While not a segment leader in all categories, the 2017 Subaru Impreza is kind of like the little hatch that could. It offers a unique look, is a safe small vehicle, and it offers AWD. This rare combination makes it worth a look along with the usual compact vehicle candidates.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.