Redesigned for 2017, Subaru Impreza is sleeker and more crisply detailed than the previous generation of the compact sedan and hatchback, which hadn’t been updated since 2012.
The 2017 Impreza also boasts a more appealing cabin than before. Slightly increased in power, 2017 Impreza engines get direct fuel injection. Additional active-safety features are available. All Imprezas sold in North America, including Sport models, are now built in Indiana.
Every Impreza sold in the U.S. has all-wheel drive.
Two body styles are offered: four-door sedan and five-door hatchback.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza comes in four trim levels: base 2.0i, popular Premium, performance-focused Sport, and the more luxurious Limited.
Updated versions of the high-performance WRX and STI went on sale in spring 2017, with fresh front ends and revised suspensions, as 2018 models.
Output from the 2017 Impreza’s 2.0-liter flat-four engine is 152 horsepower (up 4 from the previous generation). Sport and lower-end trim levels have a standard 6-speed manual gearbox. Subaru’s continuously variable transmission is optional. This CVT is standard in upper models, which include a manual mode. Even without manual mode, simulated gear ratios are available when accelerating forcefully.
Striving to offer distinctive vehicles in the compact category, Subaru emphasizes mannerly road behavior. Imprezas compete against sportier compact sedans and hatchbacks, including the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, and Volkswagen Golf/Jetta.
Sport models feature lower-profile tires on unique 18-inch alloy wheels, with a suspension tuned to provide a more sporty feel. Standard active torque vectoring produces notably crisper and tighter steering feel while cornering.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not yet crash-tested the 2017 Impreza, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety issued a Top Safety Pick+ award for Imprezas that include the EyeSight active-safety system. Impreza earned Good scores in every IIHS crash-test. Slim pillars help provide excellent outward visibility.
Subaru claims a 40-percent increase in crash-energy absorption for the 2017 bodyshell. The display for the standard rearview camera now provides steering lines. Limited models include low- and high-beam LED headlights that swivel in accord with the steering wheel, for greater illumination when cornering.
The available EyeSight system includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist. Automatic braking in reverse, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert have been added to the system for 2017.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i sedan ($19,215) or hatchback ($19,715) comes with a manual gearbox; a rearview camera; power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; a 6.5-inch touchscreen; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; a 60/40-split fold-down rear seatback; remote keyless entry; four-speaker audio; and 16-inch steel wheels. CVT adds $1,000 to price. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Impreza 2.0i Premium sedan ($22,015) or hatchback ($22,515) has standard CVT with simulated 7-speed manual-shift mode, plus 16-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker audio, a cold-weather package; and automatic headlights. Options include a moonroof, EyeSight active-safety features, and a navigation system with mapping from TomTom.
Impreza 2.0i Sport sedan ($22,815) or hatchback ($23,315) has standard manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels with low-profile performance tires, a retuned suspension, and active torque vectoring. Sport models also get simulated leather upholstery, carbon-fiber and aluminum trim, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and a rear spoiler. CVT adds $800 to price.
Impreza 2.0i Limited sedan ($24,915) or hatchback ($25,415) has standard CVT, 17-inch alloy wheels, pushbutton start, automatic climate control, leather-trimmed upholstery, power driver’s seat, 8.0-inch touchscreen, and automatic high beams.
Slightly longer and wider than before, the 2017 Impreza is sleeker and more sculpted in shape, though not dramatically modified. A lower nose contains a version of Subaru’s familiar hexagonal grille. Compared to its somewhat blocky, upright predecessor, the reworked model looks more fashionable, but no less straightforward and sensibly functional.
Headlights sweep back more noticeably. Accent lines highlight the shapely, flowing bodysides. Unlike some rivals, the front overhang is relatively long.
Despite improvements for 2017, upholstery materials and trim might still score no higher than average in quality, and short on style. Yet, the Impreza’s cabin looks less basic than before, and more expressive in theme.
Dashboards have added soft-touch surfaces with improved feel. Widening the console translates to a sense of greater space. Two-tone upholstery in upper trim levels can make the interior seem lighter.
Audio and climate controls are simple and intuitive. Instrument clusters and the touchscreen incorporate beveled-edge, rectangular shapes. A hooded auxiliary display sits at the dashboard center, just below the windshield base. Subaru’s basic infotainment system is impressive.
Eminently practical compared to many compacts, Subaru’s smaller model promises quiet comfort for four adults. Most passengers will be comfortable up front. A lever can raise the driver’s seat on most versions.
Back-seat headroom is sufficient, but not expansive. Because Subaru widened the door openings, getting into and out of the rear compartment is easier than before.
Five-door hatchbacks offer greater versatility and considerably more space, with 20.8 cubic feet of cargo volume (55.3 cubic feet with back seats folded). Sedan trunks are smaller than average, totaling only 12.3 cubic feet.
The Impreza stands tallest in handling talents, among compact competitors. Revising the suspension for 2017 promises improved roadholding and agility, along with a more rewarding driving experience.
Improved handling hasn’t impeded ride comfort, which is satisfying. Subaru claims a 50-percent improvement in body roll, along with a slightly lower center of gravity.
Higher-speed power is where the Impreza tends to fall short. That lack hasn’t been rectified by the engine’s slight horsepower boost. Drivers should expect to push harder on the accelerator than usual when passing or merging, to keep engine speed high. Still, typical Impreza buyers are likely to be more impressed by the car’s maneuverability and all-wheel drive.
Subaru’s CVT is among the best, though harder driving emits substantially more engine noise. Otherwise, the Impreza is comparatively quiet. Top models include a manual mode in the CVT, which permits paddle-shifting through seven simulated gear ratios.
Active torque vectoring helps make Sport trim the logical choice for more enthusiastic drivers. Low-profile tires yield a relatively comfortable ride, while enhancing roadholding prowess.
All-wheel drive operates seamlessly, giving little evidence of its presence.
While driving moderately, the CVT varies its ratios to keep fuel-efficiency high. All told, the Impreza is among the most efficient all-wheel-drive cars. The sedan is EPA-rated at 28/38 mpg City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined. The hatchback comes close, at 28/37/31 mpg, while the Sport hatchback is EPA-rated at 27/35 mpg City/Highway, or 30 mpg Combined.
As in the past, Imprezas promise good value. Some competitors cost less, but Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive is a valuable bonus. So is the Impreza’s fuel-efficiency. Though optional at extra cost, Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driver-assist and safety features is an impressive package.
Driving impressions by John Voelcker, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.