No compromises here: Good in the snow, good on gas, filled with great tech and room for a suburban-style haul
Living in Michigan these days means choosing a car that can handle Arctic winters, pot-hole riddled roads (that make the roads of India and Peru seem downright first-world) and for me, with 90 miles of driving per day, not spending my whole paycheck on gas. Could that be the new Subaru Impreza?
Among the must-haves: All-wheel drive, decent fuel economy and flexible cargo space that can accommodate suburban life for a family of three. Oh, and under $23,000 would be nice. With all those wants-and-needs, the list gets mighty small. Where we landed was the 2014 Subaru Impreza five-door hatchback.
Apparently, we are not alone. The nicely appointed all-wheel-drive “sensible-shoe” cars that are Subarus are fueling the automaker’s growth. Subaru continues to break monthly sales records and long ago passed Volkswagen for sales and market share. Even the stock of Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru’s parent company, has been a great investment.
The All New Impreza: Easier on the eyes and on the wallet
Until the 2014 Impreza hit showrooms, the story on any Subaru, including the previous Impreza, was that they were durable, reliable, and absolutely fabulous in snow and on ice, but kind of doggy on fuel economy.
But when the Impreza made its mew model debut in 2012 it came with a lovely perk: 27 MPG city and 36 MPG highway. Sales of the Impreza, with the better fuel economy and strong value pricing, is helping to drive the sales records—along with customer-favorite Foresters and Outbacks.
In my book, the Impreza also offers a little “stylin.” It’s not earth-shaking, but far better than the earlier Impreza with its dull lines and curves. Wheels, headlamps, blacked out fog-light surrounds, attractive grille-work all add up to a car nobody should feel sheepish about driving.
The Impreza comes in both sedan and wagon. Some people think sedans, even in sub-compact and compact form, look more premium than five-doors. But give up the utility of the hatch/sportwagon/five door?
There is 52.4 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats folded flat. That’s incredibly handy for trips to the garden center or Home Depot.
Our only real criticism of the Impreza is a slightly cheapish feeling to the radio controls, the plastic that is on the steering wheel and a rather tinny/hollow sound when the doors close. But those are minor demerits.
After eight months of owning the car, not just testing it, the car has not gone back to the dealership except for an oil change. Heated seats, Bluetooth, rear-camera, satellite radio all work as advertised with no glitches or hiccups. The satellite radio could use a spin-knob for channel changing, but another minor issue.
How the Impreza achieves that great MPG
The CVT (continuously variable transmission) is the key to the better gas mileage, and it can feel a little—just a little—sluggish on the on-ramps or off the traffic light. But its respectable 148-horsepower engine is big enough to get the job done. The Impreza is available in a five-speed manual, but you can’t get the stick with the Limited trim level, which is a bummer if you’re the type that really likes a manual transmission or like the extra control on challenging terrain.
Starting price for the Impreza is $19,395. Obvious competition is Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, Dodge Dart, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and Honda Civic. But only the Focus and Impreza offer a five-door.
What We Loved
- Gas Mileage: The 27 MPG city/36 MPG highway, great for an all-wheel drive that seats four comfortably
- Clean, attractive layout of the dashboard and navigation/radio controls.
- Spacious front seat feeling
- Ample room behind the rear-seats for groceries, a stroller, kids’ stuff
- All-wheel-drive sure-footed handling
- Wheels and tires that stand up to potholes
What You Need to Know
- 36,000 mile/three-year warranty
- Starting price is $19,395
- Add heated seats and cruise control and base prices rises to $21, 295
- Add navigation and starting price boosts to $23,095
And all that wrapped up in a sweet smelling, styling Subaru Impreza, made for the Michigan roads.