By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 5.7
The Subaru Impreza is a uniquely reliable and capable compact car. It's one of the most affordable all-wheel-drive vehicles available, delivering added confidence in dicey road conditions, and features an interior that outclasses many of its competitors'. Priced only marginally more than similarly equipped models from Toyota, Mazda, Ford, VW and Honda, the Impreza's standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system for which Subaru is renowned is certainly a plus in snow-bound climates and gives the affordable Impreza a leg up on its front-wheel-drive competitors.
The 2011 Impreza is a great choice for those looking for a reliable and capable compact car. The all-wheel-drive drivetrain provides secure handling in nearly all road and weather conditions, potentially a must-have for those living in less temperate climates.
If price and fuel economy trounce all-wheel-drive stability and control, you'll probably want to look at the Honda Civic, Mazda MAZDA3, Nissan Versa or Volkswagen Golf TDI. Like the Impreza, the Suzuki SX4 also offers all-wheel drive plus a lot more features for less money.
The Impreza Outback Sport SE gains a new navigation system featuring a removable TomTom GPS unit. All models except the base car get a new radio that includes Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, iPod integration, a USB port and satellite radio capability. The turbocharged 2.5 GT model has been discontinued.
Driving Impressions The 2011 Impreza's 2.5-liter engine is a bit rough around the edges and doesn't do the fairly heavy Impreza any favors when it comes to rapid acceleration. It does, however,...manage to deliver fairly good fuel economy and good low-end torque. The Impreza's suspension is bit on the soft side, and offers none of the precision and feedback found in much of the competition, including the faithful and simple Honda Civic or the sporty MAZDA3. The steering is a touch too light for back-road blasts, limiting communication with the pavement, although the car remains stable and composed under nearly all day-to-day driving conditions. Inside, the dash layout is logical, and all buttons and knobs are well placed for quick reference. The seats are comfortable but lack the side support we'd like for fast curves.
For many, all-wheel drive is a must to make it through the wet seasons, snowy winters or just loose rural terrain. Even on dry pavement, this feature offers additional grip around curves and an added sense of security.
Now available in all but the base Impreza, this system features a cool TomTom removable GPS unit that you can pop out and take with you.
Subaru has definitely stepped things up in terms of interior quality. Most materials are high grade to the touch, and the dash layout is simple, logical and borderline stylish. Gone are the gaudy colors and cheap plastic trim, and available features such as the TomTom navigation system with removable GPS unit (standard on Outback Sport Special Edition), Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio and a power sunroof make this entry level car feel decidedly upscale. A long list of dealer-installed accessories include a powered subwoofer, sliding center armrest, various cargo organizers and nets and a short shift kit for manual transmission models.
Where the first generation Impreza had a quirky but lovable look, the newest version seems a bit cliche. With more than a passing resemblance to the first generation Mazda MAZDA3, the 2011 Impreza 2.5i wagon is now dangerously close to lacking identity. The Outback Sport trim spices things up considerably, with larger wheels, two-tone paint and more body cladding to banish the bland. On the plus side, the Impreza's all-wheel drive offers year-round security and many trims offer such useful winter necessities as heated side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer. However, unlike the Forester and Outback, the Impreza Outback Sport does not ride much higher than the standard Impreza, limiting its ability to go off-road or through deep snow.
The laundry list of standard equipment for this car is, for the most part, par for the course in 2011 vehicles. Of note is standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, a feature not found in most of the competition, even optionally. Other standard features include an AM/FM/ stereo with single CD, cruise control and remote keyless entry. The 2.5i Premium adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, AM/FM stereo with single CD, six speakers, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and USB and 3.5mm auxiliary audio input jacks, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. The Outback Sport SE adds 17-inch wheels, heated seats, navigation, roof racks, two-tone paint and power moonroof. All Imprezas include front side- and front and rear side-impact airbags, Incline Start Assist (manual transmission), traction and stability control and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes.
The 2.5i Premium offers the Special Edition Package that adds a power moonroof, fog lamps and the All Weather Package featuring heated seats, side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer. Premium models can be outfitted with Subaru's navigation unit and a rear backup camera. Most options are bundled into dealer installed accessories and include items such as a stereo upgrade (tweeters and a powered subwoofer), additional cup holders, remote start, all-weather floor mats an iPod tray and various cargo and roof rack attachments.
Subaru's Impreza has featured a segment defying flat-4 engine since its inception. While still a four-cylinder, the engine gets ample power and substantial torque from its larger-than-average 2.5-liter displacement. Now equipped with electronic throttle control and i-Active, Subaru's version of variable valve timing, the Impreza engine has done a decent job staying current. The power is sent to all four wheels via Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, which limits the power being sent to wheels with little or no traction and redirects it to those that need it the most.
170 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
170 pound-feet of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 (automatic), 20/27 (manual)
By Marsha on Thursday, July 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value, hugs the road"
Cons: "Overdrive kicks in too soon"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The car is still great after 7 years! My dealership is great, the car is as close to maintenance free as possible. All wheel drive wonderful."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Jim in Tulsa on Thursday, July 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "4-wheel drive; reliability"
Cons: "Outdated 4-speed transmission."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The Subaru Imprezza has been a reliable car for four people. The seats are comfortable on long trips and the luggage area is spacious with the aspect of a small wagon. I chose the Imprezza because I wanted a four-wheel-drive car, not an SUV, because of better driving dynamics. The design is good with a few quirks: the 4-speed automatic was outdated when the car was new, and the motor sticks out so far ahead of the wheels that the front bumper scrapes parking barriers. Mileage is 20-22 in town and 26-28 on the road. I have no hesitation in recommending this car."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Bilbo Subie on Thursday, July 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,080overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "All wheel drive!"
Cons: "Rattles, rattles, rattles"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I drive this car every day as a commuter. I average 26 MPG and travel the majority of the time on the highway. I have had no major mechanical issues since I bought the car in November 2009. The only thing I don't like about this and every other Subaru I own (currently 3), is that it is a noisy car on the highway. After about the first year, the car developed a series of annoying rattles. I have gone to great lengths to identify, locate, and eliminate the noises and have had some success. Even with the noises I have no regrets buying this car. I have definately gotten my money's worth. I am the only person on my block that wasn't stranded during the blizzard we had in 2010! That has to be worth something."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Ant on Sunday, July 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fair Price and extremely fun to drive"
Cons: "Cabin quality need improvement, road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"As the title states, this car is a great value for the performance it has to offer. It has great handling capabilities and will not hesitate to reach high speeds. The ride comfort is very smooth, sometimes its hard to know how fast your actually going without looking at the speedometer. Gas mileage could be better but, when you buy a small turbo vehicle I am sure gas mileage is not a concern. interior is comfortable and spacious for a smaller vehicle. Quality of the interior is fair enough. Road noise in the cabin does get to be annoying when driving on the highway. Sound system and radio needs quality and clarity improvement. Overall the car is good enough to handle everyday task and driving, of course improvements can be made. The low price leaves a lot of room for personal customization. Dealer options are very nice but also very pricey. I am satisfied with the car, I am actually looking to trade in for a newer model in the near future."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By x79red on Tuesday, July 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "all wheel drive and the price"
Cons: "gas mileage, styling, comfort, technology"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"This car is my 2nd Impreza my first being a 2008. I had this car for 3 years now and it has been back for the following repairs: caliper sticking causing the cars brakes on the left front side to jam up causing the car to be pulled toward on coming traffic. A bad wheeling bearing. The car looks generic and can be lost in a parking lot due to it's drab plain looks. The interior is cheaply made compared to other vehicles in it's class.It is behind other car mfg. in technology by at least 5 years or more. It's gas mileage is pathetic compared to other cars of this size. My 2008 had the same engine and got 30 -32 MPG I hardly see 25 MPG in this one. As I stated in the summary the only good part is the all wheel drive feature."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By sterlingcash on Sunday, June 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "acceleration, exterior styling, AWD/traction"
Cons: "no lumbar support"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love this car. I am a fairly active person who does a lot of freeway driving and mountain driving. While the impreza won't take you into anything more than gravel, it'll do a whole lot else, and it does it well. The engine is jewel. Great acceleration, torque, and umpff when you want it; so fun to drive. Overall I got 25mpg for my combined and usually hit 30mpg on the highway. The AWD drive system is great. Never have I felt insecure in this car. whether it was snow, hail, LA traffic, twisty mountain roads, mud, or me being a clueless driver, this car never lost traction. The interior is nice; good layout and functionality. I had a leather wrapped steering wheel and controls; which were very handy. The basic sound system isn't great, but works. Seats are alright for comfort, not alright for 3+ hours. I have always been shocked how much I can fit in this car. Although the hatchback would be nice, moving throughout college wasnt an issue. The exterior styling is my favorite. I am constantly asked if I have a beemer due to the pearl paint and aggressive styling. I have never been embarrassed to give my date a ride in this thing. Good reliability. At 83k and going strong!"
13 people out of 19 found this review helpful