By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.7
The 2013 Subaru Impreza is a versatile and fuel-efficient line of compact sedans and hatchbacks that have standard all-wheel drive for superior traction and starting prices under $20,000. The Impreza lineup could be called bi-polar. Regular models earn high marks for fuel economy that reaches up to 36 mpg on the highway, while the performance-oriented WRX and WRX STI stand out for their powerful engines and competition successes. Whether you want to save fuel or burn rubber, the 2013 Impreza lineup offers impressive bang for the buck, though you can find even higher value and/or fuel efficiency in front-wheel-drive-only compacts such as the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte.
The Impreza is a good choice for those seeking practicality, reliability, good fuel economy and the all-weather traction benefits of all-wheel drive. Those seeking a bargain performance car can find it in the WRX or the even more potent - but pricier - WRX STI.
If all-wheel-drive isn't a big factor in your buying decision, there are other compact sedans and hatchbacks that offer more features for less money. Also, the Impreza's simple interior borders on plain, and the WRX STI's ride is more than just firm and will be downright uncomfortable for some.
After a revamp for 2012 the Subaru Impreza receives only minor changes for 2013. Base 2.0i models have an upgraded audio unit with Bluetooth, and Premium, Limited and Sport Limited models with navigation receive a rear-view camera. WRX and STI models are unchanged except for a new color choice.
Driving Impressions Subaru's calling card has long been the sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that is standard in almost all its cars. The system puts power to wheels according to need and greatly helps...the car maintain control on varying road surfaces. Drivers who live in locales where it snows love these cars for their surefootedness. The new engine and continuously-variable transmission (CVT) introduced for 2012 models carry over for 2013 Imprezas. The CVT improves fuel economy commendably, but makes acceleration feel a bit leisurely. WRX and STI models retain their turbocharged engines and are available only with manual transmissions. The WRX is fast; the STI is even faster and has additional settings to adjust the center differential for optimum power distribution to the wheels. The STI's extra dose of power and handling come at the expense of ride comfort, and you might want to get a good chiropractor if you plan to travel long distances in it. The WRX better blends performance and ride comfort, though its shifter feels a bit rubbery.
High fuel economy and all-wheel drive rarely go hand in hand, but the Subaru Impreza offers both. Models with CVT automatic transmissions are rated at up to 36 mpg on the highway.
The high-performance 4-cylinder engines in the Impreza WRX and STI models create much more power than the engine in other Impreza models. The result is blistering acceleration and passing power.
Simple and easy-to-use would be the best way of describing the Impreza's interior. Plain may be another. Everything here is functional, and most operations are easy to accomplish, except for the buttons for heating the front seats on models so equipped - they are awkwardly located below the driver's-side armrest. Impreza models can be made more cozy with leather-trimmed upholstery. Passenger room is good for four adults and cargo space is especially generous in 5-door hatchback models, which can swallow more than 52 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seats folded.
The new sheetmetal that arrived with last year's revamp could be called "polite," with not many attributes to ruffle feathers. Among the most prominent features are the "hawk eye" headlights and prominent wheel arches. The 5-door hatchback versions are graced with a gently sloping roof and available cargo racks. WRX and STI models retain the previous generation's body styles and further stand out with aggressive features, including a hood-mounted air intake, deep side sills, trunk-mounted wings on sedans and four exhaust pipes.
Three major trim levels are available on the 2013 Subaru Impreza: 2.0i, 2.0i Premium, and 2.0i Limited. Base models are equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, power windows and doors, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, keyless entry and 4-speaker AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary and USB inputs and Bluetooth audio streaming. Higher-trim models include the automatic transmission, leather seating, larger wheels, heated front seats, automatic climate control and a 6-speaker audio system with HD Radio for receiving digital broadcasts. Two well-equipped wagon-only versions, the 2.0i Sport Premium and Sport Limited, have 17-inch wheels and fog lights. WRX and STI models have more powerful engines and stiffer suspensions, and the WRX STI has Brembo high-performance brakes.
Options for the Impreza include a CVT automatic transmission on models not already so equipped, power moonroof, voice-activated navigation system with 6.1-inch touch screen, cold-weather package with de-icer and heated seats. Other cold-environment accessories include a battery warmer and engine-block heater. WRX and STI performance models can be upgraded with satellite radio, short-throw shifter and turbo-boost gauge.
All 2013 Subaru Impreza models except the WRX and STI use a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine connected to a 5-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission. The CVT in all but base models has paddle shifters for manual shifting. At 148 horsepower, the engine is adequate to get the car up to speed, but not in a great hurry. WRX and STI models use a larger, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that has been turbocharged to make 265 or 305 horsepower, respectively; these are fast cars. The WRX has a 5-speed manual transmission and the STI a 6-speed manual. The Subaru engines are of a type known as "boxer," in which the cylinders are arranged horizontally and opposed to each other, with the pistons moving somewhat as a boxer punching. These engines have a low center of gravity, which enhances handling, and are also known for ruggedness, durability and performance. Impreza models with the 2.0-liter engine can run on regular unleaded, while WRX and STI models require premium unleaded of 91-octane or higher.
148 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (sedan, manual), 25/33 (wagon, manual), 27/36 mpg (automatic)
2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4
265 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
244 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 mpg
2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4
305 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
290 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg
By Kitty on Saturday, October 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great in snow and rain"
Cons: "It gets dirty"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded a Toyota and am happy I did! The Toyota dealerships in this area are sub-standard and were very disappointing to me considering Toyota is known for customer service. I got my Subaru and have enjoyed it every bit as much as my previous Camry. Plus, since I live in the Northeast, this car is made to go in snow and rain; weather is no issue with Subaru. The dealership is honest and fair. I got a great deal. I am going into my third year with this car. It's fun to drive, reliable, gets great mileage and handles beautifully. I know why Subaru is Love!"
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By wimchatta on Sunday, September 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "responsive handling, solid feel, great visibility!"
Cons: "noisier at highway speeds, am OK with it"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've really enjoyed driving this car since 2012 - found it to be more enjoyable to drive and with greater responsiveness and all-around fun than the BMW 328xi wagon despite costing a whole lot less. Superb zero-40mph acceleration despite not having a big engine... Thin A and B pillars and resultant clear sight-lines are a big contributor to the feeling of control when driving this car. I have used it mostly as a commuter car, but it is awesome when challenged. The hatchback can even carry several pieces of 8' long lumber with rear seat folded and front seat reclined. On a single-lane winding mountain road that I use sometimes, it seems to be more nimble and corner more stably (with greater margin) at the same speed than Audis and BMWs ahead or behind me. Thrilled with it!"
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By catpower1818 on Wednesday, September 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, AWD, Braking, Handling, All-Weather Package"
Cons: "Overly sensitive steering and clutch"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The CVT is slow and clunky, so I got the manual transmission; SO MUCH better! They are hard to find, but definitely worth the wait. While I would not call the car fast, it is very "eager." Each time I shift up a gear, it wants to go! The extra torque adds performance and it is fun to drive. For those complaining about mileage: this is the most fuel efficient AWD vehicle in production right now; you're not gonna get anything better. And of course your mileage will depend heavily on how you drive it. There is no point in comparing the Impreza to something like a Ford Focus, because the Impreza is much heavier and has a compeltely different drivetrain. They have little in common aside from their general size. For oil complaints: This car requires synthetic 20-weight oil only. Anything else will burn up quickly and eventually cause damage. I don't understand the technology complaints either: it has many more bells and whistles than my Honda Civic, at a very good price. The steering and clutch are very sensitive, and it's taking me a while to get used to them. However, I absolutely love this car; I will be keeping it as long as it runs. Which should be at least 10 years."
12 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By CJ on Monday, August 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Cons: "EVERYTHING is cheaply made on this car!!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I have had my 2013 WRX Premium Hatch for one year and 13.5k miles and the car is already looking terrible and needs to go in for warranty work. I have countless chips all over the nose of the car, many of which are through down to bare metal and are beginning to rust. I could understand if I had a highway commute to work but it's all back roads ranging from 30-40mph. Subaru is notorious for horrible paint (google search) I've come to find out and simply puts the blame on the customer as they did to me. My throw out bearing is making a whining when cold and rattle noise when warmed up when the clutch is being engaged. Interior is pathetically cheap as it scratches and looks awful too easily. Many of my friends had older Subarus and had great luck but apparently the quality isn't there as it once was. The only positives are that the car is very good in snow, practical and fun to drive however many people have had issues with piston ringlands so it makes you not want to drive the car spirited. If the car is showing this much wear after a year I'm scared to see what it will be like when I have paid it off, currently looking for a new car."
11 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By Gabe on Friday, July 25, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good car, good value and reliability!"
Cons: "Lacks power, sportiness and refined interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"To be fair to anybody who reads this review I want to make clear I don't own this car. However, my significant other does and we trade off driving it from time to time. Now, with that said I do like the car. The interior is simple if a bit plain. The exterior is reminiscent of the Honda Fit but more curved and sloped (I like that). The ride is comfortable as are the seats. Subaru finally made their seats comfy. The drive is underwhelming. Most car companies have found a way to make their CVT's shift smoothly and quietly or come up with new ways to boost traditional engine power and efficiency (see Mazda Sky-active Tech), Subaru has failed in this regard with the Impreza. The car is loud and noisy at low gears and the CVT does not seem to want to shift when one expects it would. When it does shift the change is noticeable and harsh. However, the CVT does seem to give the car some extra umph at low gears and on the freeway (a definite need for an AWD car). I should not fail to mention it comes with a decent batch of standard features. But for young car enthusiast it seems to lack the finishing touches. The speaker system is subpar (I'm being generous) and the ride leaves a lot to be desired. The interior layout, while fine, is a bit bland. The metal colored interior appears fake and the controls are utilitarian. But hey, unlike the Subaru Forester, at least it comes with a black interior. All in all, not a bad car but not close to great either. Addendum: My loyalty to Subaru (I drove them when I was younger) probably makes me rate this car higher than I should. But what can I say? I am a sentimentalist."
12 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By mick on Friday, June 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,111overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Its more than fun to drive,"
Cons: "Yes it has 4"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love the dual transmison and anti skid control, It went through 12 inches of snow and sleet ( no problem ) I have kept it in mint condition including oil changes etc. You could eat off the engine."
22 people out of 42 found this review helpful