KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 8/24/2012
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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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.
What's New for 2013
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.
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.
Notable Standard Equipment
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.
Notable Optional Equipment
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.
Under the Hood
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
A base 2013 Subaru Impreza sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $19,000 plus an additional $300 fee for Partial Zero Emissions packages on cars sold in California and some other states. Five-door hatchback models are $500 extra. A well-optioned Impreza can reach about $25,000. 2013 WRX performance models start over $26,000, and the fire-breathing WRX STI is around $35,000 and can reach about $40,000 loaded. On the low end, the Impreza's price is in the realm of other compact sedans and hatches, including the Mazda3, Toyota Matrix, Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus. Prices for WRX and STI models straddle that of the VW Golf R, and the WRX is in line with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are playing for the Subaru Impreza. In the long term, the Impreza's resale value is predicted to hold up very well, above most competitors and in line with the Mazda3.