By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.7
With a starting price well below $20,000, the 2014 Subaru Impreza offers the same features and fuel economy as many of its compact competitors, but with the added advantage of standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD). While the bread-and-butter cars make up the majority of Impreza sales, the performance-oriented WRX and WRX STI account for a small but loyal audience who crave speed and agility over fuel economy and a low sticker price. Regardless of which model, the Impreza offers a lot of value for the money. However, if you don't have a need for all-wheel drive, you can find similar front-drive compacts with better fuel economy, such as the Mazda Mazda3, Kia Forte and Chevrolet Cruze diesel.
If you live where snow, rain and ice are commonplace occurrences, the logical choice for compact-car shoppers is the 2014 Subaru Impreza. It offers excellent year-round traction, good fuel economy, and in WRX form, impressive performance for less than $30,000.
Putting its AWD advantage aside, there are better compact sedans than the Impreza. The Mazda3, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra all get better fuel economy, are more fun to drive, have more features and have vastly better audio and navigation systems.
Limited trims receive a standard rearview camera, while models equipped with navigation gain Aha infotainment smartphone integration.
Driving Impressions Subaru's whole identity revolves around its patented Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, which is standard on every car it makes, save for the BRZ. Unlike most AWD setups, the Impreza's is...permanently engaged, sending power to whichever wheel or wheels need it most and providing excellent traction on dry and wet pavement. The CVT transmission may not be to everyone's liking, but it does manage to milk the little 2.0-liter engine for maximum power and fuel efficiency. Those who desire more power and less boredom can move to the turbocharged WRX, which still gets fairly good fuel economy but is much more fun to drive. The ultimate WRX is the STI, with more power, a better manual gearbox and additional settings to adjust the center differential for optimum power distribution at the wheels. The STI is not without its detractors: Key complaints are the harsh ride, loud interior and somewhat flat sport seats.
High fuel economy and all-wheel drive rarely go hand in hand, but the 2014 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 cozier 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.Exterior
The Impreza's exterior styling 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 2014 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. Two wagon-only versions, the 2.0i Sport Premium and Sport Limited, have 17-inch wheels and fog lights. WRX and STI models get stiffer suspensions, and the STI has Brembo 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 2014 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. At 148 horsepower, the engine is adequate to get the car up to speed, but not in a 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' low center of gravity enhances handling, and they're known for ruggedness, durability and performance.
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 2014 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. WRX performance models start just under $27,000, 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 the Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, 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.
By Robert (CT) on Monday, December 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solid, Solid, Solid car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have put 10k on this car and I am very impressed. My wife owns a 2008 forester and I liked her car so much that when it came time for me to get a new car I had to look at subaru. Because of the awd this brand feels and is so solidly planted on the ground more so than any other car I have driven. I owned the 2008 mercury sable awd before this car and I am amazed at how this car handles and feels as solid as a much larger car. To many people try to compare this car to a focus or elantra etc in terms of fuel economy, interior and exterior design, and over all value. If you like your cars to look like a space ship inside and like to feel like your in a coup with poor visibility, this is not your car. I personally like the interior design of my previous sable and other cars like it( the new impreza). A more clean look without the oddly shaped vents, plastic trim and accent pieces, and over all futuristic style. This impreza feels planted to the ground like an suv, gets the same gas milage as the focus , has a simple upscale feel inside, and is just an amazing car that for me has it all. Quality, reliability, fuel efficiency , awd, and with the limited model , luxury. If you want these things take a good look at the impreza. If you want a cheap, poorly put together, rat trap and overly estimated mpgs, check out the Hyundai elantra. . There is a reason why Toyota, Honda , and Subaru have the most loyal customers in the industry. And it's not because there the least expensive and most stylish."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By W3ird (WA) on Monday, November 04, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"My old 2005 Impreza was totaled by some idiot, and I was forced to buy a new Impreza because I didn't like the 08-11 design. With the Impreza, you know what you are getting. It is a very reliable AWD sedan with decent gas mileage. Living in Seattle, I wanted a reliable AWD sedan with a manual transmission, so it was either this or an A4 (which is less then reliable). A Quick summary: Engine- less then stellar. Improved fuel economy but severely underpowered. I would gladly take the old 2.5 liter with extra hp over the few upticks in MPG. Transmission- The 5sp is still outdated, and it feels more numb than my 05. Still better then the CVT which is completely gutless. Comes to life in higher RPM's. Interior- Solid. Nothing fancy but works and has enough technology to keep me happy. The clothe in the seats is terrible. I'm already getting stitching undone at 15k miles. AWD- This is why you buy the car. 50/50 split is fantastic in the snow. Put on some new Continental DWS tires (the stock tires are garbage) and the car handles great in the snow. Overall- solid car that should last for 15 years if I decide to keep it. Odds are though- I'll get tired of it and trade it in in the next 4 years or so."
By buffalonismo (NY) on Saturday, November 02, 2013
I don't own this caroverall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "turbo, price"
Cons: "awkward interior, high clutch engage, old exterior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I was very excited to test drive the wrx. Upon my first arrival in the driver seat it was awkward. The dashboard and seats just seemed so uncomfortable. When driving I realiy the clutch let out very high and had no sporty feel at all. The 5 speed transmission seemed out dated and thought the only good part of the car was the fact it has turbo. Acceleration was good and handling felt horrid. Awd I expect it to hug the corners better, it felt like it had a lot of body roll and not fun to drive. The exterior is old at this point and outdated. I can't see myself trading my vehicle in for this to drive everyday."
2 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Phil_oil (CO) on Thursday, October 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "great body style"
Cons: "you will pay thousands of your own money to repair"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"These Subarus have terrible engine design problems that have never been fixed. The heads will likely leak once the warranty runs out. Subaru will not address these problems."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Speedy DeeDee (CT) on Wednesday, September 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, AWD, looks sharp"
Cons: "Missing nice-to-haves"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"KBB reviews are spot-on; it's fuel efficient, looks great, handles well. The interior is plain, and I immediately noticed the absence of cool little compartments to stash lip balm, change, dental floss, etc. (my '01 Forester had tons). I'm getting at least the advertised MPGs, usually a little better based on 50/50 driving city/highway. Perhaps driving style is affecting those unhappy owners' results. I dislike the red back-lit instrument panel at night. For me, it's difficult to see. An engine this size with auto transmission is less than exciting (after driving manual for 35 years). Overall, I'm falling in love slowly (I loooooooved my '01 Forester and cried when it passed on)."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By iamjs (PA) on Monday, September 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, reliable, great mileage for an AWD"
Cons: "stereo seems minimal, somewhat boring interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"As reluctant as I was to trade in my 2009 Audi A4, I wanted something newer and with a little better gas mileage since I do a ton of traveling for work. The Impreza Limited fit the bill for what I was looking for. Two things I didn't want to give up was the heated leather seats and all-wheel drive. Since I previously owned two Subarus (a 2000 Forester and a 2009 Legacy), I knew the all-wheel drive would be top-notch and almost unstoppable in the PA winters. The interior is definitely roomy and could comfortably (very important word here) seat 5 adults. The handling is much better than expected and is very stiff and hugs the corners around sharp turns, something I was afraid of losing when I traded my Audi. I'm not comparing the two vehicles, but the difference between the two is not much. For all of the things that I love about this car, the common thing that everybody does not like is the acceleration. You're buying an $25,000 Impreza, not a McLaren MP4 or even an Impreza WRX or an STi. Of course there's gonna be an obvious acceleration issue. The way I look at it is that it's a trade-off for the all-wheel drive that will be more than useful during the winter months. Besides, 36+ mpg on an all-wheel drive vehicle? I'll take that any day of the week. I've hit 38.4 mpg on a 200 mile drive with the cruise on, and that's even with hitting the gas to get through traffic more than a few times. Everybody's second complaint is the stereo. The package I had came with a double-DIN sized stereo with HD Radio built in. It's adequate at best, but I won't waste time and space reviewing this since you can easily upgrade the stereo for $200-300 at your local electronics store. The interior itself is somewhat plain. Not something that you'd look inside and go "wow!", but being the entry level Subaru I wasn't expecting to be blown away by the interior. That said, if there was some thing that could be improved, this would be high on my list. There is nothing that I don't like about this car, but there is some room for improvement."
15 people out of 15 found this review helpful