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 TedA on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great utility and fun!"
Cons: "Stereo system needs to be updated"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This has been by far my favorite vehicle. I have owned close to 20 different cars and trucks through the years and nothing has this combination of utility and sport. Many have suggested upgrading the stock performance on this car but even at stock this car will out perform 80% of the vehicles on and off the road! If you do decide to modify the car... Well some of the Porsches and BMWs that I have owned would not hold a candle to it in a modified form! But by far my favorite concept is its utility. I do not go to the track on a regular basis and I have a family this car fits into that category wonderfully (with plenty of acceleration running errands)."
By Sube01 on Thursday, March 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 650overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price, secure on any road surface, good MPG's"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have driven Subaru's for almost 15 years now and the 2014 Impreza Sedan is far and away the BEST machine I have ever driven on slippery, slushy roads. I am one of those aggressive winter drivers and my Impreza took everything I threw at it and begged for more! It is quick, nimble, and sure footed like no other vehicle I have ever driven! The Impreza makes you feel safe and in control. All the while getting great gas mileage. I would recommend this car to anyone!"
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By JT on Sunday, March 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, leg room, AWD"
Cons: "Interior build quality, performance, speakers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Before I go out to buy a new vehicle, I read tons of online reviews, ask other owner's opinions, and pick the brains of my mechanics before I make my final decision. I know how useful a heartfelt and in-depth review is to most people. So here we go... I bought my 2013 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium CVT (hatch) last June, 2013. I had never owned a Subaru until I purchased this vehicle. My main "needs" for purchasing this vehicle: I needed to fit comfortably in the car (I am 6'3"), needed something reliable, needed AWD for NE weather, and needed good gas mileage. I commute 120 miles everyday to and from work. Right now I am just shy of 30,000 miles, so I wanted to give an in-depth owner review. Starting from price paid: I got a pretty decent deal on this car. I showed up to the dealer with no intent of purchasing my Impreza that day. However, they made me an offer I could not refuse for my old Toyota Corolla (which had 245,00 miles on the original motor and transmission and I had ZERO issues with) and shaved quite a bit off the Window Price to make room for the 2014 stock. I did not want this exterior color, or interior color, but like I said the price was just too good to pass up so I sacrificed some of my "wants" for price. My first "need": I am 6'3"; I did not fit well in my old Toyota Corolla. I needed something that was more comfortable for longer rides to accommodate how long of a commute I have. I fit comfortably in this car. The seats are not the best, but they are not the worst either. Added lumbar support would make all the difference. With my seat all the way back, there is still plenty of room in the back seat for other (normal sized) people. In one instance, folding down the rear seats I was able to cut some sheet stock plywood in half and haul that back to my house from the Depot with ease (not bad in my opinion). My second "need": I can't really complain about the reliability at this point. Just shy of 30,000 and there have not been any major issues. I have regularly changed my oil every 3,000 miles. One thing to note, which hasn't posed an issue yet... but it might: This engine burns a LOT of oil. I saw quite a few other reviewers commenting on this as well. Every time that I have changed my oil to date, I have noticed that my car is burning 1 to 1/2 quarts of oil every 3,000 miles. Not sure if this is normal with Subaru's, not ever owning one before. But my old Corolla would spit out whatever you put in it 3,000 miles later. Hopefully this doesn't get worse as my car gets older. My third "need": the AWD in this car is pretty good from what I've thrown at it so far, but I really have not been able to test the true capabilities due to the fact that the tires that come on these rims are absolutely terrible. Do yourself a favor and pick up a nice set of continentals. I did 3/4 of the way through this winter, and I wished I did sooner they make all the difference. With the stock Yokahamas that come on these rims, turning or trying to pull yourself out of 6" of snow is impossible, even with AWD. I drove in a couple dozen snow storms this winter back and forth to work, and I wish I got different tires sooner. With the continentals that I have on it now, I'm pretty sure I could climb the Eifel Tower in this car hahaha My fourth "need": I have averaged 26-29 mpg on this car. In the winter I have seen as low as 24 mpg, and summer high as 32 mpg. Do not go by the gauge on the dash, mine is off my about 3 mpg in either direction. I was hoping that I could get the window advertised gas mileage, but I have not come close. To be honest, I think it is the 2.0 in this car. To get up to highway speeds and maintain 60-80 mph definitely pushes this car to its limits with aggressive highway driving (I have to in my commute, or you might as well get run over). I did not buy this car for performance, but you would think that the EPA ratings would take into account aggressive highway driving into their calculations. I know a couple of other people who get similar mileage as I do and have slightly shorter commutes. I was getting 34 mpg minimum with my old Toyota... I want to touch upon a couple other things with this car that I have noticed: I find that the cup holder arrangement is very odd, considering the armrest goes over one of the cup holders. It is not ergonomically friendly. This is probably not something that you would notice right away, but at 530 am when you are leaving for work, fumbling with your coffee mug can get messy. The stereo is NOT a strong point for this car. One thing about me, I am always listening to music where ever I go, so the fact that Subaru could not get a decent stereo in here is pretty disappointing. The passenger side dash speaker died 2 months into me owning this car, still haven't fixed it yet, I will get around to it eventually. The "upgraded" stereo system does not sound that much better, by the way, and in my opinion is not worth the extra money. Do yourself a favor and get a professional system installed. Don't even bother with the blue tooth... My dashboard is coming loose. This can definitely be attributed to the fact that 90% of Massachusetts roads are garbage and filled with pot holes, but the amount of dashboard noise I have right now is what a 15 year old car should sound like, not a 9 month old car. If you are listening to songs that are bassy you can even hear the pieces of plastic that have broken off shaking around on the inside of the dash. Normally this wouldn't have been that big of a deal for me, but since I drive 120 miles every day this gets pretty annoying fast. There is not as much road noise as everyone else says... The motor in this car is pretty lack-luster. Like I mentioned above, I did not buy this car for its performance. But I would have expected it to be a little peppier considering it is such a small car. If this went back to the 2.5 L that was in the older Impreza's, I'm sure I would be more happy. I was reluctant on buying this vehicle with the CVT. I will say I am very impressed with the CVT transmission. It is seamless going up to speed, and playing with the paddle shifters is fun on back roads. Having the extra 6th "gear" is nice for cruising. I put "gear" in quotations because it technically is just a ratio, not a gear. The paint that Subaru used on the exterior is pretty soft. If you were to take your thumb nail and press it up agains the paint on the car, you would see a mark permanently left there. Overall, I would say that this car is a solid car that meets my needs (generally). From this post, you can probably tell that I am getting into the nit picky, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible. It is definitely not the most high quality vehicle you can buy, but it will get you from point A to point B with minimal issues. To be honest, I don't know if I would buy another Subaru, just because the interior build quality is so terrible. If this car actually got the advertised window MPG, I would probably be a happy customer. Its the little things that add up with this one... I think next vehicle I am just going to buy another Toyota."
16 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By BigMan on Thursday, March 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "MPG, 4WD"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This is a great car. Almost 50K with no service other than oil changes. 4WD was great over this lousy winter, but gas mileage has held at 28 mpg average. Only complaint is cabin is kind of loud -- lots of engine and road noise."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Rex on Saturday, March 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,100overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "affordable price, Real and capable sports car"
Cons: "5 speed manual, long-throw shifter"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Don't buy the WRX for the creature comforts. It is raw, designed and sold to offer a particular driving experience in a reasonable price point. I have a 2001 Porsche Boxter S to compare and both are 2 different but similar cars. Rear-wheel, roadster vs. AWD, sedan practicality; with similar driving fun-factor. Don't pick apart the car for the 'cheap' interior, stereo system, etc. For under $27,000, one is getting a Real sports sedan that can handle any driving situation confronted (and some, for added enjoyment). Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, the WRX is a very capable car. This car is part of a 5 car family fleet fulfilling a gap which offers year-round usability, sedan passenger capability, and sport driving options (on dry pavement). One Con is the shifter, but I'll be changing it to a short-throw in the near future. As for reliability, there are many resources out there you can read to confirm this. I didn't consider the WRX STI because then it would have contradicted the very reason why I bought the WRX...reasonable price for real sports car speed/handling/capability. For $36,000, it would change what I would have expected to get for that price (better audio system, quality interior materials, much higher horsepower upgrade)."
1 person out of 4 found this review helpful
By sad owner on Friday, March 07, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: using oil 1 quart at only 1300 miles.
Pros: "IT goes in the snow,good power,good gas mileage."
Cons: "oil burner."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"If it did not use oil I would have kept it.The new 2.0 motors,are having some problems acording to dealer, other people are complaining about this.Some are fine but other's are not,it just kept getting worse first 1 quart at 4300 miles,then 2000 miles, then 1300 miles.I would not get the 2.0 motor until they fix this problem.One more thing if you look in your owners book under oil it say's they do not consider oil usage bad unless it's 1 quart in 1200 miles."
13 people out of 16 found this review helpful