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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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 the Impreza
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.
FUEL ECONOMY 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.
TURBOCHARGED ENGINE 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.
2014 Subaru Impreza Details
"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.
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.
Under the Hood
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.
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.
"My car is a 2015 Impreza Sport Premium. I traded in a 2011 Chevy Cruze for this car. The first thing I noticed is that there is a lot of leg room for rear seat occupants. I can sit behind my seat without touching the seatback and I'm 6'1". The versatility of the hatchback design has come in handy many times. The Impreza easily holds four people and baggage. The stereo, Bluetooth, air conditioning, heater, and seat heaters all work great. The forward visibility is great. Overall, a very open and roomy cabin. The only downside is that this car seems prone to stone chips in the windshield from highway driving. It's like a stone magnet. This is an excellent winter weather car. Regardless of what other reviewers have said, the car accelerates quickly, and I have no issues with getting on the highway or passing on the highway. The CVT transmission simulates a 6 speed automatic. My rating of 9 is because for a small, cheap car, this thing is awesome. I love it."
"I like the all-wheel drive even though I live where snow is only an occasional problem. That's why I had a Forester and why I switched to an Impreza. The car handles well, and it gives a smoother ride than Subaru's other offerings, which tend to ave stiff suspensions.
However, the car needs a more powerful engine. I'm not an aggressive driver, but getting on the highway and merging in traffic would be a lot easier if the car had some pick up like other cars in this class.
Regarding the touch screen radio, it is flush with the console, not recessed, so it can be very hard - impossible - to see in strong sunlight without the brightness level all the way up. Even with the brightness level all the way up, the rear-view camera cannot be seen when it's sunny out. I didn't have that problem on my Forester. I even tried putting an anti-glare shield over the display, but it didn't help.
All things considered, it's the only car in its class with AWD, it's less expensive than its competitors, it drives well, and it's comfortable. But it's not fun or exceptional in any way except for the AWD. After six months, I kind of want to get something else."
"I love the AWD, and it has pulled well in all kinds of weather and terrain. Factory tires had a slight tendency to slide sideways in the rain, but new higher performance tires have corrected that. Acceleration is less than desirable, but I know that can be corrected by upgrading to the WRX. CVT transmission is a little mushy and loud, but I also test drove the manual shift and it was no quicker on acceleration. Interior fit and finish is excellent. Great visibility in all directions. Heated seats even include heat to the lower back. Brakes are outstanding. Fuel mileage is 27-28 MPG in mostly highway driving."