By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.2
If you're on a budget but want all-wheel drive (AWD) for optimal traction on slick roads when Mother Nature turns nasty, the Subaru Impreza is the car to beat. With a starting price just over $19,000, the 2016 Subaru Impreza is the least expensive all-wheel-drive car on the market. Beyond its grippy ways and low cost, the Subaru Impreza is practical, easy to drive, fuel-efficient and commands high resale value. The small Subie is available as a 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback, and in higher trims can be had with Subaru's EyeSight safety system that monitors traffic and can automatically apply the brakes in an emergency. The Impreza doesn't offer the range of powertrains found in rivals, but no other competitor comes standard with AWD.
If you want a small sedan or hatchback that boasts all-wheel drive, fuel efficiency of up to 37 mpg and a low starting price, congratulations: You've just found the Subaru Impreza. If that's not enough, Subarus enjoy excellent resale value.
While it's compliant on the highway, the Impreza isn't all that exciting to drive when the roads turn curvy, and its sole engine choice has only adequate power for acceleration and passing. Zestier choices in this segment include the Mazda3, Civic Si and VW Golf.
KBB Expert Ratings
Only minor changes are in store for the 2016 Impreza. Among them is the addition of Starlink Connected Services on Sport Premium models fitted with Subaru's EyeSight system. This adds app-based safety and entertainment options, plus enhanced in-vehicle notifications in the event of an accident or emergency.
As with every Subaru except the rear-drive BRZ sports coupe, the Impreza features all-wheel drive as standard. The system is always engaged and provides a feeling of confidence...
... regardless of weather conditions. Another Subie trait is a low-mounted engine. Having the engine closer to the ground adds to the Impreza's planted feel, and thus its confidence on the road. As we've mentioned, with just 148 horsepower, the Impreza isn't all that fleet. Most buyers will opt for an automatic transmission. Subaru is among the many automakers now using a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and though it won't be everyone's favorite, it does an admirable job mimicking traditional gear shifts. Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters on CVT models are also at hand for manual control of shift points. The Impreza absorbs road imperfections well and offers a comfortable ride, though its engine can sound raspy.
It's hard to find a gasoline-powered AWD car with good fuel economy, but the 2016 Subaru Impreza manages this trick quite nicely. While not a class leader, it's definitely competitive, offering up to 37 mpg on the highway.
ROOM FOR GEAR
Subaru is all about enabling an active lifestyle. If you're the type who enjoys biking or 'boarding, check out the Impreza 5-door. We'll admit its exterior design may not dazzle, but its interior flexibility shines. The rear seats fold nearly flat to create 22.5 cubic feet of cargo room.
Some will appreciate the straightforward design of the 2016 Subaru Impreza. Others may think it's plain. Either way, the Impreza's interior is easy to use, with controls easy to see and reach. The exception would be the buttons for the front-seat heaters hidden below the driver's-side armrest. There's decent room for four adults, and cargo space is generous, especially in hatchback models. If cloth isn't your thing, the interior can be dressed in leather. All Imprezas boast a 6.2-inch high-resolution touch-screen system that controls audio and smartphone functions. We also like the layout and functionality of the steering-wheel-mounted audio and phone controls.
The Subaru Impreza sedan is among the more conservative in this segment. In other words, you won't find a massive grille, overtly styled sheetmetal or big, bling-bling rims. This is sensibility and practicality on wheels. The 5-door Impreza hatchback is equally restrained, with utility prioritized over panache. Attesting to that are the standard roof racks on "Sport" trims of the hatchback, which give them a crossover SUV-like image. One particularly cool option is the Impreza's steering-responsive fog lights, which turn in sync with the front wheels to light corners as you turn.
At its most basic, a 2.0i Impreza sedan comes with a rearview camera, 6-way manually adjustable driver's seat that includes height adjustment, 60/40-split-folding rear seats and 15-inch steel wheels. Audio entertainment is provided by a 4-speaker system with AM/FM/HD Radio/CD player, USB input and Bluetooth streaming, all controlled by a 6.2-inch touch screen. Premium models add heated front seats, automatic transmission as standard, center console with sliding armrest, upgraded audio system with six speakers and 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Top-line Limited models include automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 7-inch touch screen, two USB ports and the Starlink safety-and-security-services system.
Options for the 2016 Impreza sedan and hatchback vary by trim and include upgraded 7-inch display, voice-activated navigation system, power moonroof, and the EyeSight safety and driving-assist system with features like adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane-departure warning. Other add-ons include 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink garage door opener, and steering-responsive fog lights. Cold-environment accessories include a battery warmer and engine-block heater.
The 2016 Impreza sedan and 5-door hatchback ("
wagon," in the eyes of the EPA) use a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine connected to a 5-speed manual transmission or CVT automatic. It's a good little engine, but its forte is providing high fuel-efficiency over rapid acceleration. (If you're more about the latter, check out the turbocharged
Subaru WRX, which used to be part of the Impreza line but is now its own model.) The Subaru Impreza uses what's known as a flat or "boxer" engine layout, in which the cylinders are horizontally opposed, two on each side. When they're in motion they resemble a boxer's fists. The design lowers a vehicle's center of gravity, which in turn improves handling.
148 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (sedan, manual), 24/33 mpg (wagon, manual), 28/37 mpg (sedan & wagon, automatic), 27/36 mpg (Sport, automatic)
The 2016 Subaru Impreza sedan has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $19,090, making it the least-expensive all-wheel-drive car on the market. Impreza 5-door hatchbacks start slightly higher, at $19,590 for a 5-speed model. An automatic transmission adds $1,000. A 2016 loaded Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited can crest the $27,000 mark. At these prices the Impreza is in line with the Honda Civic. The Mazda3, Ford Focus, Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra and Dodge Dart all have lower base prices, but none of them offer AWD. The only rivals that do are the Chrysler 200 and Mitsubishi Lancer, and they cost more. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their new Subaru. Down the road, the Subaru should retain its value very well. In fact, the Impreza just took the crown as Kelley Blue Book's Best Resale Value Award among compact cars.