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2018 Subaru Impreza

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2018 Subaru Impreza Expert Review

By Keith Buglewicz

KBB Expert Rating: 8.7

When it introduced an all-new Impreza last year, Subaru kept only one thing from the old car: its Subaruness. That's still the story with the 2018 Subaru Impreza. With its standard all-wheel drive, sporty handling, and a funky-sounding flat-4 engine, it really couldn't be anything else. Yet everything about the Impreza is better than ever before. It's stiffer than its predecessors, with a more refined suspension and sharper steering, enough that even mid-level models are still fun to drive. The Impreza offers up good interior space as well, with a rear seat that can accommodate adults at last. With cutting edge EyeSight driver assist, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Impreza is a competitive all-wheel-drive alternative to the Mazda3, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and many others.

You'll Like This Car If...

If the foul-weather security of all-wheel drive is at or near the top of your shopping priorities, but you can't break your compact-car budget, then the Subaru Impreza is the only way to go. Even if you ignored its standard all-wheel drive, the Impreza would still be a cutting-edge choice, and comes as a hatchback.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The Impreza's only engine puts out just 152 horsepower, meaning it's not particularly quick. While Subaru has improved fuel economy over the years, it still trails the class leaders, such as the Honda Civic.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.7
  • 8.6
  • 8.5
  • 8.7
  • 8.9
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#10

out of 10

Fuel Economy

#4

out of 10

Horsepower
View all rankings
2018 Subaru Impreza Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

The 2018 Impreza follows an all-new model last year, so changes are limited. Extremely limited in this case, as the only addition is headlights that turn on with the windshield wipers in Premium, Sport and Limited models.

Driving the Impreza
2018 Subaru Impreza Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

There's no escaping it: The 2018 Subaru Impreza is lacking under the hood. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder puts out 152 horsepower, but it has more than 3,000 pounds of Subaru to...

... lug around, and it never feels sporty. It's a shame, because the chassis feels like it could easily handle more power. The steering feels lively and direct in your hands, and the suspension offers up surprising grip, even on lower-end models. On the highway or around town, it's also quieter than you might expect, thanks to the new chassis and impressive sound deadening. The engine can be paired with either a 5-speed manual transmission, or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that uses steering wheel-mounted paddles to simulate the feel of a traditional 7-speed automatic. However, while enthusiasts will gravitate to the manual, they'll also hope a more powerful engine makes it under the hood.

STANDARD ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Picking all-wheel drive as a favorite Subaru feature is like picking red as a favorite Ferrari feature: It's a little obvious. Still, for the same price as many of the Impreza's competitors you get the all-weather security that comes with the system, and you won't find all-wheel drive at a lower price.

EYESIGHT DRIVER ASSIST
Subaru's EyeSight driver-assist technology works a little differently than many competitors, using stereo cameras to literally look down the road and enable active cruise control, collision avoidance, active lane keeping, and more. It's also available on nearly all Impreza models.

2018 Subaru Impreza Details
2018 Subaru Impreza Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The gauges, infotainment and controls in the 2018 Impreza all look and feel more upscale than expected, with soft-touch surfaces, and a stitched look on the dash and doors. The controls are laid out logically as well, including the infotainment system -- don't like the latter, and you can just use the familiarity of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto instead. The comfortable front seats are finally matched with rear seats that can accommodate adults. Cargo space in the Impreza sedan is a smallish 12.3 cubic feet. The hatchback's 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space expands to 55.3 with the rear seats folded.

Exterior
2018 Subaru Impreza photo

Subaru has managed to keep the Impreza instantly familiar while simultaneously making it longer, lower and wider than its predecessor. Credit the grille and headlight treatments, but the rear end and surface detail are all what we expect from Subaru's compact car. But it's integrated with a long roof and coupe-like design that's much more modern than the stubby car from a couple years ago. More important is the hatchback, which actually accounts for 60 percent of Impreza sales in defiance of the usual trend favoring sedans. This hatchback is a looker, and it now shares its built-in roof rack attachments with the sedan.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The primary differentiator between the 2018 Subaru Impreza and its competition is standard all-wheel drive, even in the base model. That base model hits the essentials in other ways as well. The Impreza 2.0i includes a Starlink audio system that brings a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also a rearview camera and air conditioning. In addition, there's standard cruise control and incline-start assist. The Impreza 2.0i comes with a 5-speed manual transmission with the CVT automatic as an option. On the rest of the lineup, the CVT is standard.

Optional Equipment

According to Subaru, the 2.0i Premium is the volume leader, adding a 7-speed manual shift mode for the CVT, better shocks, an updated audio system, and luxury touches like welcome lighting and illuminated power window switches. The Impreza Sport adds more aggressive wheels, tires and suspension settings, red stitching on the dash and doors, and a better audio system with an expanded touch-screen interface. Topping the lineup is the Limited, which features a 6-way-power driver's seat, a color LCD display in the instrument cluster, steering-responsive headlights and more. EyeSight is available as a stand-alone option -- get this -- as is a moonroof.

Under the Hood
2018 Subaru Impreza Engine photo

The only engine available in the 2018 Subaru Impreza is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. It's something of a mixed bag. On one hand, it offers up decent fuel economy, especially considering the standard all-wheel drive. That remains true whether you choose the 5-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission. On paper, those horsepower and torque numbers are competitive, but on the road, the little engine has more than 3,000 pounds of all-wheel-drive Subaru to contend with, and it always feels like it's struggling. The CVT's occasionally slow reactions only exacerbate the problem. We think the 175-horsepower flat-4 under the hood of the Legacy would make a great upgrade engine.

2.0-liter flat-4
152 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/32 mpg (manual, sedan), 28/38 mpg (automatic, sedan), 24/31 mpg (manual, hatchback), 28/37 mpg (automatic, hatchback)

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0i starts at about $19,350 including the including $860 destination charge, making it the least expensive all-wheel-drive vehicle you can buy. The better-equipped Premium model starts around $22,150. For more luxury, the Impreza Limited starts just above the $25,000 mark. If you want a little more driving fun, the Sport model is about $23,000 if you want a manual transmission, or $23,600 with an automatic. Those prices are for sedans -- add about $500 if you want a hatchback. Load up a Limited with all the options and you're still looking at less than $30,000, making the Impreza easily competitive against the Honda Civic, Mazda3 and Ford Focus, none of which offer all-wheel drive. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their new Impreza, and note that the Impreza is consistently a class winner in resale value.

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