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2017 Subaru Impreza Sedan and Hatchback First Test: Unrivaled Practicality

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/10/2017 Motor Trend Staff
2017-Subaru-Impreza-20i-sport-front-end.jpg 2017 Subaru Impreza Sedan and Hatchback First Test: Unrivaled Practicality

Underpinned by a new platform and featuring a new multimedia interface, the new Impreza has returned more competitive than ever, and all-wheel drive is no longer the only feature that lets it stand apart. However, the 2017 Subaru Impreza is not a sport compact even in the Sport trim, which comes with a sport-tuned suspension, wider tires, 18-inch alloy wheels, and active torque vectoring (we'll have to wait for the redesigned WRX for a sporty Impreza-based sedan).

At the track, the Sport sedan was slightly quicker, hitting 60 mph in 9.0 seconds and the quarter mile in 16.9 seconds at 85.3 mph. The Limited hatchback hit 60 mph in 9.2 seconds and the quarter mile in 17.1 seconds at 83.9 mph. Both cars stopped from 60 mph at 118 feet, which is on par with more sporting entries in the compact segment. On the figure eight, the sedan was quicker at 27.6 seconds with an average of 0.61g. The wagon was a 0.6 second slower at 28.2 seconds, producing an average of 0.59 g. The Sport trim produced slightly higher lateral acceleration at 0.85 g versus the Limited hatchback's 0.83 g.

The 2017 Impreza excels as an everyday commuter. Even with the Sport trim's slightly more aggressive suspension setup and wider tires, it can easily soak up bumps and imperfections, giving it a comfortable ride. The 2017 Impreza uses Subaru's new global platform and features a fully independent suspension setup with control arms in the rear and MacPherson struts up front. This new setup gives the car a nice balance between ride and handling, so if you throw the car into a corner, it feels stable and confident. All-wheel drive also helps the Impreza feel sure-footed in wet and dry conditions.

Compared to the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra, the 2017 Impreza is a better-handling car; but against the likes of the Mazda3 and the Ford Focus, it falls slightly short. The steering doesn't have much feel and isn't as communicative, but it's not completely dead. Between the two Imprezas we tested, the Sport sedan is noisier and has a slightly stiffer ride, but it barely has a handling advantage compared to the Limited hatchback with narrower tires, 17-inch alloy wheels, and the standard suspension.

2017 Subaru Impreza 20i sport front three quarters© Motor Trend Staff 2017 Subaru Impreza 20i sport front three quarters

Power is adequate with the 2.0-liter flat-four only gaining 4 hp compared to the previous generation. At 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, it's on par for the class, but you really have to rev this engine a bit to get it going, especially when driving up steep inclines, passing when you have more than one passenger, or carrying a lot of gear. The CVT is one of the better units around and does most of the work, keeping the car in its powerband when power is needed. It does have its quirks, such as being slightly jerky when accelerating from a stop, which is amplified by the touchy throttle tip-in.

Practicality is where the 2017 Impreza shines regardless of the body style. Sure, the exterior design isn't sexy, but it pays off in terms of space for people and gear. Both the sedan and hatch have large rear seats that can easily accommodate tall adults. However, front-seat occupants might have a hard time getting comfortable because the seat backs and the cushions are a bit flat. Trunk space in the sedan is 12.0 cubic feet, which can be expanded via the standard 60/40 split-folding rear seats. For maximum cargo-carrying ability, the hatch is the way to go, with 20.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats or a whopping 55.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

Fit and finish is excellent in both Sport and Limited trims with high-quality materials all around. Soft-touch plastics are found in the door panels, the dash, and elsewhere, and padding is in areas where your arms and hands would fall. There's also a good level of sound insulation, which helps keep exterior noise to a minimum on the road. However, when you need to accelerate to pass, merge, or climb grades, engine noise can get intrusive at higher revs. Like the rest of Subaru's vehicles, the 2017 Impreza has excellent outward visibility thanks to its thin pillars and large windows.

Subaru's updated Starlink infotainment system is now one of the best, so you can't poke fun at it anymore. Base models come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, but our two testers had the larger 8.0-inch unit with the Limited hatch featuring navigation as standard. This unit is easy to use with a responsive touchscreen and physical buttons replacing the touch-sensitive ones found in the Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Legacy. The graphics for maps and menus are clean and easy to read; however, media files such as music from a flash drive take some time to load.

2017 Subaru Impreza 20i sport front three quarter turn 02© Motor Trend Staff 2017 Subaru Impreza 20i sport front three quarter turn 02

The integration of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is one of the best in the new Starlink infotainment system. Google maps and all of your infotainment controls are all on the main screen, and the voice command button in the steering wheel toggles Android Auto, not the native infotainment system. Switching between Starlink and Android Auto is a breeze because both systems are able to operate at the same time, which means you can use one for navigation and the other for multimedia. Voice command response when using Android Auto is still better than any multimedia system available, and real-time traffic via Google Maps can help you around congested areas.

EyeSight remains one of the best active-safety and driver-assistance systems available today. Using two forward-facing cameras, the adaptive cruise control gradually slows down and speeds up as needed based on how traffic in front of you is flowing. The car will gradually slow down if a car merges in front you and will stay at a set speed or speed up smoothly when that car moves out of the way. EyeSight's forward collision warning is also one of the best because it isn't intrusive and can easily detect when traffic is slowing down quickly, allowing it to warn you to brake ahead of time. Combined with lane departure warning and blind-spot warning, the system can make long road trips easier. It's able to scan the road ahead without becoming annoying and gives the driver enough time to react if it senses trouble.

The 2017 Subaru Impreza just received a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, scoring Good on all crash tests and the headlight safety test when equipped with the available LED headlights. As a testament to EyeSight's effectiveness, the 2017 Impreza also received the highest score of Superior in the IIHS' front crash-prevention test when it avoided a 12-mph and 25-mph collision.

As tested at $29,260, the Impreza Limited hatch veers toward the more expensive end of the spectrum when loaded with everything. Our Sport sedan tester, on the other hand, was more affordable at $23,615 because it didn't have the EyeSight safety suite, which was a $2,945 extra. For the money, both cars offer plenty of value, thanks to a generous standard equipment list. Just be mindful with the options sheet.

With its spacious interior and solid suite of active safety features, the 2017 Subaru Impreza is as sensible as they come. Sure, it's no sport compact, but it excels where it matters for most consumers: the real world. It offers a smooth ride and handling balance, generous room for adult passengers, and plenty of space, especially in the wagon. Even though slightly underpowered, the 2017 Impreza's excellent fuel economy makes up for it. Combine that with an infotainment system that's now one of the best, and the 2017 Impreza becomes a great all-around compact car that does nearly everything well.

2017 SUBARU IMPREZA 20I SPORT FRONT THREE QUARTER TURN: You've decided on a 2017 Subaru Impreza, and you're now in the process of picking body styles and trim levels. Both sedan and hatch are spacious and practical, but what gives you the most value? Is the hatch worth the extra $500 over the sedan? What about the Sport trim? Does ride and handling differ much from the other trims? After putting a 2017 Impreza 2.0i Sport sedan and a 2.0i Limited hatch through our testing regime, we got some answers. Here are seven reasons to ditch the trunk in favor of the hatch and to stick with the non-Sport grades.Don't miss our 2017 Subaru Impreza sedan and hatch First Test HERE. 2017 Subaru Impreza: 7 Reasons to Get the Hatch and Skip the Sport Trim

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2017 Subaru Impreza Sedan (2.0i Sport)2017 Subaru Impreza Hatch (2.0i Limited)
BASE PRICE $23,615$25,415
PRICE AS TESTED $23,615$29,260
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedanFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 2.0L/152-hp/145-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve flat-42.0L/152-hp/145-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve flat-4
TRANSMISSION Cont variable autoCont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,114 lb (59/41%)3,161 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 105.1 in105.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.1 x 70.0 x 57.3 in175.6 x 70.0 x 57.3 in
0-60 MPH 9.0 sec9.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.9 sec @ 85.3 mph17.1 sec @ 83.9 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 118 ft118 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.85 g (avg)0.83 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.6 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)28.2 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 34.4/35.8/35.0 mpgN/A
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 27/36/30 mpg28/37/30 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 125/94 kW-hrs/100 miles125/94 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.64 lb/mile0.64 lb/mile

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