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2015 Subaru Impreza REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/5/2017

Con: Lackluster acceleration; tiresome engine noise, especially with the CVT; substandard sound systems.

Interior: The Subaru Impreza's interior design is pretty conservative, which might turn off buyers looking for more flair. Others will find it clean and likely to withstand the test of time. Materials and build quality are decent for the segment, highlighted by soft-touch material on the dash and door sills along with tight panel gaps. Music lovers, take note, however: The Impreza's audio systems deliver disappointing sound quality, even by the modest standards of this class.

The front seats are comfortable on long road trips (although there's little in the way of lateral support), and head- and legroom are above average for the class. The rear seat is one of the roomiest in the segment, making this Subaru eminently suitable for small families. Cargo space is also generous, measuring 12 cubic feet in the sedan's trunk and 22.5 cubes in the hatchback's trunk. Folding the hatchback's rear seatbacks down opens up a healthy 52.4 cubic feet.

Body: The 2015 Subaru Impreza is available as a sedan or hatchback in 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited trim levels. The hatchback additionally comes in 2.0i Sport Premium and 2.0i Sport Limited trims. The high-performance WRX and WRX STI are covered in a separate review.

The Impreza 2.0i comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, a rear spoiler (hatchback), full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.2-inch touchscreen interface and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, USB/iPod integration, HD radio, an auxiliary audio input and smartphone integration with Aha, Pandora and iHeartRadio.

The Impreza 2.0i Premium adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear stabilizer bar, body-color exterior mirrors, chrome interior door handles, an adjustable front center armrest, a cargo cover (hatchback) and a six-speaker sound system. The optional Alloy Wheel package adds 17-inch wheels and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The optional All-Weather package (included as standard with the manual transmission) adds heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer and heated front seats.

The 2.0i Limited includes all of the above extras, and adds automatic headlights, foglights, chrome exterior trim, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a rear center armrest and a 7-inch touchscreen interface with swipe/scroll capability, satellite radio, voice controls, dual USB ports and text-to-voice messaging functionality. Options include keyless entry and ignition, a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking, lane departure warning and steering-responsive foglights that enhance corner illumination when turning.

The 2.0i Sport Premium adds roof rails, foglights, body-color rocker panel extensions and sport fabric upholstery to the regular Premium equipment list, and it includes the Alloy Wheel and All-Weather package items as standard. Its 17-inch wheels also have a darker "gunmetal gray" finish.

Meanwhile, the 2.0i Sport Limited bundles the Sport Premium model's additional features with the amenities of the 2.0i Limited (including automatic climate control and leather upholstery), and it adds a special silver-accented front grille. Options for the Sport Limited mirror those for the regular Limited.

A sunroof is a stand-alone option on all Premium and Limited trims.

Driving: The 2015 Subaru Impreza's four-cylinder engine provides adequate acceleration around town, but you'll need to plan ahead for highway passing maneuvers. Overall, the Impreza is one of the slower cars in the small sedan/hatchback class. Not helping matters is the CVT, which responds too eagerly to throttle inputs, increasing engine speed unnecessarily and amplifying the racket under the hood. At a steady cruise on the highway, the Impreza isn't any louder than its competitors, but the level of engine noise during harder acceleration grows tiresome. The manual transmission helps matters, but its abrupt clutch take-up can make it difficult to drive the Impreza smoothly in heavy traffic.

Around turns, the Impreza won't immediately wow you with its catlike agility. But if you press on more aggressively, you'll find that it's actually blessed with secure handling, precise steering and confident braking, particularly with the 17-inch wheels and tires. Another nice quality is the smooth and compliant ride. Even driven over broken pavement, the Impreza feels well built and substantial.

What’s New: For 2015, the Subaru Impreza gets a rearview camera, cruise control and a 6.2-inch touchscreen interface with upgraded infotainment features as standard equipment. An advanced safety package (including adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking and lane departure warning) is newly optional on Limited and Sport Limited. The CVT is now standard on Premium, and all Imprezas receive revised front styling and extra sound-deadening measures.

The 2015 Subaru Impreza has a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed "boxer" four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque.

The 2.0i and 2.0i Sport Premium come standard with a five-speed manual transmission coupled to an all-wheel-drive system with a 50/50 default front/rear power distribution. Optional on those trims and standard on the others is a CVT paired with a different all-wheel-drive system that apportions more power to the front wheels by default, but transfers power rearward when more traction is needed.

EPA estimated fuel economy with the manual transmission for both the sedan and non-Sport hatchbacks is 28 mpg combined (25 city/34 highway). The Sport hatchbacks drop incrementally to 28 mpg combined (24/33). When equipped with the CVT, the sedan and non-Sport hatchbacks rate 31 mpg combined (28/37), with the Sport dropping to 31 mpg combined (27/36). These are competitive numbers for the class -- and remarkably high for an all-wheel-drive car -- but we've been hard-pressed to meet them in our testing.

In Edmunds performance testing, a CVT-equipped Impreza sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds, while a CVT hatchback made the same run in 9.7 seconds. These times are slow for a compact sedan or hatchback, though that's somewhat understandable given the extra weight and drag of the AWD hardware.

Safety: Every 2015 Subaru Impreza comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and whiplash-reducing front head restraints. A rearview camera is standard on all models, while adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and lane departure warning are available as a package on the 2.0i Limited and 2.0i Sport Limited.

In government crash tests, the Impreza received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal-impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Impreza its highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, small-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. The Impreza's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

In Edmunds brake testing, an Impreza sedan with 17-inch wheels stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for the class. An Impreza hatchback, also with 17-inch wheels, covered the same ground in 119 feet, which is better than average.

Pro: Standard all-wheel drive; spacious interior; secure handling; compliant ride quality.

Edmunds Say: A roomy interior, a commendable ride/handling balance and standard all-wheel drive make the 2015 Subaru Impreza a solid choice for an all-season compact sedan or hatchback.

Introduction: You'll come for the all-wheel drive, but you'll stay for everything else. That, in a nutshell, is how to describe the 2015 Subaru Impreza.

Subaru is known for offering all-wheel drive on everything it sells, and that means the Impreza is pretty much your only choice for a small sedan or hatchback if you want this traction-aiding feature. But there's plenty more about the Impreza to win you over, too. Its cabin is spacious, with a rear seat that's among the roomiest in the segment. The Impreza also has a well-tuned suspension that nicely buffers passengers from jolts and bumps, yet also provides steady and secure handling around turns. Excellent crash test scores is another bonus.

Downsides to the Impeza largely relate to what's under the hood. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is noisy under hard acceleration, an issue that's aggravated by the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that Subaru offers in lieu of a conventional automatic. Also, while the Impreza's EPA fuel economy ratings are very respectable for an all-wheel-drive vehicle, we consistently failed to match them during our long-term test of a 2012 hatchback. Road noise was another issue we raised with our long-termer, though Subaru has taken steps to address this for 2015, adding sound-deadening material and thicker windows.

As an alternative, you could check out the 2015 Mazda 3, which provides quick acceleration, sharp handling and a nicer interior. It's a similar story with the 2015 Ford Focus, though neither the Ford nor the Mazda is as roomy in back as the Subaru. The 2015 Volkswagen Golf hatchback boasts a perky turbocharged engine, available diesel power and a roomy, upscale cabin. If you're looking for great value, the 2015 Kia Forte is tough to beat. Overall, though, the Impreza is a solid bet for the driver who wants a family-friendly compact car that maintains its composure in unpleasant weather.

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