2021 Subaru Impreza Review
The Subaru Impreza offers two body styles: sedan and hatchback. Both come standard with all-wheel drive, which could be appealing if you live in a cold-weather region and need the extra traction. Furthering the niche appeal here is the car's available manual transmission. Few automakers bother to offer one these days, so credit to Subaru for keeping the flame alive for people who enjoy the more tactile feeling of a clutch and manual shifter.
In other aspects, however, the Impreza is pretty average. Rivals such as the Honda Civic, Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda 3 have more refined interiors and better powertrain choices. So is the Impreza for you? Read our full Edmunds rating of the Impreza to see how it rates in regard to performance, comfort, utility and more.
The Impreza is roomy and provides extra wet-weather traction because of its standard all-wheel-drive system. But the engine and transmission are a bit of a letdown.
How does the Impreza drive?
The weak engine is one of the Impreza's biggest failings. Its 0-60 mph time of 9.4 seconds is near the bottom of the class, and the transmission can exacerbate the engine's buzzy and relatively unresponsive nature. Passing on the highway or merging into traffic requires more time and planning than it should.
It's not all bad news. The brakes are firm and easy to control, meaning you can bring the car to a smooth stop with ease. The steering is quick and responsive without feeling unsettled, and it's sportier relative to the steering in most competitors. Body roll is well controlled, and standard all-wheel drive helps the Impreza feel more sure-footed than some other small sedans.
How comfortable is the Impreza?
With a relatively quiet and smooth ride, the Impreza is a breeze to drive on the highway. It's comfortable and compliant without feeling too soft or floaty. There's no wind noise, but the continuously variable automatic transmission does result in some unpleasant whine. The seats are comfortable and well bolstered even if they are a bit on the firm side for long road trips. The rear seats are flat but comfortable.
The available automatic climate control is easy to operate, but the vents aren't well placed. A couple of the main air vents are right next to the steering wheel, right where you would grip, unfortunately cooling your fingers quicker than the cabin.
How’s the interior?
The Impreza's interior is definitely functional. The controls are clear and easy to use, and the secondary screen on the top of the dash is more useful than it may seem at first.
The Impreza is easy to see out of, especially in hatchback form. There's plenty of room for passengers, though those over 6 feet tall might find the rear seats a little tight. The large door openings make it easy to get in and out. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes, offering plenty of adjustment for drivers of any size or shape.
How’s the tech?
The touchscreen is laid out much like a smartphone homescreen. It's familiar, easy to see and understand, and responsive to touch inputs. The navigation command structure is simple, and finding points of interest is easy. But the stereo's speaker quality and max volume could be better.
The EyeSight system's adaptive cruise control works well. It maintains a proper distance and doesn't slam on the brakes when you get cut off or follow too far behind. The lane keeping assist system also works well.
How’s the storage?
Between the two available Impreza bodies — sedan and hatchback — we'd recommend the hatch. The sedan has limited trunk space compared to class leaders such as the Honda Civic and the Mazda 3. Storage for small items is fine, but some competitors do better. There are plenty of cupholders, all capable of fitting a standard water bottle or soda can.
Child seat accommodation is excellent. The latches are easy to access, and you'll find three anchor points behind the rear seat. The roomy interior means there's a good amount of room for bulky rear-facing child seats.
How economical is the Impreza?
The EPA estimates the Impreza sedan with the CVT automatic, its most fuel-efficient configuration, will get 32 mpg in combined city/highway driving. That's right on target for the segment's top competitors. But real-world fuel economy is disappointing; our test Impreza struggled to yield even 28 mpg.
Is the Impreza a good value?
In lower trim levels, the Impreza is a good way to get all-wheel drive without a big price premium. But as you move up the trim-level ladder, the rising cost makes the Subaru a less compelling offering. The interior isn't as nice as what you'll find in some other small sedans, and no features help the Impreza stand out in the class.
It's certainly a plus that the Impreza is one of the few cars in the class with all-wheel drive. But the lackluster engine reduces desirability. The Impreza is simply too slow compared to some rivals. It's a good car but lacks the desirability of the class leaders.
Which Impreza does Edmunds recommend?
Check out the Impreza's midlevel Premium trim. Rather than feeling bare-bones like the base trim, it comes with a few creature comforts such as heated front seats and Subaru's EyeSight suite of driver safety aids. Tech-savvy buyers will want to consider the Sport or Limited trim level for the upgraded 8-inch infotainment system.
Subaru Impreza models
The 2021 Subaru Impreza is available as a sedan or a four-door hatchback. Features on the four trims are broadly similar for both body styles. The four trims available are the base, Premium, Sport and Limited.