Subaru wakes up ‘Imprezave’ compact with solid redesign

There are car brands that push their competition and push boundaries. And despite all those efforts, they don’t often get that much attention. One such brand is Subaru, which has an amazing group of loyal followers called Subies. But, Subaru is far from mainstream. Two guys who are also a little removed from the mainstream took a look at the 2017 Subaru Impreza and offered their take.

Former Wheels editors Jimmy Dinsmore and Dave Mikesell got behind the wheel of this all-wheel drive compact sedan this week. We know the Subies will like it, but what about everyone else?

JIMMY: First let me say this: I’m generally one of those in the mainstream folks who doesn’t always understand the Subie phenomenon. I’ve been underwhelmed in the past and a tad bit disappointed. But, with this new Impreza, I’m going to sign up for a Subie newsletter. It’s that good. Fully redesigned for this model year, the Impreza has much improved looks and a significantly better interior. Dave, what did you think about the performance, other than the outstanding all-wheel drive?

DAVE: The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine gets a slight bump in horsepower from 148 to 152, although the Impreza still isn’t Usain Bolt out of the starting blocks. A continuously variable transmission was incorporated in our tester; a 5-speed manual is standard. Where the car does stand out is in its outstanding feel for the road. The suspension, particularly the sport-tuned one on our tester, proved itself capably. As someone who has lived through too many wild winters, I’ve always considered all-wheel drive to be more necessity than luxury. If it comes in a non-traditional format, say a compact sedan, all the better as it opens up more options than the expected sport-utility vehicle.

JIMMY: As mentioned, the Impreza is a compact sedan, so you don’t expect that much room or top quality materials to be used. But, with this redesign, the interior is significantly improved. Subarus in the past have been, let’s call it sparse, on the quality materials. With this new design, the Impreza has good enough materials. There’s way softer materials and an improved infotainment system. It’s still behind some of the competition when it comes to technology, but the Subie buyer doesn’t usually make high tech a priority. The two-tone color combination inside adds extra appeal. Additionally, the back seat feel more like a midsize sedan’s than a compact’s.

DAVE: Impreza sedans come in four trims (as well as hatchbacks, which is a review for another day): the base 2.0i, Premium, Sport and Limited. Prices begin at $18,395 and go upward to $24,095 before destination charges and options are added. The Sport we drove is closer to the high end at $21,995 and comes with the sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels in place of 16-inchers, upgraded carbon-fiber and aluminum trim and 8-inch multimedia touchscreen in place of a 6.5-inch screen, among other items. A selling point are the EPA mileage ratings of 27 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway. It all adds up to a good value that can win some converts, right, Jimmy?

JIMMY: Dave, I may not be ready to be called a Subie yet but I can say the 2017 Subaru Impreza has made tremendous progress and improvements. It already has all-wheel drive which I love, but now it’s an overall better car with improved looks and a much better interior. To make a really bad joke, let’s say I’m imprezda with the Impreza. Goodnight everyone. Be sure to tip your wait staff!

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