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2018 Subaru Impreza Overview
Following the debut of its fifth generation in 2017, the Subaru Impreza compact car receives only minor updates for 2018. Available in both sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles with permanent all-wheel drive (AWD) standard, the Impreza rides on a new global platform designed for improved agility, displays a more sculpted exterior look, and comes equipped with the latest technology and safety features. For 2018, the Impreza's upper-level trims get upgraded headlights that automatically illuminate when the driver switches on the windshield wipers.
The Impreza is the first Subaru to ride on the automaker's new Global Platform, which will serve as the foundation for future vehicles. Designed for more comfort and quieter operation with reduced vibration, it positions the Impreza slightly lower to the ground—by 0.4 inches—to improve aerodynamics and handling. The new platform also results in a longer, wider body—by 1.6 inches and 1.5 inches, respectively, compared to the previous generation—and a roomier cabin. The stiffer body and updated suspension make it easier for drivers to maneuver the vehicle during daily driving and avoiding road hazards at higher speeds. In addition, the body's ability to absorb crash energy increases by 40 percent, enhancing its safety capabilities.
The 2018 Impreza's exterior has a more distinctive look, thanks to its creased lines, subtle indents, and angular shaping. The updated front end features a restyled lower front fascia, new hawk-eye headlights, and a revised hexagonal grille with a black-finish horizontal bar and surround, replacing the chrome trim. The sharper sidelines, including one that dips along the front doors before rising toward the rear end, give the Impreza a sportier appearance. Even the lower rocker panels have been updated with a three-dimensional design. Impreza hatchbacks get a revised rear gate hatch with black gloss trim.
Inside, the new Impreza sedan gains an additional 2.9 cubic feet in total passenger volume—to 99.8 cubic feet—that makes it the roomiest four-door in its class. Similarly, the hatchback adds 3.4 cubic feet for 100.9 cubic feet total. Front-seat legroom drops slightly, from 43.5 to 43.1 inches, but rear legroom increases by 1.1 inches, to 36.5. Cargo space behind the rear seatbacks jumps by 1.7 cubic feet in the hatchback, to 22.5 cubic feet. With the 60/40-split seatbacks lowered, cargo space expands to 55.3 cubic feet, an increase of 2.9 cubic feet over the previous generation. In the sedan, trunk space increases only slightly, from 12 to 12.3 cubic feet.
Emphasizing comfort over flash, the Impreza's cabin features soft-touch surfaces, intuitive controls, and good overall fit and finish. The Base trim comes standard with cruise control, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a reversing camera, a 4-speaker audio system, and the automaker's Starlink multimedia system, which includes support for apps like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Pandora. Outside, the Base trim comes standard with halogen headlights, daytime running lights, power-folding side mirrors, and roof crossbar mounting points. It rides on 16-inch steel wheels.
The Premium trim adds standard interior features like heated front seats and a 6-speaker audio system, and the hatchback gets tie-downs and bag hooks in the cargo space. Exterior features include the new-for-2018 auto on/off headlights along with heated side mirrors and 16-inch alloy wheels. The Premium hatchback also gets raised roof rails and a rear spoiler. Options available on the Premium trim include a power sliding moonroof, steering-responsive foglights, and Subaru's EyeSight driver-assistance system, which monitors the surrounding traffic and uses features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and pre-collision braking to keep passengers safer.
The Sport trim delivers a more aggressive driving experience thanks to its sport-tuned suspension and 5-speed short-throw manual shifter, which comes standard. Subaru also equips the Sport with Active Torque Vectoring, which automatically applies braking power to the inside front wheel in sharp turns to improve handling and stability. Inside, it's well-equipped with features such as sport cloth upholstery with red contrast stitching, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, push-button start, aluminum-alloy pedal covers, an upgraded instrument cluster with a 4.2-inch LCD display, and a larger 8-inch Starlink touchscreen. Outside, the Sport gets upgraded LED daytime running lights, a unique black-finish grille, power folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and body-color side rocker spoilers. It rides on big 18-inch aluminum wheels. Options include an 8-speaker 432-watt Harman Kardon audio system.
At the top of the line, the Limited trim gets leather upholstery, a 6-way power-adjustable driver's seat, automatic climate control, and a rear seat armrest. Interior options include navigation, the power moonroof, and the Harmon Kardon audio system. Outside, foglights, steering-responsive LED headlights, unique LED daytime running lights, chrome door handles, and 17-inch alloy wheels with a dark gray finish are among its exclusive standard features.
Despite the Impreza's numerous fifth-generation upgrades, its powerplant rolls over from the previous generation with only a minor 4-horsepower bump in output. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Boxer-style engine, which drives all Impreza trims, now produces 152 hp and 145 pound-feet of torque. Like the Sport, the Base trim comes standard with a 5-speed manual transmission. The Premium and Limited trims upgrade to a Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) with a 7-speed manual-shift mode and paddle shifters. Drivers can add the CVT to the Base and Sport trims as an option, but the CVT in the Base does not include the manual-shift function. Fuel economy numbers vary across the trims depending on equipment, body style, and transmission, but generally range from 22 mpg city and 30 highway for the Sport hatchback with the manual shifter to 28 and 38 for the Premium and Limited sedans with the CVT.
Reviewers say the Impreza's engine remains one of its weaker components, delivering adequate—but hardly sporty—acceleration and performance. On the plus side, all trims come standard with the automaker's Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system, which delivers good handling, traction, and stability. Vehicle Dynamics Control, traction control, and Incline Start Assist are standard on all trims.
The Starlink system on all trims includes a number of safety features, such as automatic collision notification, emergency assistance, roadside assistance, and a stolen vehicle recovery function, as well as diagnostic and remote services functions. The airbag system features a driver's knee airbag and front-seat side-impact and side curtain airbags. When equipped with the EyeSight driver-assistance system and steering-responsive headlights, the Impreza was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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