With its major redesign last year, the Impreza was transformed from essentially a "one trick pony" (all-wheel drive) to a much more rounded choice, thanks to its composed and comfortable ride quality, spacious interior, improved cabin materials and excellent fuel economy for an all-wheel drive vehicle. The 2013 version has also continued the improvements by adding Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls to the standard features list for all models.
And of course, the Impreza maintains its biggest appeal with its excellent handling in rainy and snowy locations. Also continued, but scheduled for a redesign next year, are the highly-regarded and performance-oriented WRX and WRX STI versions, noted for their powerful engines and impressive handling, backed up by a history of competition successes.
2013 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Limited Sedan
That said, however, it's always wise to not only consider a vehicle's appealing characteristics, but to also measure the possible impact of its potential drawbacks before making a final buying decision. And then, if one decides to proceed with a possible purchase, it's essential to also have a rock-solid plan for getting the best possible price (see the "How To Get The Lowest Price" link below).
Standard all-wheel drive provides secure handling: This is definitely an all-season sedan. With all-wheel drive standard on all models, the Impreza is a sure-footed performer in areas prone to wet and slippery conditions.
Good fuel economy for an all-wheel-drive vehicle: The Impreza possesses competitive fuel economy for the small sedan/hatchback segment. But given its all-wheel drive advantage and the added weight such a system tacks on, it's gas mileage is actually outstanding.
With the manual transmission, the EPA-estimated fuel economy comes in at 25 mpg city and 34 mpg on the highway (33 for the hatchback). Wth the CVT (continuously variable transmission), these numbers rise to 27 and 36, respectively. (See WRX fuel economy below.)
Smooth and comfortable ride quality: Along with its firm steering and braking, the nicely-tuned suspension provides a comfortable and composed ride while most road bumps and imperfections are well absorbed.
Spacious cabin: The front seats provide a generous 43.5 inches of legroom, just 0.2 inches short of tops in class, while the rear quarters are also among the most roomy in this segment. The seating is also comfortable and supportive.
And incidentally, the hatchback offers 22.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats (as opposed to the 12 cubes in the sedan's trunk) and 52 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded.
2013 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited Hatchback
Powerful engines and impressive handling in WRX and WRX STI models: These are fast cars (and manual transmission only). Both turbocharged, the WRX's engine pumps out a healthy 265 horsepower, while the STI's generates 305 ponies. In performance tests, the WRX was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds, the fastest time among all other similarly priced high-performance compacts, while the STI completes the same task in a blistering 4.5 seconds.
In addition to quickness, both are equipped with sport-tuned suspensions and all-wheel drive, making for extremely capable handling abilities, including hard cornering on the track and thrilling rides on curvy canyon roads. In addition to its faster speed, the STI also gets additional settings for adjusting the center differential resulting in the most optimized power distribution to the wheels.
Lackluster acceleration in non-WRX models: A regular Impreza with a CVT was timed from 0 to 60 mph in a slow-for-a-compact 9.6 seconds in performance tests. However, this is not particularly unreasonable considering the extra weight of the all-wheel-drive system.
Elevated cabin noise: This is a definite weak spot when compared to quiet compacts such as the Chevrolet Cruze. In addition to wind and road noise, the CVT can elevate noise further as its sensitive throttle response can sometimes increase engine speed unnecessarily.
Harsh WRX STI ride and still louder cabin noise: Both WRX models have a firmer ride quality than the other models, but some may find the STI particularly harsh and uncomfortable, especially over long trips. The added performance abilities of these models also add to even louder interior noise levels.
2013 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Limited interior
Somewhat bland interior: Although clean and of high quality, some find the Impreza's interior too simple and bland. This is in contrast to other top rivals who have added interior flair in recent years.
Unsurprisingly, poorer WRX and WRX STI fuel economy: The WRX is tuned for performance and cannot compete with the other models in terms of fuel efficiency. But even so, technically it still gets respectable gas mileage given its power. The WRX comes in at an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway, while the STI is rated at 17 city and 23 highway.
Inferior sound systems: This is probably not a great choice for music lovers. Not only is audio quality subpar with the base sound system, but even the optional infotainment interface offers a limited amount of improvement while not being particularly user-friendly.
With its safe and secure footing, comfortable cabin, compliant ride and good gas mileage for an AWD vehicle, the 2013 Impreza is a solid pick in the small sedan/hatchback segment, especially for those living in geographic areas with frequent wet and slippery roads. It's really a matter of accessing the tradeoff of speed for superior traction and AWD security.
Other top small sedan or hatchback competitors may not offer all-wheel drive, but instead feature a sportier ride, a nicer interior, additional high-tech features and better fuel economy, including the Ford Focus, the Mazda3 and the new Hyundai Elantra (and Elantra GT hatchback).
Alternatives to the Impreza WRX would include the Ford Focus ST as well as the Volkswagen GTI that are stylish, fun-to-drive and have more features, but neither can live up to the same performance level. And the WRX STI is on a different level all together. A worthy competitor would be its archrival, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try Open-To-The-Public Auto Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.