2010 Subaru Impreza car reviews
2010 Subaru Impreza Automatic
|Personality||Economy sedan ... with all wheel drive|
|Why we’d buy it||Subaru AWD|
|Why we wouldn’t||Stiff ride, seats, I4-automatic delays,|
Subaru is one of those brands that most people forget about when shopping for a new car, though their owners tend to be very dedicated and satisfied. All Subarus are all wheel drive equipped, so their main base of popularity is in the colder parts of the North, but they have developed a new base of dedicated enthusiasts with performance cars as well — namely, the Subaru WRX, which is based on the Impreza.
The Impreza seems like a car that you'd base a performance model on, at least in terms of cornering. Like the original Neon, which eventually spawned the SRT4, the Impreza is deceptive in appearance; it looks like another Camcord (or Malibring if you prefer), but it can be driven hard around corners or blasted out of red lights. The suspension is tight and stiff, which means a lot of jiggling in the cabin, and you do feel the bumps and any road imperfections; some are absorbed better than others. On the other hand, if you want hard turns, you can.
The 170 horsepower “boxer” (horizontally opposed cylinders — like a 180° V-4) engine is more of a screamer than a torquer, making power over 3,000 rpm but seeming a bit spongy (with the automatic) below that. It's a good profile for a stick-shift, less so for an automatic; but you can get the Impreza either way, or with a more powerful engine (or, of course, in WRX form). The engine isn't too sluggish at low speeds, though it has a little of that "rubber-band" feel to the drivetrain due to the transmission's tendency to choose a high gear. That said, the responsiveness is far better than the Toyota Camry four-cylinder automatic.
The automatic transmission is a four-speed, with a "sport" (manumatic) mode that lets you choose the gears yourself. The transmission feels better in manual mode, but most drivers will leave it in full automatic, where it generally makes good decisions; it seems biased to gas mileage, but hitting the gas brings a fairly rapid downshift. The top (fourth) gear is somewhat low, and you can drive around in fourth at 25 mph, so that at higher speeds one expects the transmission to upshift. Still, gas mileage isn't bad, with around 26 mpg on the highway going up to 27 if you hang around 40-50 mph, and what appeared to be respectable above-20 city mpg. The sport mode is easy to reach, just knock the shift lever to the left, then pull or push to knock it up or down; the dashboard display shows the gears. No surprises here — which means it was well designed.
As one would hope, the Impreza does well in the show, though of course any vehicle can have problems with ice — and starting well doesn’t mean you can stop, so caution is still needed. Launches with the all wheel drive were easier than with front wheel drive, especially on wet or snow-covered roads (we were able to test both). Dry cornering is very good.
Our test Impreza, a rental car with 40,000 miles (we normally drive new vehicles supplied by the manufacturer), did not feel stable on the highway when there was a wind, and seemed to react poorly to some road surfaces. The steering was normally tight and well connected; on some road surfaces it was twitchy. On good, asphalt roads, there were no problems.
Visibility is about average, with small cutouts reducing problems with the rear pillars, decent headlights, and good side visibility. At night, the backlighting is red, which makes it harder to see when a warning light comes on, but preserves night vision well. In bright sunlight, the warning lights were washed out by the sun, along with the trip computer display. The dome lights were bright, and at night, a mild illumination was provided for the storage area below the center stack.
The gauges are an interesting mix, with a tachometer but no temperature gauge, the latter replaced by a blue "cold" light and, presumably, a red "hot" light. An LED display above the center stack shows gas mileage (tied into the dual trip odometers), the time, the outside temprature, and whether the front passenger is there or not, in case you can't turn your head all the way around; the latter is in orange.
The stereo has three levels of FM presets, which is annoying when you want to switch from FM to AM, since it requires three pushes of the button. Sound quality is good on FM and very adjustable, so if you want to listen to talk radio, you can easily set the bass low to avoid booming; but you can also raise it as the music demands. The stereo was equipped for satellite usage and for MP3 discs (though ours did not have satellite radio enabled).
The quiet interior helps to make the stereo sound better; wind and engine noise were fairly minimal though road noise could be very high, depending on the surface. In some cases, the tires boomed into the cabin; in others, they were quiet.
There were not many drawbacks other than the sometimes-jittery ride; the trunk is not especially large, with 11 cubic feet of space, but it is large enough for most people, most of the time. The locks are poorly marked and the main switch seems to be oddly configured; but one can get used to that eventually.
The $17,495 starting price includes four wheel disc brakes, stability control, a four-speaker stereo/CD player, remote levers for opening the trunk and gas cap, power jacks below the center stack and in the covered center console, traction control, and, like every Subaru, all wheel drive. In return, drivers get a car that may not have the most comfortable ride, but can dart around sharp turns, keep traction on slippery roads, return decent fuel economy with decent power and a decent feel, and will probably be reliable and durable, if past Subarus are any indication. The seats are fairly comfortable and supportive, the interior is fairly well designed, and the utility is there.
The base Subaru Impreza is not exciting, but it is undeniably a good deal. If more Honda and Toyota buyers considered Subarus, they would likely be selling far less of a niche item, loved by those in the know and vaguely remembered by most everyone else. And, of course, for those wanting something more upscale or much faster, the Subaru WRX and Legacy are both clear steps up.