From my kitchen table, gazing at the homely, unassuming Subaru Impreza (view photos) sedan, sitting there in my driveway with its Spark Silver paint job and cute little 16-inch alloy wheels, looking like it just rolled out of the 1990s, I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open. It is utterly remarkable that the basic DNA strand for the brilliant WRX STI can look so totally innocuous, blending so completely into the suburban landscape as to become invisible. But when you look into the Impreza’s face, you’ll notice how the headlamps communicate intensity of focus and how the grille scowls with subtle discontent, hinting at the strengths and capabilities within.
Later, after a caffeine fix, I take the Impreza for a drive in the local mountains, where it becomes crystal clear that this is the Clark Kent of compact sedans.
About Our Test Car
Excluding the WRX and WRX STI lineup, Subaru sells the Impreza as a five-door hatchback or four-door sedan. The hatchback is available in 2.5i, 2.5GT, and Outback Sport trim levels, while the sedan is offered in 2.5i or 2.5GT trim. The 2.5i model serves as the entry-level Impreza, the 2.5GT is a turbocharged performance-tuned variant, and the Outback Sport is a crossover SUV equipped for moderate off-roading.
Our test car is the Impreza 2.5i Sedan equipped with Premium trim, which adds alloy wheels, a premium sound system, a six-disc CD changer, an auxiliary audio input jack, and leather wrapped around the steering wheel and parking brake handle, bringing the price to $19,190. To this, our car’s window sticker added an automatic transmission ($1,000) and an option package ($3,000) with satellite radio, a touch-screen navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free calling, auxiliary audio and video input jacks, and a power moonroof. Our Spark Silver test car’s final tab was $23,190.
Safety Reliability and Value
Six airbags, stability control, and four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, and brake assist are included with every 2014 Subaru Impreza (view photos). The company also engineers every one of its cars with what it calls a Ring-shaped Reinforcement Frame with the intent of providing its consumers the safest possible design.
Based on crash-test results from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Subaru has succeeded. The NHTSA gives the Impreza 5-Star ratings for all evaluations except rear passenger protection in a side impact crash, for which the car gets a 4-Star rating. The Impreza’s ability to resist rolling over in an accident is also rated 4 Stars. Similarly, the IIHS gives the Impreza its Top Safety Pick designation because the car receives the highest score of Good in each of the institute’s four crashworthiness tests.
With regard to quality and reliability, Consumer Reports says the Impreza will deliver better than average reliability over time. J.D. Power and Associates isn’t quite as optimistic, giving the Subaru and average predicted reliability rating in part because the Impreza’s initial quality performance put the car slightly below average.
The Impreza is likely to be worth a good chunk of change when you’re done with it. Automotive Lease Guide gives the car its highest rating of 5 Stars for the Impreza’s ability to retain its value over time, and Consumer Reports says the Subaru will give a better than average performance in terms of resisting depreciation.
Unfortunately, Subaru’s warranty coverage is not as good as what many automakers provide. The powertrain is covered for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Additionally, the Impreza is protected with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty that includes 24-hour roadside assistance, and Subaru warrants that rust won’t poke holes in the metal for the first five years of ownership, with no mileage restriction.