Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2014 Subaru Impreza lineup is one of the most diverse in the compact-car arena. The Impreza is a fuel-efficient compact powered by all four wheels and priced competitively against the Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra. At the other end of the Impreza spectrum are the turbocharged WRX and WRX STI, favorites among world rally champs and autocross racers alike.
You'll Like The 2014 Subaru Impreza If...
If you live where snow, rain and ice are commonplace occurrences, the logical choice for compact-car shoppers is the 2014 Subaru Impreza. It offers excellent year-round traction, good fuel economy, and in WRX form, impressive performance for less than $30,000.
You May Not Like The 2014 Subaru Impreza If...
Putting its AWD advantage aside, there are better compact sedans than the Impreza. The Mazda3, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra all get better fuel economy, are more fun to drive, have more features and have vastly better audio and navigation systems.
Limited trims receive a standard rearview camera, while models equipped with navigation gain Aha infotainment smartphone integration.
“Simple” and “easy-to-use” would be the best way of describing the Impreza’s interior. “Plain” may be another. Everything here is functional, and most operations are easy to accomplish, except for the buttons for heating the front seats on models so equipped – they are awkwardly located below the driver’s-side armrest. Impreza models can be made cozier with leather-trimmed upholstery. Passenger room is good for four adults, and cargo space is especially generous in 5-door hatchback models, which can swallow more than 52 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seats folded.
The Impreza’s exterior styling could be called “polite,” with not many attributes to ruffle feathers. Among the most prominent features are the “hawk-eye” headlights and prominent wheel arches. The 5-door hatchback versions are graced with a gently sloping roof and available cargo racks. WRX and STI models retain the previous generation’s body styles and further stand out with aggressive features, including a hood-mounted air intake, deep side sills, trunk-mounted wings on sedans and four exhaust pipes.
Subaru’s whole identity revolves around its patented Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, which is standard on every car it makes, save for the BRZ. Unlike most AWD setups, the Impreza’s is permanently engaged, sending power to whichever wheel or wheels need it most and providing excellent traction on dry and wet pavement. The CVT transmission may not be to everyone’s liking, but it does manage to milk the little 2.0-liter engine for maximum power and fuel efficiency. Those who desire more power and less boredom can move to the turbocharged WRX, which still gets fairly good fuel economy but is much more fun to drive. The ultimate WRX is the STI, with more power, a better manual gearbox and additional settings to adjust the center differential for optimum power distribution at the wheels. The STI is not without its detractors: Key complaints are the harsh ride, loud interior and somewhat flat sport seats.
A base 2014 Subaru Impreza sedan has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $19,000 plus an additional $300 fee for Partial Zero Emissions packages on cars sold in California and some other states. Five-door hatchback models are $500 extra. A well-optioned Impreza can reach about $25,000. WRX performance models start just under $27,000, and the fire-breathing WRX STI is around $35,000 and can reach about $40,000 loaded. On the low end, the Impreza’s price is in the realm of the Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus. Prices for WRX and STI models straddle that of the VW Golf R, and the WRX is in line with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are playing for the Subaru Impreza. In the long term, the Impreza’s resale value is predicted to hold up very well, above most competitors.
Three major trim levels are available on the 2014 Subaru Impreza: 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited. Base models are equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, power windows and doors, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, keyless entry and 4-speaker AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary and USB inputs and Bluetooth audio streaming. Higher-trim models include the automatic transmission, leather seating, larger wheels, heated front seats, automatic climate control and a 6-speaker audio system with HD Radio. Two wagon-only versions, the 2.0i Sport Premium and Sport Limited, have 17-inch wheels and fog lights. WRX and STI models get stiffer suspensions, and the STI has Brembo brakes.
Options for the Impreza include a CVT automatic transmission on models not already so equipped, power moonroof, voice-activated navigation system with 6.1-inch touch screen, cold-weather package with de-icer and heated seats. Other cold-environment accessories include a battery warmer and engine-block heater. WRX and STI performance models can be upgraded with satellite radio, short-throw shifter and turbo-boost gauge.
FUEL ECONOMYHigh fuel economy and all-wheel drive rarely go hand in hand, but the 2014 Subaru Impreza offers both. Models with CVT automatic transmissions are rated at up to 36 mpg on the highway.TURBOCHARGED ENGINEThe high-performance 4-cylinder engines in the Impreza WRX and STI models create much more power than the engine in other Impreza models. The result is blistering acceleration and passing power.
Under the Hood
All 2014 Subaru Impreza models except the WRX and STI use a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine connected to a 5-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission. At 148 horsepower, the engine is adequate to get the car up to speed, but not in a hurry. WRX and STI models use a larger, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that has been turbocharged to make 265 or 305 horsepower, respectively – these are fast cars. The WRX has a 5-speed manual transmission and the STI a 6-speed manual. The Subaru engines are of a type known as “boxer,” in which the cylinders are arranged horizontally and opposed to each other, with the pistons moving somewhat as a boxer punching. These engines’ low center of gravity enhances handling, and they’re known for ruggedness, durability and performance.2.0-liter flat-4148 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (sedan, manual), 25/33 (wagon, manual), 27/36 mpg (automatic)2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4265 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm244 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 mpg2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4305 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm290 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg
With a starting price well below $20,000, the 2014 Subaru Impreza offers the same features and fuel economy as many of its compact competitors, but with the added advantage of standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD). While the bread-and-butter cars make up the majority of Impreza sales, the performance-oriented WRX and WRX STI account for a small but loyal audience who crave speed and agility over fuel economy and a low sticker price. Regardless of which model, the Impreza offers a lot of value for the money. However, if you don’t have a need for all-wheel drive, you can find similar front-drive compacts with better fuel economy, such as the Mazda Mazda3, Kia Forte and Chevrolet Cruze diesel.