Excellent all-weather all-wheel-drive system; strong performance on a budget; capable handling and good ride comfort; standard Bluetooth connectivity; choice of sedan or hatch; good cargo space
The 2011 Subaru Impreza and Impreza Sport are surprisingly affordable vehicles, and among the only ones in this low-priced class to offer all-wheel drive, and Subaru's reputation for reliability, toughness and safety are not to be ignored. The Impreza has been a Top Safety Pick and has achieved top marks in crash tests. Meanwhile, the WRX is a performance bargain, offering the capability of much more expensive cars but with much more practicality. The STI, while being more expensive, offers performance capabilities that are, with few exceptions, matched by vehicles costing twice as much or more.
The Impreza small-car family spans a wide range of the small-car market, starting with the rather basic, economical Impreza 2.5i, and ranging up to the rugged Outback Sport, sporty WRX and topping out with the high-performance STI. Both 5-door hatchbacks and 4-door sedan bodystyles are available.
Both of the sportier models in the lineup, the STI and WRX, get heavily revised sheetmetal this year, with flared-out wheelwells and fenders that give these models a more macho look. Front and rear bumpers and air dams are also reshaped, while larger wheels and tires are positioned slightly outward for a better stance.
A 2.5-liter horizontally opposed, or "boxer" 4-cylinder engine is standard on 2011 Subaru Impreza 2.5i and Outback Sport models. It makes 170 horsepower and can be paired with either a 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic. Like all models in the Subaru lineup, it comes with standard all-wheel drive.
With a strut-type front suspension and double-wishbone rear setup, the Impreza has a suspension layout that affords a larger trunk or cargo area while providing sporty handling and door ride comfort. All Imprezas come with quick-ratio rack-and-pinion steering for a turning circle of less than 35 feet. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are also standard. The relatively unique horizontally opposed engine design also provides improved handling compared to some other small-car layouts.
While the 2.5i and Outback Sport provide adequate acceleration, the turbocharged, 265-hp, 2.5-liter engine in the WRX provides the quick, responsive feel of a sports car in the same practical package as the standard Imprezas. For even more power and performance, the WRX STI steps up to a 305-hp version of the same engine. Neither of these performance models is offered with an automatic transmission.
WRX models come with a special viscous-coupling all-wheel drive system that can either split power 50/50 or send it to the wheels with more available traction. STI models get a special rally-bred Multi-Mode Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) version of the all-wheel drive system that reverts to a 41/59 front/rear torque split. It's a serious performance setup, with a mechanical limited-slip differential, torque-sensing front differential and limited-slip rear. It has the ability to dial up the degree of center-diff lockup via a switch on the center console. Three auto settings allow novices to vary the feel of the car, or adjust for weather conditions, while a manual setting calls out to the experienced rally or autocross drivers.
The Impreza includes Subaru's VDC stability control system. All Imprezas come with Brake Assist, to help provide peak boost in emergency braking, Start Assist, to help start on hilly inclines and front side and side-curtain airbags.
Impreza sedans feature a surprisingly roomy trunk and, Subaru claims, can accommodate three tour-sized golf bags. Hatchbacks have slightly less cargo space, but the rear seats fold fully forward in both body styles. Backseat space is about the same in either model--just adequate for 6-footers, while in front much taller folks will be happy.
All Impreza models now get a new audio system with iPod connectivity, USB, an auxiliary input, iPod controller and Bluetooth hands-free interface. STI models also get special badging throughout, plus aluminum-alloy pedal covers, single-piece sport seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. All models have tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel adjustment. Automatic climate control is standard on the STI, while the navigation system is optional on most of the lineup.
For 2011, the Subaru Impreza GT, which paired a turbocharged engine and automatic transmission, has been discontinued. A new standard audio system--featuring a single-disc CD player, auxiliary input, USB port, integrated Bluetooth hands-free, iPod controls and satellite radio capability--debuts across the model line. Also, a new touch-screen TomTom navigation system is optional on the 2.5i Premium, and a new Outback Sport Special Edition model pairs the navigation system with a moonroof. A backup camera system is a new option.
On the performance-oriented WRX and WRX STI models, there are a host of additional features. Most notably, they get a wider track, stiffer suspension tuning, larger wheels and tires and, for the STI, thicker stabilizer bars and a new bushing design in front. Both performance models also get a slightly different front and rear air dams, with the STI receiving chrome exhaust tips. Steering-wheel audio controls and an auto up/down driver's window are also made standard, the instrument display gets a new look, leather upholstery is offered on the Limited models and the power moonroof is now standard on Premium and Limited models of the WRX and STI. The top-of-the-range STI finally gets some additional premium features as well, including heated front seats, heated side mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer, altogether in an All-Weather Package.
Vehicle Price: 26,220.00
*Estimated payments are for informational purposes only and don't account for acquisition fees, destination charges, tax, title, and other fees and incentives or represent a financing offer or guarantee of credit from the seller.
Equipment that may affect values (standard equipment is pre-selected):
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