Although he’s had a driver’s license for 12 years now, it’s never happened before that my son and I were driving the same car at the same time. But when he came up for Easter there were two nearly identical Subaru Impreza wagons in the driveway.
His had fabric seats, a five-speed gearbox and a clutch pedal, and was coated with dog hair; mine was the Sport version, with leather and the CVT transmission, and was squeaky-clean. So what do you really like about your car, I asked?
Oh—the boy brightened right up; loves his Subie, he does—it’s super reliable, he said. (In 18,000 miles he’s had to replace only tires; he had one puncture that couldn’t be fixed, and decided to replace all four. Not a bad idea.) It’s great in the snow. (We’re just coming out of a record bad winter.)
It’s got room for my stuff. (Bicycle, skis, miscellaneous, the dog; no spouse or kids yet.) Gas mileage (30-plus) is great. And I love that I could get it with a manual transmission. (This is a point of pride for all three of our kids.)
Notice there’s no talk of horsepower, 0-to-60 times, top speed, cornering g-loads or babe-magnetude; welcome to the real world, where cars are everyday beasts of burden, not pricey ego-extenders. With 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque, an Impreza isn’t especially quick or fast, but it is nimble and direct enough to be fun to drive, particularly with a stick shift.
One more thing: Although he is a newly minted RN and pulling down a salary that I didn’t earn till I was in my late 40s, he much appreciates that his beloved Subie doesn’t drain the wallet every month. The sticker on the Sport Limited 2.0i I was driving—which cost a few thousand more than his basic Impreza five-door did—is $24,990, including only Option Package 62, the $1,000 power moonroof. That makes it unusually affordable for a full-time four-wheel-drive wagon with Bluetooth and USB, leather, automatic climate control, backup camera, front-seat and wing-mirror heaters, and a “smart” steering wheel with shifter paddles.
Naturally, by ticking the boxes for the GPS navigation system, various entertainment upgrades, cargo nets, rubber floor mats and so on, you can push this toward 30 grand. But you sure don’t need to. If you want to spend much more on a Subaru wagon, you’re going to have to move up to the larger Outback.
Other carmakers have edged down to this price level with their smaller utility vehicles, but they aren’t necessarily 4WD or even AWD; offering front-wheel drive lets them set a lower starting price. Remember that—save for the new BR-Z two-seater co-developed with Toyota—all Subarus are full-time 4WD. Yet a base Impreza still costs less than $19,000.
Over the years a certain Subaru demographic has formed, and it might have been created with my son in mind: a well-educated, NPR-listening, green-minded, fitness-oriented, young white-collar professional dude whose other transportation is a bicycle. Hey, I knew he’d line up for a Subaru even before he did. I just couldn’t see him in a Ford Escape or a Kia Sorento, for example; those worthy vehicles are too suburban and family-oriented.
With him and his peers in mind, Subaru has created a cool new Digital Dynamic online brochure for the Impreza. It takes a few seconds to download, but it’s well worth a test drive.