There’s a new Midwesterner at our Ann Arbor offices, and it’s not a product of the Big Three. The vehicle in question is the progeny of Japan but hails from the state that bills itself the Crossroads of America, brags that it’s the country’s second-largest producer of popcorn, and is the site of Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home: You know, Indiana. We’ve taken ownership of a brand-new Subaru Impreza (a hatch, natch), and we’re holding on until the clock hits 40,000 miles.
The Impreza is new from stem to stern this year. Even the bones are different, as this is the first car to use Subaru’s new Global Platform architecture. The Impreza’s sole engine is a 152-hp 2.0-liter flat-four, newly direct injected for 2017 in an upgrade that adds four horsepower over the previous model. A five-speed manual is still the base transmission, while a continuously variable automatic is optional; all-wheel drive remains standard. Subaru’s design team has fashioned a new look for the Impreza, adding more character lines, redesigning the taillights, and giving the hatchback a wider opening.
Subaru has been on an extended sales hot streak, posting eight consecutive years of record-breaking numbers. Demand for the new Impreza was up 33 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with sales of the previous generation a year ago, and its early adoption of Subaru’s new platform makes the Impreza a perfect test case with which to evaluate the strength of the company’s boom-time offerings.
We selected, as most buyers will, a hatchback CVT version of the Impreza. The second-from-the-top Sport trim may not be as universal a choice, but we were drawn to its torque-vectoring functionality, which seeks to capitalize on the Impreza’s stiffened structure for improved handling. The Sport model also wears 18-inch wheels rather than the standard 16-inchers.
For $2945, we added a power sunroof, an eight-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, and Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assistance package. Pre-collision warning with automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring are all included in the EyeSight package. Choosing the CVT added $800 to our bottom line. Those options plus auto-dimming mirrors and all-weather floor mats brought the final tally to $27,605.
The first weekend in our fresh Impreza brought a late-winter snowstorm, the perfect playground for a Subaru. Fun was slightly limited as we were still accumulating break-in mileage, but the little Subie was sure-footed on the slick, unplowed roads we encountered.
With snow days now mercifully behind us (we hope), the Impreza must rely on other traits to impress drivers. Thus far, its charms seem plentiful, with drivers almost universally complimentary about its solid ride and quick steering. Complaining about CVTs is a favorite pastime of C/D editors, but so far the Impreza’s has mostly avoided comment, although that may change as the miles pile up. The cloth-upholstered interior and manual climate controls—we’d expect automatic controls at this price—have inspired the bulk of negative logbook comments and have been unfavorably compared with the finer fittings in our similarly priced long-term Honda Civic.
We took the Impreza to the dealer at 688 miles for a recall on the software that controls the cooling fan. The fix was quick and free, which we hope will set a tone for any future visits. With few miles on the clock, there’s plenty of ground yet to cover in our long-term Impreza. Thousands of miles of summer road trips, morning drop-offs, and evening commutes undoubtedly will tease out issues large and small, so we’ll see whether the Impreza deserves to surpass popcorn as a source of Hoosier pride.
Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 2256 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 28 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 13.2 gal Fuel Range: 360 miles Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED: $27,605 (base price: $20,715)
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 16-valve flat-4, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 122 cu in, 1995 cc
Power: 152 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: continuously variable automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 105.1 in
Length: 175.6 in
Width: 70.0 in Height: 57.3 in
Passenger volume: 97 cu ft
Cargo volume: 21 cu ft
Curb weight: 3202 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 9.1 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 26.0 sec
Zero to 110 mph: 35.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 9.2 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.6 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.9 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 17.1 sec @ 84 mph
Top speed (drag limited): 126 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 170 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.84 g
EPA combined/city/highway driving: 30/27/35 mpg
C/D observed: 28 mpg
Unscheduled oil additions: 0 qt
3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper;
5 years/60,000 miles powertrain;
5 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection;
3 years/36,000 miles roadside assistance