We’ll take everything but the CVT

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Almost everything Subaru does well is featured on this car — the open, airy cabin, simple but well-equipped interior and good interior room, all for a competitive price. It’s coupled here with the brand’s signature stability — that’s the only way I can describe it; a planted, well-damped ride that’s not sporty, exactly, but oh-so secure.

The Achilles’ heel is the transmission. I’m not into bashing continuously variable transmissions — there are well-tuned CVTs on the market, some of them in Subarus; this just isn’t one. Initial part-throttle acceleration is too aggressive, after which the car immediately falls on its face as the transmission “shifts” to a too-high ratio and the driver backs off from the lurching start; during coasting, the car seems to randomly provide either too little or too much engine braking, resulting in the need to either hammer the brakes to come to a stop or coming up way short of the light/car/stop sign. The result is that the Impreza is a difficult car to drive smoothly in traffic. 

The issues are all likely in service to fuel economy, though I never saw my average top 24 mpg in mostly city driving, so I’m not sure where the gains are hiding. Given that transmission tuning is all software based, some of the quirks I experienced may already be eradicated by the time you test drive an Impreza. And drive one you should — the CVT tuning is annoying, but the rest of the car is good enough you need to drive one for yourself.

–Andrew Stoy, digital editor




This five-door is the right price, and it has plenty of utility, but yeah that CVT is just not tuned right. Like Andy said, we’ve been in Subarus with CVTs that are almost entertaining to drive. This is not one of them. Unfortunately, there’s no manual option on the Limited or Premium trim, but you can get a five-speed on the Sport and below.

I like the looks. The front feels sporty and the rear is clean. I also like the character line on the side, which I didn’t notice on our last example, but looks good in black, white and gray. There’s a lot of wheel well, but this is a Subaru, so it has “off-roader” coursing through its veins.

There seems to be a good amount of room in the back seat. I fit my rear-facing child seat back there without moving the front seat too much. I love that the LATCH system connectors are easy to get to. They’re covered by little Velcro flaps so you don’t have to jam the child seat buckles in between seats or anything. Those flaps are even better than the little plastic doors in the German stuff, because those pieces would just be rolling around the floor until the kid grew out of it. There’s not as much room behind the back seat as I expected, though. The space is probably only 2 feet deep and 4 feet wide or so, I wouldn’t complain about another foot of depth.

Besides the seats, the interior is great. The seats are a little hard and a little flat, and not very supportive. The new infotainment screen is way better than the old one — it works mostly like a smartphone screen. Volume, tuning and climate are all controlled by knobs.

The suspension is a little stiffer than I expected; it crashed a few times over the sharper expansion joints, but the steering is nice and weighty and true.

The CVT would be tough to live with, for me, but I would definitely like to try the five-speed Sport trim that starts a little cheaper.

–Jake Lingeman, road test editor



2018 Subaru WRX Premium quick take: All the details



I have fewer beefs with the CVT than the above writers. It didn’t bother me really. The car isn’t a rocketship, but then I didn’t think it would be. I thought the off-the-line getupandgo was fine mostly… I say mostly because I do agree that sometimes the CVT provides either too much or too little engine braking. It’s inconsistent. Still, didn’t bother me too much.

Besides, there’s so much else to like here, well outlined above. The good-looking exterior, the airy, simple and well-equipped interior, plenty of room… and I do mean plenty: I stuffed this thing full of groceries and garden supplies all in one trip. It was awesome from that standpoint.

Also as noted above there’s a stability/confidence to the way this car drives few can match. Or at least few match at this price point. The ride is quite good for a small car, thanks in large part to Subaru’s new super-stiff global platform. In fact, Subaru says the Impreza is “95 percent new.” The platform is designed to support multiple powertrains, including, Subaru says, plug-ins and EVs.

So, could the Impreza be faster/quicker? I suppose, but will the average buyer notice or care? I doubt it, and those who do can opt for a WRX. What they’ll like is that the car rides well, is a lot quieter and smoother than the outgoing car and that the roomy interior’s build quality is much better.

Subaru sales are up 7.6 percent so far this year, the Impreza up a whopping 41.3 percent. The company just keeps on truckin’…

–Wes Raynal, editor







On Sale: Now


Base Price: $25,415


As Tested Price: $29,260


Powertrain: 2.0-liter H4, AWD, continuously variable transmission


Output: 152 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 145 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm


Curb Weight: 3,128 lb


Fuel Economy: 28/37/31 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)


Options: EyeSight driver assists, navigation, premium audio, power moonroof ($3,845)


Pros: Big cabin, stiff chassis, planted on any surface


Cons: Irritating CVT tuning makes it difficult to drive smoothly



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