Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: 2015 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited

2015 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited Front


The Impreza is a people’s car. There’s a model for nearly everyone, whether it’s a base 2.0i model, which can still be had with hubcaps; an up-level Premium or Limited model; the lifted XV Crosstrek and XV Crosstrek Hybrid; the super-fast WRX sedan (don’t dare call it an Impreza anymore, however); the Sport Premium and this model: The Sport Limited, which is the top-of-the-line model, complete with sporty side skirts, leather, all of Subaru’s latest tech, and more. After three model years, Subaru is adding some new bits to keep its popular AWD wonder wagon fresh.

2014 vs 2015 Subaru Impreza Sport
Note the front fascia on the 2014 Impreza Sport (white) vs. the 2015 Impreza Sport (Dark Gray).
On the outside, the '15 Impreza’s most notable changes come at the front fascia, which has a different bumper, grille, and headlights than '12–'14 versions. Note the comparison above. You'll see the chrome bits on the '15 Impreza. Frankly, I think I prefer the earlier front end, but the revision isn't bad. I, however, am not a big fan of chrome on modern cars. The exterior mirrors also now feature turn signals, by the way. Subaru says the styling changes were done so it more closely resembles the larger Legacy. Other than this, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between a pre-'14 and a '15.

New Subaru 7.0 infotainment system

Inside, however, there are some notable and welcomed changes. Most apparent is the new 7.0 infotainment system which is heaps better than the older version. The large, vibrant touchscreen features all the latest tech and includes an easy-to-use and wonderfully functional navigation system with bright, brilliant maps. Plus, the stereo is now quite good. Previous models didn’t seem to get loud enough; this one is plenty loud. All trims levels now get a rear-view camera, and this Sport Limited trim gets Subaru’s EyeSight tech, which uses cameras mounted in the top-center of the windshield for lane departure, pre-collision, and adaptive cruise control (you can note them in the first photo). There’s also now a color LCD screen in the gauge cluster for various bits of info, such as fuel economy.

2015 Subaru Impreza Interior
The interior remains comfortable, but the heated leather front seats feel flat and have about as much bolstering as a padded lawn chair. Our tester also came with Bluetooth, push-button start, and an optional $2,795 power moon roof.

Another thing that hasn’t changed is the 2.0-liter  boxer four-cylinder engine that churns out 148 hp and 145 ft/lbs of toque. The only available transmission on the Sport Limited is the CVT, which is, of course, mated to Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. This engine/transmission combo makes the car feel heavy and a bit lumbering upon acceleration. Also, and more concerning, was the fact that when I put the car into drive from reverse, there was a moment of hesitation before it’d begin forward progress. I don’t remember previous CVT-equipped Imprezas doing this, so perhaps it was just our tester. This wasn’t an isolated incident, either; it happened every time. Full-throttle acceleration yields a lot of noise and not too much scoot. This car could benefit from another 20 horsepower. And in fact, the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, which we reviewed last year, provided that extra oomph (160 hp vs. 148 hp; 163 ft/lbs vs 145 ft/lbs of torque) this car has. Cornering is full of grip, as expected, thanks to the AWD and 17-inch wheels and tires. I also found the car to have quite a bit of road noise despite added enhancements to quiet the cabin. I blame the 50-series tires.

In terms of fuel economy, the car is still rated at a very respectable 27 city, 36 highway, and 31 combined MPG. Our week with the car returned nearly 29 MPG in mixed use—good for an AWD vehicle.

2015 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited Rear

Whether you’re looking for an AWD vehicle or not, the Impreza is a solid compact car choice no matter which way you look at it. Yes, I’d like more power, more seat bolstering, and a bit quitter cabin, but despite these shortcomings, the Impreza has a lot going for it. Our loaded test model came in at a reasonable $26,885 including destination. While a co-worker pointed out you could get a much faster, sportier WRX for that amount, you don't get leather and some of the other luxury goods you get on the Sport Limited (at least not for that price). You also don't get one other thing: a hatchback.

THE BASICS: 2015 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited
MSRP As Tested: $26,885
Engine: 2.0-liter flat four cylinder
Transmission: CVT
Horsepower: 148
Torque: 145 lbs/ft
Curb Weight: 3,131lbs.
Wheelbase: 104.1"
Overall Length: 174"
Suspension: F: Struts w/lower L-arm; stabilizer bar
R: Double Wishbone
Brakes: F: Disc w/ABS
R: Disc w/ABS
Wheels: 17" alloy
Tires: 205/50R17
Range & MPG: 27 city, 36 highway, 31 combined

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