Reviews

2011 Subaru Impreza Walk Around

The Subaru Impreza comes in four-door sedan and 5-Door hatchback versions.

The sedan is sleeker and better looking, but the 5-Door offers more cargo space (44.4 cubic feet with seats down) even with its overall length being 6.5 inches less. (Both ride on the same wheelbase, however.)

The 5-door and sedan have the same smooth hood and nose, with a big chrome vee flying over the dark opening in the grille, like a shiny silver bat bursting from a cave. They also share a character crease in the side, although the 5-Door's edginess vanishes in the sedan, which uses old-fashioned red taillamps, an understated black valance under the grille, and a dual exhaust: two pipes versus the 5-Door's one.

The roofline of the 5-Door is only 0.2 inches higher than the sedan, although the coefficient of drag is 0.34 vs. 0.32. (The Outback Sport is 0.35 thanks to the roof rack.)

The Outback Sport is a 5-door. Its styling is edgy, with flared fenders, a blocky butt, and short rear overhang with silvery taillamps. A neat nose rises up and back to the aerodynamic spoiler over the liftgate. The roof rack includes high crossbars that add to the outdoorsy look. The ground clearance is raised, but only by a fraction of an inch; the larger wheels (17-inch alloys) with all-season tires add to the rugged look, more aggressive than the smoother but vanilla sedan. The Outback Sport looks at home on a gravel road high in the mountains.

Interior

Effort and style have gone into the sweeping twin-cockpit design of the Impreza cabin. The quality of the interior materials is good. You can tell that the high-grade plastic is actually plastic, which is not always the case with some expensive cars, but it's not conspicuously plastic, like with some compact cars. The titanium color for the dashboard trim looks nice.

The steering wheel tilts and telescopes, which is good, but it doesn't seem to tilt high enough. At its top position, we couldn't climb into the car feet-first without rubbing our average-height knees against the steering wheel, though admittedly, we had the seat at its highest position, for the best visibility. Speaking of visibility, rearview vision is adequate in the 5-Door hatchback but not great.

On the dashboard above the center stack there's a horizontal window with digital readout for temperature, time, and fuel mileage, but it's not readable in the sun, and distance to empty is unavailable. The stack itself contains the usual vents with a six-disc CD changer above big easy climate control knobs. There's a nice shift lever behind a cubby and coinholder, and ahead of two cupholders and a 12-volt outlet; between the seatbacks there's a small deep console. The door pockets hold 32-ounce cups. Overall, it's a very practical interior, which is what you can expect from the Impreza.

The double-stitched cloth seats in the Outback Sport could be more form-fitting. Their outside edges are rugged and handsome, but the wider center part is made of a material that looks sort of like a pinstripe suit, and which attracts and won't let go of things that commonly float around cabins, especially dog hair. Considering that Subaru owners are well-known dog lovers, who take them everywhere, we find this issue with the seats shocking. The available leather-trimmed upholstery would likely be a better choice for dogs.

Rear-seat accommodations in the 5-Door models are average. There's good headroom, while hip and shoulder room in the rear are decent. The rear-seat legroom is a slim 33.5 inches. The rear seatback angles are reclined for relaxation, and the rear doors open wide, 75 degrees, so ingress and egress is easy, an important quality.

Cargo capacity in the 5-Door, after the 60/40 rear seats are dropped, is excellent for a car of this size. We filled our Outback Sport with a small kitchen table (legs removed), big shop vacuum, a weed whacker, and some boxes. (However, if carrying capacity is your priority, it's not as spacious as a longer Subaru Legacy wagon.)

The Impreza sedan can carry a lot too; being 6.5 inches longer than the 5-Door, it has a large and deep trunk, big enough for three golf bags.

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