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2021 Subaru Impreza Performance

#10 out of 12 in Compact Cars

U.S. News Best Price Program

2021 Subaru Impreza Performance Review


Performance: 6.9

The 2021 Subaru Impreza is comfortable and fun to drive. It’s also fuel-efficient if you opt for the continuously variable automatic transmission. However, its weak engine can sap much of the driving enjoyment.

  • "The 2021 Impreza is remarkably quiet and composed. The 152-horsepower engine isn’t going to move driving enthusiasts, but it’s good enough to get the Impreza where it needs to go in a fuel-efficient manner, despite the extra weight and power requirements that come with all-wheel drive." -- Autotrader
  • "Aside from poor acceleration and a CVT automatic that doesn't always do as we'd expect, the Impreza performs very well." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "Like on most Subarus, standard all-wheel drive remains a key selling point. The only thing that's missing is more power." -- Autoblog (2017)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard five-speed manual; available continuously variable automatic (CVT)

The Impreza’s engine is, in a word, underpowered. It’ll get you around town OK, but there’s no urgency, and accelerating is a leisurely affair. Models with the CVT may return great gas mileage, but some critics find it to be less responsive than the manual transmission. Also, the powertrain drones under hard acceleration.

  • "The engine is efficient enough, but with only 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, the Impreza won’t win over any Honda Civic, VW Golf or Hyundai Elantra owners. At least not until there’s seven inches of snow on their driveways. This lack of muscle, coupled with the weight of the Impreza’s standard all-wheel drive system, results in a lukewarm acceleration time, taking about nine seconds to stroll from standstill to 60 mph. Passing power is also in short supply, but the paddle shifters with the CVT help a bit in this regard. The CVT has other upsides as well, delivering great fuel economy and smooth, shift-free acceleration." -- Autotrader
  • "The Impreza is a tortoise in a class of hares, with a four-cylinder engine that makes 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. With little low-end punch, the Impreza requires considerable goading to keep the engine where it needs to be to make power." -- Car and Driver
  • “While Subaru’s continuously variable transmission continues to improve, it can still feel — and sound — taxed under hard acceleration. The manual transmission can rectify at least the latter issue." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)

MPG Estimates

When equipped with the CVT, the Impreza sedan and hatchback both return impressive fuel economy for a compact car.

  • Sedan and hatchback, CVT: 28/36 mpg city/highway
  • Sedan, manual: 23/31 mpg
  • Hatchback, manual: 24/31 mpg
  • Sport hatchback, manual: 22/30 mpg
  • Sport sedan, CVT: 27/36 mpg
  • Sport hatchback, CVT: 27/35 mpg

Handling and Braking

The Impreza strikes a good balance between comfort and sportiness. The suspension smooths out flaws in the pavement, and there’s little body lean. Meanwhile, quick and responsive steering help this Subaru feel nimble around turns.

  • "The 2021 Subaru Impreza impresses in many areas. Its stiff body and responsive steering engender a feeling of solidity not usually associated with mainstream compact cars." -- Autotrader
  • "The Impreza strikes a near-perfect balance between ride and handling. The body doesn't lean in turns and the quick steering gives the compact car an additional sense of verve. We found the Impreza Sport's relatively firm brake pedal and short stopping distance during emergency-braking situations to be exemplary for the class." -- Car and Driver
  • "The steering feels lively and direct in your hands, and the suspension offers up surprising grip, even on lower-end models. On the highway or around town, it's also quieter than you might expect, thanks to a stiff chassis and impressive sound deadening." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
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2021 Subaru Impreza

MSRP: $18,795 - $26,395

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