SEE ALSO: Subaru Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 17,495 Price As Tested $ 19,263 Engine Type SOHC 16-valve 2.5 Liter H4 w/SMFI* Engine Size 150 cid/2457 cc Horsepower 165 @ 5600 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 166 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 99.4"/66.7"/173.4" Transmission Five-speed manual Curb Weight 3092 pounds Fuel Capacity 15.9 gallons Tires (F/R) 205/55 R 15 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/all-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/five-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.33 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 21/27/24 0-60 MPH 9.0 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 17.0 seconds @ 14.0 mph Maximum towing capacity 2000 pounds * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
Subaru's insistence in staying with its all-wheel-drive (AWD) layout and keeping it affordable has paid off in increased sales. New models this year include the new six-cylinder Legacy models, the road-storming WRX, and our tester this week, the Impreza 2.5 TS Sport Wagon.
OUTSIDE - The Impreza sports a new look for 2002. This new identity is highlighted by oversized oval headlights that are canted back toward the windshield. On the wagon models, the new look includes rear window glass that wraps around the rearmost roof pillar. Also new are pronounced fender flares front and rear and a new ultra-stiff body structure. It uses specially-welded side sills and a hydroformed front subframe, along with ring-shaped reinforcements front, back and center to form a series of rings around the passenger compartment. This, along with strengthening elsewhere within the car's structure, helps Impreza offer a new level of crash protection. A short roof rack on wagon models can accept a multitude of sports equipment carriers and our tester wore optional 16-inch alloy wheels and 205/55 R-series all-season tires.
INSIDE - Impreza's interior has been redesigned a bit to provide more room and comfort. The layout is functional, but not lavish. Room was added basically by giving the front seats a ratchet-type vertical adjuster that gives slightly more headroom. The tilt steering column now has more adjustment as well. Impreza is a four-passenger car, made for average-sized adults, so if three across in back is desired, be prepared for a tight fit. The interior is basic without looking stripped down, with large analog gauges that are simple to read, and large ventilation ports that guide air efficiently to where it's needed. Power windows, door locks and outside mirrors are standard, as are cruise control, air conditioning an 80-watt stereo and a 60/40 split folding rear seat.
ON THE ROAD - Our Sport Wagon came powered by a 2.5-liter, horizontally-opposed four cylinder engine. It's different than most engines because the cylinders protrude from the crankcase, or main body of the engine, in a sideways manner, unlike conventional engines, which stick upward. Subaru claims this lowers the car's center of gravity for a more stable feel on the road. It produces 165 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque - impressive numbers for such a small car. And as with all Subaru models, it comes standard with AWD. On the five-speed stick-shift models, the system splits torque in a 50/50 front-to-rear fashion using a center differential and a viscous coupling built into the transmission case. Automatic transmission-equipped models utilize a different system called Active AWD. This technology uses an electronically-managed clutch housed in the transmission tail shaft. Instead of hydraulic actuation of the all-wheel-drive unit, this system is mechanical, using friction between clutch plates to send power fore and aft. It's a seamless system that provides excellent grip anytime.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - Impreza's unitized platform has been enhanced by the ring-shaped reinforcement frame layout. It has helped the chassis to resist bending and twisting by 148 percent and 82 percent, respectively. Four-wheel independent MacPherson strut suspension is fairly typical of compact cars these days, with coil springs, tube shocks and a stabilizer bar fitted at both ends. With AWD and the engine's low center of gravity, our Impreza delivered delightfully balanced handling. Going hot into corners brings some of the expected understeer, or plowing, that happens on cars of this segment, but a smooth roll up in power can correct that, thanks to AWD and the grippy all-season tires. There are four-wheel disc brakes as well, vented up front with twin-piston calipers and solid in back with single-piston calipers. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard.
SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, ABS, daytime running headlamps and side-impact door beams are standard. Three-point seat belts are provided for all seating positions.
OPTIONS - Equipment Group 1 (floor mats, exhaust tips, etc.) $420 - Fog Lamps $298 - Alloy Wheels $525
DESTINATION CHARGE - $525