2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Review: One Step From Greatness

by Gerhard Horn

The Subaru Impreza hatchback is one of those cars that is continuously updated to keep it competitive within its segment. All of this attention to detail has made it a good car, but not quite a great one. The Impreza is one step away from greatness, and it has nothing to do with the ride, build quality, standard specification, or safety levels. It's all to do with its engine. The naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine has an output of just 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque, mated to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a whiny, dimwitted CVT auto.

We can't help but wonder how fantastic it would have been if it had a more modern engine option, like turbocharged rivals in the form of the Honda Civic, or the Mazda 3. However, the Subaru Impreza hatch has redeeming qualities, like standard AWD, a slew of safety features, and a great chassis.

Read in this review:

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Subaru Impreza?

The Subaru Impreza received some substantial upgrades in 2020, so there's not much to talk about this year. The price increase over the 2020 model is only $100 across the range.

The only addition to the range is the SI-DRIVE performance management system that has been added as a standard feature on the Premium trim. This system is a driving mode selector, which allows the driver to choose between a more economical setup, or a sportier one.

Pros and Cons

  • The ride and handling are superb
  • Permanent all-wheel drive is an added layer of safety
  • Impressive safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA
  • Generous standard specification on the base model
  • Infotainment is easy to use
  • Underpowered engine
  • The manual gearbox is unrefined
  • The CVT transmission is slow and noisy
  • Fuel consumption high on some models
  • A few cheap trimmings on the inside

Best Deals on Impreza Hatchback

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Hatchback
2.0L Flat 4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$19,295
Premium Hatchback
2.0L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$22,695
Sport Hatchback
2.0L Flat 4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$22,995
Limited Hatchback
2.0L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$26,395

Impreza Hatchback Exterior

The Subaru Impreza is best described as 176.2 inches of hatchback. You can tell it's a Subaru because of the badge on the front, but otherwise, there's very little manufacturer design language to distinguish it from other hatches. All models below the Limited are equipped with halogen headlights, while the Premium and Limited are equipped with fog lights as well. The Limited has a full LED setup that swivels as you turn the steering wheel. The base model comes with 16-inch steel wheels with covers, while the Premium has 16-inch alloy wheels. The Sport model has a set of 18-inch alloys that fills the wheel arches nicely, while the Limited has a 17-alloy with a higher profile tire for added comfort.

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Front View Driving Subaru
2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Side View Subaru
2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Side View 1 Subaru
See All 2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Impreza hatch is on par within its segment. One of its more accomplished rivals is the Mazda 3, and it stacks up rather nicely. The Impreza's overall body length is 176.2 inches, which makes it 0.6 inches longer than the Mazda. The wheelbase of 105.1 is a bit shorter than the Mazda's 107.3 inches, but you can't tell the difference thanks to the Impreza's impressive height of 57.3 inches. With a maximum width of 70 inches excluding mirrors, it's 0.7 inches down on the Mazda. The weight is impressively light, however. The base model with a manual gearbox is the lightest model, with a curb weight of 2,989 pounds. The heaviest model is the Limited equipped with a CVT transmission, weighing in at 3,150 lbs. Spec-for-spec, the Impreza weighs around 100 lbs less than the Mazda, which is an impressive feat considering they're about the same size and that the Subaru has the added weight of an all-wheel-drive system to carry around.

  • Length 176.2 in
  • Wheelbase 105.1 in
  • Height 57.3 in
  • Max Width 70.0 in
  • Front Width 60.6 in
  • Rear Width 60.8 in

Exterior Colors

There are seven exterior colors and two cloth seat covers to choose from. All colors are a no-cost option, while the color of the cloth seats depends on the chosen exterior color. The available colors are Crystal Black Silica, Crimson Red Pearl, Dark Blue Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Magnetite Gray Metallic, Ocean Blue Pearl, and Crystal White Pearl. Crimson Red Pearl and Dark Blue Pearl can only be combined with the ivory cloth option, which will likely stain easier. This is something to keep in mind if you have small kids.

  • Crystal Black Silica
  • Ice Silver Metallic
  • Magnetite Gray Metallic
  • Ocean Blue Pearl
  • Dark Blue Pearl
  • Crystal White Pearl
  • Crimson Red Pearl
  • Lithium Red Pearl

Impreza Hatchback Performance

The Subaru's 2.0-liter four-pot engine produces 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft, which is below par in a class where the standard is now closer to 180 hp. Combine that with an unrefined five-speed manual or a noisy, power-sapping CVT, and neither gearbox does the engine any favors, resulting in noticeable drivetrain loss. The Impreza Sport with a manual does a zero to 60 mph sprint in 8.4 seconds according to independent tests, which is poor in this segment. A manual Mazda 3 will do the same in the 6.9 to 7.2 range. The Honda Civic is the current leader in this segment, as it's turbocharged powertrain allows it to sprint to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds.

The Impreza doesn't have a tow rating, which is not unusual for this segment. These cars are more suited to inner-city driving and highway cruising than towing anything large. The Impreza does have Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive as standard, though, which makes it quite unique at this price point. Most of its rivals are available in front-wheel-drive only with all-wheel-drive being an optional extra in some cases. This gives the Subaru a distinctive selling point. The engine doesn't ever feel like it's going to overpower the wheels, but the AWD system does add a layer of safety in tricky conditions. One could argue that it's only really beneficial in cold-weather states, but we like to think of it as nice to have when it rains, or on any other road surface where traction might be an issue.

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Front View Driving 1 Subaru
2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Rear View Driving Subaru
2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Badge Subaru

Engine and Transmission

This area is the most problematic for the Subaru Impreza. We'll start with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Its main rivals from competing manufacturers include Mazda and Honda, both of which offer engines with around 180 hp. Mazda uses its SkyActiv tech to create high compression engines that generate ample power without compromising efficiency from a 2.5-liter four-pot, while Honda went the small-capacity turbocharged route. The 2.0-liter four-pot in the Subaru doesn't have a lot of power available low down, which means you have to work hard most of the time. It would have been a lot easier if the Impreza had a gearbox that allowed the driver to make the most of the 152 horses and 145 lb-ft of torque, but both gearboxes fail to do so. The CVT simply drones and slowly gets the car up to speed, while the five-speed manual does a little better, but only because the driver is in control. As far as manual gearboxes go, it doesn't feel particularly pleasant to operate.

Once the Impreza is up to speed, it feels much better, but getting it there is rather annoying.

Strangely, Subaru hasn't equipped the six-speed manual from the Crosstrek in the Impreza. It seems like it would be a perfect fit. It's even more disappointing that Subaru has yet to introduce a small-capacity turbocharged engine, especially since it has a glorious history when it comes to turbocharged engines.

  • Engine
    2.0L Flat 4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    5-Speed Manual, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    AWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The unremarkable powertrain is even more disappointing when you factor the handling into the mix. This chassis feels like it can easily handle another 50 hp without breaking a sweat. The Impreza was built with comfort in mind and it shows. It never feels floaty, however, as Subaru has managed to find that sweet spot between comfort and handling. It soaks up most bumps, yet it doesn't roll too much in the corners. It's comfortable, but the AWD system means it never feels anything but planted. There's not much in the way of feedback, but the brakes are good and confidence-inspiring.

The steering has some weight to it, which is actually quite nice. It may not match up with the power, but it certainly works in harmony with the suspension setup. It turns in nicely, provides some semblance of feedback and generally provides a pleasurable experience. All it does, however, is highlight the need for a more powerful engine. Even the most vanilla of sedans, the larger Chevrolet Malibu, has a more engaging driving experience thanks in part to a small turbocharged engine.

Impreza Hatchback Gas Mileage

The CVT gearbox does what it sets out to do, which is increase fuel efficiency. The models equipped with this gearbox are the most efficient, with EPA estimates of 28/36/31 mpg city/highway/combined. The Sport model is slightly less efficient due to its sportier underpinnings, with an EPA estimate of one mpg less in each category. The manuals are less efficient across the board. A base manual has an EPA estimate of 24/31/26, while the manual Sport has an estimate of 22/30/25 mpg.

While the CVT may be the most efficient gearbox in the Impreza, it's difficult to make a case for it when you compare it to the consumption figures of the Mazda 3 sedan. It has a more traditional, more responsive six-speed automatic that helps it attain an EPA estimate of 28/36/31. The Impreza has a 13.2-gallon gas tank, which results in a driving range of 409 miles between refills.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 24/31 mpg
* 2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Manual

Impreza Hatchback Interior

While the Impreza is nothing special when it comes to interior design, it does score exceptionally well when it comes to the overall feel and build quality. It's a solid car that feels like it will last for a long time, as expected of a Subaru. Upon closer inspection, there are some sub-par materials, but not in any place the driver or passengers regularly interact with. Subaru has gone for a logical, easy-to-understand layout, rather than an unnecessarily flashy design. And while we like shock and awe features, there's something to be said for an interior that just feels right, as if you've had the car for ten years already. The manual air conditioning/climate control dials are easily within reach, and the controls on the steering wheel are easy to understand.

Subaru has also been generous with the standard kit. The base car is the only model that doesn't have heated seats as standard, for example. The real star of the show, and the centerpiece for the interior, is the Starlink infotainment system.

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Dashboard Subaru
2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Infotainment System Subaru
2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Gear Shifter Subaru
See All 2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Impreza has seating for five, but the center seat in the second row is only really suitable for a child. The only limiting factor is shoulder room because the Impreza is quite large in every other department. Both the front and rear headroom are sufficient in this segment, measuring in at 39.8 inches and 38 inches respectively. Legroom is equally ample, with front passengers having 43.1 inches of space, and rear passengers getting 36.5 inches. The seats are comfortable and padded in all the right places. Visibility is good all-round and the standard rearview camera helps in this regard too. All the doors also open wide enough to make entry easy. The layout of the interior is logical rather than funky, but it works well in this car.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 43.1 in
  • Front Head Room 39.8 in
  • Rear Leg Room 36.5 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.0 in

Interior Colors and Materials

All models, except for the Limited, come with cloth seats as standard. The color of the cloth depends on what exterior color you choose, with both Black and Ivory being available. On the base and Premium models, you get a urethane steering wheel, but the Premium does have welcome lighting and additional interior illumination. Progressing to the Sport model introduces a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a shifter with red stitching. Black sport cloth is standard at this level, with the option of Ivory seats falling away. To add to the sportiness, it also has aluminum-alloy pedal covers, chrome door handles, and faux leather with red stitching on the dash, armrest, and center console storage bin. Finally, you also get faux carbon fiber inserts on the dash and door cards. The Limited comes with interior trimmings that are similar to the Sport model but adds real leather upholstery on the seats with contrast silver stitching.

Impreza Hatchback Trunk and Cargo Space

The Impreza has a 20.8-cubic-foot trunk, which is 8.5 cubes more than its sedan counterpart. That puts it more or less in the middle of the segment, as it has slightly more space than the Mazda 3 (20.1 cubes), but less than the Honda Civic's 25.7 cu-ft. The Impreza's trunk is still perfectly adequate for monthly groceries or two large suitcases, though. The rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 split, expanding the cargo room to 55.3 cu-ft.

There are more than enough storage spaces within, though they aren't particularly big. The glovebox is average, as are the door pockets. All models have dual front cupholders, but only the Limited gets a rear center armrest with another two cupholders.

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Interior Overview Subaru
2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Driver Seat Subaru
2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Maximum Cargo Space Subaru
  • Maximum Cargo Space
    55.3 ft³

Impreza Hatchback Infotainment and Features

Features

The Impreza line-up's standard kit is generous from the base model upwards. Standard fare for the base variant includes keyless entry, cruise control, a rearview camera, a tilt/telescoping steering column, manual air conditioning, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, and a four-way adjustable passenger seat. Adding a CVT transmission also adds Subaru's Eyesight driver-assist technologies such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. The Premium adds heated front seats, heated side mirrors, additional interior lighting, and roof rails. The SI-Drive engine management system is also standard fare on this model for 2021. On the Sport, you'll get a push-button start system in addition to the keyless entry system, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. The top-spec Limited trim adds a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, automatic climate control, blind-spot assist, lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking.

Infotainment

The base and Premium model have a 6.5-inch touchscreen high-resolution display. In the base, you get four speakers, while the Premium trim adds another two speakers, HD Radio, and SiriusXM satellite radio. The Sport and Limited feature an upgraded eight-inch high-resolution touchscreen interface. Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are standard on every iteration. The base model has one front USB port, while the Premium gets dual USB ports. On the Sport, dual rear charging USB ports are added. Both the Sport and Limited can be equipped with a Harman Kardon sound system, while navigation is optional on the Limited only. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot is standard on every trim besides the entry-level variant.

Impreza Hatchback Problems and Reliability

The 2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback has been recalled once in the USA by the NHTSA for a CVT select lever cable nut that may not be tightened properly. Last year's model suffered no recalls, but the 2019 model was recalled twice in the US. The first time was for an ECM software malfunction that could lead to a stall, while the second was for a failing fuel pump.

J.D. Power gave the 2020 Subaru Impreza 76 out of a possible 100 points. It scored a "great" rating in quality and reliability, resale, and dealership experience. The driving experience was rated as "average." Overall, though, it lagged behind competitors like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

The Impreza is sold as standard with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Some wear items are covered for the first three years or 36,000 miles, while the rust perforation warranty runs for five years regardless of miles covered.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

Impreza Hatchback Safety

The Subaru Impreza is an exceptionally safe car. The NHTSA's review of the Subaru Impreza hatchback resulted in a maximum rating of five out of five stars for overall safety, while the IIHS bestowed it with the maximum Good rating in all crashworthiness tests. That being said, the Impreza's headlights were only rated as Marginal.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Every Impreza is impressively kitted out with safety features. The traditional safety kit includes seven airbags (including a knee airbag for the driver), a rearview camera, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, ABS, traction control, and ESC. The addition of a CVT gearbox adds Subaru's Eyesight technology to the mix. This safety suite consists of adaptive cruise control, pre-collision throttle management, lane departure and sway warning, and lane keep assist.

The Limited model adds blind-spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, and reverse automatic braking. Some of these features are available as optional extras on other models.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback a good car?

The Subaru Impreza Hatchback could be a fantastic, class-leading car if it wasn't for the engine and gearbox that drag it down. Take those two out of the equation and you have a superb package in all other areas. It's not particularly striking on the inside, but it's nailed together nicely. The standard specification is generous across the range and it's an easy, gimmick-free vehicle to live with.

The ride and handling are perfectly judged. It's soft enough to be comfortable, but not so soft that it feels unnerving through the corners. One also can't ignore the Impreza's safety credentials, especially if the car is meant to serve as family transportation. The Impreza is already handsomely equipped, and with EyeSight being available from low down in the range, a host of advanced driver assistance systems are available across the whole range. The Subaru Impreza is excellent value for money and a great car. It just needs an equally great engine and gearbox to go with it. If you can live with the poor performance, the rest of the package is very good. If, however, you like to get places in a hurry, it's best to steer clear of the Impreza.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Subaru Impreza Hatch?

The base price of the Impreza Hatchback is just $19,295. You can upgrade this model with a CVT transmission for just $1,300. Next in line is the Premium, which starts at $22,695. This model is only available with the CVT transmission. The Sport starts at $22,995 and comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission. Adding a CVT to this model is cheaper, adding just $1,100 to the price. The Limited carries an MSRP of $26,395 and is only available with the CVT transmission. Subaru charges a destination and delivery fee of $925, which isn't included in the prices above.

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Models

The Subaru Impreza lineup consists of four models. At one end you find the base model, in the middle, we have the Premium and Sport, and at the top end, there's the Limited. The base and Sport models are equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, while the Premium and Limited get the CVT transmission. All versions make do with a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque.

The entry-level Impreza Hatchback is generously equipped, featuring halogen headlights, keyless entry, cruise control, a rearview camera, a tilt/telescoping steering column, manual air conditioning, and manually-adjustable seats. When you add the CVT transmission, you also get Subaru's EyeSight driver-assistance suite with extras like adaptive cruise control. The infotainment offering boasts a 6.5-inch touchscreen interface and sound channeled via four speakers. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included.

The Premium trim adds fog lights, body-color heated side mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, and roof rails. The front seats feature two-stage heating, and the interior ambiance is spruced up a bit thanks to enhanced interior lighting. Although the touchscreen remains the same size as the base model's, a CD player, two additional speakers, and HD Radio are added. For 2021, the Premium also adds the SI-Drive performance management feature.

The Sport trim adds push-button start to the existing keyless entry system, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter and aluminum-alloy pedals. The standard manual Sport comes with an STI short-throw shifter, while the CVT model is equipped with the SI-Drive performance management system. The Sport's infotainment system is upgraded to an eight-inch touchscreen display.

You can spot the range-topping Limited trim with its LED lights that respond to steering input, along with LED fog lights. Inside, it boasts genuine leather upholstery, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, automatic climate control, blind-spot assist, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking.

See All 2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Apart from several standalone features, there are no optional packages for the base and Sport models. You can, however, upgrade the sound system on the Sport model to a Rockford Fosgate surround-sound system for an extra $647.

The Premium trim can be ordered with the Optional Package ($1,970), which adds a power tilt/sliding moonroof, blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, keyless access with push-button start, and a six-way adjustable driver's seat. The Optional Package on the Limited model retails for $2,350 and adds a power tilt/sliding moonroof, the top-of-the-line Starlink infotainment system that includes navigation, and an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

🚗What New Subaru Impreza Hatchback Model Should I Buy?

The Subaru Impreza Hatchback in Premium trim makes the most sense. It's a mid-trim spec, but it remains affordable. It comes with a lot of additional features, over and above what you get in the base trim. Once you add the Options Package, it has everything you could need in a car like this. Although the Premium is not available with a manual gearbox, but it's not exactly a great loss. Neither vehicle is particularly good to drive, but the CVT is at least a bit more frugal, and it comes as standard with Subaru's advanced EyeSight driver assistance features.

Check out other Subaru Impreza Styles

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Comparisons

Subaru Crosstrek Subaru
Subaru Legacy CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Subaru Impreza Hatchback152 hp24/31 mpg$19,295
Subaru Crosstrek 152 hp22/29 mpg$22,145
Subaru Legacy 182 hp27/35 mpg$22,745

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback vs Subaru Crosstrek

The Impreza's biggest competitors come from within its own ranks. The first is the Crosstrek, which, as its name suggests, is a crossover rather than a sedan. That already makes it more appealing to the average person and makes the roughly $3,000 higher asking price more palatable. It also has a newer six-speed manual transmission, mated to the same 2.0-liter four-pot as used in the Impreza. It vastly improves the driving experience, but at the expense of fuel efficiency. Even better, the Crosstrek offers the option of a more powerful 182-hp 2.5-liter engine. The Crosstrek does allow you to make more use of the all-wheel-drive system, as it has more ground clearance. Both cars have the same amount of interior space, but the Crosstrek does have a tow rating of 1,500 lbs. These two cars are one and the same, but the Crosstrek is a better package by comparison because it has a better manual gearbox, the availability of more power, and allows you to do more with the all-wheel-drive system.

See Subaru Crosstrek Review

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback vs Subaru Legacy

At roughly $3,500 more than the Impreza, the Legacy offers another interesting alternative.

It's not a trendy crossover, but rather a traditional sedan. Not only does it offer more space than the Impreza, but it improves on the Impreza's recipe in almost every single way. The 2.5-liter four-pot is more powerful, and while it's also mated to a CVT transmission, the higher output engine does respond better. You can also equip the Legacy with a 260-hp turbocharged four-pot, but this does raise the price far above that of the Impreza. The Legacy also comes standard with Subaru's Eyesight Driver Assist Technology and the Starlink Multimedia system. Subaru's Legacy also has a nicer interior with more premium materials. Although the Impreza Hatchback has more cargo space, the Legacy is a lot more comfortable for passengers sitting at the back. You also get access to features like heated rear seats and dual-zone climate control in the Legacy. If you can stretch to the Legacy, it's simply a better vehicle.

See Subaru Legacy Review

Subaru Impreza Hatchback Popular Comparisons

2021 Subaru Impreza Hatchback Video Review

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