Compact car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $3,800*


1993 Subaru Impreza 4-door sedan


1996 Subaru Impreza 4-door sedan


1996 Subaru Impreza Outback


1996 Subaru Impreza 4-door wagon


1997 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport

Pros:
  • Airbags, dual (later models)
  • All-wheel drive (AWD models)
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Instruments/controls
Cons:
  • Acceleration (early AWD models)
  • Cargo room
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room

With the exception of available AWD, the Impreza fails to stand apart. Later models might be more tempting–especially the Outback Sport wagon or the 2.5 RS coupe.

Overview

Replacing Subaru’s aging Loyale, the subcompact Impreza came in 4-door sedan and station wagon form, with standard front drive or optional permanently engaged all-wheel drive. Sales began in spring of 1993. Both body styles came in L or step-up LS trim, and seated five. A driver-side airbag was standard; antilock braking standard on the LS. Sole engine at first was a horizontally opposed 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, developing 110 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard on base/L models; electronically controlled 4-speed automatic optional on the L (but standard on LS).

Yearly Updates

1994 Impreza
Dual airbags went into 1994 Imprezas, and antilock brakes became available on L models (still standard on LS).
1995 Impreza
A 2-door coupe joined the other body styles for ’95, and station wagons now came only with all-wheel drive. A 2.2-liter engine, borrowed from the Legacy, became available in 1995 models (automatic transmission only). Coupes and sedans came in three price levels: base, L, and LX (formerly called LS). Wagons came in L, LX, and a new Outback edition. Base and L cars had the 1.8-liter engine. Top-line LX models included the 2.2-liter engine with automatic and all-wheel drive. Targeting outdoor-oriented buyers, the Outback wagon had 2-tone paint, a roof rack, and mud guards.
1996 Impreza
In line with Subaru’s growing emphasis on all-wheel drive, a “value-priced” Brighton AWD coupe joined the lineup, with 5-speed manual shift and the smaller (1.8-liter 4-cylinder) engine. Outback wagons now had the 2.2-liter engine and AWD as standard equipment. Base models were gone, leaving the L coupe and sedan as the sole front-drive offerings.
1997 Impreza
Front-drive and LX models disappeared, but the remaining Imprezas gained a bit of power and a mild facelift. All versions now had all-wheel drive. Automatic transmissions were limited to 2.2-liter models. A more aggressive Outback “sport-utility wagon” debuted, with a raised suspension, wider wheels with 15-inch tires, plus a bold hood scoop and vents.
1998 Impreza
Imprezas enjoy a mild redesign for ’98. Gone is the 1.8-liter engine. New interiors feature larger gauges, new seat fabrics, and revised door panels. Also new is a 2.5 RS model. It comes only as a coupe and gets the 2.5-liter 165-horsepower engine from the larger Legacy model and a rear wing, gold-colored alloy wheels, a non-functional hood scoop, and a sport suspension.
1999 Impreza
Still the only small car with standard all-wheel drive, Impreza returned with few changes among its five models.
2000 Impreza
A sportier 2.5 RS sedan joined the lineup, with all-wheel drive like all Subarus and a 2.5-liter engine.
2001 Impreza
No significant changes were made for 2001. A new model was waiting in the wings for ’02.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

For the first two seasons, only one engine was available: a 1.8-liter, horizontally opposed 4-cylinder, making 110 horsepower. A larger (2.2-liter) “flat” engine, borrowed from the larger Legacy, became available in 1995. Midrange (L) models could have either a 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic, but the LS/LX came only with automatic and base/Brighton Imprezas only with manual shift. Engine outputs grew slightly in 1997, the 1.8 liter engine adding five horsepower and the 2.2-liter two. Legacy’s larger 2.5-liter could be had in the Impreza 2.5 RS. It made 165 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. By 1997, front drive models were gone, and all Imprezas had all-wheel drive.

ohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/109
Engine HP 110-115
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 110-120
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
25/31
24/30
24.3

ohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/135
Engine HP 135-137
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 140-145
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
22/29
22/29
24.7
dohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 165
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
22/28
22/28
24.7

Road Test

With the 2.2-liter engine, acceleration of an AWD model is more than adequate with a manual transmission and adequate with automatic. Simply put, a 1.8-liter model lacks sufficient snap when you need to merge into expressway traffic or pass other cars on the highway. The 2.5-liter on the RS is probably the best all-around engine, providing ample acceleration and good passing power. All engines sound gruff and feel rough with manual shift. Our 1993 test wagon with AWD and a 5-speed felt sluggish from startup, while an AWD sedan with automatic was downright slow. We averaged 24.8 mpg overall with the early AWD wagon–very nice for an AWD car.

Interior space is comparable to that of a Honda Civic, Geo Prizm, or Toyota Corolla. That means sufficient space for four adults. But rear leg space is barely adequate if the front seats are pushed back. Tall drivers might want more seat travel to get farther from the steering wheel and pedals. Visibility is good to all directions. Cargo space isn’t so great, even in the wagon. Rear entry/exit wins no prizes, either, as doors are quite narrow at the bottom and don’t open very wide.

Dashboards are logically laid out, with controls grouped around the gauge cluster–easy to find and operate. On the downside, using the pull-out cupholder blocks access to the stereo controls.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Subaru Impreza AWD sedan automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 3
30%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 39

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
99.2 172.2 67.1 55.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.1 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 36.7 43.1 32.5
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
99.2 172.2 67.1 55.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.1 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 36.7 43.1 32.5
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
99.2 172.2 67.1 55.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
62.1 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 37.4 43.1 32.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Impreza 4WD 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 107
Injury 108
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Dashboard lights
Description: The hydraulic motor for the ABS system runs with the key turned off, which illuminates the ABS warning light on the dash. (1993-96)
Engine misfire
Description: Bucking and jerking at slow speeds on all-wheel-drive cars is due to a defective transfer clutch. (1993-97)
Engine mounts
Description: Due to the multitude of configurations (bolt holes, accessory attachment points, etc.), cylinder heads for 2.5L engines are extremely difficult to interchange, oftenmaking the simplest solution replacement of the engine. (1995-01)
Engine noise
Description: The knock sensors in the cylinder heads may fail, which can cause pinging under load. (1993-95)
Hard starting
Description: The engine may be hard to start after sitting in cold weather because ice forms on the fuel injectors. (1993-96)
Hard starting
Description: ImprezaNo-start or hard starting after sitting overnight in may be due to ice forming on the fuel injector tips. (1993-98)
Transmission problems
Description: Flawed parking rod may allow vehicle to roll when placed in the Park. Rod must be replaced. (2002-2001)

Recall History

1993 AWD
Description: Fuel-filler system does not comply with federal leakage requirements.
1994-95
Description: Inadvertent airbag deployment could occur after undercarriage contact of tow hooks with curbs, dips, speed bumps, etc.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.