Compact car; Built in Japan
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $10,500 – $35,000*


2008 Subaru Impreza Front


2008 Subaru Impreza Rear


2008 Subaru Impreza Interior


2008 Subaru Impreza Profile

Pros:
  • Acceleration (2.5 GT, WRX, STi)
  • All-wheel drive
  • Handling
Cons:
  • Engine noise
  • Fuel economy
  • Interior materials

Turbocharged Impreza models offer quick acceleration and solid handling, abetted by their standard all-wheel drive. The WRX STi is faster still, but its raucous nature makes it appealing only to serious driving enthusiasts. While turbo hatchbacks are quite practical, they suffer from copious road and wind noise, middling interior materials, and steep pricing-at least when new. Though at a significant power disadvantage, the non-turbo Impreza 2.5i is the best value in this lineup.

Overview

The entire 2008 Subaru Impreza lineup, which included the base 2.5i, the SUV-flavored Outback Sport, and the performance-oriented WRX and hotter-yet WRX STi, was redesigned with fresh styling inside and out, along with some additional safety features. Two compact body styles were offered: four-door sedan and six-inch-shorter four-door hatchback, both built on a wheelbase nearly four inches longer than before. The 2.5i and the WRX were offered in both body styles; the Outback Sport and the WRX STi came only as hatchbacks.

Each model had all-wheel drive and a 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine. It made 170 horsepower in the 2.5i and Outback Sport, 224 horsepower in the turbocharged WRX, and 305 hp in the turbocharged STi. A manual transmission was standard and available with a hill-holder clutch. A four-speed automatic transmission with manual-shifting capability was optional on all but the STi.

Safety features on all Imprezas included antilock brakes, front side airbags, and, new for 2008, curtain side airbags. An antiskid system with traction control-also new for 2008-was standard on the Outback Sport and WRX, and optional on the 2.5i. The Outback Sport had a raised suspension and 17-inch wheels versus 16s on the 2.5i. The WRX got a sport suspension, 17-inch wheels, hood scoop, and automatic climate control. A navigation system and remote engine start were optional. Heated seats were optional only on the WRX. Subaru’s Impreza competed against the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, and Volkswagen GTI, but none of those had all-wheel drive.

Yearly Updates

2009 Impreza
Subaru revised its Impreza lineup for 2009 and gave the WRX model 41 additional horsepower. The lineup included a new base 2.5i model, the SUV-flavored Outback Sport, 2.5GT, and performance-oriented WRX and WRX STi. The 2.5i, 2.5GT, and WRX came in both body styles. Outback Sport and WRX STi models were hatchback-only. Subaru’s 224-horsepower engine went into the 2.5GT; the WRX held a 265-hp turbo; and the STi had a 305-hp turbo. A manual transmission was standard on most models and fitted with a hill-holder clutch feature. An automatic transmission with manual-shift capability was standard on the 2.5GT and optional for the 2.5i and Outback sport. The 2.5GT and WRX had sport suspension, a hood scoop, and automatic climate control. STi hatchbacks were identified by unique trim and included a performance suspension.
2010 Impreza
The 2010 Subaru Impreza received slightly freshened styling and some new features. The navigation systems on the 2.5i Premium and STI received a new wireless cell-phone link. A new Special Edition package for the 2.5i Premium included heated front seats and a sunroof.
2011 Impreza
The 2011 Subaru Impreza saw only minor trim changes, but the Subaru Impreza WRX STI roster expanded to include a new sedan body style. Further, all versions of this high-performance car got revised styling.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

Subaru’s Impreza 2.5i and Outback Sport use a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. A turbocharged version of that engine, rated at 224 horsepower, went into the 2008 Impreza WRX. The WRX STi has a 305-horsepower version with a six-speed manual gearbox. All Subarus have all-wheel drive. For 2009, the WRX engine gained 41 horsepower (to 265), while its former 224-horsepower version went into the new 2.5GT.

dohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 170
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
20/27
20/26
Turbocharged dohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 224
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 226
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
19/24
19/24
22.9
Turbocharged dohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 265
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 244
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

18/25

Turbocharged dohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 305
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 290
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

17/23

21.0

Road Test

We have had no opportunity to test an Impreza with the base 2.5-liter engine, but in the slightly heavier Legacy, it pulls cleanly at low speeds, though there’s little reserve power for passing or merging. Acceleration in turbocharged models varies according to horsepower rating. Those with the 224-horsepower version are a bit sluggish from a stop, but speed picks up nicely at higher rpm. The transition as the turbo kicks in is smooth and linear, so we’re hesitant to call it turbo lag. The 265-hp version in the WRX is a bit stronger overall. Turbo lag is evident on the WRX STi, but that model is very strong above 3500 rpm. Automatic transmissions perform admirably. Manual shifter and clutch action on the WRX STi, in particular, is smooth and precise–a pleasant surprise given these vehicles’ sporty intentions.

Fuel economy falls short in turbocharged models. Manual-transmission WRX models averaged 19.5 mpg in city/highway driving and 22.2 mpg with more highway use. A 2.5GT averaged 22.9 mpg, while a WRX STi managed 21.0 mpg. Turbocharged Imprezas require premium-grade fuel. Other models use regular.

Ride quality shows improvement over the previous-generation WRX. The 2008 models exhibit a good balance of compliance and control. The 2.5GT is pleasantly supple over most bumps, which is surprising given its somewhat sporty intentions. Still expectedly stiff and occasionally jarring over bumps, it’s never outright harsh.

Steering feel is responsive, if not as razor-sharp as would be expected in a sporty car. Body lean in turns is minimal, and dry-pavement grip is excellent. In wet and snowy conditions, though, the AWD system in one test WRX seemed slow to react when accelerating from a stop. This caused the wheels to spin a bit before the system transferred power for the needed grip. An STi’s moves are more finely honed. Stopping control is very good on all models.

Noise is an issue. The STi’s turbocharged engine whines under full throttle, but it’s relaxed at cruising speeds. The 2.5GT’s engine emits no turbo noise, but its overall sound is not as refined as class pacesetters. The hatchback bodies are particularly susceptible to wind, road, and bump noise.

Climate controls are within easy reach, and are clearly marked. The available navigation system absorbs most audio functions, which slightly complicates their use, but redundant steering-wheel controls help. The navigation system itself is easy to negotiate. Mounted high on the center of the dashboard, the audio system puts some controls just beyond easy reach.

Subaru has attempted an upscale image with the Impreza’s interior design. While the materials look nice and show good assembly quality, they’re comprised mainly of cheap-feeling hard plastic. The “mouse fur” headliner is particularly cut-rate given the WRX’s near-premium pricing. Specific trim in the STi is appropriately sporty.

Six-footers have good headroom and legroom up front, particularly in models not equipped with a sunroof. Sport bucket seats in the WRX and STi have good side bolstering, but not enough lumbar support to make them comfortable for long trips. Visibility is excellent all-around.

Rear-seat space/comfort is an improvement over the previous Impreza, ranking as average for the class. Six-footers will fit in back, but they’ll have barely adequate legroom and knee space. Foot space is good, though. Entry/exit is fine for a compact car.

Cargo space isn’t a strong point, at least in the sedans. In those models, the floor rises over the rear axle, and standard sickle-type lid hinges dig deep into the load area. Hatchbacks are more versatile, with good space behind the rear seats. On both body styles, the rear seatbacks don’t fold flat with the cargo floor, and headrests may have to be removed if the front seats are set far back. Interior storage is poor, with a small center console and just-average glovebox and door map pockets.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5GT hatchback

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 - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 58

Specifications

4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.1 178.3 68.5 58.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
44.4 16.9 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.3 37.6 43.5 33.5
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.1 180.3 68.5 58.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.3 16.9 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.3 37.6 43.5 33.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 4
80%

HLDI

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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Clutch
Description: The idle may not drop down to normal when the clutch is depressed requiring reprogramming of the engine control computer. (2008)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant may come out of the overflow reservoir due to debris caught in the radiator cap which was picked up by the overflow hose being so long it can suck particles from the bottom of the jug and the hose should be shortened. (2000-09)
Trunk latch
Description: The trunk may not close after the emergency release was used requiring rerouting of the release cable. (2008)
Water leak
Description: Water may leak into the front foot wells from fended seams that were not properly sealed. (2008-09)

Recall History

2008 Turbocharged models
Description: Cylinder-head-side oil-supply pipe and turbocharger-side pipe on some vehicles was improperly assembled, which could eventually result in cracking of pipe, allowing oil to leak.
2008-09 w/Thule owner-installed roof-mounted fit kit
Description: Bolts used to secure foot to vehicle is excessively hard, and may cause bolt(s) to be brittle and potentially break under stress.

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.