All vanilla with all-wheel drive

This is an Impreza. There’s nothing flashy about it. Everything about this car screams ‘vanilla!’, which is kind of disappointing when you remember there's a Subaru badge on either end.

Subaru’s history of quirky and cool has mostly passed, sadly. Likable vehicles like the XV and Forester still remain, but even the historically weird WRX and STI have gone normal (aside from dat rear wing). But does that mean the Impreza is a bad car? Not necessarily. 

The 2016 Subaru Impreza Hatchback is Vanilla With All-Wheel-Drive: Review

For 2016, the Impreza gets a less-than-enthusiastic 148-horsepower four-cylinder engine paired to either a five-speed manual or a CVT. I was driving the latter, and it wasn’t the best option for Subaru for driving fun. But then again, this car isn’t about fun, it’s about practicality, and sales numbers. The 2.0-liter engine—though not eager to get anywhere in a hurry—is efficient. It gets 25 city and 34 highway mpg. It’ll hit 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, in case you were wondering, and works in perfect unison with Subaru’s iconic symmetrical all-wheel drive system.

The 2016 Subaru Impreza Hatchback is Vanilla With All-Wheel-Drive: Review

It’s the only true, base-model hatchback available in the segment with all-wheel drive, which is a plus, considering most people forget the true goal of the hatchback segment. It’s the ideal vehicle for bikes, kayaks, or any activity that requires you to go off the beaten path. A very Subaru specific trait. It’s spacious, too. With 22.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, and 52.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, it’s near the top of the pack in overall interior volume. RELATED: See Photos of the 2015 Subaru Legacy

The 2016 Subaru Impreza Hatchback is Vanilla With All-Wheel-Drive: Review

Where it’s not at the top of the pack is in infotainment. As far as usability goes, it’s fine, but the technology of it feels outdated. It could stand to adapt to the market with the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, especially when you remember you’re paying a premium for Starlink; $149 for a two-year subscription after the first year. The end result for the 2016 Subaru Impreza hatchback is nothing to be excited about; it’s a fine car. The interior isn’t anything special, nor should you expect it to be with a starting price of just $18,795. The drive is decent, the gas mileage is good, and the interior volume is above average. It's most everything you need or want in a compact hatchback. Still, it’s hard not to yearn for some of that Subaru magic reminiscent of Imprezas past. Sigh... 

The 2016 Subaru Impreza Hatchback is Vanilla With All-Wheel-Drive: Review

Specs

  • Engine: 2.0-Liter 4-Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 148
  • 0-60: 8.6 Seconds
  • MPG: 25 / 34

Positives

  • Handsome
  • Clean Exterior
  • Loads of Interior Volume
  • Good MPG

Negatives

  • Too 'Vanilla'
  • CVT is Lifeless
  • No Classic Subaru Charm

Photo Credit: Jeff Perez for BoldRide

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