2017 Subaru Impreza First Drive: No longer the oddball

– La Jolla, California

It’s a good time to be Subaru. Here in the U.S., the automaker just posted its 60th consecutive month of sales increases – this once-niche car company is indeed carving out a mainstream stake. That only stands to get better in the coming months, with the imminent launch of a three-row crossover, not to mention this fifth-generation 2017 Impreza. With a totally new platform underneath and some key improvements everywhere else, the redesigned Impreza puts Subaru right near the top of the compact car class.

Nearly everything has been changed. The 2017 Impreza is the first car to ride on Subaru’s new global platform architecture that will underpin almost every new model moving forward. This brand-new structure makes the Impreza stiffer and safer than before, and lends a hand in making this a car that’s quite good to drive.

Despite its new platform, the Impreza doesn’t grow much in this new generation. Both the four-door sedan and five-door hatchback are only an inch or two longer, wider, and taller, and the 2017 models only gain about as much weight as I do during the holidays, depending on model and trim.

2017 Subaru Impreza: First Drive
2017 Subaru Impreza: First Drive
2017 Subaru Impreza: First Drive
2017 Subaru Impreza: First Drive

The chassis tuning is superb – comfortable enough to filter out small imperfections and provide a smooth ride quality on the highway, but stiff enough to kill body roll while cornering.

It’s certainly not the beauty queen of its class – what Subaru is? – but this Impreza exudes a bit more personality and verve than its predecessor. The body side...