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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Subaru Impreza Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Subaru Impreza Overview

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Subaru has been building all-wheel-drive cars for so long, it's hard to think of a single model that came any other way. The fact is Subaru was doing all-wheel drive when all-wheel drive wasn't cool—well, maybe it was cool, but only in places like Montana and New England—nobody else really understood the point.

Today, things are much different. The SUV has helped bring the concept of all-wheel traction to the everyday driver; it has also brought poor fuel economy and some lingering doubts about safety and stability as well. Enter the Subaru Impreza, a comfortable, roomy car with a fuel-friendly engine, an excellent safety record and a proven full-time all-wheel-drive system that lets it go anywhere its 5.9-inches of ground clearance will take it.

There are two models that make up the Impreza line: the RS sedan and TS wagon. Though you may not be looking at station wagons when shopping this segment, the Impreza TS makes a lot of sense when you think about it. After all, you get all the power, traction and interior comfort of the RS sedan but with the added bonus of an enclosed cargo area that greatly increases your stowage ability. And it's not just cargo you can stick back there, just ask anyone who has to bring the family dog along on trips. Which ever you choose and for whatever reason, the handsome lines and impressive standard equipment list make a test drive of the Impreza twins a worthwhile venture.

You'll find the Impreza's interior to be a refreshing change of pace from the run-of-the-mill generic interiors that overwhelm most vehicles in this price range. The Impreza's plastics all have a high-grade look and feel and the attractive dash is well laid out, with all of its gauges and controls within clear view of the driver. To make getting comfortable a bit easier, the driver's seat has a ratchet-type lever to adjust its height. On sedan models, the rear seat features a fold-down center armrest with a pass through to the trunk; wagon models have a 60/40 split folding rear seat that when laid flat, increases the Impreza's cargo volume to 61.6 cubic feet.

To keep things fresh, Subaru has graphed much of the WRX's rally-inspired sheet metal onto the humble Impreza—including its oversized front headlights and wide-mouth grille. Unlike the turbocharged WRX, a normally-aspirated 2.5-liter boxer engine resides beneath the Impreza's hood. For those who don't know, the boxer engine has its pistons laid horizontally, thus decreasing the height of the engine and allowing the car a lower center of gravity. You'll likely find that though the Impreza's 165-horsepower is at the upper range of most cars in this class, its acceleration is somewhat hamstrung by the all-wheel-drive's added weight. Opting for the five-speed manual definitely can liven things up, and truthfully, even with the four-speed automatic, the Impreza still provides more than adequate acceleration; just don't expect to take on any WRXs.

Under normal driving conditions, you'll never notice the all-wheel-drive in action—that is until you rocket through a narrow curve or stumble upon an unpaved patch of snow-covered blacktop. The Impreza is as sure-footed as a mountain goat and its brilliantly devised all-wheel-drive system is activated at the split second wheel slippage is detected. On manual transmission models, a purely mechanical mechanism triggers the system to come on line, but on Impreza's equipped with the automatic transmission, a series of electronic sensors can actually engage the system before the slipping tire can get in even a single rotation. With this kind of technology at work, you'll find your confidence for foul-weather driving is greatly boosted. You'll also love that though the Impreza is an all-wheel-drive vehicle, it can still achieve almost 30 mpg on the highway and just over 20 mpg in the city.

Among the Impreza's long list of standard features you'll find air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, remote illuminated entry, auto-off headlights, AM/FM stereo with CD, cruise control, tilt wheel, rear defroster and a rear wiper/washer on the TS wagon. Options include upgraded audio, leather shift knob, fog lights and polished aluminum wheels.

For room, comfort, safety and fuel-efficiency, it's hard to top the Impreza—that is unless you move upscale to the more rugged Impreza Outback or speedy WRX.

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