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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Subaru Impreza Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Subaru Impreza Overview

Maybe Subaru Should Re-name it the "Impress Us"

We're not sure what the name means or even where it comes from, but we can tell you that the Subaru Impreza is a very impressive vehicle, full of innovative ideas and useful features. The Impreza is Subaru's smallest and most affordable vehicle. Though there are two rally-inspired variations of the Impreza—the WRX and WRX Sti—the vehicle we are reviewing is the less-rebellious base model known as the 2.5 RS (and its wagon alter-ego, the 2.5 TS.)

As entry-level models go, the Impreza does not come cheap. For those who would compare it to similarly-sized models from Honda or Hyundai, we must point out that such comparisons are greatly skewed becasue the Impreza comes standard with something its competitors don't even offer: the beauty of all-wheel-drive. To find similarly-equipped competitors, you have to begin to shop cars like the Audi A4 Quattro and Jaguar X-Type next to which the Impreza's $18K price tag suddenly looks like the bargain-of- the-century.

When you hear the term "all-wheel-drive," you need to keep in mind that there are a number of different systems on the market: some complex and some relatively simple. Many vehicles that advertise all-wheel-drive are actually pulled by their front wheels 99% of the time; only when the front wheels begin to slip is power routed to the rear wheels and in most cases remains there only until the front wheels regain traction. The Subaru full-time all-wheel-drive system employs a viscous-coupling locking-center differential that splits power evenly between the front and rear axle at all time. This not only gives the Impreza unprecedented traction in snow and rain, it allows it move with absolute confidence on twisting dry pavement. Impreza's equipped with the four-speed automatic transmission have their mechanical slip detection gears replaced with an electronic system that can actually detect wheel slippage before it begins.

Adding to the Impreza's sport-car like handling is its low center of gravity, an engineering feat brought about by the placement of its 2.5-liter boxer engine. The boxer engine uses an opposable piston design that drastically shortens the height of the engine block, thus allowing it to rest lower in the engine bay; this is what lowers the car's center of gravity. It's an ingenious design that seems to have no drawbacks, especially considering the impressive horsepower this normally-aspirated four-cylinder engine provides. Rated at 165 horsepower and 166 lb-ft. of torque a 4000 rpm, the little Impreza delivers a feisty performance that is further enhanced by its smooth shifting five-speed manual transmission.

The Impreza's interior is another shining example of Subaru's commitment not to build generic cars. The dash design is fresh and modern, with soft tactile surfaces on both the dash face and door panels. The instrument gauges are all easy to read and attractively packaged, showing the same attention to detail as found in much more expensive vehicles. You'll find that the Impreza offers pretty decent head room in the front, but that the rear seats are on the cramped side when it comes to fitting two adults. Cargo room is acceptable in the sedan and better than average in the wagon. Impreza sedans feature a folding-rear-center armrest with a small pass through for skis or poles, but a folding-rear seatback is not an option.

Among the many standard features you will find inside the Impreza are air conditioning, cruise control, rear-window defroster, keyless illuminated entry, 80-watt AM/FM stereo with CD, leather-wrapped steering wheel, tilt wheel, power windows, power door locks and power mirrors. You also get four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, aluminum alloy wheels and daytime running lights. Popular options include an audio upgrade package that adds upgraded speakers, an in-dash six-disc CD changer and an amplified subwoofer; fog lights, an air filtration system and a rear spoiler are also available.

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