We're also scratching our head at a few other quirks in the Impreza's interior. Yes, it comes standard with power locks and windows, an MP3/WMA-compliant CD player, and side-curtain airbags, but rear cupholders, in addition to a rear armrest, only appear on higher trim levels. That's a shame, as there's plenty of space for rear-seat riders; why not give them some basic creature comforts so they can enjoy it?
We also have some complaints with the Impreza's suspension tuning. In the pursuit of daily-driver comfort, the 2.5i is very lightly sprung, which, over most broken Michigan road surfaces, delivers a smooth ride - and copious amounts of body roll. It's nothing too obtrusive in mild city driving, but in harder cornering, the car wallows.
Sure, a WRX, or even the new-for-2009 2.5GT, solves the suspension problem and adds the extra power of the turbocharged boxer four. However, will people looking for a basic Impreza stomach not only the extra cost of the trim package, but of the 91-octane fuel the turbo mandates? I'm not sure they will. Besides, so long as they make "it's not a WRX" a personal mantra, they'll find the Impreza 2.5i a competent compact car.
Engine: 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder
Horsepower: 170 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual (opt. four-speed automatic)
L x W x H: 180.3 x 68.5 x 58.1 in
Legroom F/R: 43.5/ 33.5 in
Headroom F/R: 40.3/ 37.5 in
Trunk room: 11.3 cu. Ft.
Curb weight: 3064 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 20/27 mpg
Base price: $17,640