Too bad for that four-speed automatic, as it really seems to be holding this Impreza back. No matter how refined your engine or smooth your shifts are, four gears can't provide the bandwidth of acceleration that I expect without a disconcerting shift down to second gear at 50 mph. My other chief complaint is the interior, which is drab and features some questionable panel fits. Take a look at the instrument binnacle crudely cut into the main dash. It's a fine example of what GM might have produced 15 years ago.
Other than that, the Impreza is a nice car to drive with the decent steering and handling. This is also probably the only all-wheel-drive system that I'd really want to spend money on at this price point. Most other automakers use a front-wheel-based system that only sends torque rearward once slip is detected. As the Subaru normally sends torque to both axles, there's a decent chance you won't encounter that wheel-slip situation in the first place.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor