The plain-Jane Impreza plays a very convincing Clark Kent to the WRX's Superman. It's pleasant, refined, and generally competent, but doesn't really do anything special. Power from the normally aspirated 2.5-liter engine is sufficient and refined. There's a bit more body roll than expected, but it never seems to upset the Impreza's handling balance. The only real complaint here is with the interior materials, which are much harder than what you'll find on a similarly priced Mazda 3 or Volkswagen Jetta.
Of course, the Impreza does retain its alter-ego's all-wheel-drive powers, an important advantage over other compacts in cold-weather driving. Those who live in Sunbelt states might be less eager to drag around an extra differential and pay the price at the gas tank.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor