Roseville, Calif. – Although definitely more of a sport utility vehicle kind of guy, I can also see the attraction car buyers have for hatchbacks.
It doesn’t seem that long ago when hatchbacks were shunned. In some circles, they became known as “notchbacks” and “liftbacks,” two terms that weren’t flattering for a vehicle that many people considered a cheap economy car.
Hatchback models have gradually improved in the past decade. Sales was around 2.6 percent in 2005 and nearly doubled by 2015. One industry publication predicts that hatchback sales are tracking 6.6 percent by 2020.
There has definitely been a rebirth for hatchbacks. It seems like practically every auto manufacturer offers at least one.
These hatchbacks (people also refer to them as wagons) can rival some SUVs for versatility, which seems to be their main calling card. Besides filling a variety of roles, they are typically reliable, fuel efficient, provide extra cargo space with a rear door, safety conscious, and last but not least, affordable.
2017 Subaru Impreza
* Performance: 2.0-liter, four cylinder, 152 horsepower;
* Mileage estimate: 24-37 mpg
* Price estimate: $19,700 to $25,100
* Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years/36,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited
The Impreza has been a strong seller for Subaru for years. Offered in hatchback or sedan mode, Impreza sales lean 60 percent toward the hatchback model, which was test driven here. It competes with some solid entries like the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra. The Cruz, Mazda3 and Civic all offer both hatchbacks and sedans.
The 2017 Subaru Impreza arrives with a complete redesign and is built on an all-new platform. The changes include interior upgrades with higher quality materials, added performance, and freshened exterior styling. Subaru also moved the wheels even farther apart to create more cabin space.
This year’s Impreza is longer, lower and wider than previous models. The grille and headlight still give it a distinct Subaru look. It has a long roofline that creates an elongated appearance.
Offered in three time models, Subaru added more power to the 2017 Impreza. The lone engine is a 2.0-liter, four cylinder that generates 152 horsepower and 145-pound-feet of torque. It has a five-speed manual transmission – a continuously variable transmission is an option.
Even with the additional power (4 horsepower), the Impreza is not impressive regarding acceleration. I’ve found most Subaru models to be lacking in overall performance and the Impreza is no different.
However, the Impreza does provide confident handling, steering is very responsive, braking is good, and overall the vehicle leaves the driver with a feeling of command. With four-wheel drive, the Impreza can also do some mild off-roading.
We enjoyed the interior layout that features well-placed gauges, infotainment and the easy-to-master, all-new touchscreen and climate controls. The Apple CarPlay/Android Auto comes standard.
Head and leg room is suitable for even taller drivers and passengers, and the seating is comfortable throughout. The hatchback cargo area features 20.8 cubic feet of space and extends to 55.3 when the rear seats are down. The sedan has 12.3 cubic feet for storage.
Purchasing a Subaru is always a “safe” buy. In either sedan or hatchback mode, the Impreza competes well against the competition. The redesign adds more value to a vehicle that already was a solid automobile.