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Expert Reviews 1 of 5
By Jim Flammang
April 15, 2004
Vehicle Overview Subaru’s smallest model comes in sedan and wagon forms and includes high-performance WRX editions in each body style. The basic Impreza lineup consists of a 2.5 TS Sport Wagon and a 2.5 RS sedan.
All Impreza-based Subarus have been face-lifted for the 2004 model year. The restyling involves the hood, front fenders, headlights, grille, bumpers and taillights. All versions gain electronic brake-force distribution, an in-glass antenna and a safety brake-pedal system. The 2.5 RS now includes active front head restraints. The 2.5 TS gains four-wheel disc brakes and remote keyless entry. Each model uses a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that is borrowed from the company’s larger Legacy. All Imprezas have full-time all-wheel drive and an antilock braking system. (Skip to details on the: Impreza WRX | Impreza WRX STi)
Exterior Inspired by the Impreza World Rally Championship car, the 2.5 RS sedan features a blister-fender design and a bold front end with oval headlights. The Japanese automaker says the angled taillights and lowered trunk line “create the impression of a wing section.” The 2.5 RS is 173.4 inches long overall, stands 56.7 inches tall and rides a 99.4-inch wheelbase.
The 2.5 TS Sport Wagon, which has similar dimensions but measures 58.5 inches tall, substitutes prominent fender flares for the sedan’s blisters. Rear-quarter glass on the wagon overlaps the D-pillars, producing the appearance of wraparound back glass. The sedan versions have 16-inch tires on alloy wheels, and the 2.5 TS Sport Wagon is equipped with 15-inch steel wheels.
Interior All Imprezas seat five people. A ratchet-type height adjustment permits 2 inches of additional vertical movement for the driver. The 2.5 TS Sport Wagon has a 60/40-split rear seatback that folds flat. The 2.5 RS sedan includes remote keyless entry, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel and embroidered, carpeted floormats.
Under the Hood Subaru’s 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine develops 165 horsepower and 166 pounds-feet of torque. A five-speed-manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional.
Subaru’s full-time all-wheel-drive system transfers power to the wheels that need it before any slippage occurs. The active system uses sensors to detect changes in weight transfer.
Safety Antilock brakes and daytime running lights are standard, but side-impact airbags are not offered. Three-point seat belts are installed for all five seating positions. The front seat belts have pretensioners and force limiters.
Related Model: Impreza WRX With its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine developing 227 hp and 217 pounds-feet of torque, Subaru claims the Impreza WRX can zip from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Sedans and Sport Wagons get a larger hood scoop and projector-beam fog lights for 2004, and the sedan models are available with a new Premium Package.
The Impreza WRX may be equipped with a standard five-speed-manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. WRX models with the automatic transmission feature Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) all-wheel drive.
Noticeable WRX touches include slightly bulged fenders, fog lights and round headlights above a massive square bumper. An aluminum hood contains a big air scoop that feeds cool air to the turbocharger’s intercooler. WRX models get a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels (17-inch wheels are optional) and larger front brake discs. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are standard. A tiny turbo boost gauge sits atop the steering column.
Looking the part of a hot automotive number, the Impreza WRX also performs in that vein. Acceleration in the regular WRX feels almost ferocious, especially when passing or merging and the transmission is in the “perfect” gear. Engine sounds and vibrations are noticeable but not bothersome.
The WRX’s taut suspension reacts appropriately by taming the bulk of bumps. Steering is quick and easy for snappy cornering, coupled with satisfying highway stability. Front headroom is huge, but elbowroom is more limited. Though the backseat is limited in legroom, the center position in this vehicle is more appealing than in most smaller cars. Big headrests impede over-the-shoulder views. Back to top
Related Model: Impreza WRX STi Subaru is taking another bold performance step for 2004 by making the Impreza WRX even more potent. To a flurry of applause at the 2003 North American International Auto Show, Subaru announced the Impreza WRX STi. It will be equipped with an intercooled, turbocharged, 300-hp, 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that develops 300 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. It mates with a six-speed-manual gearbox. It’s been on sale since late May of 2003 and is the most powerful Subaru ever sold in North America.
STi (Subaru Tecnica International) is the Japanese automaker’s high-performance and motorsports subsidiary. Full-time all-wheel drive incorporates a Driver Control Center Differential. The WRX STi features high-intensity-discharge headlights and Brembo heavy-duty all-disc brakes. Back to top