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Expert Reviews 1 of 3
By Jim Flammang
February 8, 2005
Vehicle Overview Subaru's smallest model comes in sedan and wagon forms and includes high-performance Impreza WRX editions in each body style. For 2005, the 2.5 RS Sport Wagon replaces the 2.5 TS Sport Wagon. Like the 2.5 RS sedan, the new wagon features a sport-tuned suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The sedan's new 2.5 RS Sport Package adds features from the performance-oriented Impreza WRX; it includes body-colored side moldings and mirrors, a leather-wrapped Momo steering wheel, sport seats and sport gauges. For 2005, the 2.5-liter engine adds electronic throttle control and a new four-speed-automatic transmission is optional.
All Impreza-based Subarus were face-lifted for the 2004 model year and gained electronic brake-force distribution, an in-glass antenna and a safety brake-pedal system. Active front head restraints also were installed in the 2.5 RS.
Regular Impreza models are powered by the same 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder that the company's larger Legacy uses. Imprezas are equipped with full-time all-wheel drive and an antilock braking system. Subaru also offers the Impreza-based Outback Sport. (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 173.8 inches long overall, stands 56.7 inches tall and rides a 99.4-inch wheelbase.
The 2.5 RS Sport Wagon has similar dimensions but measures 58.5 inches tall and has prominent fender flares. Rear-quarter glass on the wagon overlaps the D-pillars, producing the appearance of wraparound back glass. Alloy wheels on both models hold 16-inch tires. The Sport Wagon includes roof rails and a rear-window wiper and washer.
Interior All Imprezas seat five people. A ratchet-type height adjustment permits 2 inches of additional vertical movement for the driver. The 2.5 RS Sport Wagon has a 60/40-split folding rear seatback and a cargo cover. Imprezas include remote keyless entry, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, a CD stereo and embroidered carpeted floormats. Wagons hold 27.9 cubic feet of cargo when the rear seatbacks are up and 61.6 cubic feet when they're folded.
Under the Hood Subaru's 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder 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 between wheels automatically.
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.
Impreza WRX With its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder 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 got a larger hood scoop and projector-beam fog lights for 2004, and the sedan was offered with a new Premium Package. A new instrument panel and console goes into 2005 models. Standard equipment now includes automatic climate control and a six-CD changer.
The Impreza WRX can be equipped with a five-speed-manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. Automatic WRX models feature Variable Torque Distribution all-wheel drive.
Noticeable WRX styling touches include slightly bulged fenders and a large air scoop that feeds cool air to the turbocharger's intercooler. The hood is made of aluminum. WRX models have a sport-tuned suspension, standard 16-inch alloy wheels and larger front brake discs. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are standard. A tiny turbo boost gauge sits atop the steering column.
The Impreza WRX looks the part of a hot performer and delivers the goods, too. Acceleration is strong, 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, and there's satisfying highway stability. Headroom in the front seat is abundant, but elbowroom is more limited. Though backseat legroom is a bit cramped, the center position is more appealing than in most small cars. Large headrests impede over-the-shoulder visibility.Back to top
Impreza WRX STi Subaru took a bold performance step in the 2004 model year when it introduced the Impreza WRX STi. Equipped with an intercooled and turbocharged 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder that produces 300 hp and 300 pounds-feet of torque, the WRX STi's engine mates with a six-speed-manual gearbox. It's the most powerful Subaru ever sold in North America.
A new steering pack for 2005 promises greater precision. The suspension has been revised, and a new helical-type limited-slip front differential and an aero underbody cover have been installed. Full-time all-wheel drive incorporates a Driver Control Center Differential. The WRX STi features high-intensity-discharge headlights and heavy-duty Brembo all-disc brakes. Back to top