I looked at a lot of car brands and I admit, Subaru did not initially rank high on the list. A couple of people suggested them but I mostly wrote off the idea. I knew Subaru were into all wheel drive and they made rather dowdy looking cars. Or maybe to be charitable, I should say utilitarian. I looked at them at a car show, several years ago, and I found the interiors rather cheap and dated. But I tried to keep an open mind. After all, I was looking at a lot of cars and a surprisingly few met a majority of my criteria.
As part of my Car Analysis Mode, I started looking for mid-sized vehicles, for myself. Either sedans, hatchbacks or SUVs. I knew the basket of criteria was going to be full of compromises. Of course I looked at safety, reliability, styling, design, comfort, technology, the dealer and to a lesser extent price and performance. I had a strong but less common desire to have Apple CarPlay support, which allows my iPhone’s screen to sync and display on the car’s infotainment unit.
There were the usual candidates like Toyota and Honda and even Lexus to some extent. Toyota and Lexus were the clear winners in terms of reliability. I had a sweet spot for Honda, having bought many in the past.
Then there were the luxury German brands like Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW. All beautiful cars but either expensive or unreliable or both. I can’t imagine trying to service these cars for 15 years.
Of course I never looked at the exotics or niche luxury players like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Land Rover, Jaguar, Porsche and Volvo.
What else did I consider, test drive or research? There was Nissan, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Infiniti, Acura, Tesla and Hyundai but I eliminated these fairly quickly since they didn’t have cars that strongly fit my criteria.
Then there were a few brands that I wouldn’t have considered previously, but did well in my overall rankings. They were Kia, Mazda and Subaru.
When I switched to looking at compact cars that both my son and I could use, the brands under consideration didn’t materially change. Toyota, which I’d driven reliably for 10+ years, lost points for the dealer and the lack of CarPlay support.
Ultimately, it came down to the Honda Civic Sedan vs. the Subaru Impreza. Both my son and I test drove and my wife tagged along. I was fine with either but my son and wife preferred the Subaru.
I found the Civic a bit more stylish but less ergonomic. It accelerated better but handled worse. My research for midsize cars already had the Subaru Legacy towards the top, so I was comfortable with the Impreza.
Island Blue Pearl is a striking color that both my son and wife liked. I was Ok with it too and thought it fit the sporty, youthful design. We got the mid-grade “Sport” trim, not necessarily because of the sport but more for the feature set. I would have preferred a lesser tire to the expensive 18″ rims. I would have gladly paid $1000 less to remove the moonroof to get a 1 1/2 inch more headroom. In Texas, I try to get away from the sun, not open the roof to get more of it. But everything else worked for me.
While the car doesn’t look nearly as futuristic as my previous 10-year-old Appliance, it has all the gadgets and more. Plus it has a notable three LCD panels of information, which are surprisingly useful and ergonomic. The 2017 model is a complete redesign and the previous cheap and dowdy has been replaced with comfortable, solid and contemporary.
I have my keyless entry, keyless start, a giant 8″ LCD with backup camera and trajectory and my beloved CarPlay. The car adds a notable suite of active safety features such as lane departure warning, lane keep assist, pre collision breaking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert. Basically all the safety bells and whistles packaged as part of its EyeSight system.
What I learned, as I researched Subaru, was that they are an engineering driven company that puts the emphasis on safety and comfort. They have notably high crash test ratings as well as their excellent all wheel drive system that helps even in non-snow conditions.
The possible downsides? Statistically, they are not as reliable as Toyotas. And their gas mileage is not the highest, especially for someone like me, who is used to a hybrid. But I think the trade-offs are worth it.
This Sport Impreza is the best handling car I’ve ever owned. But luckily and wisely, not necessarily fast in acceleration. It’s only slightly better than the Honda CR-V and not significantly more impressive, believe it or not, than the Toyota Prius. Which is fine by me, because giving a fast car to my sub-20-year-old is not the most responsible thing to do.
So here it is. The bright blue 2017 Subaru Impreza hatchback. Practical, safe and full of gadgets. It handles surprisingly well but with decent but not outstanding acceleration. It’s putting a smile on my 53-year-old face as well as on my 18-year-old’s. Only time will tell how well it fares.
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