By on December 18, 2019

There was a time when no one out-weirded Subaru. Gonzo digital gauges, windows within windows, and a general Birkenstock image cemented them as the choice of the grains-n-granola crowd. These days, the cars still march to a different beat but appeal to a much wider audience. The company’s winning sales streak stands as proof.

For 2020, the Pleiades brand has tweaked its Impreza sedan ever so slightly … but that’s not why it stands as today’s pick. It is, so far as our research shows, the cheapest way to buy a brand-new all-wheel drive car in America.

Starting at $18,695, the 2020 Impreza is just $100 dearer than last year’s car. Eagle-eyed spotters of the Exploding Galaxy will be able to identify a 2020 base Impreza (and, yes, that is indeed its trim level — Base) thanks to an updated front bumper cover and grille design. The car comes standard with the brand’s well-known symmetrical all-wheel drive hooked to a 2.0-liter boxer four that produces 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard equipment.

All-wheel drive and a clutch is a rare combo these days.

It is worth mentioning that the $1,300 stipend for an automatic transmission does bring Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driver assistance tools. Including adaptive cruise, lane keeping, pre-crash braking, and lane departure warnings, it is a big list of nannies that will likely be of benefit to new or nervous drivers. Presumably, and perhaps understandably, the company either can’t get the tech to play seamlessly with a stickshift or there isn’t enough margin to offer it in that configuration. Either way, it’s worth a paragraph of notation.

The compact sedan does well for itself in terms of standard features, including a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a unit whose screen size will impress no one but is endowed with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Power windows with auto up/down on both driver and passenger sides in on board, along with the expected power door locks and side mirrors. A tilting/telescoping steering column and keyless entry join the new-for-2020 safety feature which pop the power locks in a wreck. Yes, cruise and A/C are standard.

Base cars will advertise your penny-pinching nature, as they have been fitted with steel wheels and are absent of fog lamps. It is also the sole Impreza trim with black side mirrors. At least the door handles are body colored. Speaking of, Subaru permits Ace of Base shoppers to choose from a wide palette free of charge, including the new-for-2020 Ocean Blue shown here.

[Images: Subaru]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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39 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2020 Subaru Impreza Sedan...”


  • avatar
    make_light

    I like Subarus, even base models like this. I feel like Subs get a lot of flak around here for being boring, and I guess that might be true. But the thing is, they’ve always driven WELL. I’ve driven quite a few in the past decade.

    Truth is, in the past 10 years, the Koreans and Toyota only recently started getting their driving dynamics sorted. They had a lot to offer, but the steering never felt quite right, and ride quality was flinty. I’m thinking early 2010s Sonatas, Camrys, Optimas, Corollas, etc. Subarus on the other hand, at least have always gone where you point them. There’s none of that spookiness to the steering, and the ride feels planted and secure. So sure maybe they’re a little boring, but I’d drive a base model Subie any day.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Manual transmission, steelies, and deleted electronic nannies?!? Did I wake up in an alternate reality? It’s a Christmas miracle!

    • 0 avatar
      The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

      No, just 1997 apparently. 152 HP and steel wheels. Good Lord that’s depressing.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Don’t forget the 5-speed manual transmission– 31MPG Highway.

        So gross.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yeah I want manual turbo and the hatch/wagon version, or the naturally aspirated 2.5 out of the Legacy dropped into the Impreza with a manual trans.

        I know either of these possibilities is as likely as me winning the PowerBall.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          You’re not getting that for nineteen grand, though.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @FreedMike, you certainly can’t buy what doesn’t exist… ;-)

            Reminds me of a joke about a lady buying produce at the local supermarket. She complains to the produce manager: “You’re selling this for $1.50 lb and I can get it for 99 cents a pound at WalMart.”

            His retort: “Then why don’t you go to WalMart?”

            She says: “I can’t they’re sold out.”

            He replies: “Well when I’m sold out I’ll sell it for FIFTY CENTS a lb!”

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            A $30,000 car that sells for $19,000 is a great concept. Now why hasn’t anyone done one?

            (Scratches chin…)

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “A $30,000 car that sells for $19,000 is a great concept. Now why hasn’t anyone done one?”

            Isn’t that what Buick was doing until they ran out of money?

        • 0 avatar
          saturnotaku

          Even if it did exist, you wouldn’t buy it. GM literally gave the automotive commentariat the exact vehicle they wanted: a small hatchback available with a diesel engine and manual transmission. Did the people asking for it put their money where their mouths were? Nope.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I never asked for a diesel manual.

            I did however buy a turbo AWD wagon when GM offered one. It was less than $30K with my trade in too.

          • 0 avatar
            Hydromatic

            They never do, which is why automakers usually ignore that cadre and listen to the customer base that makes them the most money. At least most of the time.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        Yep, you’d be better off with a 139hp Corolla, a 147hp Jetta, maybe a 124hp Sentra, or even a Honda with six, count ’em, 6 more horsepower. Must be at least 1987 for some of these manufacturers.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          You’re right – all of them are better to drive, but AWD is the killer app here. My daughter just bought a compact (an Elantra hatch) and the Subie is one of the cars we tried out. It’s zero fun. But a few weeks ago, we had a one-foot snowstorm, and that Elantra wasn’t getting around so well – a foot of snow is about where a FWD compact starts getting dicey. Meanwhile, my Audi has AWD and absolutely *killed* it in the snow.

          Some folks are willing to give up some driving pleasure for all-weather ability. YMMV.

      • 0 avatar
        Drew8MR

        Steel wheels are the best wheels. Spending more for a consumable item on a commuter car is stupid. And for what? Looks? No one is checking out your Impreza/Camry/Accord anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Yeah, in 1997 I think I was still driving my 1992 Saturn SL. Steel wheels, manual steering, and 84 HP.

        This thing would have been positively exotic back then.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          In 2007, I was looking to get away from what Chris Bangle had done to BMW. I had an Impreza on my short list, until my BMW mechanic correctly told me what long-term Subaru ownership would hold for me. That 2007 base Impreza had 13 MORE horsepower and slightly more distinctive looks. I’m not sure what the mileage was, but it couldn’t have been meaningfully worse. It is true that there hasn’t been a horsepower race in the compact commuter sedan class, but most companies have come close to holding their ground while generating CAFE-soothing fuel economy numbers.

          I’m not anti-AWD, but Subaru has the worst system if you don’t need it regularly. Expensive fluid changes, maximum fuel-sucking friction, and Subaru explains why they’re called half-shafts – because Subaru’s do half the work for half as long for half the value; also known as twice the price. I have this theory that Subaru engineers hate their customers. They want to develop rally cars for Peter Solberg, not station wagons for collie-fondlers.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    Good luck finding one.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Not a huge Subaru fan, but this car is a VERY solid buy at that price.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      agreed – would make a nice Michigan commute car. Tempting, even though I’m also not a big Subaru fan. WRX / STi is always on my list though.

      • 0 avatar
        saturnotaku

        If I were 15 years younger, the WRX would have been all that and a side of toast. However, my nearly 40-year-old self found the stiff ride and turbo lag unbearable. Not to mention the dealer giving me all kinds of poop about even taking it out for a test drive. Perhaps they thought I was younger than I really was, but the experience with the sales staff and management was far from pleasant.

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      I’ve heard the stick/clutch is not a particularly enjoyable one for this model. Not sure if you can fix it aftermarket, but for me that would definitely be a dealbreaker.

      Reviews say they actually prefer the CVT, which given how everybody hates that transmission should tell you how bad the stick setup is on these Imprezas.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    As a coastal SoCal resident, AWD is entirely unnecessary for me, which is why I would never consider purchasing a Subaru. Why buy stuff I don’t need?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Same thing in sunny FL, the only Subbies here are riced out WRXs and a few CUVs. I’d love to see a state by state break down of Subaru sales as they seem popular but only in localized markets.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        Subbies are VERY popular in coastal SoCal. The cars are considered essential fashion accessories by lesbians and all other Progressives. Only Prius comes close to to Subbies Progressive street cred.

        Giving credit where credit is due, the Subaru marketing troops have somehow implanted the idea in the marketplace that Subarus are friendly to the environment, when there is no objective reality to support that assertion. Subbies do NOT provide better fuel economy, they are NOT built in a manner more green or sustainable than their competitors, and they certainly aren’t less expensive.

        Subaru’s success is 100% attributable to some very clever sleight of hand by its marketing department.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          In 6+ years my Outback has seen only one light dusting of snow, but man it is a little beast in our torrential downpours. Many Subarus are PZEV. I’m sure that helps on some level.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            I purchased anew Mazda6 in May of 2015. It has accumulated 105k miles, With the long drought here in SoCal, I reckon my car has seen rain no more than 20 times. AWD is completely pointless for how I use my car.

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      That’s what the guy driving the pearl white Escalade with 26 inch rims was saying!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I used to bag on people who bought AWD cars, and then I bought one. A few weeks ago, we had a one-foot snowstorm here in Denver, and got to try it out. If you disable the safety nannies, it puts the AWD system in always-on mode, and it becomes a freakin’ little BEAST in the snow.

      The same mode can also be engaged on dry pavement, and it changes the handling dynamics. You can actually put the tail out a touch, which is pretty remarkable for a FWD car. It’s not just for snow.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        A decent “Always on” or “center lockable” system can be fun in many situations.

        Buick’s Twin-Clutch AWD (not quite SAE definition of torque vectoring) is a great system. Feels neutral in most situations no push no pull just feels like all 4 wheels are participating. In aggressive cornering on dry pavement it actually gives a little RWD feel and I have gotten the rear end to step out on occasion. The safety nannies seem to have a fairly high threshold of intervention.

        Slip-n-grip systems however… eff em!

        • 0 avatar
          conundrum

          Too bad your system IS in fact slip and grip in that Regal. You just don’t understand how it works.

          I’m not talking about the Twin Grip nonsense – I’m talking about the slip and grip center clutch that drives the propshaft and thence the rear end which is where the twin grip then distributes it varyingly left and right.

          There are THREE clutches in the Regal (and Caddies equipped with the Twin Grip) – the inline one and the two at the rear end.

          The inline clutch, the main one, sits there up front on the transmission keeping the prop shaft disengaged until the electronics tell it to send power rearward by engaging it. It then steals torque from the drive to the front wheels by operating in mechanical parallel. And thus it has to operate and engage before the clutch on each rear half-shaft can apportion torque left to right – that’s the twin-grip feature invented by GKN.

          This is identical to everyone else in the cheap seats bar Subaru. The Subaru never disconnects the drive to the rear, so no need to engage the propshaft – it’s always engaged.

          The rest of them try to save 0.2 mpg by disconnecting the rear drive “when it’s not needed”. So there’s a delay of about a quarter second when the system decides to engage the rear. Don’t know what your salesman told you, but that’s the way your Regal is. And VWs, Mazdas, Hyundais, cheapo Audis through the A4, all BMWs, most Mercedes, Nissan, and on and on.

          It’s like the magician – misdirection is the key. The seller rambles on about some feature like Twin Grip, while never explaining the main logic that governs the vast majority of AWD systems – the simple clutch that connects front to rear. It isn’t magic, the salespeople have zero clue, and so do the vast majority of customers.

          It’s better than nothing though. And certainly better as a car than this Subaru Impreza, which as a car is worse than the pre-2017 model. The new one has no sense of the straight ahead on the highway, and leaps around on bumpy corners. I had one for a week. Useless. The 2016 was far better, and better yet as an actual car was the one from 20 years ago, (which I owned myself for 10 years) which at least had some decent suspension travel and relaxed steering. I then had a Legacy GT with a proper always-engaged AWD with a centre gear differential in its automatic transmission. Yup, I keep up on these new AWD “miracles” as a hobby and know how they work, which is not as good as Subaru or Audis with a Torsen center differential. I had one of the latter as well. It’s all sold like black magic.

          My sister-in-law’s sister bought a 2019 Impreza after her 2015 was totalled by a rampaging RAM. She agrees, the new one is not as nice a car to drive. The new Mazda3 AWD is a WAY better driving car than the Subaru Impreza. Takes about a hundred yards to find that out.

          • 0 avatar
            blppt

            I could be wrong, but ‘through the A4’ would include the A3/Q3/etc, which has a Haldex/FWD based AWD system, which while not as good as the regular Torsen setup, is “always on”.

            Its pretty much FWD though—i think the standard split is like 90/10 or 95/5.

            ‘Quattro with Ultra’, which is not available on these models is the ‘disconnect the drive shaft until slip’ which has started appearing on the A4+ models.

            I agree—that kind of tech bothers me, especially since in standard conditions, regular quattro gives a rear bias of 40/60 giving the older A4s a slight rear-drive feel in regular driving, whereas the ‘quattro with ultra’ gives 100/0 until slip, obviously not RWD-feeling.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        Do you have winter tires?

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Basically this post, but in greater detail and with more insight…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMsKB_tKktk

    “Manual sedans are still made! Here’s a base model Impreza sedan with a stick shift keeping the dream on the 1990’s alive!”

  • avatar
    slap

    VW has blindspot monitoring and brake assist as standard even with a manual in the Alltrack.

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