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Subaru Impreza
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Overall: Impreza sedan and hatchback models are, above all, solidly built, roomy and fuel-efficient. That they can also handle rough road and weather conditions is a huge plus in many regions.

Drivetrain: A 2.0-liter four-cylinder generates 148 horsepower; a five-speed manual or optional continuously variable unit are your transmission choices; all-wheel-drive is there when you need it.

A large part of what makes the Impreza — and most other Subarus for that matter — popular with growing numbers of buyers is that each sells for roughly the same price as similar cars in their class, except that the competition does not include all-wheel-drive for the price. For that option on competing models, if it’s available at all, the fee ranges between $2,500 and $3,000. Another advantage is that the Impreza’s powerplant places thriftiness ahead of raw horsepower, with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder generating 148 horses and 145 pound-feet of torque. That’s not a lot these days, but with a curb weight of less than 3,000 pounds the Impreza still manages to perform in a lively manner. Perhaps, though, the engine’s biggest advantage is fuel economy: it’s rated at 28 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway. That’s partly derived from the optional continuously variable transmission. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, but Imprezas aren’t quite as thrifty with it. In up-level versions, the CVT comes with a six-speed-manual mode and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters to operate six preset ratios. There are no fewer than five distinct trim levels with the base version receiving air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry plus the usual power-operated controls. At the premium end, Limited and Sport Limited wagon models arrive with leather seats, unique 17-inch alloy wheels, premium audio packages, and a rear-view camera, to name just a few highlights.