2011 Subaru Impreza WRX First Impressions Review

Expert Reviews Subaru

By contributing editor David Colman


  • Super performance value for modest outlay
  • Spacious enough to haul 4 adults or camping gear for the weekend
  • Handsome interior accoutrement
  • First class sport seats
  • Wider track, wider wheels mean greater stability


  • Thirsty 4-cylinder engine
  • Would be so much better with a dual-clutch automatic transmission
  • Styling heavy handed
  • Hood scoop needs to disappear
  • Buy this one and you’ll have STI (305hp) envy

The latest incarnation of the Impreza WRX makes so much sense on so many levels that it’s hard to believe you only need to shell out $28,995 to buy the leather-shod Limited model. For skiers and outdoor adventurers, the new wide-body 5-door hatchback provides enough room to haul four adults anywhere in comfort. If you find yourself mired in snow, the Impreza’s continuous all-wheel-drive will outsmart drifts by apportioning up to 100 percent of available traction either fore or aft thanks to a viscous coupling, locking center differential.

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX

If you’re more inclined to treat the Impreza like a sports sedan, the makings are all there to run down much more expensive icons on twisty back roads. Under the hood, the Impreza’s flat, opposed four cylinder motor displaces just 2.5 liters, but thanks to intercooling and turbocharging, it makes 265hp and 244 lb-ft of torque. The standard 5-speed manual gearbox is a delight to shift, with ratios opportunely spaced to take maximum advantage of the double overhead cam motor’s rev-happy nature. The Impreza’s newly flared fenders – formerly available only on the top line WRX STI – allow use of significantly wider wheels and tires. Wheels now measure 17” x 8” (instead of 17” x 7”) and the Dunlop SP Sport 01 rubber is sized 235/45/R17 instead of 225/45R17. Track width increases by 1.5 inches. Stiffer rear subframe bushings snub deflection and contribute to the WRX’ improved poise.

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX interior

Inside, the Impreza is impressive. There’s red stitching on black leather front seats. The deviated stitching also improves the appearance of the dashboard and the front and rear door-mounted armrests. Aluminum cladding delineates the dead pedal, as well as the clutch and brake pedals. A sizable 4” x 7” navigation screen makes map reading and entertainment management easy. Three large aluminum-ringed knobs below the infotainment screen hasten oversight of fan, temperature and air direction. A rear wiper is a nice standard feature. Thanks to three large windows on either side of the cabin, plus a sizable rear glass, outward vision is superior. The Impreza is a sensibly designed vehicle which makes no concessions to style for the sake of style.

Useful cargo space inside the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX

This is not meant to demean its appearance, which is more butch than ever. The new 15 spoke, gray anodized alloys look particularly brutal, the gaping air slot on the hood leads directly to the induction tract in best musclecar tradition, and the front splitter looks like it belongs on a race car. The wide body fluting imparts a sinister demeanor to the WRX that has been missing from previous editions of this model. Though the WRX 5-door may be more purposeful than beautiful, beauty is as beauty does. And this Impreza does real well in all regards.


  • ENGINE: 2.5 liter Intercooled and Turbocharged DOHC Opposed 4
  • HORSEPOWER: 265 @ 6,000 rpm
  • TORQUE: 244 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
  • FUEL CONSUMPTION: 19 MPG City/25 MPG Highway
  • PRICE AS TESTED: $28,995


David Colman has been writing vehicle tests for 24 years. His work has been featured in AutoWeek, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Marin Independent Journal. In 1987, he helped start Excellence, The Magazine About Porsche, which he edited for many years. He has been an active participant in racing and Solo events since 1961. More car reviews written by Colman can be found at autoeditor.com

2011 Subaru Impreza 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX Review
Rating: 4.25 stars
By Holly Roberts

“I found myself driving in ways I don’t ordinarily drive, just because I COULD. This could be bad…”

2009 Subaru Impreza 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX Review
Rating: 4.25 stars
By Peter N.

“For the driving enthusiast, this car delivers more fun per dollar than any other I’ve driven. It almost stands alone in the class of affordable performance.”

2009 Subaru Impreza 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX – First Impressions
Rating: 4.5 stars
By Mary-Ellen

“The Impreza WRX is a playful, sporty car that oozes driving enjoyment. With all its cool features, this is a superbly capable and fun car that just wants to be driven.”

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX | 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX
SubaruOfficial website for Subaru of America – www.subaru.com

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