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2017 Subaru Impreza: Why Mess With Success?

The 2017 Subaru Impreza has the unenviable task of keeping fervent Subaru loyalists happy while attracting a wider array of compact sedan and hatchback buyers. But given the popularity of Subaru’s recent products, the Impreza seems like it’s in a new place.

It probably won’t hurt that the 2017 model, which was just unveiled at the New York Auto Show, looks pretty much like the outgoing model with some more sculpted headlights. The 2017 Impreza will be about an inch-and-a-half longer than the outgoing model, most of that going to a longer wheelbase that serves both interior space and the car’s sporty stance. Particularly in the case of the sedan, it looks lower and more aggressive, like a Legacy sedan that shrunk a little bit in the laundry. That may sit well among the devotees in both Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine, but with compact sedans and hatchbacks getting more adventurous looks, it’s out of step with rivals.

The upright look pays dividends inside, however, because the Impreza is a model of practicality. A spacious rear seat and cargo area in both the sedan and hatchback make it seem like no space was wasted for the sake of styling. It’s also airy inside, and easy to see out of.

Even the engine is largely a refinement of the old car’s, with a 4-horsepower gain to 152. Revisions such as direct injection should make it just as efficient as before, if not better, which is impressive considering the standard all-wheel drive on all Impreza models.

While the looks may be familiar, Subaru says the Impreza is totally new underneath, benefitting from a platform that will go on to be the basis of pretty much all of the company’s future cars. In essence, that means it has to be flexible enough to be efficient for a small sedan like the Impreza, but refined enough for a future Outback.

Base, Premium, Sport and Limited models will be offered when the 2017 Impreza goes on sale at the end of the year. Even the base car will get features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay routed through a 6.5-inch color touch screen. The Sport model gets different styling tweaks, including LED running lights and special wheels, as well as a rear spoiler for the sedan. As before, the Impreza will also offer Subaru’s EyeSight system, which includes forward collision prevention, lane keeping assist and other safety technologies.

Subaru is also making a big deal about now building the Impreza in their U.S. factory, rather than importing ones for American and Canadian buyers from Japan. That may give buyers another reason to think the Impreza has appeal outside the northernmost reaches of the country. But, again, without alienating the L.L.Bean set.

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