2014 Subaru Impreza Review - The One And Only

2014 Subaru Impreza 5-door Touring
Subaru is operating with a number of unfair advantages. Actually they're not unfair at all. Subaru isn't stopping rival automakers from reading their playbook.

All Subaru Imprezas are all-wheel-drive cars. All-wheel-drive isn't an option on specific Impreza variants; it's not reserved exclusively for low-volume sporting
examples. Every Impreza sends its power to all four wheels.

Uniquely Subaru feel

Hatchback flexibility
Genuine all-wheel-drive
All-around visibility
Fun to hustle
They forgot to style the outside
They forgot to style the inside
A number of chintzy bits
Not a great CVT
Overall lack of refinement

Second, the Impreza can be purchased in hatchback form. In North America, you can't buy a hatchback version of the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, Nissan Sentra, or Dodge Dart.

There are issues that come hand in hand with these benefits. All-wheel-drive adds cost, and an all-wheel-drive configuration also adds weight, which increases fuel consumption and curbs acceleration. There's a thick centre hump which severely reduces rear seat space for the middle passenger. Meanwhile, extinguishing the trunk in favour of a hatch adds $900 to the Impreza's price in Canada.

Yet, by arriving to a front-wheel-drive sedan-oriented fight with an all-wheel-drive hatchback, Subaru secures for the Impreza a large number of sales before we've even gotten down to the nitty-gritty.
2014 Subaru Impreza hatchback open
It is nevertheless challenging to ascertain whether the Impreza that Subaru loaned us last week, a 2.0i Touring model, would be competitive sans AWD. In that case, the Impreza would be a completely different beast; a less expensive package overall. Rear-driven BRZ aside, it wouldn't be a proper Subaru.

Ignore the hypothetical, then, and judge the fourth-generation Impreza on merit, if you can. Bland on so many levels, the 2014 Subaru Impreza manages to be an incredibly unique car, a proxy Saab in a Saab-free era. For better and for worse.

2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ Review - Exactly What You'll Want If This Is What You Want, Which You Probably Don't

2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ NSCC Waterfront
As months pass by, a greater and greater swathe of the population cancels their land-line phone contract in favour of communicating exclusively through their mobile phones. Perhaps the latest cordless in-home phone receives HD videos, reads out text messages, and makes every caller sound as clear as James Earl Jones telling Simba to, "Remember who you are," in The Lion King. I'm still not going to buy it.

I introduced the latest 2014 Chevrolet Impala to friends and family all over town during the week in which GM Canada loaned GoodCarBadCar their new big sedan. Every single person who spent time in the car - or even just looking at the car - came away hugely impressed, all the more so because of the features fitted to this $46,945 example.

Smooth and powerful V6

Massive interior
Handsome exterior
Reasonable fuel economy
Impressive body control
It's really long
Big rear seat centre hump
Ugly steering wheel
Not much interior storage
Impalas can reach $47K?

Yet not a single person would even contemplate, nor will they contemplate in the future, trading in their small car, midsize crossover, or minivan for this full-size sedan.

I had questions for these individuals: my parents, a soon-to-be father of two, my MBA-enrolled brother-in-law, to name a few.

Is the 2014 Impala executed to perfection? Very nearly, they were certain.

It is desirable? Hugely... for a week-long trip across the country, they said.

If not this, then what? 3-Series, A4, or Highlander, not necessarily in that order.
2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ front angle tug boat
Many Canadian consumers must think they want big sedans. After all, a fair number of automakers continue to market their 5-metre-long cars here. But life gets in the way, and car buyers want more flexibility, better fuel efficiency, a less stodgy image, and a lower price tag. Just as they want the internet in a pocket-sized device that, while doubling as a game console, also takes video calls, sends mail, and plays music.

There is proof in the numbers. For every Impala sold by GM Canada this year, they've also sold more than seven Cruzes and five Equinoxes and nearly five crew cab Silverados. 

The Impala and its direct rivals are down 10% in early 2014, and while Impala sales are up slightly year-over-year, they're down 56% compared with Q1 of 2012. Moreover, with the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, Chrysler Canada is controlling the big sedan category, a segment which now accounts for little more than 1% of the overall new vehicle market.

In the meantime, car buyers are missing out in this handsome behemoth.

Small And Midsize Luxury SUV Sales In Canada - March 2014 YTD

2015 Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept
Counter to conventional thought, Canadian sales of small luxury crossovers are decreasing in 2014. March volume slid 4% after February sales fell 3%. First quarter sales were down 2%. 

Click Chart To Expand
If we subtract the BMW X3 from the equation, sales are actually up 10%. (The X3 was the class leader at this time last year.) But more than four in ten BMW SAV buyers are opting for the bigger, more costly X5 this year. 

Meanwhile, sales of the Land Rover LR2 and Range Rover Evoque are down as Land Rover sells more LR4s and Range Rover Sports. The Mercedes-Benz GLK is down 13%; Mercedes-Benz's bigger M-Class is up 26%. Sales of the Volvo XC60 are down slightly, as are sales of the XC70, but combined sales of the XC60, XC70, and new-to-Canada V60 are up 28%. 

Plenty of premium SUVs and crossovers are being sold, of course. The Audi Q5 is tied for the lead with the BMW 3-Series as Canada's top-selling premium brand vehicle. Land Rover's March volume was up 25% year-over-year, up 59% from March 2012, 149% compared with March 2011, and 195% from March 2010. (Their Discovery Vision Concept that was introduced in New York this week, pictured above, is a preview of the LR4's replacement.)

From the Acura MDX to the Porsche Cayenne, sales of luxury utility vehicles in the second table are up by more than 2000 units in 2014.