Have you ever heard about the Subaru Solterra? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t; plenty of people are still unaware of what the Solterra is, but why is that? Simple: the 2023 Solterra is the first release. If you haven’t heard about the Solterra, it’s the priciest Subaru vehicle, with the 2023 model sporting a high starting price of $44,995. The Solterra may be new to Subaru’s lineup and usher the automotive manufacturers to new heights, but perhaps it’s one too many heights. What do I mean by this? The 2023 Solterra is Subaru’s priciest vehicle, a bit pricier than other Subaru vehicles, like the Ascent, Outback, Forester, etc. This had me wondering; how much do you have to sacrifice if you were to save as much money as possible and spring for the most cost-effective Subaru vehicle?
That’s right; today, I’ll be walking you through the Subaru Impreza, which currently stands as the most affordable Subaru vehicle on the market. This dive into the Impreza isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison with any of Subaru’s pricier vehicles. Instead, I’ll be discussing whether buying the Impreza at a car dealership means that you’re getting an experience that makes its low starting price make sense or whether it’s a great deal in a sea of increasingly expensive vehicles. There’s lots to discuss, so I’ll get right into it.
The Impreza Is a Value Beast
The Subaru Impreza is an old name, but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant in today’s automotive landscape. There aren’t many vehicles that start at an MSRP under $25,000, let alone one as much cheaper as the Impreza, so the question is what manufacturers can achieve with such a low starting price with all the advancements made thus far. I looked into the 2024 Impreza as a starting point to get an idea of pricing, and the latest Impreza model starts at an MSRP of $22,995. This price puts the 2023 Solterra at twice as much as the Impreza, but does that mean you’re getting twice the car?
Depending on who you ask, you may be inclined to agree that paying twice the cost of the Impreza is worth it for what you gain. The average consumer, however, is more likely to go with the cheaper option if it means the experience isn’t as diminished. Of course, the Solterra is an all-electric vehicle, and the Impreza isn’t, which is why these vehicles aren’t to be compared with one another. Still, a car gets you from one place to another, and the Impreza will get you where you need to go at half the cost.
Time Is an Important Piece of the Puzzle
I’ve been outspoken about it before: if it weren’t for the magic of innovation through limitation, the world would be far less creative. Give a team of the world’s smartest engineers a blank check to create the future, and create the future they shall. Tell them to work with tighter constraints to match a lower budget; that’s the tricky part, but sometimes the results can be quite magical.
Once research and development teams discover new ways to innovate, the focus then becomes how to translate it to an affordable product that doesn’t only cost the customer an arm and a leg but the manufacturer too. Companies hate selling at a loss, and if it were up to every major corporation, they would sell their products for as much money as possible. This is why some features or components must get cut from development to reduce the cost, but should these companies sell at a loss, the goal is to stop the proverbial bleeding as quickly as possible.
Consider it like this as I bring in a rather odd comparison point. The first 4K televisions cost thousands of dollars; I remember standing at Best Buy and thinking, “I’ll never afford this.” Fast forward to the current day, and you can find a 4K TV for as low as $300; cheaper if you’re lucky. Is this because of a lack of interest in 4K TVs? Are the parts not as well-made as they used to be? The truth is, when something is manufactured long enough, the price it costs to produce drastically reduces.
Adversely, car parts that are no longer produced can begin to rise in price, which is why it can be absurdly pricey to find parts for classic vehicles, the same way it can be difficult to repair old arcade cabinets because of old television parts. If my comparison with 4K TVs were anything to go by, you’ve likely realized the automotive market isn’t the only industry where the once pricier parts become cheaper to produce. And, if not produced in mass quantities, the price could begin to move in the opposite direction if the vehicles become sought after.
What does this all have to do with the Impreza? The Impreza is an example of how the modern-day automotive market means that buying the cheapest vehicle from a manufacturer doesn’t mean you’re getting a vehicle that feels like it’s the cheapest of the bunch but is rather made up of components that have become easier to produce over time, like infotainment centers, power-adjustable seating, and more.
What the 2024 Impreza Does Right
The 2024 Subaru Impreza blows expectations out of the water for a vehicle in its price range. Some of the features Subaru has done right are the implementation of a 7-inch infotainment center on the base model, which can be upgraded to an 11.6-inch infotainment center. Given how the Impreza never exceeds $28,000, even after purchasing the priciest trim, having an 11.6-inch infotainment center in a vehicle this cost-effective was crazy to think about, even a couple of years ago when the Impreza used to come with a 6.5-inch screen with an optional 8-inch infotainment center.
With the 2024 model comes the 2.0L BOXER engine from before, which creates the same 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, paired with a CVT, has standard AWD, and gets you 27 MPG in the city, 34 MPG on the highway, and 30 MPG combined. The 2024 Impreza is the first model to introduce the new 2.5L BOXER engine, so Subaru’s cheapest vehicle can now be fitted with a stronger engine that outputs 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque.
Subaru has done equally right in creating fuel-efficient powertrains because saving money on a car when you buy it doesn’t mean you’re saving money while you drive it. I was curious if this newer and more powerful powertrain would affect fuel efficiency in negative ways, but the BOXER engine spreads its wings with the extra performance being complemented by EPA-estimated ratings of 26 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway for 29 MPG combined.
Do You Need To Spend More Today?
If this were a few short years ago, the answer I’m about to tell you would be entirely different. Do you need to spend more to get the real Subaru experience? That’s going to be a resounding “no” from me, and it’s because vehicles like the Impreza are finally more compelling than ever before.
Subaru is regularly ahead of the pack when it comes to these types of things, but other manufacturers have also begun to dig deeper into the possibilities of their most cost-effective entries. The Subaru Impreza proves that the core experience of cost-effective automobiles is becoming more robust, and if you want to save thousands of dollars, then I say it’s not a bad idea.