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Subaru’s 2017 Impreza is sharper, more dynamic to drive, and safer than ever

Subaru has unveiled the hotly anticipated 2017 Impreza at the New York Auto Show.

The fifth-generation Impreza is a monumentally important model for Subaru because it ushers in the modular architecture that’s set to underpin the replacements for the Outback, the Forester, and every Impreza off-shoot including the hot-rodded WRX STI and the rugged Crosstrek. Switching to the new modular platform makes the Impreza slightly lower and a little bit wider than the model that’s currently sitting in showrooms. Additionally, Subaru boldly promises that it is lighter, more efficient, more dynamic to drive, and safer.

As expected, the 2017 Impreza borrows a handful of styling cues from the two Impreza concepts shown last year in Tokyo and in Los Angeles, respectively. The sharp-looking hexagonal grille with wing-like inserts has been retained, but the lights on both ends have been significantly toned down for the production model. The Impreza will again be offered as a four-door sedan and as a five-door hatchback.

The dashboard is dominated by an eight-inch touch screen that runs the latest generation of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system, but the big news for 2017 is that Subaru promises it has gone to great lengths to make the cabin look and feel nicer. More spacious than ever, the Impreza is built with improved materials, and it now offers niceties such as contrast stitching on the seats and on the dashboard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility comes standard on all trim levels.

Power for the Impreza comes from a thoroughly revised 2.0-liter flat-four engine that uses direct fuel-injection to generate 152 horsepower. It spins all four wheels via Subaru’s time-tested Symmetrical all-wheel drive system and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) called Lineartronic in Subaru-speak. Dominick Infante, Subaru’s national manager of product communications, told Digital Trends that whether or not the new Impreza will be offered with a manual transmission is still an open question.

Subaru has revamped the Impreza Sport for buyers who want a more dynamic compact without splurging on a WRX. Sport models now get a firmer suspension, an active torque vectoring system, and 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped by special tires. Visually, they’re recognizable thanks to add-ons such as a black grille, LED daytime running lights, body-colored rocker panels, and black cloth upholstery with red contrast stitching.

EyeSight, Subaru’s vaunted suite of electronic driving aids and safety features, has been expanded to include pre-collision braking control, adaptive cruise control, and lane keeping assist. The Impreza also inaugurates a forward-thinking automatic braking system for reversing that warns the driver if it detects the car is about to hit an obstacle while backing up and hits the brakes if he or she fails to react.

Related: Subaru confirms plans to build a second-gen BRZ

Built in Indiana, the 2017 Subaru Impreza will be available in four trim levels called base, Premium, Sport, and Limited, respectively, when it goes on sale later this year. The Crosstrek’s replacement will be shown in the coming months, but the WRX and the WRX STI are both expected to stick around for a little while longer.