Impreza headlines excitement at Subaru












Hot news for 2011: The rally-inspired WRX and WRX STi carry new sheetmetal and further cut the ties with its Impreza roots. • Eerily quiet in for the rest of the line, but that’s not really a surprise since the Outback and Legacy we reworked for the 2010 model year; Forester for the 2009 model year; mostly carryover for the line in 2011. • Assuming Volvo’s role as the safer choice?

Carryover: Forester; Legacy; Tribeca

Gone: None

Starting line

•  It only looks like there’s not a lot going at Subaru at the moment, but the terrific sales gains in the last year prove otherwise: Subaru has done its homework. Two years ago, the Forester was reborn and the Legacy and Outback were massaged — and enlarged — and unleashed for the 2010 model year. With a new WRX and WRX STi, the simple fact is that the lineup is about as fresh as it could be, while the company’s marketing campaigns stress safety and family ahead of the deal of the week. Both models now share an aggressive front fascia, blacked-out grille and contoured fenders that readily set them apart from their 2010 counterparts. The rear fenders have also been accentuated, but not quite to the same degree. The physical transformation is striking and, for the first time, the STI can now be had in four-door sedan as well as hatchback livery. The only way to tell the two apart is by their rear wings — make that a shelf — that’s much more prominent on the powerful (and pricier) STI. Another bonus for STI sedan buyers is its extra-deep trunk that the automaker claims will hold three full sets of golf clubs — apparently the new yardstick for measuring cargo capacity — whereas the hatch version can accommodate just two. The STI has further revised standard suspension tuning for the 2011 model year. The ride height has been slightly lowered and the front and rear stabilizer bars and springs beefed up. In addition, the standard 18-inch wheel package is now lighter by 17.6 pounds and the optional BBS-brand wheels trim even more fat. Returning virtually unchanged is the 265-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the WRX. The STI ups the power to 305. The WRX is only available with a five-speed gearbox, with a six-speed stick is fitted to the STI. Buying any Subaru — from Impreza to Tribeca — means that you automatically get an all-wheel-drive system that, under normal operation, equally splits the torque between the front and rear wheels. The STI’s SI-Drive adds a console-mounted rotary knob with three driver-selectable settings: Intelligent, for normal/stop-and-go traffic conditions; Sport, which provides quicker throttle response; and Sport Sharp, for the quickest reaction to accelerator inputs from your right foot. Also along those lines is an STI-exclusive traction-control system with both full-on and partial settings, depending on the level of control desired by the driver. There’s also a Brembo-brand brake upgrade with four-wheel “Super Sport” anti-lock program that can control the braking at each wheel, which is particularly helpful during hard stopping, according to Subaru.

Base prices (incl. destination)

Forester: Mid-size SUV; $21,000 ($20,100)

Impreza: Compact sedan/wagon; $18,200

Legacy: Mid-sized sedan; $20,700

Outback: Mid-sized wagon; $23,900

Tribeca: Mid-size SUV; $31,200

WRX: Compact sedan/wagon; $26,200

WRX STi: Compact sedan/wagon; $34,700

The Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI were redesigned and re-engineered for 2011, making them true performance cars that are fun to drive, fun to look at and even more fun to own.

“It’s a true performance car with street legal tires,” said John Wampler, the Internet manager at Grand Junction Subaru.

The WRX was given a wider body, which gives the vehicle a more aggressive look and a firm grip on the road. The 265 horsepower turbocharged engine, sport-tuned suspension, symmetrical all-wheel drive and vehicle dynamics control stability unit and traction control system are standard features.

The STI has also been given a slight makeover and has re-introduced the four-door body style, and owners will be happy with the wing mounted on the rear; not only does it look tough, it’s designed to generate greater downforce and more stable handling at high speeds. The wider body, flared fenders, new front grille and the three-inch quad exhaust tips all combine to give the car the feel of a race car, which was the intention behind the redesign.

“Availability is extremely limited,” said Wampler. “We received our first STI last month and have already sold it. The next two coming in are already pre-sold.”

The dealership has not had any of the WRX models on the showroom floor yet, but says that they generally arrive within six to eight weeks of ordering one.

One of Subaru’s most popular vehicles, the Forester, has been re-bored and stoked to deliver better fuel economy. Subaru hasn’t released any numbers yet on fuel efficiency, but the local dealer hopes to have both new vehicles and better information next month.

The Legacy was re-designed for 2010, to great demand and acclaim.

“We’ve been sold out forever,” Wampler said. “It was tough keeping them in stock.”

The sedan offers an incredible number of standard features, including all-wheel drive, vehicle dynamic control, stability enhancement system, a keyless entry system, six airbags and a digital trip computer.

“We can sell them as fast as they come in,” said Wampler. “It’s one of the best-selling sedans out there, and it’s the only all-wheel drive in that price range.”

Base price for the Legacy starts at $19,995.

The Outback has been another vehicle that’s been difficult for the dealership to keep in stock.

“We sell these like crazy,” Wampler said. “It’s a vehicle that has no problem selling itself.”

The 2011 Outback was ranked no. 1 for affordable full-size wagons, according to a ranking by U.S. News and World Report and offers both value and versatility. The roomy interior can accommodate a six-foot man in comfort and also has plenty of cargo space.

The standard all-wheel drive, Subaru Boxer engine, vehicle dynamic control, traction control system and the 8.7-inch ground clearance are just some of the features that have made this crossover SUV such a popular choice among Western Slope residents.

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