You're looking for a brand-new car with all-wheel drive priced a skiff under $20,000? Then you're in luck. For the 2020 model year, Subaru has held pricing of its least expensive car, the Impreza sedan, to $19,995.
Under the hood is the brand's four-cylinder boxer engine, making 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. This base model is clumsily called the 'Convenience' and comes standard with an honest-to-real five-speed manual transmission. As a bonus to new drivers and their harried instructors, this gearbox features a Hill Holder system that helps prevent the car from rolling backwards when the driver rearranges their feet on the pedals.
Inside, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system isn't the largest unit in the word but gets the job done with smartphone integration and Bluetooth. Audio controls are mounted on the tilt/telescope steering wheel, the cloth driver's seat manually adjusts six ways, its windows and heated side mirrors are power operated, and air conditioning is on board. In short, it has the roster of features one would hope to find in a new car costing twenty large ... plus all-wheel drive.
Spotting a base
Convenience Impreza isn't the easiest as the styling differences between it and more expensive models aren't immediately obvious. The base car comes with the same chrome grille, painted door handles, LED combination tail lights and body colour mirrors as snazzier rungs on the Impreza ladder. About the only giveaway are 16-inch steel wheels and the absence of fog lamps. At speed, you'll need an eagle's eye to tell the difference.
What we'd recommend
Long-time readers will know this office is a proponent of the manual transmission but, in this case, it's worth sampling the automatic (at a cost of $2,000) thanks to its inclusion of Subaru's EyeSight safety system. So equipped, it adds pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keeping tools that will be a boon to new or nervous drivers. Consider it carefully.
Subaru's typically muted palette of colours rears its head once again, with flashy paint not offered until the Touring 5-Door which is a $3,600 walk from the base car. That cash will also buy heated seats, a better infotainment system, fog lamps, 16-inch alloys, and a handy de-icer grid under the wipers that you won't appreciate until the first time you use it.
Find rest of the Base Camp series here