Sedans are the perfect everyday city car. They have the space for essentials like groceries, they can get you where you need to go efficiently, and they can fit more easily into small parking places, garages, and more. But, while some carmakers are happy to give you just the basics in their sedans, some like to make sure even their compact cars are fun to drive. The Toyota Corolla and the Subaru Impreza are two compelling examples of that.
The Corolla has been around for decades, racking up more than 44 million sales worldwide since its worldwide debut in 1966. The Subaru Impreza drove onto the lot several decades later in 1993.
For the most fuel-efficient drive between these two competitors, the 2021 Corolla offers a hybrid engine option that has an impressive EPA-estimated 53/52/52 MPG (city/highway/combined). The Impreza does not have a hybrid engine option available in North America. Additionally, the Corolla was awarded the prestigious 2020 Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal for the 2020 model year.
Toyota also packs tons of useful features into the Corolla without add-ons. All Toyota Corolla trims come standard with a suite of active safety features called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). Subaru’s own suite of active safety features called EyeSight® is available as an upgrade on the base grade but only comes standard on Impreza Premium or higher.
To get a better understanding of which car is for you, let's compare in areas of safety, performance, and interior.
Publish Date: 11/05/2020
Help yourself to feel safe when you're trying to get from point A to point B in a car that has the active safety technology to help you stay focused on the road.
The 2021 Toyota Corolla w/ CVT comes standard with its own suite of active safety features called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). Models with CVT include a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), Road Sign Assist (RSA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). Most of the features listed above also come standard on the Corolla models with manual transmission, with the exception of Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). Corolla models with manual transmissions receive Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), while LTA is not offered.
The Subaru Impreza does have its own suite of active safety features called EyeSight®. EyeSight® includes a Pre-Collision Braking System, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, and Lane Departure and Sway Warning with Lane-Keep Assist functions. However, it does not come standard on the base trim Impreza. You’d need to get the Impreza Premium or higher to get it standard. The Impreza Limited and higher also feature high beam assist. Both EyeSight® and TSS 2.0 include adaptive cruise control on the CVT models only.
Additionally, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) comes standard on all Corolla trims. This feature reduces backward rolling on steep inclines which is especially helpful for those with a manual transmission. The Impreza Sedan and Impreza Sport 5-door with manual transmissions offer Incline Start Assist.
For extra reassurance while driving, the 2021 Corolla XLE, XSE, and Apex Edition XSE come standard with Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA). Drivers can also get Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert on the Impreza, but it only comes standard on the more costly Impreza Limited Sedan.
The 2021 Corolla has great EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings without sacrificing power under the hood.
The Toyota Corolla L and LE have an EPA-estimated 30/38/33 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The 2.0L engine on the Corolla SE CVT has an EPA-estimated 31/40/34 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. Aside from the Impreza Sport w/CVT, which has an EPA-estimated 27/36/20 (city/highway/combined), other Subaru Impreza trims with CVT have an EPA-estimated 28/36/32 (city/highway/combined) across the board. For even better fuel economy the Corolla Hybrid LE has an impressive EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating, while the Impreza doesn’t have a hybrid engine option available.
Plus, the 2020 Corolla was named the 2020 Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal for 2020 model year. The Impreza was not.
You also get more under the hood with the Corolla. The Corolla trims with a 2.0-Liter 4-Cylinder engine output 169 horsepower. Although the Subaru Impreza also comes standard with a 2.0-Liter 4-Cylinder engine, it has only 152 horsepower. The 2021 Corolla also comes standard with CVT while the Impreza Sedan comes standard with a manual 5-speed transmission. The Impreza CVT option is $1,300 more.
Whether you want to play your favorite tunes with the windows down, or warm up in the winter, the Corolla has just what you need.
With the touch of the button you can adjust your seat position or power on seat warmers for a toasty drive in the Corolla XLE and XSE. They have standard power-adjustable driver's seat options and heated driver's and front passenger seats. The Impreza only has power-adjustable seats available as part of an upgrade package on the Premium Sedan and higher starting at $1,970.
The Corolla L comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen. The Impreza comes with a 6.5-inch Multimedia system. All Corolla grades, except the Corolla L, come with an 8-inch touchscreen. The Impreza Sport Sedan and higher also come with an 8-inch touchscreen.
For a more boisterous audio experience, the base Corolla has more speakers than the Impreza. The Corolla L has 6 speakers while the Impreza has 4 speakers. To get 6 speakers, Impreza drivers would have to choose the Impreza Premium or above. You also have more ways to play with the Corolla which comes standard with Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. The Impreza only comes with Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay®. It lacks an Amazon Alexa feature.
Introduced to the world in 1966, the Corolla has been around longer than the Impreza which was brought to the lineup in 1993.
Throughout the years the two sedans have made improvements to help protect you on the road. The Toyota Corolla continues to add more standard active safety features with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). Subaru has its own safety program called EyeSight®. However, you’d need to get the Impreza Premium trim or higher to get it standard.
Toyota has also added hybrid technology to this already popular sedan. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE has an impressive EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The Impreza doesn’t have a hybrid trim and has EPA estimates between 27/36/20 and 28/36/32 (city/highway/combined) for the models with CVT which is still less efficient than the gas model Corolla L.
For easier viewing, the Corolla L also comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen. The Impreza comes with a 6.5-inch Multimedia system. However, both vehicles do have 8-inch touchscreens in their higher grade trims.
It’s for these reasons and more we think the winner is clear: the 2021 Toyota Corolla.