But the GT doesn't have much going for it in the cabin tech department. Although navigation is available on other Impreza trims, you can't get it in the GT. Likewise, Bluetooth is available on some trims, such as the Impreza Premium and the WRX STI, but not in the GT. That leaves the stereo, an unremarkable head unit with an in-dash six-disc changer. You can play MP3 CDs in it, and the interface is pretty easy to work, with dedicated buttons for scrolling through folders. Satellite radio, either XM or Sirius, is an option, as is an iPod kit. There is also a standard auxiliary input in the console. Fortunately, this head unit is a standard double-DIN system, making it easy to upgrade to a more feature-rich unit.
Similar to the head unit, the six-speaker audio system isn't particularly interesting. We tried it with a variety of music and found that it is about average for today's cars. The sound is passable, but it won't do anything for your music. The bass isn't punchy and the mids can be muddy, while highs can be on the shrill side. Fortunately, the system isn't very loud, so these faults aren't accentuated.
Under the hood
Lacking much in the way of cabin tech, the real story about the 2009 Subaru Impreza GT should be about performance. The engine uses a variable valve timing system Subaru calls active valve control, and its 224 horsepower is only about 40 less than that of the Impreza WRX, and 55 more than in the nonturbo base Impreza.
In normal driving in the city and on the freeway, the engine delivers enough power to make the car peppy, although we felt as if the automatic transmission held back its true potential. That transmission makes the car feel more like a commuter than a sport driver. The car was easy to drive in traffic, showing no ill behavior, with reasonably precise steering. We didn't feel much turbo lag, a side benefit of the sluggish transmission.
To test out the all-wheel-drive, we took the car on some mountain roads, pushing it hard in the corners. Here, the sport mode in the transmission revealed its limitations, as it merely has higher shift points, but doesn't aggressively downshift. When we could get some acceleration out of a corner, the wheels felt grippy, the all-wheel-drive doing its thing. The suspension limited body roll enough that we didn't feel the car was wobbly.
The Impreza GT has the full range of electronic road-holding gear, starting with the electronic limited slip differential on the all-wheel-drive system and a electronically controlled transfer clutch. Traction control works on all the wheels, as well, and the car uses electronic brakeforce distribution with its antilock brakes.
Rated at 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, the Impreza GT isn't an economy superstar. During our testing, we came in at 21 mpg, solidly in the middle of that city/highway range. For emissions, the GT merely meets California's minimum LEV II rating.
The 2009 Subaru Impreza GT has a base price of $26,995, with most options dealer-installed. As such, our test car was the base model, its $665 destination charge bringing the total up to $27,660. At this price range, the Impreza GT has few competitors, as all-wheel-drive sedans are few and far between. In fact, the GT faces its strongest competition from its own stable, where a WRX can be had for just a few thousand dollars more. That means a navigation system, a more powerful engine, and even a manual transmission, leaving us to wonder why Subaru makes the GT-trimmed Impreza.
Although we like the build quality of the Impreza GT, it gets a failing grade for cabin tech, as no modern options are available besides the iPod integration. This is not what we would call a tech car. It does somewhat better on performance, mostly on the strength of its all-wheel-drive and road-holding gear. The transmission is the main thing that holds it down. For design, the car is passable, if not particularly good-looking. It will blend in with the Toyotas and Hondas on the freeway.