2022 Subaru Impreza vs. Mazda3: Which Subcompact Sedan Is More Fuel-Efficient?

The compact car segment is filled with worthy competitors that have different drive configurations and fuel economy numbers. Two good examples are the 2022 Subaru Impreza and the 2022 Mazda3. Both models come with an all-wheel drivetrain, but which of the two is more fuel-efficient?

The 2022 Subaru Impreza has a full-time AWD system and gets good fuel efficiency

A side view of the 2022 Subaru Impreza on a private street.
A side view of the 2022 Subaru Impreza on a private street. | Subaru

If you’re looking for the more fuel-efficient AWD sedan of the two, look no further than the 2022 Subaru Impreza. According to the EPA, the Impreza can achieve up to 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. That fuel efficiency comes from a naturally aspirated flat-four engine that produces 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. According to Car and Driver, the engine “requires considerable goading to keep the engine where it needs to be to make power.”

But what it lacks in low-end power, it makes up for in fuel economy over the rival Mazda3. The four-cylinder engine can be mated to a CVT or five-speed manual transmission. Also, the brand’s Symmetrical AWD system is standard on every Impreza, so traction shouldn’t be an issue in snow states.

The 2022 Mazda3 is available with an AWD system and uses variable-valve timing

The 2022 Mazda3 sedan has an available all-wheel drivetrain and good fuel efficiency.
The 2022 Mazda3 sedan has an available all-wheel drivetrain and good fuel efficiency. | Mazda

On the other hand, the 2022 Mazda3 is primarily offered in a front-drive configuration, but an all-wheel drive system is available. When opting for all four wheels to spin, the EPA says that the Mazda3 can achieve up to 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. That’s not bad for an all-wheel-drive setup, but it’s still lower than the numbers produced by the Impreza.

Buyers have a choice of what goes under the hood of the Mazda3, even in AWD guise. The base engine, which is offered on the Preferred and Premium trim levels, is a 2.5-liter inline-4 that puts out 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque.

However, a turbocharged 2.5-liter is also available on the higher trim levels. That force-fed mill generates up to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. The EPA rates the turbo engine’s fuel economy at 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. That is to say, if you’re looking for fuel efficiency in the Mazda3, then the naturally aspirated engine is the way to go. Although, we will say that you’re missing out on some turbo fun with the Mazda3 Turbo.

Which sedan should you pick?

Mazda3 infotainment system safe
Mazda3 infotainment system | Mazda North American Operations

It’s a no-brainer that if you want the best fuel efficiency in an AWD sedan, then the 2022 Subaru Impreza is the one to choose. Subaru has spent years perfecting its Symmetrical AWD system, and it’s no wonder its entry-level sedan boasts such good fuel economy numbers.

However, if you want more sophisticated styling inside and out, then the Mazda3 is still a great choice. It might not be as fuel-efficient as the Impreza, but it still pulls decent gas mileage numbers and offers a potently fun turbocharged engine.

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