Subaru Impreza in Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Subaru Impreza is one of the most iconic all-wheel-drive cars to date, making a strong name for itself in rally racing, rallycross, and many other forms  of motorsport. 

One thing that stands out with the Impreza is its ability to conquer and navigate  difficult terrain. 

So, is the Subaru Impreza fit for snow and winter driving? Find out in this article.

Here is the short answer to whether the Subaru Impreza is  good for snow and winter driving: 

The Subaru Impreza is one of the best cars in its class for winter driving. It handles the snow with ease. This is greatly contributed to Subaru’s symmetrical full-time all-wheel drive. Basically, Imprezas are designed for driving in tough conditions, especially winter weather. 

Is a Subaru Impreza Good in the Snow? 

Winter driving can make most drivers anxious. It can be very unnerving and stressful, after all. 

However, sitting behind the wheel of an Impreza should put your mind to rest when navigating bad weather such as snowy conditions.

All Imprezas come with all-wheel drive (AWD). All-wheel drive is key in assisting the driver with slippery road surfaces. It helps maintain the most traction possible. 

On top of having AWD, Subaru has a special kind of AWD called  “Symmetrical Full-Time All-Wheel Drive”. This type of AWD system is widely regarded as one of the best in the automotive industry. 

To keep up with the ongoing pace of improved vehicle safety and stability, Subaru has included a number of driver aids and assists which make the Impreza even better in the snow than before. 

The Impreza was designed for driving on a wide variety of road surfaces.

It tends to be considered the “king of rally” after all, and that rally heritage is  felt when driving it, especially during snowfall. 

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving? 

Here is a list of features that help the Impreza get through the winter:

Symmetrical Full-Time All-Wheel Drive  

Having AWD is key during the winter months. AWD is now a cornerstone of  Subaru technology, as almost all of their vehicles come equipped with it. 

Most vehicles have an AWD system that comes on when the vehicle’s computer system detects wheel slippage, otherwise it will only send power to two wheels.

The Impreza differs greatly from this, because the AWD system is always on. 

Hence the meaning of “full-time”. Conclusively this factor makes it superior to most AWD systems in other vehicles, because it does not have to react, the engine is already sending power to all four wheels. 

As well as being full-time, the Impreza’s AWD system is also symmetrical. 

This means the axles that transmit power from the engine to the wheels, are of equal length on both sides of the vehicle. 

This improves overall balance and reduces torque-steer – a phenomenon that occurs when one axle is longer than another on the opposite side, making the vehicle pull in one direction. 

The symmetrical AWD system that Subaru has developed makes winter driving that much better than a great number of vehicles from other manufacturers. 

Related: How Long Do Subaru Imprezas Last? (Solved & Explained)

Traction Control System 

The Traction Control System (TCS) works by monitoring wheel speed using sensors. If a slipping wheel is detected by a wheel speed sensor, the engine output will be decreased. 

To put it plainly, if traction is lost, the computer will reduce throttle until traction is regained.

You can push the accelerator to the floor, and the engine will not increase in speed, not until the wheels are no longer slipping.  

This system can be turned off, but should only be turned off in the event the  car is stuck and needs to be recovered.

Vehicle Dynamic Control System 

Vehicle Dynamic Control otherwise know as VDC is a type of Electronic Stability Control, and is a great feature in the winter when roads are slippery and loss of control can occur.

It utilizes strategically placed sensors to monitor:

  • Wheel speed
  • Steering wheel position
  • Lateral acceleration
  • Yaw rate

Should the sensors detect the vehicle is not moving in the desired direction, the system will take measures to auto-correct the situation.

As Foresters are equipped with symmetrical full-time All-Wheel-Drive, the system will utilize this first to re-establish traction and stability at the first signs of trouble.

Failing that VDC will kick in and take corrective measures by:

  • Sending power from the front to rear
  • Applying brakes to individual wheels
  • Adjusting engine timing
  • Limiting the flow of fuel to the engine

The combination of these is designed to help the vehicle regain control, stability, traction and direction.

Anti-Lock Brakes 

Traction can be lost under acceleration, as well as under braking.

If traction is lost under braking, the wheels will lock-up. This is when they stop moving completely, and the car cannot turn when the driver turns the wheel. The stopping distance is also drastically increased.  

Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) is a safety feature that can prevent lock-up during braking.

Using wheel speed sensors, it monitors the wheel speed.

Should the brakes lock, it momentarily reduces brake pressure to allow the wheel to spin again. 

ABS is standard on all Imprezas and is a great safety feature to have for the winter months. 

Does the Impreza Have a Snow Mode? 

The Subaru Impreza does not come equipped with a “snow mode”. 

The snow mode or snow button is not included on the Subaru Impreza.  However, this should not deter you from driving the Impreza in the winter. 

Even with the lack of a snow mode on the Impreza, it still has great handling and stability in the snow. 

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Impreza? 

You can install snow gear on the Impreza. Depending on what is available  and legal in your region, you can install: 

  • Snow tires 
  • Studded tires
  • Snow socks 
  • Snow chains 

Ensure you know what tires you need before buying snow tires/studded tires. This includes knowing proper size, speed and weight ratings.  

Confirm your tire size before buying chains or socks. 

With snow socks and chains, do not exceed speeds of 30 MPH.  

Also, be wary of installing chains, studs or socks without knowing if your region allows them on the road. Many regions have strict laws regarding snow gear. 

How Much Snow Can an Impreza Handle? 

The Imprezas ground clearance is 5.1 inches.

This makes it suitable for light or moderate snowfall, and plowed roads, but heavy snowfall may cause the Impreza to get stuck. 

If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, other Subaru models may suit your needs. The Crosstrek sits at 8.7 inches, for example.  

Nonetheless, the Impreza can still drive in the winter, just be wary of the depth of the snow. 

How Do Imprezas Handle Low Winter Temperatures? 

The Impreza comes with electronic fuel injection, meaning starting in the winter is not a problem for it.

If you live in a region that is subject to extremely cold conditions an engine block heater might need to be considered. Engine block heaters can help prevent engine damage when starting in sub-zero temperatures. 

Before the winter months however, have a service technician take a look at your vehicle. They should check tires, brakes, battery, and coolant mix,  to name a few things. 

Winter can be hard on a battery, and you do not want to be stuck with a  flat battery in the cold. Tires require significant tread, and coolant needs to  be a good mix to ensure it does not freeze. 

Related: 16 Best & Worst Subaru Impreza Years (With Facts & Stats)

Can a Subaru Impreza Drive on Ice? 

The Impreza is capable of driving on ice however it should be done so with extreme caution, speeds should be lowered and corners should be taken with much greater care.

Does the Impreza Have 4WD? 

All Subaru Imprezas come equipped with AWD. The AWD that comes on the Impreza is called “Symmetrical Full-Time AWD”. 

It is a cutting-edge AWD system that is held to a high regard.

What About Older Impreza Models and Winter Driving?

Older Imprezas still come equipped AWD and handle well in the snow. 

But they do not have the refinements, driving aids and safety systems that newer Impreza models have. When choosing an Impreza for winter driving, a new model Impreza will be the best. 

Do Imprezas Need Snow Tires? 

Snow tires will ensure you get the best possible winter performance from your Impreza, and are highly recommended.

Essentially, they will provide improved handling and stopping.

  • The compound is made to grip the road better in lower temperatures because it is softer.
  • The tread pattern is also designed to push the snow out from underneath the tire. 

Can You Mount a Snow Plow on an Impreza? 

Snow plows cannot be mounted on an Impreza. The Impreza was not designed to move snow.

You may also be interested in our article: are Subarus’s easy to work on, repair & maintain?



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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