Base Price: $17,895

Price as Tested: $22,637

This week, we're driving Subaru's 2013 Impreza Premium Hatchback, a long wheelbase compact from a corporation that continues to enhance its all-wheel-drive technology on every car it builds. Completely re-styled in 2012, Impreza comes in four-door sedan or five-door hatchback design with a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four cylinder Boxer engine for power.

Now in its 39th year of offering four-wheel drive passenger cars and SUVs, Subaru continues to impact the market with vehicles that not only attract all age groups, it does so with Symmetrical 4x4 as standard fare on every sale. They've been doing it this way since 1997, when the two-wheel drive Subaru was eliminated from its vehicle lineup.

Subaru's reputation is similar to Jeep nowadays when it comes to 4x4 discussions, although Jeep still offers two-wheel drive versions. Best of all, a well equipped base Impreza allows entry into "Subaru Land" for an incredibly low $17,895, proving that the word "inflation" is still not listed in the Subaru Dictionary. The entry price of our hatchback tester came in at $20,295.

Underneath, all Imprezas ride on a fully independent suspension with struts up front and a double-wishbone setup out back. For those seeking the best in performance, Impreza's high performance WRX starts at $25,795 and features a turbo Boxer engine and highly modified suspension. (It's my personal favorite of all Subarus).

Under the hood of the "normal" Impreza models sits its new design 2.0 liter four-cylinder horizontally opposed "Boxer" that puts out 148-horsepower and 145 lb. ft. of torque. This engine replaces the thirstier 2.5-liter that powered many Subarus through the 2011 model year. Because the famous "sideways" Boxer engine sits low in the chassis, it improves the overall center of gravity enhancing all handling and traction characteristics. Thus, be it a base price Impreza or top line 265-horse WRX, you'll receive the great core components and revolutionary AWD that makes Impreza a "best buy" in class.

Standard on Premium models are 16-inch tires with aluminum alloy wheels, 6-speaker stereo CD/USB/iPod/Bluetooth, air, fog lamps, cruise, vehicle dynamics control, electronic brakeforce, steering wheel audio controls, all the powers, keyless entry, four wheel ABS discs and much more.

All Subarus feature enhanced air bag systems for optimal occupant protection resulting in very good crash test scores, usually in the four and five star area.

Our Subaru came with the manual 5-speed transmission, which results in excellent 25 city and 33 highway EPA numbers. I still feel Subaru will introduce a 6-speed manual in the future as it could push the highway EPA number to a high of 40 depending on the gear ratio selected. "Incline Start Assist" also comes as standard fare, negating the need of "clutch and gas aptitude" when stopped on a hill as the brakes are locked until the clutch activates with left foot movement.

If you want the automatic, Subaru's CVT costs extra, (about $1,000 more) but does push the EPA higher to 27 and 36, which is a fair tradeoff. The automatic also utilizes a slightly different AWD system, but it's still 100-percent Subaru technology.

Our tester came with just one option, a $1,500 package featuring 17-inch tires on nice alloy wheels, power moonroof and leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 104.1 inches (long for a compact), 3,076 lb. curb weight, 22.5 to 52.4 cu. ft. of cargo space, 5.9 inch ground clearance and a 14.5 gallon fuel tank.

If you're looking for an AWD compact that delivers great fuel mileage and rides comfortably thanks to the longer wheelbase visit your Subaru dealer and take one out for a drive. Overall, Impreza is a Test Drive best buy.

Likes: Engine, interior room, price, MPG, AWD.

Dislikes: Engine and interior noise, needs more insulation.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).