The Subaru Impreza Gravel Express Laughs In The Face Of Crossovers

One of the lesser known bits of the Subaru Impreza's history, the Gravel Express is a true lifestyle machine that makes modern crossovers look lame
The Subaru Impreza Gravel Express Laughs In The Face Of Crossovers

Picking out your favourite version of the Subaru Impreza isn’t easy. The STI Version 5; the RA; the P1; the legendary 22B - how do you choose from a roster that includes amazing cars like that, and many more besides?

For me, the wide-arched 22B has always represented the pinnacle of Impreza want, but my faith has been shaken by another, less special member of the family that’s passed me by until recently. I’m talking about the Impreza WRX Gravel Express, a car which isn’t awesome only because it challenges the Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard for the unofficial title of the best-named vehicle to ever emerge from Japan.

Image source: 韋駄天狗 via Wikimedia Commons
Image source: 韋駄天狗 via Wikimedia Commons

No, it’s awesome because, well…look at it. Based on the first-generation Impreza, the car had a similar ethos to the Volvo V70 Cross Country, yet it predated the jacked-up Swedish estate by several years. And, it went far further with the whole ‘lifestyle’ thing than any of Volvo’s crossover-ified wagons.

Along with a suspension lift, we have an externally-mounted spare wheel, a menacing set of bull bars with headlight guards at the front, tough sill guards and a two-tone paint job. And, as you might have noticed, it still sports a hood scoop.

Image source: 韋駄天狗 via Wikimedia Commons
Image source: 韋駄天狗 via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a good reason for this: the Gravel Express was fitted with the turbocharged flat-four from the WRX. In fact, other than the suspension lift and the exterior modifications, this quirky Impreza essentially is a WRX.

So, it’s a first-gen WRX with added practicality and capability, while looking like something that can take on an African rally stage and/or help you survive a zombie apocalypse. If you’re one of the few people tempted by a crossover because you’re actually going to use it for all the adventurous stuff in the adverts, surely the Gravel Express is a cooler way to go about it?

The Subaru Impreza Gravel Express Laughs In The Face Of Crossovers

The car had a North American equivalent in the form of the Outback Sport, which wasn’t sold with the WRX engine. Curiously though, it did retain the hood scoop.

The Outback Sport also ended up outliving the Gravel Express. The WRX-engined JDM car died off with the first-generation Impreza, but Impreza-based Outback Sport versions of the second and third-gen cars were produced, again for the North American market only. It too bit the dust when Subaru retired the name upon the arrival of the fourth-gen Impreza, with the Outback effectively replaced by the arguably less interesting XV.

The North American market Outback Sport outlived the Gravel Express
The North American market Outback Sport outlived the Gravel Express

As for the Gravel Express, you’ll be hard pressed to find one here in the UK. A few were imported through the years, but after a search of our usual classifieds haunts, all we’ve managed to find is a car being broken for spares. Boo.

One was up for sale in the north of England a few months ago for a very reasonable £2750, so there is hope. If you do ever come across one, snap it up immediately, and we’ll try not to be jealous.


GTRTURTLE 🔰 🐢(Oo \ S K Y L I N E / oO) (Koen

I think I can make a better Ad for the Subaru Gravel with my basic photoshop skills

08/29/2018 - 15:07 |
34 | 0
Ali Mahfooz

That name alone is enough to put almost all crossovers to shame.

08/29/2018 - 15:24 |
90 | 0

Yeah, the modern equivalent would be more like “Impreza lifestyle edition” than GRAVEL EXPRESS

08/29/2018 - 15:40 |
28 | 0

Even the XV puts crossovers to shame IMO

08/29/2018 - 22:04 |
0 | 0


08/29/2018 - 15:31 |
180 | 60

In reply to by [Flux]

Turns out that spamming all comment sections pisses off the community instead of rallying them.

Who would have guessed?

08/29/2018 - 16:08 |
48 | 112
Chris D.

In reply to by [Flux]

Have you tried emailing a staff member that’s actually on the site frequently instead of Adnan, which we rarely see on here?

08/29/2018 - 16:29 |
20 | 6

In reply to by [Flux]

Flux, don’t even bother with the kids, you have seen the downvotes, the only thing this site is worth for now is to make fun of the 10yr olds that come straight from Facebook.

08/29/2018 - 19:54 |
20 | 18

Now this, THIS is what a family offroader SHOULD look like!

08/29/2018 - 16:00 |
20 | 0

In reply to by Klush

Most people who own SUVs don’t take them offroad anyway

08/29/2018 - 18:11 |
0 | 0

In the future wanting to lift my Outback to similar ride heights as this. Already has an EJ205 turbo swapped too.

08/29/2018 - 17:40 |
2 | 0

You think people who drive SUVs in a city drive them offroad? Hahaha

As for the topic, my favorite Impreza is 2005 WRX STi, Hawkeye.

08/29/2018 - 18:10 |
0 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The Hawkeye first appeared in 2006, my favourite as well in world rally blue.

08/29/2018 - 20:36 |
4 | 0

Could someone who (unlike me) realy knows the English language maybe write a Piece about the Lancia Delta (831) and its many many Editions, Variants and derivates?
There are so many that you could write a Book about it.

08/29/2018 - 22:09 |
2 | 0

I’ve got one!

08/30/2018 - 04:08 |
32 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Pretty nice, how’s the EJ holding up?

08/30/2018 - 08:17 |
0 | 0


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