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2008-11 Subaru Impreza Wagon

2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011

This article is an overview of your vehicle's audio system and its upgrade options. If you're looking for step-by-step instructions on installing a car stereo or speakers in your Impreza, we'll include a Crutchfield MasterSheet™ free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one for $9.99.
2008 Subaru Impreza wagon

2008 Subaru Impreza wagon (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Overview

The 2008-11 Subaru Impreza Wagon is a popular AWD vehicle, especially big with the tuner crowd and in areas that suffer from harsh winters. The WRX version, in particular, has made its mark as a sporty, high-performance vehicle with lots of room for mechanical and cosmetic upgrades.

The Impreza comes with either a basic 4-speaker system or a premium 6-speaker system, and you'll find a ton of upgrades available for both sound systems. This is a straightforward vehicle for car audio installations. You can replace the factory stereo and speakers pretty easily and even retain the steering wheel controls.

Replacing your factory radio

Radio in 6-speaker system (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The standard Subaru radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)

An aftermarket receiver will give you the performance and functionality you've been looking for. The installation process is reasonably simple, and the results will be worth the effort.

Standard 4-speaker system

Replacing your factory radio with an aftermarket car stereo is an easy way to add new functionality like HD Radio™ reception or Bluetooth® connectivity, plus take your sound quality up a notch or two.

If you have the standard Subaru radio, you'll need a dash kit to install either a DIN (2" tall) or double-DIN (4" tall) stereo, and you'll want to get a wiring harness that connects to the factory Subaru plug so you don't have to cut the factory wiring.

If you have the Subaru navigation radio in your vehicle, you'll also need an antenna adapter that'll connect your Subaru antenna lead to your new aftermarket stereo.

Subaru radio with navigation (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Subaru radio with navigation (Crutchfield Research Photo)

If you don't want to change out your radio, you’ll find adapters that let you connect your iPod® to the Subaru's radio, then control it with the radio or with your steering wheel controls.

You can definitely put together a complete audio system with new speakers, amplifiers, and subwoofers while retaining the factory radio, but a nice aftermarket stereo offers superior circuitry that will make these upgrades sound even better.

Premium 6-speaker system

You'll know you have the upgraded 6-speaker system if you have tweeters in the corners of the front door's windows. The speakers in the front and rear doors are 6-1/2" in both sound systems, with the premium version having tweeters on the door speakers in addition to tweeters in the sail panel location on the front doors.

Both speaker systems use the same dash kit and wiring harness for stereo installations. The dash kit, harness, and antenna adapter needed are available at a very nice discount with most orders, and our Crutchfield MasterSheet™ instructions for your Impreza are included free.

Note: If you have the Subaru satellite radio, Bluetooth, or iPod connection option, you’ll lose it when you install a new stereo. And, of course, you'll lose navigation capability if you replace the Subaru navigation radio with a receiver that doesn't have GPS.

Steering wheel controls

Two companies (PAC and Axxess) make adapters that allow you to connect your Impreza's steering wheel audio controls to a new car stereo. The Axxess ASWC-1 adapter will auto-sense the Subaru's wiring and automatically program itself, so we recommend this adapter to retain the steering wheel audio controls in the Impreza.

 Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool

Replacing your factory speakers

Front door in 4-speaker system (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Front door in 4-speaker system (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Standard 4-speaker system

The Impreza's standard audio system comes equipped with 6-1/2" speakers installed in the front and rear doors. Subaru generally uses 4-ohm speakers in their vehicles, so an aftermarket 4- or 2-ohm speaker will work well if you're replacing your speakers but keeping your factory radio.

The factory 6-1/2" speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The factory 6-1/2" speaker in 4-speaker system (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Front doors

You'll have to remove the door panel to get at the factory speaker, which is mounted in an integrated bracket that's attached to the door with three Phillips screws.

You can use mounting brackets to install any aftermarket 6-1/2", 6-3/4" and 5-1/4" speakers, but you'll have to drill a new hole to install the bracket in each door. Wiring harnesses are available to connect your new speakers to the factory wiring.

The mounting brackets and speaker wiring harnesses you'll need to install your new door speakers are available at a deep discount with every speaker order.

Rear doors

Installing new speakers in the rear doors of the Impreza is exactly the same process as the front doors. The door panel must be removed to get at the factory speaker, and the speaker lives in an integrated bracket that's attached to the door with three Phillips screws. You'll have to use mounting brackets to install any aftermarket 6-1/2", 6-3/4" and 5-1/4" speakers, and you'll have to drill a new hole to install each bracket.

Tweeter location of 6-speaker system (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The 6-speaker system includes tweeters in the sail panels (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Premium 6-speaker system

The premium 6-speaker system in the Impreza adds tweeters in the corners of the front windows (the sail panel), and upgrades the door woofers to 2-way speakers (with tweeters). Like the basic 4-speaker system, all of the speakers are 4-ohm.

Upgraded door speaker with tweeter (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Upgraded door speaker with tweeter in 6-speaker system (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Speaker locations

The speakers in the front and rear doors of the premium system can be removed from their bracket, which means you can install aftermarket 6-1/2" speakers without using a mounting bracket or drilling new holes.

You can also install a 5-1/4" or 6-3/4" speaker in the front and rear doors, but you'll have to use a mounting bracket in each location and  you'll have to drill a new screw hole to install each bracket.

Tweeters

The premium system includes tweeters built into the sail panels of the front doors, and they are easily accessed. You can pull the sail panel away from the door to release the clip that holds it in place. Installing an aftermarket tweeter requires a little ingenuity, since tweeters don't come in standard sizes.

You may have to make modifications or create a mounting plate to get a new tweeter in there. The factory tweeter is 1.38 inches in diameter, and you only have about 1/4" of depth in the location, so you may have to cut a hole in the grille and surface-mount the new tweeter.

There are no wiring harnesses available for this location in the Impreza, so you'll have to splice into the factory wiring or use a set of Posi-Products connectors to hook everything up.

Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat screwdriver, panel tool, wire stripper/crimp tool, crimp caps, drill and 1/8" bit


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Adding bass to your Impreza

The bad news is that nobody makes a custom-fit sub enclosure for the Impreza, but the good news is that finding room for a subwoofer and amplifier (or a powered sub) in this wagon shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll need to tap into the rear door speakers or run wires to the rear of the factory stereo to get a signal to your subwoofer system.

More options

Here are some other ways to upgrade your Impreza:

Amplifiers

An amplifier will really boost the performance of your new speakers. We don’t recommend using an amp with the factory speakers because they simply won't handle that much power.

Satellite radio

If your factory radio came equipped with satellite radio, you will lose that option with a new car stereo, so look for a new radio that’ll work with an outboard SiriusXM tuner. You can also add a Dock-and-Play satellite radio that you can take from car to car.

Digital signal processor

If you want better sound, but don't want to modify your Impreza's dash, there is another option for vehicles without factory amplifiers. The Helix PP50DSP processor will make a dramatic improvement in the sound of your factory system. It works like this: you buy the processor, along with a vehicle-specific cable and a plug-in powered sub. The cable plugs into your factory radio's plug, connecting the processor/amp to your factory speakers. Next, go to Helix's site, download your vehicle’s audio parameters onto a microSD card, then load that info into the amp/processor. The PP50DSP is now ready to use equalization and time alignment to make your factory speakers sound great. Add in the bass from the optional Helix sub, and you've got a total system upgrade with minimal work.

Navigation

There’s plenty of room behind the dash, so any aftermarket in-dash navigation receiver will fit in the Impreza.

Security

It's a pretty straightforward process to install a security or remote start system in this car. If you plan on installing a new security system you can use the FlashLogic FLCAN interface to make the installation easier and save you some time. You can complete the install without those devices but you will need four XpressKit 650T diodes for door trigger isolation.

Installing a remote starter kit involves leaving a spare transponder key in the car, which you will tuck away in a bypass like the Code Alarm UTI. This box gets installed behind the dash with your spare key mounted within. Finally you will need an XpressKit 8617 relay to finish the starter install. We also suggest you put your factory alarm in valet mode so it can't be accidentally triggered. Check your Subaru manual for directions on how to do this.

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