The Subaru Impreza has been one of the forgotten compact cars. While most people focus on cars from the bigger automakers, the Impreza has been receiving improvements and should be considered as a strong choice.
Subaru introduced the 2012 Impreza recently and the cars featured better designs and more efficient powertrains. The 2012 Impreza offers an amazing 36-percent improvement in EPA combined fuel economy over the 2011 car. And the Impreza continues to offer something that none of its competition offers, standard all-wheel drive. For a closer look, we borrowed an Impreza five door and took a look for ourselves.
Every 2012 Impreza comes with an all-new 148 horsepower flat-four 2.0 liter four cylinder. The alloy engine features 10.5:1 compression ratio to produce 145 lb. ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm. Interestingly, the engine is not equipped with direct injection as is the recent trend with other automakers to achieve better efficiency. The engine is mated to a standard five speed manual transmission. Most others offer a six speed manual so we are not sure why there is a not a six speed offered.
An option that came with our car was a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters. The transmission behaved like most other CVTs out there and seems to really suck the excitement out of the engine by trying to be so efficient. The CVT is definitely more efficient with EPA numbers of 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Both numbers are two points lower with the manual transmission.
The wheelbase grows to 104.1 inches compared to 103.2 inches in the 2011 model. Total length and width remain the same as before for both sedan and five-door models, yet thanks to redesigned door panels, the 2012 Impreza offers increased hip and shoulder room. Rear seat passengers gain nearly two inches of legroom. Cargo room is also increased, and the five-door now provides a completely flat load floor with the standard 65/35 split rear seatbacks folded. The improvements result in a roomy interior that never feels tight and has plenty of space for five people.
Richer looking appointments and details inside the new Impreza, including soft-touch materials for the dashboard, door trim and center console armrest are a welcome addition. Larger door pockets can now hold plastic drink bottles and there are numerous compartments located in and around the center console that hold all manner of today’s personal items such as cell phones. On the road the Impreza is quiet and smooth and feels almost like a luxury car. The level of quality has definitely been improved and everything is within easy reach.
Despite the larger size, the 2012 Subaru Impreza is actually about 165 pounds lighter than the old car. Lower weight is one of the contributing factors of the improved fuel economy of the Impreza. Other technologies helping boost fuel efficiency include a new electric power steering system, which by itself contributes a 2-percent efficiency increase, and lower rolling resistance tires.
The tires in our Sport model may improve fuel economy but if performance is what you are interested in, the tires need to be replaced. When pushing the Impreza around twisty roads, the tires make it obvious that they are not happy with you. But the balance of the car with the AWD is still one of the great things about Subarus and it is nice to know that it is still there. The car is easy to drive at the limit and is surefooted is the word that keeps popping up.
Amazingly with all of the improvements the base price remains the same as 2011 at $17,495 for the 2.0i sedan. All 2012 Impreza models feature as standard a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power windows, door locks and side mirrors, a 65/35-split fold-down rear seat, outside temperature gauge, a multi-function display with fuel economy information, remote keyless entry system, security system with engine immobilizer, variable intermittent windshield wipers and a low windshield washer fluid warning light. A new ECO gauge helps the driver to operate the vehicle as economically as possible. Even carpeted floormats, an extra-cost option in many cars, are standard equipment in all Impreza models.
Impreza Premium models add 16-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel audio and Bluetooth control switches, a rear stabilizer bar for crisper handling, adjustable console armrest, body-color exterior mirrors and chrome interior door handles. The Impreza Sport Premium is a five-door model that combines standard 17-inch alloy wheels and the All-Weather Package with fog lights, roof rails, unique seat fabric and rocker panel spoilers.
The Impreza has been one of the forgotten cars. It is a shame because it is an excellent car with some unique features such as standard all-wheel drive that can be important if you live in colder climates. The improvements in fuel economy and comfort really make the Impreza a credible competitor to the big boys.