By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.8
For 2012, Subaru introduces an all-new version of its capable and dependable compact sedan and wagon. The 2012 Subaru Impreza is roomier and better-trimmed inside than many competitors, and continues as the only passenger car under $20K with standard Symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD). Courtesy of reduced weight, a new, more-efficient 2.0-liter boxer engine and continuously variable automatic transmission, the 2012 Impreza offers the best EPA-estimated fuel economy of any gasoline-powered all-wheel-drive passenger car, better even than the base-engine/automatic-transmission mileage of front-drive compacts like Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Jetta and Nissan Sentra.
The 2012 Impreza is the practical choice if you value the no-nonsense reliability, security and all-weather traction benefits of standard all-wheel drive combined with roomy comfort and top-notch fuel economy in its class.
If Subaru's traditionally excellent safety ratings or the Impreza's standard all-wheel drive traction isn't a big factor in your purchase decision, there are compact competitors that offer more features for less money.
Subaru made the Impreza a comfortable, roomy, attractive place for customers downsizing from mid-size cars. The Impreza's safety credentials are bolstered by a standard driver's knee airbag for 2012. Last year's Outback Sport is discontinued, replaced by two range-topping 5-door wagon models: the 2.0i Sport Premium and 2.0i Sport Limited.
Driving Impressions Like comfortable sneakers, the 2012 Subaru Impreza offers surefooted all-wheel-drive traction under all road and weather conditions. It may lack the sharp steering response of a Focus or road feel...of a Civic, but the Impreza imparts confidence and feels unflappable at all times. The all-new 2.0-liter boxer engine is 13 percent less powerful than last year's 2.5-liter, but acceleration is decent, especially with the available continuously variable transmission (CVT), which replaces 2011's 4-speed automatic. The CVT responds quickly to changing road grades and driver input without shift lag, although with the radio and fan turned off, a slight transmission whine is heard. New front seats offer more comfort and improved support. Outward visibility is among the best in the segment. The wagon's split rear seat folds completely flat and the rolled-up cargo cover stows under the cargo floor – two examples of Subaru's thoughtfulness.
INCLINE START ASSIST
Called "Hill Hold" in popular parlance, this nifty feature keeps your Impreza from rolling back or forward as you release the clutch when starting out on an incline. It's standard on manual-transmission models.
New for 2012, this dash-mounted analog gauge gives Impreza drivers bio-feedback on how fuel-efficient they are driving. It's simple, effective and if you keep the needle to the right, you're saving gas.
Although overall length is unchanged from 2011, the 2012 model is the roomiest Subaru Impreza ever. It has more rear-seat legroom than some mid-size cars thanks to a skillful wheelbase stretch and scalloped front seatbacks. Hip and shoulder room improve courtesy of carefully contoured door panels. Larger door openings make getting in and out easier than in many competitors. Raised seat heights, increased glass area and a lowered dash help give a command-of-the-road feel. Front seats get pressure-distributing bottom cushions, increased lumbar support and new tilt-adjustable headrests. Soft touch coverings adorn the dash, door panels and console.Exterior
The 2012 Subaru Impreza gets all-new sheet metal. Both the more-formal 4-door sedan and sporty 5-door wagon feature more sharply sculpted, Legacy-derived styling with prominent wheel arches and hawkeye-shaped headlights. In silhouette, each has a light and airy greenhouse with large windows and slimmer-looking roof pillars for improved visibility, highlighted by a more rakish windshield. With blind spots reduced or eliminated, the new Impreza is one of the easiest cars in its class to maneuver and move through traffic.
The base Impreza 2.0i rolls on smallish 15-inch steel wheels, but otherwise is cheerfully equipped with standard all-wheel drive, A/C, remote keyless entry, 60/40 split folding rear seat, carpeted floormats, wagon cargo tie-downs, auto-off headlights, 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, height-adjust driver's seat and tilt/telescoping steering column. The 2.0i Premium gains 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, wagon cargo cover, sliding center armrest, and a 6-speaker audio with Bluetooth streaming, iPod connectivity, hands-free phone capability, and a USB port. The 2.0i Limited adds leather trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, the CVT (automatic transmission), heated seats and HD radio with 4.3-inch display. Well-trimmed and wagon-only, the 2.0i Sport Premium and Sport Limited models lack only standard navigation and a moonroof.
The only option available on base 2.0i Imprezas is the CVT. With the Impreza 2.0i Premium, the optional CVT comes with shift paddles that allow the driver to manually select six ratios. Also available on 2.0i Premium models are an all-weather package with heated seats and outside mirrors plus wiper de-icers, and a 17-inch alloy-wheel package that adds stainless-steel exhaust tips and a leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel. A power moonroof and 6.1-inch touch-screen navigation system with XM satellite radio is optional on all but the base model. Last year's removable Tom Tom nav unit is no longer offered. Neither are power seats.
The 2012 Subaru Impreza sticks with its unique, compact boxer engine that's known for reliability and a low center of gravity that helps handling and safety. But while the 2011 2.5-liter Impreza had one of the larger, more powerful standard engines among compacts, the all-new 2012 2.0-liter version is among the most advanced and fuel-efficient with a 36-percent boost to its EPA combined city/highway rating. Subaru engineered the new engine for improved low- and mid-range torque, which improves around-town responsiveness. A switch to a new dual-overhead-cam configuration with variable valve control for both intake and exhaust boosts efficiency and performance. Adapted from the Legacy, the 2012 Impreza upgrades its automatic transmission to the Lineartronic CVT, which – unlike earlier CVTs that droned on – gives a more linear response to the gas pedal.
148 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (manual), 27/36 mpg (automatic)
Despite all the improvements to fuel economy, roominess, comfort and infotainment technology, the base price (MSRP with destination charges) of the 2012 Subaru Impreza Sedan is the same as 2011, just over $18,000. Five-door Wagon models go for $500 more. Last year's top model, the Outback Sport, is replaced by a pair of loaded, wagon-only models (the Sport Premium and Sport Limited) that range from $21K to just above $23K. That puts the top Impreza models up against the better equipped VW Jetta, Mazda Mazda3, Ford Focus and Chevy Cruze models, but these competitors don't have all-wheel drive. The closest AWD rival is the Mitsubishi Lancer, with the tiny Suzuki SX4 and larger, more expensive Suzuki Kizashi and Ford Fusion rounding out the small field. As with other Subarus, we expect the 2012 Impreza to hold its resale value well. To get a better idea of what people in your area are paying for their 2012 Subaru Imprezas, check out Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price in the "What should I pay for a new car?" section on our homepage.
By Robert (CT) on Monday, December 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solid, Solid, Solid car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have put 10k on this car and I am very impressed. My wife owns a 2008 forester and I liked her car so much that when it came time for me to get a new car I had to look at subaru. Because of the awd this brand feels and is so solidly planted on the ground more so than any other car I have driven. I owned the 2008 mercury sable awd before this car and I am amazed at how this car handles and feels as solid as a much larger car. To many people try to compare this car to a focus or elantra etc in terms of fuel economy, interior and exterior design, and over all value. If you like your cars to look like a space ship inside and like to feel like your in a coup with poor visibility, this is not your car. I personally like the interior design of my previous sable and other cars like it( the new impreza). A more clean look without the oddly shaped vents, plastic trim and accent pieces, and over all futuristic style. This impreza feels planted to the ground like an suv, gets the same gas milage as the focus , has a simple upscale feel inside, and is just an amazing car that for me has it all. Quality, reliability, fuel efficiency , awd, and with the limited model , luxury. If you want these things take a good look at the impreza. If you want a cheap, poorly put together, rat trap and overly estimated mpgs, check out the Hyundai elantra. . There is a reason why Toyota, Honda , and Subaru have the most loyal customers in the industry. And it's not because there the least expensive and most stylish."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By W3ird (WA) on Monday, November 04, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"My old 2005 Impreza was totaled by some idiot, and I was forced to buy a new Impreza because I didn't like the 08-11 design. With the Impreza, you know what you are getting. It is a very reliable AWD sedan with decent gas mileage. Living in Seattle, I wanted a reliable AWD sedan with a manual transmission, so it was either this or an A4 (which is less then reliable). A Quick summary: Engine- less then stellar. Improved fuel economy but severely underpowered. I would gladly take the old 2.5 liter with extra hp over the few upticks in MPG. Transmission- The 5sp is still outdated, and it feels more numb than my 05. Still better then the CVT which is completely gutless. Comes to life in higher RPM's. Interior- Solid. Nothing fancy but works and has enough technology to keep me happy. The clothe in the seats is terrible. I'm already getting stitching undone at 15k miles. AWD- This is why you buy the car. 50/50 split is fantastic in the snow. Put on some new Continental DWS tires (the stock tires are garbage) and the car handles great in the snow. Overall- solid car that should last for 15 years if I decide to keep it. Odds are though- I'll get tired of it and trade it in in the next 4 years or so."
By buffalonismo (NY) on Saturday, November 02, 2013
I don't own this caroverall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "turbo, price"
Cons: "awkward interior, high clutch engage, old exterior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I was very excited to test drive the wrx. Upon my first arrival in the driver seat it was awkward. The dashboard and seats just seemed so uncomfortable. When driving I realiy the clutch let out very high and had no sporty feel at all. The 5 speed transmission seemed out dated and thought the only good part of the car was the fact it has turbo. Acceleration was good and handling felt horrid. Awd I expect it to hug the corners better, it felt like it had a lot of body roll and not fun to drive. The exterior is old at this point and outdated. I can't see myself trading my vehicle in for this to drive everyday."
2 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Phil_oil (CO) on Thursday, October 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "great body style"
Cons: "you will pay thousands of your own money to repair"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"These Subarus have terrible engine design problems that have never been fixed. The heads will likely leak once the warranty runs out. Subaru will not address these problems."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Speedy DeeDee (CT) on Wednesday, September 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, AWD, looks sharp"
Cons: "Missing nice-to-haves"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"KBB reviews are spot-on; it's fuel efficient, looks great, handles well. The interior is plain, and I immediately noticed the absence of cool little compartments to stash lip balm, change, dental floss, etc. (my '01 Forester had tons). I'm getting at least the advertised MPGs, usually a little better based on 50/50 driving city/highway. Perhaps driving style is affecting those unhappy owners' results. I dislike the red back-lit instrument panel at night. For me, it's difficult to see. An engine this size with auto transmission is less than exciting (after driving manual for 35 years). Overall, I'm falling in love slowly (I loooooooved my '01 Forester and cried when it passed on)."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By iamjs (PA) on Monday, September 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, reliable, great mileage for an AWD"
Cons: "stereo seems minimal, somewhat boring interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"As reluctant as I was to trade in my 2009 Audi A4, I wanted something newer and with a little better gas mileage since I do a ton of traveling for work. The Impreza Limited fit the bill for what I was looking for. Two things I didn't want to give up was the heated leather seats and all-wheel drive. Since I previously owned two Subarus (a 2000 Forester and a 2009 Legacy), I knew the all-wheel drive would be top-notch and almost unstoppable in the PA winters. The interior is definitely roomy and could comfortably (very important word here) seat 5 adults. The handling is much better than expected and is very stiff and hugs the corners around sharp turns, something I was afraid of losing when I traded my Audi. I'm not comparing the two vehicles, but the difference between the two is not much. For all of the things that I love about this car, the common thing that everybody does not like is the acceleration. You're buying an $25,000 Impreza, not a McLaren MP4 or even an Impreza WRX or an STi. Of course there's gonna be an obvious acceleration issue. The way I look at it is that it's a trade-off for the all-wheel drive that will be more than useful during the winter months. Besides, 36+ mpg on an all-wheel drive vehicle? I'll take that any day of the week. I've hit 38.4 mpg on a 200 mile drive with the cruise on, and that's even with hitting the gas to get through traffic more than a few times. Everybody's second complaint is the stereo. The package I had came with a double-DIN sized stereo with HD Radio built in. It's adequate at best, but I won't waste time and space reviewing this since you can easily upgrade the stereo for $200-300 at your local electronics store. The interior itself is somewhat plain. Not something that you'd look inside and go "wow!", but being the entry level Subaru I wasn't expecting to be blown away by the interior. That said, if there was some thing that could be improved, this would be high on my list. There is nothing that I don't like about this car, but there is some room for improvement."
15 people out of 15 found this review helpful