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)
By Gabe on Friday, July 25, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good car, good value and reliability!"
Cons: "Lacks power, sportiness and refined interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"To be fair to anybody who reads this review I want to make clear I don't own this car. However, my significant other does and we trade off driving it from time to time. Now, with that said I do like the car. The interior is simple if a bit plain. The exterior is reminiscent of the Honda Fit but more curved and sloped (I like that). The ride is comfortable as are the seats. Subaru finally made their seats comfy. The drive is underwhelming. Most car companies have found a way to make their CVT's shift smoothly and quietly or come up with new ways to boost traditional engine power and efficiency (see Mazda Sky-active Tech), Subaru has failed in this regard with the Impreza. The car is loud and noisy at low gears and the CVT does not seem to want to shift when one expects it would. When it does shift the change is noticeable and harsh. However, the CVT does seem to give the car some extra umph at low gears and on the freeway (a definite need for an AWD car). I should not fail to mention it comes with a decent batch of standard features. But for young car enthusiast it seems to lack the finishing touches. The speaker system is subpar (I'm being generous) and the ride leaves a lot to be desired. The interior layout, while fine, is a bit bland. The metal colored interior appears fake and the controls are utilitarian. But hey, unlike the Subaru Forester, at least it comes with a black interior. All in all, not a bad car but not close to great either. Addendum: My loyalty to Subaru (I drove them when I was younger) probably makes me rate this car higher than I should. But what can I say? I am a sentimentalist."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By mick on Friday, June 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,111overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Its more than fun to drive,"
Cons: "Yes it has 4"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love the dual transmison and anti skid control, It went through 12 inches of snow and sleet ( no problem ) I have kept it in mint condition including oil changes etc. You could eat off the engine."
19 people out of 35 found this review helpful
By Spoolie on Thursday, June 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth on highway, roomy, overall good design"
Cons: "Noisy, terrible sound system, needs 6th gear"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Sometimes you get what you pay for. This is a reasonable car for a reasonable price. It is "ultilitarian" - will go in any weather and will be mechanically reliable. It is roomy and comfortable. It feels glued to the payment and although not speedy, quick emough. So, what's not to like? The sound system is atrocious - not sure why, as a few more dollars in price would probably not chased away buyers? The manual transmission needs a 6th gear. It is great on country roads, but a little "clumsy" in the City. It is less fun to drive than car #2 Mazda3 Sport, and less of a highway cruiser than car #3 Subabru Legacy - but I really do like the Impreza."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Brian on Saturday, June 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great MPG, Comfortable, spacious, hands free"
Cons: "Price, Weak acceleration,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I get 29 mpg on city streets and about 37-40 mpg on highways. The car handles great and is well worth the money, especially if you live anywhere where it snows a significant amount. The one major downside of the car is that it lacks pep. Acceleration is pretty slow when trying to reach highway speeds. I've had some issues with the car starting right away, but I've had it checked and apparently nothing is wrong..."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Tyler on Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "mpgs, snow beast, etc."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned the car for about a year now. I was happy with it all along but a few months back a couple of heavy snows (heavy for us) hit Birmingham AL and that is when the car really earned its keep. I couldn't of been happier with its performance and can honestly say that it never lost traction unless i made it. I was going up hills 4x4s were stuck on. I recommend the car because it has incredible versatility and good mpg. great on the highway. I can squeeze 38-40 mpg out of it on an all highway trip. My 2 complaints about the vehicle is #1 i have and 6 month old little girl and with her rear facing car seat in the back, it doesn't leave much leg room for front seat passenger, and #2 its a little lacking on power but will do whatever you ask with encouragement and it does not hold it back what so ever. Hope this was helpfull. Thanks for your time"
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By alexk on Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 91,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good snow traction and handling at low speeds"
Cons: "Burns oil, noisy, poor highway handling"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The realized mileage is about 28 MPG. I find the car too light for highway driving in the snow or rain, even with top notch tires. Returned to dealer six times for the same check engine light related to the variable value timing. Quite noisy on on the highway, again with top of the line tires. Burns about a quart of oil every 1300-1500 miles and quite a few interior rattles. Very disappointed in my first/last subaru. Previously owned toyota camary's with little to no issues. Basically drove the toyotas off the lot and ran them to 250,000 miles with only regular oil changes, brakes and tires. Subaru was a major let down."
14 people out of 29 found this review helpful