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 Gordon on Thursday, October 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good gas mileage, roomy interior for small car"
Cons: "bad tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have owned several Subarus, including the second model year of the Impreza, which only died after about 18 years because a deer decided to jump on the hood. This Impreza is roomier inside and has some nice features. Gas mileage is very good for an AWD. The tires that came on the car are cheaply made and not very rugged. Have had to replace one already. My other Subarus had Bridgestone or Michelin tires, which were both good. This car is not designed to live for eighteen years, but at this point neither am I."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Kitty on Saturday, October 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great in snow and rain"
Cons: "It gets dirty"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded a Toyota and am happy I did! The Toyota dealerships in this area are sub-standard and were very disappointing to me considering Toyota is known for customer service. I got my Subaru and have enjoyed it every bit as much as my previous Camry. Plus, since I live in the Northeast, this car is made to go in snow and rain; weather is no issue with Subaru. The dealership is honest and fair. I got a great deal. I am going into my third year with this car. It's fun to drive, reliable, gets great mileage and handles beautifully. I know why Subaru is Love!"
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By wimchatta on Sunday, September 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "responsive handling, solid feel, great visibility!"
Cons: "noisier at highway speeds, am OK with it"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've really enjoyed driving this car since 2012 - found it to be more enjoyable to drive and with greater responsiveness and all-around fun than the BMW 328xi wagon despite costing a whole lot less. Superb zero-40mph acceleration despite not having a big engine... Thin A and B pillars and resultant clear sight-lines are a big contributor to the feeling of control when driving this car. I have used it mostly as a commuter car, but it is awesome when challenged. The hatchback can even carry several pieces of 8' long lumber with rear seat folded and front seat reclined. On a single-lane winding mountain road that I use sometimes, it seems to be more nimble and corner more stably (with greater margin) at the same speed than Audis and BMWs ahead or behind me. Thrilled with it!"
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By catpower1818 on Wednesday, September 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, AWD, Braking, Handling, All-Weather Package"
Cons: "Overly sensitive steering and clutch"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The CVT is slow and clunky, so I got the manual transmission; SO MUCH better! They are hard to find, but definitely worth the wait. While I would not call the car fast, it is very "eager." Each time I shift up a gear, it wants to go! The extra torque adds performance and it is fun to drive. For those complaining about mileage: this is the most fuel efficient AWD vehicle in production right now; you're not gonna get anything better. And of course your mileage will depend heavily on how you drive it. There is no point in comparing the Impreza to something like a Ford Focus, because the Impreza is much heavier and has a compeltely different drivetrain. They have little in common aside from their general size. For oil complaints: This car requires synthetic 20-weight oil only. Anything else will burn up quickly and eventually cause damage. I don't understand the technology complaints either: it has many more bells and whistles than my Honda Civic, at a very good price. The steering and clutch are very sensitive, and it's taking me a while to get used to them. However, I absolutely love this car; I will be keeping it as long as it runs. Which should be at least 10 years."
12 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By CJ on Monday, August 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Cons: "EVERYTHING is cheaply made on this car!!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I have had my 2013 WRX Premium Hatch for one year and 13.5k miles and the car is already looking terrible and needs to go in for warranty work. I have countless chips all over the nose of the car, many of which are through down to bare metal and are beginning to rust. I could understand if I had a highway commute to work but it's all back roads ranging from 30-40mph. Subaru is notorious for horrible paint (google search) I've come to find out and simply puts the blame on the customer as they did to me. My throw out bearing is making a whining when cold and rattle noise when warmed up when the clutch is being engaged. Interior is pathetically cheap as it scratches and looks awful too easily. Many of my friends had older Subarus and had great luck but apparently the quality isn't there as it once was. The only positives are that the car is very good in snow, practical and fun to drive however many people have had issues with piston ringlands so it makes you not want to drive the car spirited. If the car is showing this much wear after a year I'm scared to see what it will be like when I have paid it off, currently looking for a new car."
11 people out of 22 found this review helpful
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."
12 people out of 26 found this review helpful