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 Manzano sub on Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"this car is amazing am sad because I have to get rid of it but yeah great, gas milage, is fast, responsive in general Subaru is an amazing car."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By gus on Saturday, March 21, 2015
I owned and sold this car
Reason: bad gas mileage; gas smell in car; car died while going down road 35 mph; exhaust stunk
Pros: "Looks. Holds road with good tires."
Cons: "cvt transmission Issues. mpg. low quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"The interior quality is low. Polyester material snags easily, & cheap vinyl. The tires that came on it were the worst! I slid on leaves. I was afraid to drive my new subaru on winter roads until i bought better tires. Couldnt leave car running as the exhaust was aweful! The cvt transmission was troublesome. It was a nice looking car but i needed something with better gas mileage and bigger- i got both! The idiot light wasnt recording the issues i was having so the subaru mechanics couldnt check the potential problems under warranty,"
By Erik on Tuesday, March 10, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "All wheel drive, roomy, great handling."
Cons: "Could use more power when heavily loaded."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The Impreza rarely ranks as absolute best in any one category, but it ranks very high in all categories. Because of this, it's the kind of car I like to own. The Impreza is a great car at the $20k price point. It has the stability of a larger car, true rear-seat legroom, and in my opinion, the hatchback looks sharp. Seats are very comfortable, and the interior is simple with class, and not flashy. The all wheel drive has excellent grip in most conditions, and visibility from the driver's seat is great. The small but efficient engine serves the Impreza well, especially carrying one or two people, as most cars are used, and gives good fuel economy. Acceleration is a little slow when carrying a fully loaded car of 4-5 people, but that's not what this car was made for. However, if you need acceleration, the engine revs nicely. The Impreza feels far more solid than the Chevy Aveo and Hyundai Elantra. The Focus and the Mazda 3 are close competitors. The Impreza has the most room and the most grip of the three. The Ford and Mazda are slightly smaller, but in the end it comes down to personal preference, as they are good cars as well, and may be slightly more efficient. I preferred the driving dynamics (feel, basically) of the Impreza, the usable interior room, and finally, I felt the black and tan hatchback looked sharp for a small car. Faults: -Could use 20 more hp. -Could use more sound deadening. -Average radio. As an economical car, these are acceptable compromises. P.S. This review is for the 5-speed."
11 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By john on Saturday, March 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, space, gas miles"
Cons: "better sound system, better tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love this car lot more small car. It pickup good. I do not tire put on car. I think another tires. The speak system is ok and fun drive. I have no problems with car. I get 27 and 30 miles in winter time but in summer between 30 and 33. I have lot of trunk space with hatchback. I think great value for awd vehicle. If looking sometime high tech stuff look another car."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Shawn on Sunday, March 01, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive when its snowing even heavily"
Cons: "gas mileage can be improved and also interiors"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love snow driving (though I hate everyday snow and cold weather in Cleveland, OH) ever since I bought this car after traded in my 2011 mazda 3 that was a FWD. The car is absolutely stable in snow and one can change lanes confidently in snow without fear of spinning with appropriate acceleration."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Tobes on Tuesday, February 10, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "price, fun to drive, better than expected pickup"
Cons: "MPG and Phone technology"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"We have the car a little over 2 months and my wife, who drives it 90% of the time is very happy with it except for 2 things. Most important to her is the Bluetooth technology and in this car its very basic. We also own an Audi where when either of us enter the car separately the car easily switches to the user in the car. Also the Impreza's system cannot load your phones contacts. Most important to me is the lower than expected fuel economy. My wife drives the car to work in an urban setting where there is traffic but nothing terrible and current gas mileage runs 21 - 23 MPG. Spoke to the service manager and they advised to wait to the car breaks in which is 3,000 miles. I'm hoping that the MPG gets better as it cant get worse. Has anyone else experienced this problem?"
21 people out of 44 found this review helpful