A bolder look, greater refinement, a more spacious interior and a new powertrain that nets 30-percent better overall fuel economy numbers are all key elements of the completely redesigned 2012 Subaru Impreza lineup. Available in 2.0i base, Premium, and Limited, trims and four-door sedan five-door/five-door Sport body styles, the latest version of this popular all-wheel-drive compact goes on sale this fall.

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The production Impreza's new sheetmetal borrows several of its more aggressive design cues from the Impreza Concept that debuted last November in Los Angeles. Moving the base of the A-pillar nearly eight inches forward further sleekens the overall lines and allows for longer front doors that offer easier access to its impressively recast cabin. In addition to boasting a heightened level of overall sophistication, better outside sightlines and a good deal more soft-touch surface area, the 2012 Impreza's passenger compartment provides significantly more people and cargo space, a plus largely attributable to expanding its wheelbase by 0.9 inch -- to 104.1 inches -- and redesigning the inner door panels. Hip and shoulder room increase modestly but legroom in the aft quarters is up by nearly two inches. The backs on the standard 60/40 folding rear bench now lie completely flat in the five-door.

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Just redone last year, the overachieving WRX/STI side of the family will remain unchanged for now. However, all standard 2012 Subaru Impreza models will be powered by the automaker's new 2.0-liter boxer engine -- which made its debut in the 2011 Forester -- in place of the 2.5-liter/170-horse engine used previously. Fitted with Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS) on both sets of camshafts, this all-alloy flat-four makes 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque which gets sent to all four wheels via Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. According to Subaru, it feels even more responsive than its larger and more potent predecessor, thanks to a 160+ pound weight reduction that accompanied the 2012 redesign.

Backing this new 2.0i engine with the standard five-speed manual transmission brings continuous All-Wheel Drive with a viscous-coupled locking center differential and earns 25/34 mpg city/highway EPA numbers.  Opting for the new-and-improved Lineartronic continuously variable automatic (CVT) nets Active All-Wheel Drive with an electronically managed continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch and pops those numbers to an even more impressive 27/36 mpg. The 2012 Impreza uses several other elements to help foster the econo cause, including a new electric power steering system that's responsible for a two percent efficiency gain and the fitment of even lower rolling resistance tires.

To properly complement the 2012 Impreza's more evocative appearance, Subaru gave it a new, even stronger, stiffer unit body teamed with stouter suspension elements -- some common with the Legacy. That matchup endows the car with even better ride compliance and improved handling agility, which is further abetted by the Vehicle Dynamics Control system and antilock disc brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist found on all models.

The list of standards in the 2012 Impreza Sedan (2.0i base, Premium) and Wagon (2.0i base/Premium/Sport Premium/Limited/Sport Limited) has been expanded across the line and opens with a full range of power assists, air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering column, keyless remote entry and multifunction driver info display. Premium spec adds things like a rear stabilizer bar, alloy wheels, multifunction steering wheel controls, Bluetooth connectively, iPod/USB ports, and more along with optional power moonroof and navigation. The five-door Sport Premium steps things up with larger (17-inch) alloys, the All-Weather Package and upgraded seat fabrics while the range-topping Limited and Sport Limited add leather, an audio system upgrade with HD Radio and more. Pricing for the 2012 Subaru Impreza line will be announced closer to its on-sale date.

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