Auto Review: Subaru’s impressive Impreza

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Mar. 22, 2012
- Contributed Photo

Subaru has enjoyed great success here in the northeast, and it’s really not too hard to see why. Not only do they have a broad range of reliable, well-engineered and comfortable cars and SUVs, they have a feature that we can all appreciate especially during winter: all-wheel drive. Every Subaru comes with it, and it may actually be a surprise for some to realize that the company used to make front-drive cars, too. But back around 1996, the powers that be decided that getting power to all four wheels would be a standard feature across the line. Such a driveline typically requires additional complexity, weight, and expense, and usually pays a penalty in terms decreased fuel efficiency. But danged if Subaru hasn’t figured out how to incorporate the all-weather capability of AWD and maintain a reasonable price, and now they seemed to have cracked the code for excellent fuel economy, as well.

The compact Impreza line is a perfect example of this, and is redesigned from top to bottom for 2012. Not only is the new car roomier than its predecessor, it is more fuel-efficient, which is quite an impressive feat.

The new Impreza’s fresh redesign marks the fourth generation of Subaru’s popular compact. Available as a four-door sedan or the five-door lift back we tested, both are powered by an all-new 2-liter horizontally-opposed (or “boxer”) four-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower. The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive System (so named because the engine is mounted in-line with the drivetrain) gets channeled through either a five-speed manual transmission, or as in the case with our unit, Subaru’s Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). While this gearbox is a bit more vocal than most traditional automatics, it works well and helps deliver excellent fuel economy. The manual mode of this transmission on our Sport Limited model was operated using paddle shifters on the steering wheel, and offers six speeds.

All in all, the Impreza is a fun car to hustle around tighter stretches of challenging pavement, no doubt helped by strengthened suspension components (some borrowed from the Legacy line). The AWD system proves its worth whenever things get slippery (like in leftover sand from winter road treatment), and keeps the car controllable at all times. Brakes proved more than up to the task, stopping the Impreza from 60 mph in an impressively short 112 feet.

The lengthened wheelbase on the new Impreza improves the interior room, especially in the back seat, and it does this while maintaining the same compact dimensions of last year’s version. The driver’s perch delivers excellent support, and the instruments and controls are easy to decipher and logically arrayed. The back seat is likewise supportive and there are 2 more inches of legroom compared to its predecessor.

The 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited is EPA-rated 27 MPG city/36 highway and we saw 28.4 MPG in our week with the car. With options including a moonroof and Navigation System, our sticker came to $25,714.

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