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2012 Subaru Impreza Review By Steve Purdy

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2012 Subaru Impreza

2012 Subaru Impreza - Nothing Quirky Here!

By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

I loved the quirkiness of the earliest Subaru’s brought here in the 70s by fledgling Fuji Heavy Industries under the entrepreneurial guidance of the iconic Malcolm Bricklin, who also brought in the ill-fated Yugo. Along with having a boxer engine and standard symmetrical all-wheel drive Subaru’s always had unusual designs both inside and out. Over the years the brand has become homogenized. Visually, this new Impreza could be any car. For those who gripe about all cars looking alike these days, I say they’re generally wrong, but this car is one reason they say that.

Without that old design quirkiness the only way we would know this is a Subaru is that it is powered by the boxer engine and it sports the proprietary Subaru symmetrical all-wheel drive. The scary-fast Impreza WRX, by the way, is still available but is made with the last generation body style which has a bit more character.

Impreza comes in five trim levels from the 2.0i with a base price of $17,495 to this Sport Limited starting at $22,595. The lesser two are 4-door sedans and the top two are 5-door hatchbacks. Our test car has a $2,000 option package that includes power moonroof and touchscreen navigation. With the $69 floor mats and $750 destination charge our sticker shows $25,714. That seems rather high for a style-challenged compact 5-door, but the technology, reputation for competence, durability and amazing customer loyalty go a long way to justifying the price.

The 2.0-liter boxer (horizontally-opposed) 4-cylinder engine produces a modest 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. Though a five-speed manual transmission is standard our tester is mated to the optional CVT (continuously variable transmission). The combination feels underwhelming. On full throttle the revs spike nicely while the mph catches up. CVTs are a tad more efficient and cheaper to produce, but I’m not a fan. They seem too wheezy to me. Rated at an impressive 27-mpg in the city and 36 on the highway, and fitted with all the modern engine electronics, the Impreza is considered a “partial zero emissions vehicle.”

Impreza is equipped with a driving efficiency needle and a “miles-to-empty” readout. We put gas in when the gauge was on it’s very last bar when it still read “70 miles to empty.” I put in 5 gallons which brought the miles to empty to 170, so I guess it’s telling me we were averaging 20mpg. We must be doing better than that. Usually, these onboard computers are accurate, but I’m not so sure in this case.

While this little wagon looks small it was anything but that in the inside. Our weekend time with the Impreza happened to be the time planned to go tend the family graves in our little home town 50 miles away. We piled in four of us and all the tools and plants we would need. Behind the back seat we packed the edger, rake, trowels, water jugs and other tools along with bedding plants. Everyone was reasonably comfortable including the plants. We ended up seriously thinning the yellow day lilies so we came back with an even more packed cargo area including two big bags of those as well. Total passenger volume is 97.5 cubic-feet and the cargo area behind the rear seat offers 22.5 cubic-feet. With the rear seat backs folded we have 52.4 cubic-feet into which we can stuff our stuff.

Fit, finish and materials inside are excellent. The design is efficient and easily managed though it hasn’t much style or panache. I did not find the audio system particularly friendly or the sound quality to be anything special. Everything is integrated into the small touch screen that is not very attractive but works well.

Earlier in the week I had my long, lanky friend Jeff in the front passenger seat and he’s a good 6’5” from toe to pate. He, too, was fairly comfortable, though his gangly legs touched the dash with the seat all the way back.

Ride and handling are good. It holds corners well when pushed, though we wouldn’t try to outrun our pals in a road race. Standard on our Sport Limited are 17-inch alloy wheels with all-weather tires. Lesser models come with 15- and 16-inchers.

It has all the expected chassis dynamics. The electric power steering provides adequate feedback. The fully independent suspension is well tuned for both hard driving and normal use. Our rural two-lanes are getting a bit rough in spots and we didn’t find the Impreza to be unpleasantly harsh nor disconcertingly soft.

Subaru’s warranty covers the car for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

A few years ago, my pretty wife and I were traveling in northern New Hampshire. Sitting at a little diner in a little town I watched the cars go by. Fully half were Subarus of one size or another. Up there they like their small cars but they need them to be competent in the snow. And, they have plenty of that.

It would be hard to beat this Subaru for the amount of space inside compared to the compact exterior dimensions, one of the best little cars on the market for handling snow and other bad road surfaces, and, a great little car if you don’t like to call attention to yourself.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved.