2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i new car reviews

We drove a wagon, but a four-door model is also available. By the way, for free New York fun, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
A down-sized engine accounts for the big bump in fuel economy over the previous generation.
Forward visibility is better thanks to its thin A-pillars.
Interior quality is improved, too.
And here's the sedan. Fifteen-inch steel wheels are standard, but alloys in 16 and 17-inch sizes are available.
The Impreza's footprint didn't grow, but the new car is lighter and features more interior space. We can dig that.

Better than: the old Impreza
But not as good as: a WRX
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 75.47

We have a lot of newness to report after an early look at the 2012 Subaru Impreza: new body, new engine and new feel. Some stuff does remain the same, though. The Impreza is still driven by a boxer engine and an all-wheel drive setup. The suspension retains struts up front and double wishbones at the rear.

What else is new? The door openings are bigger. The windshield is much more sloped. Interior materials have been upgraded. The body in white weighs less.

Engine displacement is also down from 2.5 liters to 2.0, helping the Impreza earn much better economy numbers than before—fuel economy has been a weak point for Subarus in recent memory. Twin-cam heads replace single-cam pieces. A CVT replaces the traditional automatic, although a five-speed manual is also available.

Subaru will carry the 2011 Impreza WRX and STI into 2012. We're told that turbocharged versions of the new car are on the way, but no details have officially been released. The rumor mill, however, has been working overtime on this one.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

My test drive was limited to a rather base-model wagon equipped with the CVT transmission, but don't leave this page just yet as there's lots of good news to report. And no, it's not a WRX replacement. Let's call this perhaps a sign of what's to come.

First off, the wagon is much quieter than you'd think. In fact, I forgot we were in a wagon until our first potty break.

The chassis feels good—planted and stable. It's not nervous. Our car didn't have super-sporty tires or anything like that, but it felt composed. It was comfortable, too.

I like the new dashboard as it helps create a more airy cockpit. However, I'll note that the dash isn't comically low. It looks fairly normal.

Our base car also had a nice steering wheel. The seats were a little flat for my tastes but, again, this was the civilian version. The interior materials are again a step up from past models, although the radio in our car didn't exactly scream upmarket. That was the interior's one sore spot.

The car does feel much larger than it is--it feels closer to a Camry than a Corolla. The Impreza's door openings are pretty darn big. The sills have been lowered, too. (The thin sashes between the pieces of glass also help keep things airy.)

The thinner A-pillars are much appreciated, too. Personally, I hate the thicker pillars found on most new cars, and I understand that they're there to support the roof should things go all catawampus. Thank you, Subaru, for sticking some high-tensile steel in the pillars so they can remain svelte.

Subaru says the new car has 2 more inches of rear legroom. I didn't break out a tape measure, but it's the largest Impreza interior I have even seen. However, the outside measurements haven't really changed much, and in fact the Impreza has shed a few pounds. How's that for progress?

I'm normally not a fan of CVT transmissions, as they often duplicate the feeling of a slipping clutch. The Impreza CVT did better than expected. It can simulate gear changes and be "shifted" manually, but for the most part I just left it in drive. It does okay, and the average consumer probably won't notice the difference. I'd have to go with the stick.

The 2.0-liter engine did better than expected, too. It feels much stronger than the old 2.2, and it's way smoother. In fact, the whole car is quiet and smooth. Where the Impreza has more or less evolved over the years, this one is a pretty big jump forward.

The available Sport package looks good, too. It adds the dark wheels and some body cladding. Sadly it doesn't include more power. I just can't wait for the turbo versions. We're told that they're on the way, and horsepower will range from about 270 to more than 300.

Closing impressions: The base Impreza has always been good—I drive a 2000 model—but it made some sacrifices. Sure it had all-wheel drive, but it didn't always out-Civic the Civic. The new Impreza, however, stands strong on its own right. I know some people lament the fact that Subaru has gone somewhat mainstream, but those kinds of moves fund the toys that we really like.

Jane Soliman
Jane Soliman

This car has some mean pickup. Paddle shifters weren't all that smooth, it's ugly outside and bad on gas. But I guess that's what's to be expected from a pseudo-sports car.

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