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Redesigned 2012 Subaru Impreza Upgraded and Enhanced with Better Fuel Economy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Maynard   
Thursday, 21 June 2012 02:22


Re-engineering the 2012 Impreza made it stronger, roomier and 160 pounds lighter.

Space is the next frontier for the redesigned 2012 Subaru Impreza.

If previous owners don't say "Wow" at their first look, I'll join them in their Liar's Club roast.

And newcomers to the brand will see confident styling, a roomy interior with good-quality plastics and favorable starting prices.

Fuel economy is up by 36 percent with the continuously variable transmission — 27 mpg city and 36 highway on 87 octane from the new 148-hp. 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. That's good performance for an all-wheel-drive car of this size and versatility.

The re-engineering made the new model stronger and roomier and 160 pounds lighter. Its 2,911-pound curb weight may be an industry standout for nearmidsize capacity. It is sold in sedan and five-door hatchback models with several trim levels.

Sedan pricing ranges from $18,245 with a five-speed manual transmission to $22,345 for the top-line Sport Limited with continuously variable transmission (or $22,645 for the Sport Limited PZEV engine in California and states with similar emissions standards).

Starting prices for the hatchback range from $18,745 for the entry model with manual transmission to $23,645 for the Sport Limited PZEV with CVT. The Sport Limited test car ($25,645) with options included Black Obsidian Pearl paint and Ivory leather interior with the moonroof and navigation package for $2,000.

Standard equipment includes tilt-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable driver's seat, power windows-locks-mirrors, 65/35-split fold-down rear seat, outside temperature gauge, a multi-function display with fuel economy information, remote keyless entry system and carpeted floor mats.

Base tires are 15-inch (with steel wheels and wheel covers), with an upgrade to 16-inch on Premium model and 17s on the Sport and Limited.

Sizewise, the new car is the same length as before but with another inch to the wheelbase and more elbow room and hip room from redesigned door panels.

The longer wheelbase allowed a cab-forward interior layout to maximize cabin space — and the new "greenhouse" feels spacious.

With "cab forward," the windshield now has a longer angle; the base of the pillars are moved forward almost eight inches.

That allowed a front door opening that is nearly five inches longer than before, which makes for wider access — but it's not too long to be clumsy in tight parking lots. Front seats have higher hip points for more lateral entry and exit. And a lower, flatter instrument panel and larger side mirrors help driver sightlines.

Side quarter windows at the corner of the windshield pillars also help the driver's forward visibility, and there's plenty of side glass for clear over-the-shoulder views. A rearview camera is not available and not really necessary, but it is another level of safety for increased awareness.

There is significant room to stretch out, including 39.8 inches of headroom (without the moonroof). The driver area is open for easy entry and exit, and there is a long 43.5 inches of legroom. There are a variety of slots, pockets and nooks to stow devices, bottles and more.

The leather looks good in the Sport and Limited models, but the lightweight vinyl visors (with covered mirrors) and headliner of brushed flannel are dated.

In back, the doors are a little longer and open wide. There are nearly three feet of legroom and a fold-down armrest with cup holders. The raised back seat has a comfortable seatback angle with good footroom under the front seats, but the center position loses footroom from the tall driveshaft tunnel, and knee space is shortened by the front center console that juts rearward.

A 65/35 split folding seatback expands a broad, accessible cargo area.

Overall height is a tad lower so the roof rails are very accessible for carrying bicycles, boards and more.

The flat four-cylinder engine, with its horizontally opposed pistons, moves out smartly and without objectionable noise or noticeable motor-boating from the CVT as it catches up to the power request. A manual shift mode, with paddle shifters, simulates six-speed gearing. It's not a necessary feature on the daily commute, but the shift points come in handy when tooling through backcountry curves.

City fuel economy is good at 27 mpg. Mileage for the 5- speed manual is 25 mpg city, 33 hwy (or 25/34 for the sedan) on 87 octane.

This is a capable hatchback when pushed, but road noise on the highway is almost excessive. And there's even more ambient noise in the back seat and cargo area.

Soundproofing adds weight and cost, both of which are the greater undesirables for this fairly priced compact. Subaru's specialty has been building tough cars that endure ugly conditions. The new Impreza is good incentive to go all-wheel drive — with a little more style and room than before.

Mark Maynard is driving in cyberspace at mark.maynard@

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 June 2012 02:34