Make us your home page
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: Redesigned Subaru Impreza sports practical improvements

Subaru has redesigned the compact end of its lineup for 2012, with both the previously bland Impreza sedan and hatchback getting reboots that have resulted in increased interior room and fuel efficiency. We drove the five-door hatchback, which we think is the more appealing and practical model.

Appearance: Sensible has seemed like the operative word for Subaru, and it's evident here. There's nothing that will wow you about this hatchback's redesign. The look is more chiseled, with fender flares, silver-tone grille and fog lights giving it a slightly athletic feel. (Peter thinks the Impreza looks more like a station wagon than some of its compact hatchback competition.) Black roof rails and 17-inch aluminum wheels with gray finish complement the design.

Performance: The ride, like the car itself, is solid and well-balanced. With the redesign, Subaru traded HP for MPG: The new Impreza's engine is a 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder that produces 148 horsepower (down 22 from the previous model), and our tester had the continuously variable transmission (CVT). The MPG shot up to 27 city, 36 highway (from 20/27), impressive especially for an all-wheel drive. We found the engine adequate for commuting, but you'll likely wish for more power for interstate merging. The CVT makes for better gas mileage, but it also creates more noise since the engine revs are constant. Paddle shifters can offset the transmission drone, but the gear ratios are preset, so don't expect too much shifting input. (Regular readers know we're not big fans of CVTs.) A 5-speed manual transmission is standard for lower trims (CVT is optional), but the MPG goes down to 25/34.

Interior: One of the best in the compact segment: It's roomy — front and rear — and there's plenty of head- and legroom. Like all the Subarus we've driven, the seats (the tester had leather) stand out for being comfortable, supportive and well-bolstered. Subaru could give a master class in seat design. Elsewhere, the interior is uncluttered, with intuitive controls within easy reach and lots of storage nooks. The dashboard gauges are backlit and easy to read. Even the plastic is of quality, with a soft-touch feel on the dash, doors and console. There's a sliding armrest, which is always a nice touch, especially for shorter drivers. For a hatchback, there's good visibility. Our tester had USB, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, but not navigation, which is optional. The cargo area is spacious. Put down the easy-folding rear seats and you get generous room — 52.5 cubic feet — that's perfect for those weekend runs to the home-improvement or warehouse stores.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Wagon: I like the hatchback's more traditional look.

AWD: Always helpful in rainy Florida.

Doors: They open wide.

Lyra Solochek

Safety: Named 2012 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Ride: All-wheel drive, suspension, dynamic control and low center of gravity make for a controlled feel.

Cabin: Open and spacious with good visibility.

The bottom line: Subaru has quietly improved the Impreza, which often can get overlooked in the sea of compact cars. That's a shame. It's not flashy, but the hatchback model is practical and comfortable. And there's all-wheel drive.

2012 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited

Price: $18,245 base start, $24,645 as tested

Powertrain: 2.0-liter Boxer 4-cylinder, continous variable transmission, symmetrical all-wheel drive.

Horsepower: 148 at 6,200 rpm

Torque: 145 pound-

feet at 4,200 rpm

Curb weight: 3,086 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 104.1

Length, 173.8

Width, 68.5

Seats: 5

Fuel economy:

27 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway

Safety features: vehicle dynamic control, traction control, Smart Braking system with ABS, brake assist and electronic brake distribution, reinforced frame.


The Daily Drivers: Redesigned Subaru Impreza sports practical improvements 02/10/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 10, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages


    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.