Friday, April 20, 2012

New Subaru Impreza Remains Impressive in 2012

I was eager to get my hands on the new Subaru Impreza. It seems like it had a redesign not long ago, but the '12 is completely redone. It still boasts all-wheel-drive for safety in the wet and snow, but the look and feel are now more substantial.

Subarus use horizontally-opposed flat engines, not inline or vee-shaped ones, and this means it looks a little different in the engine compartment. The forces oppose each other and balance out, while keeping a low center of gravity, for exceptional handling. I didn't drive my Camellia Red Pearl tester in any inclement weather but it felt completely safe and secure. The four-wheel disc brakes with antilock helped, as did electronic brake distribution and electronic brake force distribution. But those are not something only Subaru offers.

I like the compact wagon proportions, now made more chunky with the new styling. The face is not pretty or soft, but forceful and strong. The 17-inch gunmetal-finish alloy wheels are an acquired taste; I tend to like a little more sparkle (but don't care much for chrome) but I know that the younger buyers the Impreza is targeted to are going for that.

The interior, with black plastic and cloth, seems unpretentious in a world of swirly shapes. The dash is padded where it is sometimes hard plastic in other non-luxury cars. The seats had white stitching on them for a little extra sportiness, and tied into the black on white gauge cluster. These gauges glow red at night--not as easy to see for those of us with a touch of color-blindness. Of course, drop the rear seats and you've got lots of carrying capacity--a dream for us bass-playing types.

The 2.0-liter engine is rated at 27 City and 36 Highway (average 30 mpg). I got 27.3 mpg, a little lower than the official average, but that's still pretty good. The EPA Green Vehicle Guide gives the car a 9 for Air Pollution and 7 for Greenhouse gas--excellent numbers. the PZEV sticker (partial zero emission vehicle) sticker sits proudly on one of the side windows.

My tester, a 2.0 Sport Premium, was the fourth highest of five levels. It stickered at $22,414, including shipping.That's above the standard economy car level, and this car doesn't feel like it's missing anything essential. It even had heated seats, although the controls were way back in the elbow area of the center console, where they are easy to activate unintentionally. That's actually exactly how I discovered them.

Prices start at $18,190 for the plain 2.0 model.

This car is definitely on my "would be glad to own one" list. A 2.0 Premium with a five-speed manual transmission would be just $20,000. Today, that's a deal. I'm liking sky blue. Go build your own here.

1 comment:

Kerstin Shed said...

I have to agree with you on the styling of the 2012 Impreza. The lines are sharper and more aggressive, unlike the older versions that seemed to have soft, arching curves. Also, those are pretty good fuel-economy numbers. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average American driver drives 29 miles daily, so the 30 mpg average of the 2.0-liter engine definitely makes it a fitting choice for a city car.