By on January 28, 2012

Some cars appeal to the head. Others to the heart. Judging from the marketing pitches that festooned the corporate-owned, dealer-supplied 2012 Impreza, Subaru hopes the redesigned compact will appeal to both. On the rear bumper: “The most fuel efficient All-Wheel Drive car in America at 36 MPG.” And on each front door: “Experience love that lasts.”* Will the Impreza truly “love you long time”? We went on a date to find out.

The Impreza certainly isn’t a one-night-stand sort of car, especially not when dressed in virginal white. You’re not going to lock eyes across a crowded parking lot, because you’re not going to notice it in a crowded parking lot. There’s no risk of hot-blooded lust, doomed to burn quickly but briefly. Like those of the larger Legacy it resembles, the new Impreza’s lines could have been penned by engineers. Elements that attempt to inject some character, most notably the ultra-wide bi-centric wheel arches, instead come off as clunky.

The new Impreza’s interior styling is similarly conservative to a fault. The curves that bounded across the previous Impreza’s instrument panel? Gone. Some of the materials might be a step up from the previous generation, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at them. Compared to a Ford Focus or even a Hyundai Elantra, my eyes see an appliance, and a dated one at that. Any chance the Limited’s leather seats had of suggesting luxury is obliterated by the dollar store center console and lower door panels that flank them. The black interior that attends four exterior colors, including a lusty red, should help. Beige (mandatory with the other four colors) rarely does an affordably priced car any favors.

Yet, if functionality was the predominant priority, why are the rocker switches for the heated seats located beneath your elbow? A mere afterthought, or did some human factors engineer thinking a bit far outside the box decide that this would make for one-stop-shopping when buckling up? Latch the belt and turn on the seat heater, all in one quick motion! Warm the buns of your partner while you’re at it!

Like VW, Subaru has figured out that a roomy rear seat sells cars. The new Impreza remains about the same size as the old one on the outside, yet there are a couple more inches of rear leg room on the inside. A 2005-2009 Legacy was a tighter fit. Just don’t expect adult passengers to feel much love from the rear seat on long trips: like many, its cushion is mounted too low.

So, after sampling the charms of the exterior and interior, love hasn’t bitten. Perhaps it’s the driving experience? The car’s priorities aren’t promising, as the list appears to have been headed by fuel economy, rarely a Subaru strong suit in the past. To this end, curb weight has been reduced nearly two hundred pounds, to under 3,000. Doesn’t seem light for a compact sedan? Recall that a couple hundred pounds of symmetrical all-wheel-drive goodness is standard in all Subarus…for a few more months. With less weight to motivate, fewer cc’s are required. Last year’s 170-horsepower SOHC 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder engine has been replaced by an all-new DOHC 148-horsepower 2.0-liter boxer. A five-speed manual remains standard, but those who aren’t turned on by a third pedal now get a CVT instead of an antiquated four-speed automatic. The CVT’s wider ratio spread and ability to keep the engine in its sweet spot make for decent acceleration. It’s not quick, but it’s not slow, either. A larger concern: the engine is loud, and its buzz resembles that of a garden variety inline four rather than the oddly appealing burble of a boxer. Your ears won’t find this engine’s sweet spot very sweet. The rubber band effect typical of CVTs is present, but can be avoided by employing the paddles to shift among six fixed ratios. The touted fuel economy: EPA numbers of 27 city and 36 highway, way up from the 2011’s 20/27. The trip computer reported high 20s when I cruised through suburbia with a light foot, low 20s when I got jiggy with it.

Just when all chances of love seem lost, there’s the chassis. The steering provides only modest feedback, but the seat makes up for it. The chassis tells you what it will do for you, and then does it with commendable balance, poise, and agility—that low curb weight paying some clear dividends. The all-wheel-drive system might also deserve some credit, though it’s not being called upon to manage much torque. The Imprezza’s intuitive handling makes it very easy to drive quickly and confidently along a curvy road. I enjoyed driving it far more than its specs and appearance led me to expect.

The flip side of the low weight and communicative chassis: a noisy, at times jiggly ride. Like VW and Toyota, Subaru has placed a bet opposite that of Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge. If you’re seeking a premium feel in a $20,000 car, look elsewhere.

A base 2.0i with the manual transmission starts at $18,245. The 2.0i Limited with its mandatory CVT: $22,345. If you don’t want all-wheel-drive in your compact sedan, you’ll likely buy a different one. If you do, you have a choice between the Impreza and a slightly larger (but no roomier) Suzuki Kizashi. With a quarter-ton more curb weight to enfeeble a 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine, the Suzuki’s no quicker but manages only 23 / 30 in the EPA’s tests. In SE trim with leather, it lists for $26,014. Adjusting for the Kizashi’s additional amenities using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool reduces the gap by $900, but even then there’s a nearly $2,500 difference. While one of the buff books fell in love with the Kizashi in a few days (as touted on Suzuki’s home page), car buyers still haven’t after a few years. There’s likely to be serious cash on that hood—if you can find a dealer with a pulse. Actual transaction prices won’t be so far apart.

[Update: A reader informs us that Mitsubishi recently started offering a non-turbo Lancer with AWD. At $20,990, the 168-horse, 22/29 MPG Lancer SE is priced VERY close to a similarly-equipped Impreza (Premium 2.0i, $21,045 with All-Weather Package). But you're more likely to find rebates and discounts on the Mitsubishi--if you can find a Mitsubishi dealer.]

So the Subaru wins the battle for the head. But the numbers aren’t everything. What about love? Both the Impreza and Kizashi claim to offer it. If you’re turned on by style and refinement, then you’re much more likely to find love in the Suzuki. The way the new Subaru looks, sounds, and feels recalls old style “penalty box” small cars just a bit too much. But if you’re seeking a chassis that talks to you, and that’s a willing dance partner, then the Impreza delivers. A quiet love, perhaps, but they did promise it in small lettering.

*Before you run out and similarly adorn your ride, be warned that Subaru has likely trademarked the phrase for automotive applications.

Dwyer Subaru in West Bloomfield, MI, provided the car. They can be reached at (248) 624-0400.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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112 Comments on “Review: 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Limited...”


  • avatar
    Amendment X

    New cars aren’t as fun to look at as they used to be. Same tired, gimmicky styling cues like ridiculous wheel well treatments, high belt lines, clunky A-pillars, pointless character lines…

    Another aerodynamic turd.

    • 0 avatar
      Invalidattitude

      I blame the CAD. If you type in the same parameters, the computer gives you the same bodies.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      There are no high belt lines on this Impreza. As for the front overhang, much of that has to do with European pedestrian impact laws, coupled with a boxer engine that takes up a bit more forward room than an inline 4 like you’d typically see in a FWD car.

      The A pillars of this gen Impreza have been thinned significantly, which helps improve outward visibility, something the reviewer didn’t mention as he was too busy trying to be clever with this whole date scenario thinig that got old in about two seconds.

      I was going to ask why the author didn’t mention the vastly improved seats, but I seriously don’t think he paid attention to anything in this car aside from trying to make pointless date speak.

      As for refinement in this price range, you’re probably be going to be going on a date with a VW salesperson, who will try and convince you that the car is going to be reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The greenhouse on the Impreza makes it look like a ’70s BMW compared to modern bunker-like cars. It even has the Hofmeister kink – better executed than on the current BMWs.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….Just when all chances of love seem lost, there’s the chassis. The steering provides only modest feedback, but the seat makes up for it….

        Michael did mention the seat…but what about the AWD at least for a few more months? Is Subaru finally wising up and making FWD available again? I hope so. Score one for economy regs…No Subaru will be on my list as I have no interest in having to deal with the handicap of AWD for spring, summer, and fall driving.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Even better, Subaru is wising up and offering RWD (for the first time?). In the BRZ, its FT-S.

        A RWD Impreza, that I would definitely buy (the AWD version is tempting). And it would be lighter than the AWD version, maybe around 2,700 pounds, damn light these days.

        Subaru could offer the Impreza as FWD, RWD and AWD, but there are a lot of FWD cars in this class that would probably be better all around than a FWD Impreza.

      • 0 avatar

        One thing to realize about the BRZ is that, as I understand it, the engine is mounted considerably farther back than in other Subarus. So it doesn’t employ similar architecture or the same powertrain minus a center diff and a couple of half shafts.

        A RWD Impreza would probably be at most 150 pounds lighter, and more likely about 100. There’d still be a driveshaft running the length of the wheelbase, just minus two diffs and two halfshafts. I’d guess 2,850 for such a car.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I agree on the outward visibility. The new Impreza is excellent in that regard. The door mounted mirrors, narrow A-pillars, pillar windows, and a relatively low cowl make it great to look out. Bravo on that. The Impreza Sport hatch is also a handsome little devil, IMO. The seats, though, feel like they benchmarked an actual bench. The seats in the WRX were just as poor, albeit poor in a different way (looking sporty and snug and not delivering). I liked the steering wheel, too. I didn’t get to drive, but it seemed like a well screwed together little ride.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The BRZ’s engine placement precludes AWD, but the Impreza’s engine placement doesn’t preclude RWD. The Impreza would just need a driveshaft, rear suspension and rear differential that could handle it. Those could likely be carried over, with some minor modification, from the BRZ.

        And while the BRZ’s flat-4 is unique, I’m sure it would fit well in the Impreza’s engine bay.

        I know I’m dreaming. Still, while the marketers at Subaru and Toyota go up against the Genesis Coupe, Mustang and Miata with the BRZ and FR-S, the marketers at Subaru should consider how easily they could own the market on a sub-$30 RWD sedan/wagon.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Great review as always.

    I have a different take on the interior, though. While I admit I haven’t sat in this car yet, it seems as though the conservative styling will age better than the gimmicky dashboard of, say, the Elantra.

    I’m all too afraid that in a few years, the Elantra dash will look as silly as the 2004+ Mitsubishi Galant dashboard does today.

    Interior quality is a different story all together, but as long as all of the important controls are durable and easy to use…

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Also, which Dodge are you referring to as “premium”? The new Dart? If so, how would you know if nobody has driven one?

      • 0 avatar

        Haven’t driven a Dart yet, but am able to connect the dots! The interior materials and feature content indicate a premium positioning, and if the driving experience doesn’t match they’ve really dropped the ball.

      • 0 avatar
        JJ

        I didn’t get that at all. Maybe I’ve been looking at different pictures of the interior but ‘premium’ was not what sprung in my mind when I saw the Dart interior.

        Of course I’m from Europe so almost every respectable C-segment car here has had a quality interior for the best part of 10 years now (taking a page from the 1997 Golf IV book). Not that I’m gloating btw…you ‘Mericans pay a whole lot less for your cars but that said, that Dart interior still looked plasticky to me (the Giulietta’s which it’s based on looks much nicer).

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Athough one bonous point for the Subaru is you still get AWD standard and a manual trans, which is something you can’t get on the Kizashi. I find that strange BTW given you can get a speed stick and AWD on the SX4.

  • avatar
    Sothy

    Michael, doesn’t the manual Impreza still come with Symmetrical All Wheel Drive? If so, is the new engine strong enough for it?

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    I don’t know why anyone would get this with a CVT. With stick I see this car as a high fuel economy (lower than the CVT version, but still better than any other RWD or AWD car, excluding the Smart), daily driver, almost a modern day BMW e30.

    An AWD compromise since there are no RWD compact sedans on the market.

    Is the car actually anything close to that in terms of how it drives? Or is that impossible to say without having driven the stick version?

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t driven the manual. But I don’t think there’s enough torque, or ever enough of a rearward bias, to lend this car any of the feel of a RWD car.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I wish Subaru would have the balls to offer a base RWD version. The BRZ shows that Subaru can make that work with its platforms, suspensions and differentials.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m reviewing a 5MT Impreza 5-door this week; there certainly isn’t enough tourque to lend RWD feel; the engine feels out of breath much of the time. I agree with your assessment of the chassis as coommunicative, and I’m actually liking the looks of the 5-door in person. Your hints about the interior in black not looking as cheap is also true here, though I find the dash layout straighforward but not off-puttingly old school.

    • 0 avatar

      The five-door is more attractive. But I don’t think styling is going to be among the main reasons people buy either body style. After the Tribeca debacle, Subaru probably decided it was best off playing it safe and just making sure styling wasn’t among the reasons people didn’t buy the cars.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    The Impreza is sorta handsome in an innocuous way. I find the porcine Cadillac CTS far more objectionable aesthetically.

    btw, it’s hard to believe Ford’s overpriced “success” (flop), the Focus, is a “premium” car when 45% are sold to fleets.
    http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/01/one-third-of-ford-models-sold-to-fleets-including-half-of-all-focus-sales.html

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Wow. Putting cars in front of customers using fleet sales sure worked out for Packard.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Weren’t we all told that Focus sales were down because of “supply issues?” Wouldn’t any competent automaker slash fleet allotments of a “hot” new car if they were having trouble keeping up with demand?

      The lousy resale values that will inevitably result from fleet dumping is yet another reason why I won’t be buying a Focus.

      The Impreza isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s also not offensive or overly weird. The drivetrain gives it a bit of character and it promises to be pretty durable. By default, that almost guarantees it’ll be my choice when I replace my Civic in the next year or two.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        Agreed on the character but not the durability of Subaru powertrains.

        Mine had the transmission, centre diff, and head gaskets fail. The head gaskets were a known issue, the rest of the failures might have been a fluke.

        The real reason to buy a Subaru is, of course, their superlative AWD system. If you don’t need AWD there are other, better, choices.

        Since I want AWD, but not a CUV, Subaru is always on my list. I also have a FWD car with Winter tires and traction control – it’s not the same.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        @PenguinBoy: I should have qualified my comment on reliability a bit more. Subarus aren’t without their issues, although I thought the head gasket issue was solved years ago.

        But the offerings from other manufacturers in this segment are either at least as questionable (Focus, Cruze, Elantra/Forte), soul-crushingly dull (Civic, Corolla) or stunningly hideous (Mazda3).

        I don’t necessarily need AWD, but it can come in handy where I live. I do, however, need a small sedan/hatch with good mileage for commuting. The Impreza’s the only one I think I could live with.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Scion sells all of a Corolla’s small and durable without the soul-crushing.

        They crush good taste instead.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        @FromaBuick6

        The headgasket issue was sorted circa 2005 IIRC. I just did mine last year, so it’s fresh in my mind. The headgasket issue affected the (then) new design SOHC 2.5, the 2.0 is new this year so it may have some teething troubles as well.

        The trasmissiion failure may have been a fluke when it happened just out of warranty a few years back, but a car bought new, dealer serviced by the book, and mostly highway driven (no commuting) should NOT have a manual transmission fail at ~110,000 km (~70k miles)

        I would still consider a Subaru as AWD is a big deal for me – but I would budget for repairs, just in case. If you lift the AWD requirement, a lightly used 5MT Focus hatch looks good – especially if the massive depreciation predicted by some makes low mileage used examples more affordable.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        >>or stunningly hideous (Mazda3)<<

        +1

        It's nice to notice the elephant in the room occasionally. Or fish. Let's hand it to Mazda, they did the near impossible and made the Tribeca orifice look relatively comely in comparison.

  • avatar
    ajla

    At first glance I thought this car was wearing some late 1980s-style “2.0L DOHC Boxer” and “Symmetrical All Wheel Drive” door decals.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    These photos suggest much better rearward visibility than the previous 2008-11 Impreza 4-door, but if I were car-shopping, I’d still rather pay the extra $500 (the same extra cost as the previous generation) for the added utility of the 5-door.

    I hope that at some point TTAC tests a new stick-shift Impreza, given that it’s the only remaining AWD manual Subie that’s relatively low to the ground, as they all used to be.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    “If you do [want AWD in your compact sedan], you have a choice between the Impreza and a slightly larger (but no roomier) Suzuki Kizashi.”

    Mitsubishi does have a non-turbo AWD Lancer in their lineup, but the next gen is supposedly being unveiled this year.

  • avatar
    jtk

    Too bad. I had high hopes for this one.

    • 0 avatar

      It might be a good car for you. Depends on your priorities. AWD with 27/36 MPG will do it for many people.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Ya never know. Go look, touch, sit, and drive it yourself before writing it off.

    • 0 avatar
      Saaby D

      We did. Moving on from an ’04 Passat V6 w 175000 mi. Cross shopped Cruze (no hatchback), Focus (tight rear seat room, smaller hatch opening due to sloping roof, busy dashboard, no love for the grill), Elantra Touring (I knew the Excel when I was young, and am not willing to verify the long term durability of these on my dime), and Mazda 3 (can’t get past the grill – makes Focus look good).

      We tested a 5dr w/manual. It was roomy, good visibility, comfortable entry/exit for four adults (I’m 5-10″), large hatch opening. 31 mpg on an 15 mile test drive (1/5 highway).
      Simple to find/use dash controls. Goes fast enough, quickly enough, to be enjoyable, handling was surprisingly sporty. Appealed to us as a very versatile car for the money. Ordered a Sport Premium 5 speed, optioned exactly as we wish, for a fair price.

      In this vehicle class, I suppose we all want to drive GTI’s at the cost of a Fiesta, but the last time I checked, one still gets what one pays for.

  • avatar
    carguy

    While it doesn’t sound like a bad car, there is part of me that mourns the loss of the character of previous Subarus. While some call it Toyotification, I think its a process that is also affecting Honda, Suzuki and other Japanese brand. Is the collective vision of the Japanese auto industry that we’re all destined to drive around in sterile looking appliances?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      It’s affecting all the makes, and invalidattitude above nailed it: it’s the CAD systems in use. With a small car, there’s apparently no room left for individuals to apply styling sense, and at least with upcoming fuel standards, comfort too. This line from MK tells you what the future looks like:

      “The [way the] new Subaru looks, sounds, and feels recalls old style “penalty box” small cars just a bit too much.”

      While the future looks bleak (to me), there’s hope someone will see the money-making potential of combining style and comfort with mechanical competence in a compact car. Unfortunately, it won’t be available in the low $20Ks.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “…someone will see the money-making potential of combining style and comfort with mechanical competence in a compact car.”

        Those compacts cars are here now. GLI, GTI, Mini, Mazda 3, Focus, 1 Series, A3 etc.

        And some are available in the low 20’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        Is the a CAD plugin I’m not aware of that auto designs vehicles now?

        I don’t think its CAD. I think it’s called follow the leader. It is safe.

        And in a few years a new look will come out, and slowly the rest of the automakers will copy that and so on.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My Boss bought the 5dr version of this (one of the very first off the boat), in loaded up Sport Limited trim. In a really nice dark blue with the black leather. I think the hatch looks FAR better than the sedan, as usual these days. The car is HUGE inside, I was really surprised. I’ve only been out to lunch in it, but seems like a nice car overall for the price. Micheal was right on about the engine and CVT combo – doesn’t really sound like a Subaru.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    A hatchback version of this might be a good replacement for my aging Legacy wagon. The size seems about right for me. I’ve looked at the new Outback and don’t much care for them

    I wish they would offer the 2.5/6MT powertrain from the new Legacy – 148 HP seems a bit light these days, and a 5MT seems like a throwback to the ’90’s. I doubt there would be much real world fuel consumption hit with the larger engine.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      The 2.5 is a gas hog and its performance is nothing special. The Civic, Corolla and Focus also come with a 5MT…an extra gear would be nice in all these cars, but nobody’s really raised the bar in this segment yet.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        The 2.5 has enough power and torque to be somewhat entertaining in a light car – although a more modern, fuel efficient engine with a bit more power would be nice. The Elantra, Cruze and Dart all offer 6MT – but none of these cars compete with the Imprezza as none offer AWD.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The 2.5 isn’t bad on gas. Heavy cars with full time AWD (and usually, bad 4 speed transmissions) are worse on gas than much lighter FWD cars. That’s not on the engine.

        The Outback and Legacy get class leading mileage out of the same 2.5. Because they’re light for class with economic transmissions.

  • avatar
    clam chowder

    Like the roominess, big side mirrors and the simplicity of the center console stack. CVT was okay and the lines really made this car appear bigger than it is. In the Sport trims and above, the UI for the multi-function display is terrible. I remember the fuel economy bars overlaying green over a blue background and overall not easy to read.

    Up here in Canada the Limited trim starts at 27k for the 5-door, and the rates are from 3.9 to 5.9 (has dropped 1%). Add a good $1,595 Freight/PDI and you have a compact car that’s close to 30k. Dealers here in Vancouver also like you to think that the car is in high demand. None in the front, 20 in the back.

  • avatar
    JJ

    I don’t get why Subaru insists on offering this kind of bland styling. For the exterior, but even more so, for the interior. Looks like almost any random 90s Japanese car with an afermarket nav system on the inside. I feel they could do so much better if they’d just make a bit of an effort on styling. Right now if you put a 2012 Impreza next to a 2002 Impreza I bet a decent amount of hypothetical people who would have never seen the two couldn’t tell which one hit the market first.

    Ah well…What do I know…

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Imagine a WRX with good looking sheet metal. The car is already a performance bargain but improving its looks would make it that much more attractive.

      For some reason, Subaru is content with their awkward, bordering on downright ugly design language.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Something tells me that the marketeers at Subaru were smoking a bit too much ‘John & Yoko’ when coming up with the car’s exterior quotations.

  • avatar
    VA Terrapin

    This “love you long time” quote in reference to an Asian car is stupid and racially bigoted. This and the continued bashing of hybrids, which are strongly associated with Japan, and the recent articles of African American cops behaving badly display a recent pattern of probable white supremacist beliefs among the TTAC staff. It’s really unfortunate that I have to put up with this kind of crap to get to some actual good parts that still remain here.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re reading WAY too much into the quote.

      It’s a very well known quotation from an outstanding film (itself not bigoted, but attempting a semi-realistic portrayal), and I would have employed it when reviewing any car that promised to provide “love that lasts,” given the similarity of the phrases but the dramatic difference in intended meaning. Actually, I’m still not sure what Subaru means by the pitch, but probably not the same thing as a Saigon street walker.

      • 0 avatar
        RedStapler

        I got a good laugh from the line.

        “I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture… and kill them. I wanted to be the first kid on my block to get a confirmed kill!”

        Subaru has always alternated their styling between conservative bland and WTF!? bizarre. I’ll take this over another SVX or 1st Gen Tribeca (aka the Nipponese Edsel)

      • 0 avatar
        Boff

        Indeed, the line from the film is ambiguous. Has she always loved him? (garbled hooker come-on). Has she always loved Americans? GIs? (projecting the ambivalence of the Vietnamese to the US presence). Will she go all night with him? Become his mistress? The tag line is similarly incongruous and awkward.

        Karesh’s use of the line just did not tweak my offense-taking radar, which is normally insufferably acute.

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        I don’t see using the “love you long time” quote having as much of an impact when applied to an American or European designed, engineered and branded car as opposed to an Asian designed, engineered and branded car. I’m not all that convinced you would use that quote for any car that doesn’t have a strong connection to Asia.

        Regardless, this quote is used to disparage Asian women in a racial and sexual manner. It is very likely you already knew that when you used that quote for your review of the Subaru Impreza. It’s poor taste for you to use this quote the way you did, and it’s very unfortunate for the TTAC editors to let this slide.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        You’re the one that left it open for interpretation. I know TTAC hates Subaru’s, but this was just a lousy review in general.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        “I don’t see using the “love you long time” quote having as much of an impact when applied to an American or European designed, engineered and branded car as opposed to an Asian designed, engineered and branded car. I’m not all that convinced you would use that quote for any car that doesn’t have a strong connection to Asia.”

        Of course not, because then there wouldn’t be any joke.

        For say, a German car, you’d want to make comments about how the handling is as precise as a proper goose-stepping formation followed by an apocryphal anecdote about the sat-nav responding to all inputs with, “Did you mean Warsaw?” >xD

    • 0 avatar
      BigDuke6

      My my…..you’re awfully sensitive today. Do you need a hug?

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Um the staff and the Best and Brightest make fun of German’s and German cars on a pretty regular basis too and as someone of German/Swiss ancestory I don’t let that bother me.

      • 0 avatar

        Except the Asian-ness of the car had absolutely nothing to do with it. The marketing tagline, almost certainly the brainchild of Americans, had everything to do with it.

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        My my…..you’re awfully sensitive today. Do you need a hug?

        What I want (as opposed to need) from TTAC are good car reviews as well as good reports and commentary about the car industry.

        What I don’t want is bashing non-whites for the sake of bashing non-whites. I don’t need to go to TTAC to see crime reports about African American cops who allegedly committed crimes. I don’t need to go to TTAC to see callous Chinese not helping an injured girl. I don’t need to keep on reading about hybrids being uncool as code word for Japanese cars being uncool. I don’t need to read a car review on TTAC to see a quote used to disparage Asian women. The TTAC editors don’t treat white people like this, and they used to not treat non-white people like this either. Why change what was already great into something a lot worse?

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        Um the staff and the Best and Brightest make fun of German’s and German cars on a pretty regular basis too and as someone of German/Swiss ancestory I don’t let that bother me.

        The editor in chief of TTAC is German. One of the grandfathers of the editor at large is German as well. Any sort of bashing of Germans or German cars by the TTAC staff is within the same ethnic/racial group. This isn’t true when it comes to non-whites.

      • 0 avatar
        MattPete

        Lighten up, Francis.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        VA Terrapin – I never read that into Michael’s comments and his reviews are normally very fair and informative.

        As for TTAC’s balance the Editors can attest to it, but they seem to like Japanese (i.e. Asian) manufactures as seen by the lauding of the 86. They also regularly post factual articles criticizing US manufacturers. Does this make them anti-American too in your view. You seem to be taking this way too seriously.

        “The editor in chief of TTAC is German.” married to a Japanese woman. What does it matter that he is European?

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        VA Terrapin – I never read that into Michael’s comments and his reviews are normally very fair and informative.

        I doubt that Michael Karesh meant to go out of his way to disparage Asian women with that quote. Still, that quote is commonly used to disparage Asian women, so Karesh’s use of that quote in this review shows poor judgement on his part at the very least.

        As for TTAC’s balance the Editors can attest to it, but they seem to like Japanese (i.e. Asian) manufactures as seen by the lauding of the 86. They also regularly post factual articles criticizing US manufacturers. Does this make them anti-American too in your view. You seem to be taking this way too seriously.

        In Robert Farago’s GM Deathwatch days, some people might have accused TTAC of being anti-American.

        My point is there are disturbing trends on TTAC. I’m not the only one to point this out. I’m pointing out one of the disturbing trends, which is the rise of bashing non-whites on TTAC-approved articles for no good reason.

        “The editor in chief of TTAC is German.” married to a Japanese woman. What does it matter that he is European?

        Criticism from within the same group of people is often more tolerable than when the criticism comes from outside the group.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah yes, TTAC, the automotive version of Stormfront, where out of 8 staff, there are three Jews and a brown guy.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Wow, that one came flying out of nowhere. I hope it maintains enough velocity to clear the site and land in the YouTube comments section where it belongs.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    This new Impreza is such a disappointment. First, the new Forester, Outback, and Legacy. Now this.

    This is yet another Subaru car that lost much of its character since Toyota take over. The new engine seems like a step backward. This is now just another econobox engine, although this one comes in boxer arrangement. The 2.5L engine had a lot more character and the amount of power was surprising for the ‘base’ engine. Next is the design. Oh god, another car with C-pillar cues coming from Mazda 3, Honda Accord sedan, and some BMWs. Overall, the design looks should I say, vanilla by today’s standards. How many people head to a Subaru dealership to buy a vanilla car or CUV? Not many.

    After seeing this, buying a Hyundai Elantra or even Honda Civic does not seem such a bad choice.

    • 0 avatar

      Only one flaw with your logic: whether we like it or not, MANY people have been heading to Subaru dealerships to buy the new, more generic cars. Same basic philosophy as VW, same success.

      Earlier on I thought that the Cruze and Focus were demonstrating the success of the opposite strategy: tighter interior but more upscale appointments. As someone pointed out higher up this string of comments, the Focus isn’t doing so well lately. So either:

      1. The Ford/Chevrolet strategy is failing.

      2. The Ford/Chevrolet strategy works, but only when gas prices are high and/or Japan gets hit by a tsunami.

      3. It’s too soon to tell. Perhaps the Ford/Chevrolet will work better in the long run, if they stick to it and their brand reputation follows.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        IIRC, Subaru have some initial growth with the blandmobiles, and their sales have been more or less flat since. I could be wrong about this though.

        I think the Ford strategy of moving the Focus upmarket is a sound one, but it will take a few years to establish themselves as a maker of quality small cars. In the meantime they should keep their sales targets modest, and make money on F-150s and Mustangs.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I think that at the end of the day, all that matters is how much profit is the car maker making on the model? You can sell a huge heap of them cheap and make a profit, or you sell a much smaller number at much higher margins and make the same profit. Which doesn’t give you a “win” in the sales race but may well make you a lot more money towards the bottom line. Porsche doesn’t set any sales records with the 911, but I sure would like to have what they make off those cars every year.

        Of course, the best is to be like BMW and be at the top of the sales charts AND make huge margins on each sale.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I think they are making money. Subarus are very popular in my part of the country, high-altitude, mountainous terrain and lots of old Brats are still seeing running around. But AWD systems do need more TLC than others and Subaru is no different. You gotta keep replacing the CV-boots or the joints will get dirty and go bad. And that costs major bucks.

        I read somewhere that Ford sells almost half of its output of small cars to fleets. They can’t be making a whole lot of money doing that, but Ford manages to hold on. Subaru does not sell half of its vehicles to fleets, so they got to be making more money on each vehicle, or go the way of GM and Chrysler.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        I think the Ford/Chevrolet strategy is a stinker, at least for Ford. The Cruze launched with a lot of PR and little competition in the showroom. How well it continues to fair with the new Sonic and Malibu will be interesting to see.

        The Focus got squeezed by the Fiesta and the still-competitive Fusion. And I think Ford made a big mistake pushing premium features over value. Look closely at the new compacts on the road: 80% of them are of the $18,000, plastic hubcap variety. For all trashing they took in the press, the new Jetta and Civic are a much more common site where I live compared to the Focus.

        Like it or not, bland is what sells.

        While I like the idea of a premium small car, I just can’t get past the fact that, for the price of a loaded Focus Titanium or Cruze LTZ, you can get a roomier midsize car with most of the same features and a trivial MPG penalty. The Focus/Fusion and Cruze/Malibu will most likely just cannibalize each other. Whether there’s more money to be made on a loaded compact or a basic midsize, I don’t know, it probably varies with each manufacturer.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Cruze sales are also helped by the fact that the Cruze isn’t a small car and it’s styling is “normal”. Adults fit in the back seat just fine and the styling doesn’t repel average customers. The Cruze also uses a familiar automatic transmission. In contrast, the Focus isn’t quite big enough for the price, the front fascia looks weird, and the automated manual transmission without a torque converter feels weird.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Why can’t we have the choice of upscale interiors but larger – i.e. take a Jetta or Impreza interior size and team it up with Focus refinement and plastics? Maybe though cheap does sell in this market (i.e. <$20K)

      • 0 avatar
        phxmotor

        I love the Focus, its funky driveability and the styling of the early models… but the idiotic valve seat that falls ut at 150k mi and destroys the engine is just too much… never do other engnes do this. and never will Ford fix this prob lem that happens to each and every engine… its an unforgiveable flaw that Ford refuses to fix. Subarus head gaskets are so easy to fix but thir ottom ends ore unfixabile. Every car has a flaw but the awd feature of Subarus makes it into a literal Jeep even though people who dont drive subarus think subis are not real off road worthy. But for those of us that use sucis as jeeps we know for a fact that any awd subi is capable of going anywhere a jeep can. And they stay fixed when fixed… at very loe cost …if… we do the suimple repairs ourselves.
        We buy Subarus for this a logical reason, not styling or silly features. The 1st buyer my think these features are important, but we, and people like us, buy cast off used subarus when a simple, very simple, problem comes up… alot of us get a car that can go anywhere, lasts forever…and stays fixed when we fix it. And we get it for a song when the “trusted” shop that the 1st buyer trusts lies to them about the severity of the problem.
        And the best part is that the legacy-Outback is actually more American made than a Chevy or Ford pickup. Long live American products… long live Subarus. I didnt want to like Subarus when i bought my 1st one 6 years ago, But they save me sooooo much money, and they never get stuck, and they are az to fix, and they are cheap to fix. Just like my old Chevys and Fords of 30 years ago…

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      Toyota literally had NOTHING to do with the design of the ’12 Impreza.

  • avatar
    tigereye313

    I drove one with the manual. I will say that it felt more sluggish than the wife’s forester with the old 2.5L engine, and with the new knee airbag, my shin rubbed the underside of the dash while using the clutch. I am somewhat vertically challenged so those longer of leg that can move the seat back further may not have that issue.

    Shame, because I really liked the rest of the car.

  • avatar
    wmba

    I went and had a good look at this car last Monday.

    As usual, we Canadians get screwed on price. The Limited 4 door is $24K, and the 5 door is a whopping 900 bucks extra, instead of $500 in the US, no doubt due to the extra content (SC’s usual excuse) in our models. Ha ha, sure.

    A sunroof is standard in the Sport and Limited models surrounded by the cheapest-ass headliner I’ve ever seen. I hate sunroofs, and could do without the damn thing and its cost because the sun burns my bald pate. Of course, the sunroof is necessary to stick one’s head through to take sharp shoe-phone pix of the Eco Challenge mountain bike events I won’t be attending.

    The 4 door is useless, due to the tiny trunk opening, so like the Focus, the hatch is the way to go. We only get black interiors, except for some inscrutable reason, Ivory leather seats in the Obsidian black Limited. Ahem. Where’s the taste police?

    The car seems roomier inside than my Legacy GT, and the quality of the interior bits other than the headliner is far higher than the old model, despite Karesh’s remarks to the contrary. They had an old one there, too, so no mistake. It’s actually quite nice, and the driver’s seat is as comfortable as the Focus. The steering also has more feel, and the car drives intuitively. The standard driver’s side knee airbag is a nicety and the view out is expansive. I liked it.

    The new engine is noisier than the old, just like the Forester (damn those chains), but whereas the Forester’s 2.5 feels a bit livelier than the old lump still on duty in the Legacy/Outback, this new 2.0 liter is devoid of sparkle, and the gherbils treading the pulley wheels feel as though they need a protein supplement. The salesman advised that turning up the radio would drown out the famous Subaru CVT whir. Hmm. Perhaps Subaru could offer its engineers special courses on shock absorber design as well, or they could just steal VW’s settings as a shortcut. It’s weird how well the car handles but still has a too-busy ride.

    Since I find the rear flanks of the Elantra a nightmare to behold, and the drive only so-so, that’s out. When will Hyundai “get” suspension, anyway? Objectively, the Focus is the best of these 5 door vehicles for solidity, ride, refined engine sound, etc. But the revelation that 47% go to fleets means that the private customer is overpaying upfront only to meet poor residuals as well when Hertz et al dumps their fleets on the market.

    Add to that that visiting the Ford dealer means wading through acres of F150s just to get to the showroom door, and the certitude that your average Ford mechanic cares not one whit about your complaint on the little economy car, and I’m tending to shy away.

    Why so many words were expended in this review comparing the Impreza to the Kisashi is beyond me. That is not a valid comparison. I, and I expect most others of the non-anorak brigade find the tedious price comparisons of little value, and an outright waste of time when apples are compared to oranges.

    No mention is made of the media hub, the auto climate control, and the rather calm demeanor the car evinces, the heated windshield in upper models, and the lack of having to deal with buggy MFT.

    It’s a decent car that another 40 hp would transform into an interesting one.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      The new engine is noisier than the old, just like the Forester (damn those chains)

      Having just shelled out $600 to my Honda dealer for a new timing belt and water pump, I’d be thrilled to live with a noisier chain. The 2.0 is pretty pedestrian by most accounts, but it’s probably perfectly acceptable if you’re trading up from one of the sub-130HP compacts of 5-10 years ago. The 5-speed probably helps wring out what little power it has, too.

      Visiting the Ford dealer means wading through acres of F150s just to get to the showroom door, and the certitude that your average Ford mechanic cares not one whit about your complaint on the little economy car, and I’m tending to shy away.

      No kidding. I’ve been to more than a few of those dealers. The average Ford mechanic cared not one whit about my complaints about my Mustang GT, either. It must be nice to be a reviewer and not have worry about the the lapses in quality and customer service. There’s a laundry list of reasons why I won’t be returning to Ford anytime soon.

      Why so many words were expended in this review comparing the Impreza to the Kisashi is beyond me. That is not a valid comparison.

      That bothered me too. The reviewers are in love with the Kizashi, but it’s a total sales dud, even by Suzuki’s pathetic standards. I can’t see Suzuki hanging around in the U.S. market much longer, so it’s just too risky to buy. AWD or not, it’s an absolute waste of time to mention it as a competitor to anything.

      • 0 avatar
        Patrickj

        One of the best things that both Ford and GM could do for their marketing in urban and suburban areas is to have separate sales and service locations for the white trucks.

        Ford and Chevy locations near me (Maryland suburbs of DC) both have a sea of white trucks facing a major highway, making personal vehicles (including pickups) look like a small sideline.

        Since personal vehicles probably are a small sideline to fleet sales in our import-dominated area, maybe the personal vehicles are the ones that should move to a new location.

    • 0 avatar

      The review did note that interior materials have been upgraded. The problem is that the overall ambiance still trails the class leaders by quite a bit.

      What’s so special about automatic climate control? It’s available in many other compacts, including the Cruze, Focus, Mazda3, Jetta, and Lancer. As is USB and/or iPod integration. The “heated windshield” is only the area where the wipers park. Good at times for getting the wipers unstuck, but you’re still going to have to scrape the rest of the windshield or wait for the conventional defroster to do its thing. Hardly a major feature.

      To be fair, I also neglected to mention things you can’t get, such as a power driver’s seat. The seats are surfaced in leather and heated, but you manually crank them up and down. I wouldn’t mind if front and rear seat height were separately adjustable, but as is typically the case these days they’re not. No power, no tilt adjustment.

      The Kizashi is relevant because it and the Lancer are the only other sedans of a similar size available with AWD for a similar price.

      The Kizashi looks and feels like a far more expensive car than the other two, but as noted above doesn’t actually cost much more. The Kizashi has been a dud because of Suzuki’s weak marketing and even weaker dealership network, not because of the car itself. The review noted both the weak market response and the difficulty of finding a healthy dealer.

      Suzuki isn’t in danger of going poof the way Saab did, even if their presence in the U.S. is pathetic. The Suzuki actually comes standard with a better warranty than Hyundai’s, a TRANSFERABLE 10/100 powertrain warranty. And unless Suzuki globally goes bankrupt–not likely–they’ll be honoring this warranty.

      As a reviewer, I see my role as getting cars that deserve more attention this attention, not reproducing the status quo by praising the sales leaders and ignoring the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “the driver’s seat is as comfortable as the Focus.”

      That’s good to know, and sounds like a step in the right direction. Outside of repair bills, seat comfort on long trips is the only real complaint I have about my old Legacy.

      CVT noise isn’t a big concern for me, as I would only consider the 5MT. Like the old 4AT, the CVT would be a deal breaker.

      Nice comments on the Canadian spec Imprezza hatch, which is of interest to me. Thank you!

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    I haven’t driven this car yet, but am tempted to say it sounds like a return to form for the Impreza. Bland styling, cheap yet businesslike interior, noisy drivetrain, firm ride, and surprising handling talent? Sounds like the 2000 Impreza 4AT wagon my folks bought new.

    Here’s hoping you’ll review a 5MT hatch at some point, Michael. I’d love to know more about the feel of the steering, handling, and manual transmission, because with its (relatively) light weight and no-nonsense personality this car appeals a lot as a future purchase.

  • avatar
    Boff

    I find Karesh’s reviews so enjoyable to read that I check them out even when I am not in the least interested in the vehicle in question…as in the case of this Scooby.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I am in the “target audience” of this article, having just bought a 2011 Impreza 4AT hatchback, and have some opinions…

    -The old 2.5 boxer four is already clattery at low cold idle, can’t imagine how much harsher things can get.
    -I, for one, liked the styling of the previous car, and think that new new one looks like the old Impreza, so it’s even better looking than it’s predecessor. I don’t know if it’s cold comfort, but for Subaru “better looking than the outgoing car” is a releveant statement since they’ve been known to make uglier cars than Acura.
    -This car is also available as a wagon, part of the reason people buy them, and does have a competitive edge against carmakers who don’t offer one. Also, it has interior space comparable with CUVs.
    -This car is also has standard 4WD (not AWD), but real 50:50 split 4WD. Not much else is available with 4WD, unless you buy a CUV, and some of us can’t stand poser “off road” tall wagons with bad handling. Not mentioning CUVs are really front wheel drive, sending power to the back wheels during slip.
    -148 hp is a step down from the old engine’s 170. I’ve driven the new car and it feels sluggish compared to mine, it may be due to the CVT, the engine being new, or whatever. However, the sub-par fuel economy of the outgoing car would be welcome trade-off for the new engine’s competitive gas mileage.
    -The interior may not be much, but it’s a huge step-up from the outgoing car, which despite being spartan, still was comfortable up front for my 6’3” frame on a 12 hour drive.

    I’m not trading our Subie for this new one, but I might be adding Sport-trimmed manual transmission wagon for myself in the next 2-3 years.

    • 0 avatar

      Based on your comment and others in the thread, it sounds like the interior of the 2008-2011 car was worse than I recalled. And, the odd thing is, four years ago that one was praised (by others, not myself) as an upgrade over the previous car’s.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        I have the previous gen Impreza, an ’06. While the interior isn’t great, it’s not as bad as some of the offerings from other imports and domestics at the time. The worst part about the cars interior is the front seats. They’re fine for about 30 minutes, but anything after that they become almost unbearable. They’re bolstered in all the wrong places and constantly make you fight to sit in a comfortable position.

        The time I spent in the ’12 Impreza I found the seats to extremely comfortable. A remarkable improvement in overall comfort and ergonomics.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      It’s my (probably flawed) understanding that the AWD system with the CVT behaves more like the majority of the other MFR’s systems, while the manual keeps the same behavior as the “traditional” Subie AWD.

      Edit: Michael: Did that parking brake handle contact your right knee? It looks like it would for a tall driver.

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      Only the manuals have a 50:50 split all the time. The 2.5 and 2.0 engines with automatics get a 90:10 split with ability to go 50:50. The 3.6 engines get a 40:60 split with ability to go 50:50.

      I’ve got an ’09 2.5i MT Hatchback and my only complaint is road noise. I don’t think they put any sound deadening in it and putting new tires on it didn’t help much. Upgrading to a good stereo and speakers did.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    In Canada all trim levels, including Limited, are available with 5-speed stick.

    My thoughts are if Subaru would have offered 6-speed standard, fuel economy would have been pretty close to the CVT equipped cars. And since cars with a stick come with hill hold feature, who would buy CVT?

  • avatar
    RoelK

    I have a ’05 Impreza RS, and 6 weeks ago bought a 2012 Impreza, 5 Door Touring package (in Canada, one step up from base), with the CV transmission. The 05 is a good car, bought it at 40k kilometers and it now has 160k, trouble free aside from an A/C compressor that has a habit of cycling too often, so I was favourably disposed towards another Subaru. I have about 2000 km on the new car and I am very pleased so far. It’s better than the old car in every way (which one would expect of course), handling, cargo capacity, sightlines, comfort, interior…and the performance *feels* more lively, I know there’s a lot of grumbling about the reduced hp, and I was somewhat concerned, but those concerns have been laid to rest.The car’s throttle tip in and transmission work together to provide a brisk feel off a stop, Perhaps up a long grade with a loaded car, the old 2.5 motor would provide a bit of extra oomph, but the new motor does the job very well and actually does feel faster under most circumstances, to me at least. The new motor is smoother at idle and at speed, and sounds better to my ears, though admittedly it can roar rather more loudly than expected under moderate acceleration, the CVT plays a part in this. At cruise it’s fine. Mileage will probably improve, but so far the measured difference is about a 25% improvement over the old car.

    I am quite pleased with the CV transmission, I also have a Suzuki Burgman motorcycle that has one and I like that just fine, and the Subaru does nothing to change my opinion. It is silky smooth off the line and always keeps the engine in the best powerband for the throttle being applied. It also givs some engine braking on downhills, more so than the old auto, which I like. In addition the paddle shifters work well,I mainly use them for downshifting for increased engine braking on steep hills.

    The interior is airier and roomier, with improved legroom, important to me at 6’3″. I like it, though it’s ot as nice as a VW Golf TDI that I test drove right before buying the Impreza. But that car was thousands more, does not have 4WD and has less cargo capacity, though of course it’s a diesel. Living in Canada, I value 4WD more than having a diesel.

    The steering is accurate with ok feedback and a tight turning circle. I’d have preferred a touch less power assistance though. The brakes feel fine, with good feeling modulation and power, though once again not quite up to the solid feel of the Golf.

    The stereo, mid level has streaming bluetooth for music and phone services and sounds ok, though clearly far from a premium system. There was a buzz in the right side door panel created by the speaker there that I mostly silenced with a strategic kick to the underside of the armrest, but I sense I haven’t heard the last of that.

    The main instrument panel has a rather brightly lit rectangle in the middle in a contrasting cool colour to the red lighting on most of the guages and controls that I find distracting, making that info screen red also would have been better.

    The car provides an overall fuel economy figure since your last reset of the trip odometer, as well as an additional guage that shows you you instantaneous fuel economy relative to the overall economy above. They are both actually kind of useful and encourage fuel efficient driving. There’s no temp guage anymore though, just a bright blue warning light when the engine is cold, and I imagine a red one if it overheats. I miss the guage that the old car has.

    I find the styling attractive enough, it’s not as pretty as a 2012 Ford Focus 5 door that I also test drove, but I prefer the extra cargo capacity and rear headroom that not making so many consessions to styling provides. I was a bit disconcerted to find myself walking up the the back end of a similar coloured Dodge Caliber in a parking lot one day by mistake, I admit. As has been pointed out, few people buy Subarus for their looks.

    Overall, I am very pleased with it.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I wonder if this Subaru will blow head gaskets as readily as its predecessors. Definitely not ‘inexpensive, and built to stay that way’ anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      This is a totally new engine design with totally new head coolant passages. I asked a Subaru tech about the new design and he said it made more sense to him from a cooling perspective, but also advised that if the head gaskets were to go, it’d be a much more expensive job due to the removal of the timing chain, cam phasers etc.

      As for the old EJ engine, changing the coolant with Subaru specific coolant every 30k miles and adding the Subaru coolant additive will make the head gaskets last a lot longer. There is literally nobody on earth who follows these recommendations though.

  • avatar
    OhioPilot09

    “Beige (mandatory with the other four colors) rarely does an affordably priced car any favors.”

    Am I the only one that thinks the opposite?
    I think all black interiors looks cheap…even the BMW/Audi’s of the world don’t look great in all blank IMHO. A two toned interior (Black with Beige/Tan/Grey) at least appears like someone put some thought into it…other then black everywhere.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    At the Philly Auto Show this past weekend, the majority of the crowds in the Subaru area weren’t checking out the new Impreza, which IMO is an improvement over its awful predecessor (WRX/STi excepted).

    No, Subie decided to bring along a pristine French Blue ’86 XT Turbo, an 90’s-era burgundy SVX, and a blue BRZ. They got the lion’s share of the attention while I was there, even though you couldn’t sit in them.

    The presence of the two Alcyones was a stark reminder of just how de-quirkified Subaru has made itself, to the detrement of its identity, while the BRZ presents a glimmer of hope, even if it differs very little from its Toyota/Scion clone.

  • avatar

    Test drove a hatch with the stick. Roomy, and fuel efficient, but cheap and noisy inside with an engine that vibrates through the pedals.

    The Focus felt like a much more refined vehicle.

  • avatar
    mountainman

    I own a 2009 Impreza 2.5i – this seems like a step down from the car I own. I like the 2.5 – pulls strong for an eco car.

  • avatar
    Sarge

    I just pulled the trigger on a 5-door Limited in Deep Cherry (to get the light interior). After three test drives on lots of different roads, I warmed up to the CVT–it immediately puts the little 2.0 up in its torque sweet-spot when you ask for some push, and responds surprisingly well to the paddles, for fun or hill control. (The Focus AMT felt confused most of the time.) I like the conservative interior–more like BMW than Cadillac (or Focus). It even has knobs on the radio! The suspension and steering felt good on most surfaces, with lots of grip. Ingress, seating space, and visibility are incredible for this size. Exterior styling is a little Dodgy, but won’t look as weird as some others in 4-5 years–especially up-front.

    Ford, Chevy and Subaru have finally put some nicely-appointed (w/ leather, climate, Bluetooth…) cars into this segment. I wanted small–not cheap–and I like this one best. YMMV. (Hope it serves me as well as my old Highlander has–but that’s asking for another miracle!)

  • avatar
    mossmiller

    Recently I leased a 4-door Limited similar to the one in the review. The car does have a form-follows-function design, similar to the BMWs I owned back in the 70s. The seats are rare in that they have plenty of thigh support, the cushions being longer than most modern cars. Visibility is excellent, and the ride with the 17″ wheels is better than I expected. Assembly quality is as good as anything I have seen, the car feels very tight, no rattles, no squeaks.

    Noise is an issue with the standard all-season Yokohama tires, which have a block tread pattern and few sipes. It is slightly better with the 16″ rims from the Premium model, which I purchased from another Subie owner nearby, but these tires have an even lower traction rating (B). Will still be using winter tires for this reason, as AWD does little for stopping and turning on icy roads. Also, want to try the new Pirelli all-season plus grand touring tire on the 16s next spring to try and get a quieter ride on the highway. Will probably retire the 17s while they still have tread left to place back on the car if I decide not to buy it after the lease expires.

    The standard (for Limited) sound system with 4.3″ LCD is underpowered for even quiet music, while the stock speakers are very cheap. I upgraded with a 2009 Eclipse unit with NAV that was actually imported by Subaru for the earlier Forester, and it sounds much better now playing through Infinity speakers.

    In sum, a fun car for commuting or driving on two-lane roads, but too noisy for the interstate. Am hoping the new tires will help to solve this. Then again, my ’76 2002 was even noisier…much noisier.


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