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2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0L Sport Limited Verdict

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/25/2014 Motor Trend Staff, Mike Royer

Our Impreza came to the garage with just 30 miles on the odometer, and within hours I was on I-10 heading to Phoenix to enjoy spring training baseball. Since it was still in its break-in period, I set no land-speed records, but the Impreza nicely handled the climb out of the Indio Valley into the high desert. Never straining or struggling to make the grade, we passed many vehicles in the slow lane with no hint we were pushing the engine too hard.

Once we got flat again, the Impreza ate up the desert road as the CVT smoothly switched ratios with no jerking or whining. The sport suspension allows you to feel every pothole and crack, but it's not an uncomfortable ride at all, and the road noise level is tolerable provided the road is not a torn-up, rough mess.

Back home from Arizona, the Subie had an appointment at the track, where we put its 2.0-liter horizontally opposed Boxer engine through its paces. Using all 148 hp, the Subie went 0-60 mph in 9.4 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 17.1 seconds at 81.1 mph. Not a cheetah, but not a sloth, either. The Subaru's ABS-equipped four-wheel disc brakes helped it stop from 60 in 114 feet.

© Provided by MotorTrend The Sport model already comes well-equipped with all-wheel drive, and all manner of safety equipment, including tire-pressure monitoring and Subaru's Frontal Air Bag System, which I'm thankful I never saw in action. We added a moonroof and a GPS navigation with LCD touch screen for an extra $2000. The moonroof was pleasant enough and the navigation was indispensable, but not without a hiccup -- more on that later.

Looks can be as important as performance, and the Impreza's exterior was a nice mix of hatchback sensible with some eye-catching angular styling and a two-tone paint scheme that gave it a unique look. The Subie received a few stares, and I did spy a woman mouthing "What is that?" to her companion. I also took notice of the unsolicited compliments I got from passengers.

The cabin's layout was simple, but not Spartan, and ergonomically pleasing with a windshield that provided a noticeably wide field of vision. After thousands of miles, the seats remained comfortable, while the lumbar supports and seat heaters took care of my back on long trips. On the road, the average fuel economy of 27.4 mpg meant I could usually go about 390 miles on a tank during a regular commuting week, filling up about every 13 days. While it fell short of the touted combined 30 mpg, much of the driving between Pasadena and El Segundo is stop-and-go, even on the highways.

2012 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited© Provided by MotorTrend 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited Along with the 250-mile weekly commute, I wanted to live up to Subaru's outdoorsy ethos. So in the spring, I took off to a ski resort in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, and in the summer to a campground in the Mendocino National Forest near the city of Willits.

The trip to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area was a dream, with the Impreza smoothly hauling three of us and our equipment up the breathtaking U.S. Route 395. No problem at all. Up hills and between mountain ranges, the ride was comfortable and not at all cramped. On much of the trip, I used the intuitive and simple cruise control, and when we needed to pass other vehicles, the Impreza had enough power to zip right on by.

My solo trip had one hiccup, but I want to be clear that much of this is a result of my own expectations and understanding of what I was was told. Nearing my destination, the navigation alerted me that part of the trip would be on unpaved roads. Here's where my assumption nearly sank me. I assumed it probably meant a gravel road. Gravel road = no problem. What the nav actually meant was a dirt road that at some point crossed a dry creek bed with lots of scary and potentially trip-ending rocks. I don't blame the Impreza for this predicament. No navigation system can be 100-percent trusted, and I credit the system for alerting me. On the bright side, when I decided to go "off-road" and cross the creek (my destination was really close), the Impreza was a champ. Before I began I walked the route like it was the Baja 500, and, after a non-denominational prayer to the tire gods, I crossed the creek without a scratch. I dreaded the idea of testing the complimentary roadside assistance, but I was damn glad I had it. No harm, no foul, but I'm definitely wiser and more cautious.

Even with all this driving, and unplanned off-roading, I took good care of our ride. Both inside and out, the Impreza kept it together and needed no repairs, cosmetic or otherwise. While the front bumper sat a little low for my taste, the MT staff managed to not scrape it off, and the interior materials held up nicely during the near-constant use over its 13 months. Mechanically, the Impreza proved perfectly reliable, needing no repair attention from the dealer beyond a pair of oil changes, tire rotation, and engine air filter, with no recalls or nagging squeaks to plague us. The grand total for maintenance was $315, and after each visit, the car hummed like new.

2012 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited© Provided by MotorTrend 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport Limited

Our Car
Service life20,535 mi
Base Price$20,720
OptionsLimited Package ($2925: Lineartronic CVT, leather, auto climate control, HD Radio), Power moonroof, navigation system ($2000)
Price as tested$25,645
Average CO20.71 lb/mi
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ27/36/30 mpg
Average Fuel Economy27.4 mpg
Unresolved ProblemsNone
Maintenance Cost$315.01 (2-oil change, tire rotation, inspection; 1-engine-air cleaner)
Normal-wear cost$0
3-year residential value*$14,618
*Automotive Lease Guide

2012 Subaru Impreza Sport
ENGINE TYPEFlat-4, alum block/heads
VALVETRAINDOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT121.7 cu in/1995 cc
POWER (SAE NET)148 hp @ 6200 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)145 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
REDLINE6600 rpm
TRANSMISSIONCont. variable auto
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REARStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
BRAKES, F;R10.9-in vented disc; 10.8-in solid disc, ABS
WHEELS7.0 x 17-in, cast aluminum
TIRES205/50R17 88V M+S Yokohama Avid S34
TRACK, F/R59.4/59.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT173.8 x 68.5 x 59.5 in
WEIGHT DIST., F/R60/40 %
HEADROOM, F/R37.2/37.1 in
LEGROOM, F/R43.5/35.4 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R55.6/54.2 in
CARGO VOLUME22.5 cu ft
0-30 3.2 sec
PASSING, 45-65 MPH5.0
QUARTER MILE17.1 sec @ 81.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH114 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT28.0 sec @ 0.60 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH1900 rpm
AIRBAGSDual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee
BASIC WARRANTY3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE3 yrs/36,000 miles
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY125/94 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS0.64 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUELUnleaded regular

2012 Subaru Impreza 2 0i Sport Limited© Provided by MotorTrend 2012 Subaru Impreza 2 0i Sport Limited

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