2012 Subaru Impreza Long Term Road Test

2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport: Learning to Shift

June 01, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

We all know about the manual shift function with an automatic transmission, right? You flick the lever back and forth a couple times on the way home from the car dealership and then that's it.

For the rest of the car's life, you pretty much just use the throttle to kick down a gear or two, since there's so much power from the engine that this is about all the manual shift action you need.

Well, those days are over, as a quick drive in the 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport with its CVT will show you.

First of all, almost every automatic transmission you can name is calibrated to resist the whole kick-down thing, whether it's a conventional automatic, a CVT or even an automated manual. This is especially annoying between 40 mph and 60 mph, when commute traffic is surging back and forth like an accordion.

You can put your foot down hard for a burst of speed, but by the time the transmission shifts, the engine spools up and the power arrives, you've forgotten why you wanted all of this in the first place. In fact, the power generally arrives just as the car in front of you has already screeched to a halt.

The second thing is, the Impreza's console-mounted shift lever simply slides into a slot that activates manual control for the car's CVT. You actually shift with the paddles on the steering wheel, although it's not exactly like the shifting you do with a conventional automatic.

I always feel like a geek when I'm shifting a car with an automatic transmission and especially so with a CVT, but this is the only thing I can do to win my battle with this Subaru transmission's anti-acceleration calibration.

This whole automatic transmission thing is going backwards. We used to have automatic transmissions with just a few speeds because engines were so powerful that you could rely on just throttle control to go faster.

But now that engines only want to run within a very narrow range of rpm for optimum fuel economy, we need lots and lots of gear ratios in our automatic transmissions to make the car move forward.

All this shift lever action, maybe people are going to adapt to manual transmissions again.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 1,691 miles

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Subaru Impreza in VA is:

$126 per month*
* Explanation