Bowled Over By New Car Smell - 2012 Subaru Impreza Long-Term Road Test

2012 Subaru Impreza Long Term Road Test

2012 Subaru Impreza: Bowled Over By New Car Smell

May 09, 2012


Don't get me wrong, I like our new 2012 Subaru Impreza quite a bit.

Expecting a sedan, I cheered when I went downstairs with key in-hand and found a 5-door hatch waiting for me. The wagonesque body takes the edge off the new creased styling and those dark alloy wheels and roof rails provide welcome contrast to the light blue metallic paint.

My favorable first impression extended to the interior, where upgraded buttons, switchgear and materials make the inside of our 2012 look a whole lot more upscale and appealing than our last-gen 2008 Impreza WRX STI. "This is a bit of all right," I thought.

And then I drove it home.

Before I even finished pairing my phone and left the garage I was struck by the most acrid new car smell I could ever remember. Halfway home I began feeling woozy. Five miles from home I wanted to get out and walk the rest of the way. I can't give you any driving impressions because I was too distracted to internalize and remember any.

New car smell has never affected me like this. But in this case I felt weird and mildly dizzy for some minutes after I went inside -- so much so that we took the minivan when the family went out to dinner. Meanwhile, the Subie sat overnight on the curb with its windows cracked and the sunroof tilted open.

Next morning was more of the same on the way in.

I hope this new car outgassing phase passes quickly because I'm eager to drive our new Impreza again. And I'm curious to know why some new car smells are pleasant enough to bottle up and sell as car air fresheners while others make you want to collect a sample and send it off to a lab for analysis.

This one falls in the second category. 

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 648 miles

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