2012 Subaru Impreza: Monterey to Los Angeles
April 16, 2013
The final day of my road trip in our long-term 2012 Subaru Impreza is mapped out with relaxation and visual stimulation in mind. Instead of taking the faster, easier route down U.S. Highway 101 or Interstate 5, I'm taking California Highway 1. It stretches down the Pacific coast overlooking breaking waves, cliffs and bridges, while on the opposite side of the car there are towering redwood forests and endless greenery. The views are everything I expected. What I wasn't expecting, though, is the horrendous weekday traffic.
I pack up and leave Monterey late in the morning. The Subaru Impreza doesn't have a problem storing my baggage for the trip, but if I'd overpacked and brought passengers with me, I'd definitely need to be more discerning with cargo.
I find what I'm looking for on Highway 1: distinctive landscape, unique scenery and entertaining twists and turns.
Bixby Bridge, north of Big Sur State Park, is used in countless car commercials, tourism ads and photo shoots. It's well worth the wait to get a front row parking spot and breathe in the scenery for a minute or two. The Subaru is remarkably good at this stop-and-go stuff, squeezing in and out of tight spots. I'm not afraid of scraping the nose or damaging the undercarriage. It feels rugged.
I encounter two construction projects that halt traffic for at least thirty minutes each. In the first two hours I cover 33 miles. Traffic is starting to distract me and interfere with my ability to enjoy the scenery. I regret not looking up traffic conditions before I left, and I'm definitely getting restless.
Time for lunch and Nepenthe comes highly recommended. It sits above the coastal clouds nestled amongst the trees on Big Sur and offers one of the best dining views I've ever seen. It feels good to relax and get out of traffic for a moment, and the triple-berry pie makes things even better.
After two more traffic stops caused by construction, the Subaru's low-fuel light comes on. Normally I'd power through with the knowledge that I could probably go another 50-60 miles, but the remote location and scattered civilization make me nervous. I pull over at the first sign of gas and pay $5.79 a gallon for 87-octane fuel. Twenty bucks worth will suffice for now.
Two more construction projects halt my progress, adding another hour to the final leg of my trip. This depresses me so I need to remind myself again why I took the long route. Hey look! There's a distraction over there! Seals!
They hilariously burp, roll and flop around while I take in my fill of the ocean breeze. I head back to the Subaru and I can't help but notice how at home it looks amongst the greenery in the gravel parking lot.
I make a final stop in Santa Barbara for dinner but it's getting dark so I don't linger. Santa Barbara is a beautiful town and I'd love to spend some more time here. But the day has been long, so I'm back on the road in 20 minutes.
I arrive home after nearly 11 hours on the road, which is almost double the time Google Maps estimated.
After four days in our 2012 Subaru Impreza, I collect my thoughts. Fuel economy for the trip averages out to 28.6 mpg (the in-car meter gave me 30.3 mpg). The best result came from my first fill up outside Nevada City where I got 30.9 mpg. No question, the Subie is capable and efficient on the open road, so long as you can deal with its sluggish acceleration.
The stereo is good, too, especially at speed with the windows up. The tall cabin feels too exposed, though, so I'd put some tint on the windows if this were my personal car.
Ultimately, if I lived somewhere with inclement weather (like the Lake Tahoe area), I'd seriously consider a Subaru Impreza. But I'd definitely opt for one with a manual transmission and a turbo.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 18,330 miles