Gutless? - 2012 Subaru Impreza Long-Term Road Test

2012 Subaru Impreza Long Term Road Test

2012 Subaru Impreza Sport: Gutless?

February 22, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza Sport

So let me get this straight. It's both a PZEV and an Impreza "Sport"? It certainly lives up to its green label, getting 27 mpg city and 36 highway. But where does the "Sport" part of this Subie come in?

In a previous post, I referred to the fact that the CVT makes the engine feel "gutless." A reader took me to task on this issue.

Bankerdanny wrote: "I would argue that the CVT is not the cause of the gutless feeling, it simply exacerbates it. The cause is that Subaru's standard 2.0 and NA 2.5 are simply gutless."

Certainly, we all like to have power on tap. And the paddle shifters certainly help kick it into what feels like a lower gear. But real power, some nice low-end grunt, comes with a price. And that's why it is labeled both a "Sport" model and a PZEV (a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle is a vehicle that has zero evaporative emissions from its fuel system).

So can you have your cake and eat it too? Or in this case, can you have your power and save the environment too? I think you can. The answer is: get the manual. True, its fuel economy ratings are lower at 25 city and 33 highway. But at least, when you step on the gas, you won't just get a lot of buzzing from under the hood. You'll also get a nice, sporty, feeling of being connected to the road.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 15,844 miles


  • It is funny that you quote the EPA ratings of 27/36 when you guys are getting: Worst Fill MPG: 21.2 Best Fill MPG: 31.0 Average Lifetime MPG: 25.9

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Always nice to get a shout out. I suppose the best way to answer the question is to ask Subaru for a 5 speed version to drive for a few days. That will help sort out how much of the perceived lack of power is an actual lack of power and how much is due to the transmission type.

  • s197gt s197gt Posts:

    this vehicle reminds me a lot of my 2002 mazda protege5 sportwagon i bought new. excellent handling and still looks good today. but i sold it after 30k miles because it, too, was gutless in the engine department. it was also PZEZ as i recall and it had 130hp with a 4-speed auto. it could not break 100mph. i was so disappointed when i found that out. it maxed out around 90 as i recall. i was like, "that's it?! your done!" i think and extra 20 hp would have done the protege5 wonders, but it was surely a much lighter car than this one. this car probably needs 30 more hp.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    I think bankerdanny is right and Philip is wrong. This is a 3100-lb. car with 148 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque. And it has AWD, which kicks the drivetrain power loss from probably 12% to maybe 18%. It's just gutless. "But where does the "Sport" part of this Subie come in?" C'mon - next you'll be telling us there's no tooth fairy.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    I'm also guessing that it has California specific emissions and tuning. Past experience shows that is enough to neuter throttle response.

  • Or get a Mazda3

Leave a Comment

Past Long-Term Road Tests

Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411