April 15, 2013
There are only 250 miles ahead of me on the second day of my road trip in our long-term 2012 Subaru Impreza. Going out with the family for brunch in Nevada City and checking out some local sites takes up most of the morning agenda before hitting the road.
I'm well rested, confident and optimistic about the shortest travelling day on my road-trip schedule. It might not be my favorite car in the compact class, but this Subaru definitely has its moments in the sun.
April 10, 2013
I've lived in California my entire life and I've never driven up Highway 395 or seen Lake Tahoe. This trip to Northern California in our long-term 2012 Subaru Impreza would be different. I wanted to take the long route and see something more than flat, soulless freeways. The first leg of the five-day journey will take me to my father's new home in Nevada City, CA, 532 miles away.
After a few morning hours on the road, my first stop is at a vista point on U.S. Highway 395 to stretch my legs at The Aerospace Valley.
February 27, 2013
Still hoping we have a chance to put the Impreza through some snow-covered paces in our local mountains this year, which means hoping for some big activity in the Gulf of Alaska. Nothing but sun and seventies forecasted for the next ten days around here, though. Great if you're into dirt and water sports, but not if you're fiending for moguls.
Subaru long ago identified and decided to serve a wet weather customer. That's why it seems like Subaru and Jeep are the official cars of Colorado and Washington, while an all-wheel-drive Impreza in Southern California makes about as much sense as a planter's punch at a bar in Fairbanks.
February 21, 2013
Can four adults with two golf bags and luggage find happiness on the road to Palm Springs?
I was hoping to impress some out-of-town guests with a larger, more luxurious car for a trip to Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs. Instead, I got the keys to the 2012 Subaru Impreza. After some mental reprogramming, I decided it would be an interesting test of the car's cargo space and interior comfort.
July 16, 2012
I met my father and two brothers in Las Vegas and they were impressed that I showed up in this 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport. During the two days I spent squiring them around the Strip, and then a side-trip to Hoover Dam, they kept asking me what I thought of the sport hatchback. To tell you the truth, I didn't have a lot of strong opinions; on the 380-mile trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas only two things struck me: the oft-cited weak feeling produced by the CVT and a pleasingly composed ride at highway speeds.
But then, after a few more days behind the wheel, more opinions began to form.
January 8, 2013
I always like to get feedback from my passengers regarding our long-term test cars — call it payment for services rendered. Anyway, sometimes it can be pretty insightful, and alert me to things that would otherwise have escaped my attention.
This latest installment concerns comfort, and comes from a friend who's a 40-year-old wife and mother of two. Though she's not an enthusiast, she likes cars and has a great deal of experience with them. Here's what she had to say about the Impreza:
"As you pulled up to the curb to pick me up, I didn't get a chance to see what kind of car you were driving, but it looked stylish and kind of hip.
I thought there was plenty of legroom (I'm 5'8"), but I didn't adjust the seat on its track at all, so it may have been set up for a much taller person.
The headrest was a little on the hard side, but the rest of the seat wasn't too firm. And the side bolstering was adequate, though I'd probably have had to hold on tight if you started doing powerslides."
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor@ 12,806 miles
November 27, 2012
Here's an unexpected feature I appreciate on our Impreza -- a sliding center armrest. Standard on all but the base 2.0 trim, it allows shorter drivers a place to plop down their right elbows. Often times a fixed center console armrest is located too far rearward for shorter folks. I also like that Subaru put the iPod hookup inside the covered bin that sits under said armrest, keeping it and the attendant cord out of sight.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 11,128 miles
November 15, 2012
We don't have cold winters in Southern California. I'm not sure we have a season that constitutes winter. But this time of year, we do have days where temperatures, especially near the coast, swing as wide as the tides. You can wake up to low 60s, and three hours later it's 82 degrees. Twelve hours later, it's back down into the 50s.
This morning, for example, we drove the kid to school. Conditions merited seat heat and the Impreza provided. Thirty minutes later, the sun had broken through and warmed up the streets and interior. Didn't need the seat heaters. Driving home tonight might be a different story. I'm glad the Impreza has them. They're a little piece of luxury in a car and class you don't expect.
Then again, I was surprised at how many of the Impreza rivals, at the higher trim levels, offer heated seats including the Civic EX-L, Chevy Cruze LT, Mazda 3 iGrand Touring, and Hyundai Elantra GT.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
October 29, 2012
For the most part, the Impreza's controls are an example of how it should be done, at least for audio and climate functions. So much so that we've given kudos to Subaru in this very blog for their tried and true old school layouts. You know, where the stereo has two knobs for the power/volume and tuning (along with a row of preset buttons between) and the climate control has three big knobs for fan speed, airflow direction and temperature. But Subaru failed in one area...
As you can see, the seat heater controls are awkwardly located towards the rear of the center console. This is even more of an ergonomic blunder if you're on the shorter side as you have to reach back behind the seat side bolster to flick the switch. Obviously not a deal breaker, but an annoyance nonetheless that makes me wonder why they didn't put these rocker switches on the front portion of the console as there's plenty of space for them there.
BTW, this photo depicts an Impreza sedan I recently drove, hence the different color seats from our long-termer, but the heater controls are identical. And on the upside, the heaters themselves work well enough that the "low" setting was more than enough to soothe my cranky lower back.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor
October 9, 2012
I love car-sales lingo. People are, variously, green peas, grinders, be-backs and lay downs. Then there are the adages: "Sticker price is a fair price" is one that salespeople use, though I don't imagine it's very effective.
Another is "The feel of the wheel will seal the deal." The rhyme -- and the sentiment -- remind me of one of the cleaner lines from "Glengarry Glen Ross": "Get them to sign on the line which is dotted."
I can't say that driving the Impreza has convinced me to buy one, but I've decided I do like the wheel. It's nicely proportioned and easy to tilt and telescope. It has handsome stitching and a smooth texture that slides nicely through the hands. I got to try out the horn this morning on a dawdling Mini driver. That was nice, too.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @7,914 miles
October 5, 2012
The editors here are in the midst of assessing cars for our 2013 New Car Buying Guide. For some categories, it's a snap. For others, not so much. My ballot at this point is littered with preliminary votes, notes and question marks. All that will be resolved by deadline, however. That's why they call them deadlines.
In the course of surveying the cars, I've found the Edmunds Ratings criteria helpful. For fun, I thought I'd apply them to our Subaru Impreza. (We have rated the Impreza, but that was in 2010, and the test car was a 2011 WRX -- a different critter from our 2012 hatchback, which sports Subaru's new engine and the continuously disappointing -- I mean variable -- transmission.)
I'm not the expert here. My test-driving brethren and sistren are. But here's my quick take on the car. Our ratings employ a one-to-five-star scale:
Engine and transmission performance including acceleration and drivability: Two stars. (I'm downgrading here because of the CVT.)
Outward visibility, blind spots and nighttime exterior lighting: Four stars.
Steering, handling and braking performance; overall agility: Three stars.
Driving position and seat comfort; the logic and ease-of-use of controls: Four stars.
Seat Access & Space
Ease of entry & exit; interior roominess: Three stars.
Ride softness and body motion control: Three stars.
The absence of interior noise, especially from exterior sources such as road, wind and engine: Two stars.
Visible quality factors such as panel gaps, paint quality and interior materials; fit and finish: Three stars.
Cargo & Storage
Available trunk and cargo space and the ease of loading and unloading: Three stars.
If you were rating your ride this way, how would it do?
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @7,800 miles
September 18, 2012
It had been a few months since I'd driven our Subaru Impreza, so I specifically chose it as my ride home last night.
Unfortunately, I was reminded in the first few minutes why I don't drive it more often. Simple seat comfort. Try as I might, I just can't settle into the Impreza's driver's seat. I'm constantly fooling with the manual seat adjustments, even the height lever, and never seem to get it right for my body.
Some cars feel like they're made for you. The Subaru and I do not share that relationship.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 6,926 miles
September 10, 2012
Subaru replaced the last-generation Impreza's active front head restraints with these tilt-adjustable models in the new car. You choose one of three angles. This actually comes in handy on a long-trip: mid or full-forward position when you're feeling upright and alert, or regular 90-degree when you need to relax, recline the seat a notch or two and stretch out.
In press material for the new Impreza, Subaru says that new higher-strength seat frames offer improved protection against whiplash, allowing the use of the new, non-active tilt design. Hopefully we never find out first-hand the wisdom of this decision.
August 10, 2012
At first glance the back seats in the Impreza don't look like much. Flat cushions, average room and no toys to play with. But when you actually sit in them they're surprisingly comfortable. Not road trip comfortable, just comfortable.
It might sound like a back-handed compliment, but sedans and hatchbacks in this class often cut corners in the back seats to the point where they're barely habitable. Most kids don't mind, but adults find them terrible. I would sit back here without a complaint. At least for a little while.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds
August 01, 2012
Today I'm here to pour praise on the driver's seat of our long-term Subaru Impreza. It is a fantastically comfortable place to spend time. Not too firm, which has become a trend, and not too soft, which is the way too many seats used to be.
I'm 5' 11" tall and 185 lbs, which means I'm of fairly average size, and the Impreza's seat is sized and shaped perfectly for my frame. Too many seats today feel too small or too large, but the Subie's bottom cushion is just the right length and width as is its seatback.
I also like the fact that it's height adjustable, which combines with a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with plenty of range, to create a perfect driving position.
The more I drive this car, the more obvious it becomes that it is designed, engineered and tuned by people that like to drive.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
July 31, 2012
The Impreza makes some hollow sounds when you close the doors or the center console. Especially the center console. Drop the lid from its highest point and the impact echoes around the cabin. If I owned the Impreza, I think I'd trade some MPGs for some Dynamat in the door panels, center console, cowl, floor panels and pillars (and get a better audio system while I was at it).
But oddly, the Impreza is quieter on-road and at highway speeds than my 2005 Honda Civic. Road noise has always been an Achilles for Honda, but the Impreza, which feels lighter, thinner and less substantial to me, is more serene. The Civic has just slightly wider tires than stock, but they're basically OEM-equivalent Bridgestones. Stock engine and aspiration. Maybe Subaru uses better rubber in its seals or better seal designs that draw on the parent company's aircraft engineering.
My Civic's doors, lids and compartments offer a meatier thunk when shut, but the Impreza clearly keeps more of the road out of the cabin -- which then reinforces the need to double-time it to the nearest car stereo shop.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
July 31, 2012
Everytime I drive our long-term 2012 Subaru Impreza I talk to myself. I say, "Self, this is a really good car. It's comfortable, it's quick, it's easy to see out of and I like the spirit of its drivetrain."
Fact is, I'm so impressed with the Impreza, I've recommended it to several neighbors and friends of friends and so far two have bought Imprezas of their own, one hatchback and one sedan.
One of the things I like best about our Impreza Sport is its suspension tuning, which hits my personal ride and handling sweetspot. You feel the road in this car, but it's never hitting you in the back of the head with a shovel.
You can tell it was engineered and tuned by "car guys", but "car guys" that understand that a super stiff suspension tuned on the Nurburgring is inappropriate for this car.
Subaru still gets it.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 4,031 miles
July 18, 2012
The AC works well in our Impreza, providing strong gusts of air frigid enough to combat the searing summer heat. I also like the way the HVAC switchgear is designed. Can't beat that straightforward, immediately familiar, three-knob layout.
The knobs move in a nicely controlled way -- nothing's slack, nothing's loosey-goosey. And those helpful ridges make the knobs easy to grip and use.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
June 30, 2012
Granted, I don't often (okay, almost never) ride in the back of our test cars. But that doesn't mean I don't feel for the folks who sit back there. As such, I appreciate small cars that offer fairly comfortable rear quarters.
The Impreza does it right with a roomy and supportive rear seat. Furthermore, the fold-down center armrest is perfectly located, nearly matching the height and angle of the door armrests. If you've ever flipped one of these down only to discover it's annoyingly too low to be comfortable, you'll also appreciate this thoughtful design.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor
June 13, 2012
Someone (but not Mark Twain) said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. Well, +1 for Santa Monica.
See our Ice Silver Metallic Impreza against that sliver of gray sky? That summarizes our the weather here in the June-gloomy Southland: slate mornings, misty afternoons and high temperatures that are only in the frigid 60s (I'm a native--60s is sweater weather for me).
Yesterday, I foolishly dressed for a sun-kissed June that's taking place in some other part of the country, but not here. By the end of the day, I had freezing toes and goosebumpy arms. The Subaru's heater, properly set, defrosted my feet in a hurry. And although Donna said that its seat heater is "almost imperceptible," it worked for me.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @2,778 miles
June 04, 2012
While slogging through traffic, I discovered two things about our new Impreza. As Mark T. noted, the Suby's audio system is lacking. It seems to have all the sonic capability of the old transistor radio depicted in the display. That said, it's user friendly and I like that the iPod hookup is in the center console compartment, thus minimizing the annoyance of a cable hanging around the front of the console/gear selector and allowing the Nano to remain out of sight.
And although taller drivers probably wouldn't notice or need this feature, the sliding console top/armrest is one of those small things I appreciate. Had I not been able to slide it forward, my right elbow would've been left hovering over the rear cupholder, wondering "where's the love?" Along with the supportive seats, it made the commute easier to take.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 1,941 miles
May 21, 2012
Nearly every time I get in the Impreza's driver seat, I kick the manual seat adjustment lever under the front of the seat bottom.
Why is this?
I do not have clown feet, nor do I wear clown shoes. And I'm only 5'7", so it's not like my gangly legs are getting in the way either.
I've never had that issue in any other car. Does the lever look like it protrudes more in the Subaru than it does in other vehicles?
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 1,286 miles
May 14, 2012
It's a hatchback
Ample cargo area with privacy cover
Sporty white gauges that light up red at night
Low-key dark alloy wheels
Loud and sloppy CVT
Lack of mid-range torque
Almost imperceptible seat heaters
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 919 miles
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