March 20, 2013
The change-over to Daylight Saving Time (DST) happened all the way back on the 10th, but when I got into the Subie, I found that its clock was still giving me a pre-DST reading. This wasn't due to driver neglect. It was simply a function of the fact that the Impreza had been sitting idle in our garage ever since the change-over. You see, through no fault of its own, the Subie found itself getting no love from our editors that weekend when the car sign-out sheet was passed around.
February 28, 2013
Really, tell me what's going on with this wiper stalk. Arrow pointing down, somewhat towards you, for a stream of wiper fluid. Three Morse code dashes for interval wipe. Fast-forward icons for constant wiper speed. This is some serious hieroglyphics just to keep water off the windshield.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 16,800 miles
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 25, 2013
Some of the best weather I've ever seen happens in the winter months in Santa Monica. This morning it was 70 degrees only a few hours after the sun came up, so I found it necessary to drive around in our Subaru Impreza with all four windows down and the sunroof back. At 5'9" I'm no giant but even with the seat at a medium height setting, this Subaru felt vast on the inside.
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.
January 31, 2013
The sound of the handbrake was often the satisfying conclusion to many car trips. It was somehow cathartic to yank up on the brake, feel the ratchet gear clicking and hear the staccato grrrrickkk! You had arrived. The trip was over. Your work was done.
But lately, you accomplish the brake-setting ritual with the press of a button and all the work is done electrically, silently. Where's the fun in that? It's one more little thing taken away from people who like to drive cars. Perhaps the electric emergency brake is better. But I like the direct connection with the mechanical world like there is in the 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport.
Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 14,135 miles
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.
Here's my favorite feature on our long-term 2012 Subaru Impreza: the hatch itself. It's super lightweight and easy to close, whether you use the intended hand grip or grab it from the side while juggling a couple bags.
The hatch is easy to open, too, with the expected latch (well, it's not a mechanical latch per se, but some electronic sensor with a rubber pad over it) right below the Subaru badge and right above the license plate — rather than an unorthodox button release as on our recently departed 2012 Mazda 3.
It makes me happy that Subaru paid attention to these details on the Impreza hatchback. I just wish I liked the rest of the car more. The high level of road noise in this car is barely tolerable, even by budget car standards, and the suspension floats over small road imperfections but feels harsh over the bigger ones. The engine is weak. The cabin looks nice at a glance, but the materials quality has slipped and there's already a major rattle coming from our long-term car's dash.
I've recommended the previous two generations of the Impreza (both WRX and otherwise) to friends, but I can't keep that up with this car. Buy a Mazda 3 and put on snow tires, I'll tell them. Or if you really must have all-wheel drive, just about any of the current population of compact crossover SUVs would be a better choice. Yep, I really said that: Buy an SUV over what was formerly one of the best SUV alternatives.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 12,880 miles
December 04, 2012
I've spent a lot of time over the last five days hauling myself and my junk in and out of the Impreza during L.A.'s once-annual, multi-day rain event. I'm glad it's over. Not once during this episode did I have trouble with the Impreza's driver's-side floormat bunching up under the pedals.
Credit for this goes not to my careful entry and exit, but rather to the Impreza's overbuilt, stunningly effective floor mat hooks. These steel hooks locate the driver's side mat with vice-like inflexibility allowing me to drag my feet across the mat as lazily as I please.
It's not a little thing, either. Just ask Toyota.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
November 23, 2012
I've griped more than a few times about overly busy, hard to read multi-function displays. Cars like our dearly departed Fiat 500 and various Mazda models come to mind. The Impreza, on the other hand, just shows me what I'm interested in -- the time, outside temp and either average MPG or distance to empty (you can toggle between them) -- in a clear "at a glance" fashion. Furthermore, as you can see it doesn't wash out in the sun thanks to the display being set back under a generous hood.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 11,050 miles
November 20, 2012
Will people lust after 10-window Imprezas like they lust after a 21-window Bus?
Doubt it. But that doesn't stop the Impreza from being a good city car with great visibility. You can't see the A-pillar sail window in this photo, but it's there and it's useful. Same for the triangle window just aft of the C-pillar. You can see everywhere out of this thing. That's a two-way street, of course. I'd deep tint the rears if I owned the Impreza and just use extra caution at night.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
November 13, 2012
Sometimes it's just a detail. These knurled faux-rubber grips on the HVAC dials are plastic, but they offer a nice visual illusion. The chrome rings and red back lighting are also nice touches. I praise Subaru for sticking to a classic three-dial array.
Granted, the Impreza isn't trading in the complexities of dual-zone control or other myriad ways that higher-end cars pamper us and manipulate the cabin environment. But after all is said and done, when we've defeated the robots and touchscreens, and eliminated the swiping, pinching, tapping and voice-activating, we'll be right back here. With all-wheel-drive. And three dials.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
November 06, 2012
Sometimes it's the simple things that please you most. This is one of those simple things. The Impreza's huge bin below the center stack is, well, awesome. Everthing goes in there with room to spare.
Josh Jacquot, Senior 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 22, 2012
Santa Monica to Famoso and back is about a 300 mile round trip on interstate 5 and California route 99. For the trip I chose our long-term 2012 Subaru Impreza, which was economical, comfortable for myself and my three passengers and fun to drive (I used its paddle shifters often).
But there was one problem, however. A rattle coming from underneath the right speaker grille in the Subaru's dashboard at the base of the A-pillar.
Mark Takahashi mentioned a similar issue a couple of weeks ago, but the rattle I've experienced in the Impreza is not heard during city driving, even over rough pavement. Instead it's a highway speed issue only. And it's loudest at 75 mph when something loose in the dash seems to be at odds with the frequency of the harmonics created by the interactivity of the road and the Subaru's chassis and structure.
The good news is that if my passenger would reach up and push down on the speaker grille the noise would stop. Hopefully that means it shouldn't be too hard to diagnose and fix.
We'll have it chased when we take the car in for a scheduled maintenance later this week.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 8,704 miles
October 1, 2012
The Subaru Impreza's got a pretty comfortable rear seat, as we've reported before. But does that translate to the easy use of child safety seats? Figured I'd test it out as part of my occasional safety seat series.
Subaru vs Britax, read on.
My Britax Marathon convertible seat was up first in the rear-facing position. Pleasingly, the seat fit with about an inch clearance between it and the driver seat (driver seat was set for me, at 5 feet 10 inches). The Impreza's relatively flat seat cushion made it easy to position the safety seat.
Unfortunately, I didn't have my Britax Companion infant seat with me this time around. But I've found clearance testing is pretty similar between it and the the Marathon in the rear-facing position. If one fits, the other should, too.
The Impreza's LATCH anchor points are excellent in terms of functionality. Josh did a post on them before (we both have little kids; what a surprise) but it's worth pointing out again. They are easy to find and have plenty of clearance in case you're installing the seat's LATCH buckles upside down. No more cussing while trying to lift up firm seat material while also trying to jamb in a LATCH buckle to an anchor point you can't see.
Picture with the buckle installed.
Next was the Marathon seat in the front-facing position. Again, ideal angling of the Impreza's seat cushion and seat back made it easy to install. Head restraint removal was also straightforward.
Finally, the Recaro booster seat. Easy peasy. I didn't even have to take off or adjust the head restraint.
Overall, I was impressed with the ease of installing the seats. Granted, the Impreza's still a small car, but it does have enough rear leg room that most people should be able to use a rear-facing seat without having to move up the front seats at all or at most not very much. The LATCH anchor cut-outs are also very useful.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,456 miles
September 24, 2012
Before it left with Brent, I snagged the Impreza for a short drive last week and glanced into the back seat (sorry for the lackluster photo). It appears nobody has been back there in some time, except for a spider.
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton
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.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
September 5, 2012
Behold the Impreza's center console array, one of the car's better long-haul qualities. You've got a fairly deep and tall well just below the climate controls, perfectly sized for two phones side-by-side, snacks, smokes, garage door openers, CDs if you still use 'em - whatever. The bottom of the space is even lined with a grippy rubber pad.
Just aft of the shifter are two coin-type slots. At first they seem inconsequential, until you start using them to hold bottle/thermos caps, lip balm, stray keys, etc. The rear slot is deeper than the other, and an iPhone stands up in it just fine. For those who like to load USB thumb drives with music, I could see keeping a healthy collection of music on a half-dozen drives that could live in these little slots.
Cupholders. Two of them. Yay. Only downside: they're a little too deep and not quite wide enough for this 12-oz. plastic cup. Look close and you can see the cup is hanging there, resting on the edges of its lid - not ideal. All part of a global conspiracy to upsize your iced coffee purchases.
Finally, the center console itself. Deep. Not especially long, but big enough that you will end up dumping everything in there: receipts, napkins, wrappers, business cards, Post-It notes. It?s your new waste bin, guaranteed. Only bummer: that's also where your USB port and Aux input live. Long thumb drives jutting out from the port risk damage, although solved easily enough with a USB cable that extends out of the center console -- which also offers those handy cable channels.
Hard to know how much the planners actually thought through these little conveniences, or how much was simply serendipitous design. But you notice little things like this on a long trip, and give thanks.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
August 27, 2012
Our 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport has single-zone automatic climate control that's operated by this simple array of three knobs. The HVAC engineers that work for the various automakers put in a lot of hours tweaking the hardware and software that runs the show behind the scenes.
You see these guys and gals in spy photos taken in Death Valley in the summer and in northern Minnesota or Canada in the winter -- the garden spots. In between they spend hours in dyno chambers that can artificially recreate a wide range of climates and sun loads.
Their goal: to get such systems to respond to conditions automatically with the knobs set as you see them above: Auto mode, Auto fan and a nominal temperature set point of 75 degrees. If a driver or passenger wants to make adjustments for comfort, the temperature knob is intended to be the first line of defense, with directional alterations to the outlet vent grates coming in a close second. In theory, changes to the fan and mode dials are not necessary outside of special circumstances like cold morning defogging.
In my experience this works out most of the time -- unless my passenger and I can't agree on the proper temperature. For that there's dual-zone climate control, but the extra cost of such systems make them rare at this price point.
Here in the Impreza, it seems Subaru's HAVC engineers did their job. I've never felt the need to deviate from the standard full-auto setting pictured above any of the times I've driven it.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 5,123 miles
August 23, 2012
There just can't be anything better for carrying around the stuff of everyday life than the five-door hatchback. The trouble is, sometimes you feel like you're trapped inside a shipping container.
Our Mazda 3 five-door always gives me that feel, as if the dash area is looming in front of me. A lot of structure is in this area between the A-pillars, especially in a front-wheel-drive car, so I guess you expect it. But as much as you fiddle with seat height, you still feel as if you can't see out of the Mazda.
But the Subaru Outback is decidedly different, with a low cowl height and relatively low window sills. It seems so simple, yet the Subaru always feel far more natural and easy to drive just because the visibility is so good.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com
August 03, 2012
I found a bright green leather chair and ottoman at the store that I thought might look good in my living room, but I wasn't sure. I was driving the Subaru Impreza and thought, "Well, I can toss the ottoman in the hatch easily, if I like it, I'll come back for the chair."
The above photo is me reloading the ottoman back into the Subaru for its return trip to the store.
The only thing good about that purchase was how it easy it was to take back.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 4,172 miles
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 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 18, 2012
This is nice. Our Impreza has a velcro-secured flap of fabric covering the lower LATCH anchors in the back seat. This makes anchor access easy by eliminating the trial and error of finding the anchor hiding out of sight between the seatback and seat bottom cushions. Sure, it looks like a seven-year-old carved out the hole with a butter knife, but when you close the flap you can't even see it.
Josh Jacquot, Senior 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 08, 2012
Here are shots of the interior materials of our new 2012 Subaru Impreza long-termer. What do you think? Pretty good for a $24.6K car?
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
May 29, 2012
Our Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited (Wagon) is rated at 27 mpg City, 36 mpg Highway, and 30 mpg Combined. Well, I eclipsed the City rating, but I do have a confession. This self-reported (likely inaccurate) snap shot of fuel economy was the result of about half highway miles and half city miles. As such it should meet or beat the EPA's Combined rating. Drat. At any rate, it's still early in the Subie's time with us, so we'll see if these EPA numbers are truly achievable or if this car will be added to the growing list of "no way in heck" a typical driver can expect to match window sticker claims.
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 1,523 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 17, 2012
My initial impressions of our new long-termer are not entirely favorable, but then again, I was stuck in traffic and couldn't have the sort of fun that Imprezas are known for. It all started with the audio system.
With the levels and balance zeroed-out and centered, the sound quality was pretty poor. It had a distinct lack of bass and the staging placed the sound focus somewhere in the back seats. Alright, that's not a big deal. As I rolled slowly towards the freeway on-ramp I tried adjusting the levels to suit my tastes, but I was greeted by an on-screen message that said, "It can't be operated when the vehicle is in motion."
Seriously? I'm only adjusting the bass and fader. Why not just put this message instead?
When traffic came to a complete stop, I had an opportunity to start fiddling with the settings, but I never was able to find satisfaction. The bass started to get sloppy as I turned it up and moving the fader up to the front produced a hollow sound quality. Sadly, that was as good as it got.
At one point I wanted to switch over to a playlist, and to my surprise, the audio system allowed me to select one while the car was in motion. Wait, I can select a song, artist or playlist, but I can't adjust the bass? Where's the logic in that? My tastes in music are pretty eclectic, and that means some tracks have different equalizer characteristics. The Impreza's audio system doesn't want to play nice, and that bugs me. I'm hoping it's at least going to be fun to drive in the canyons.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 1,024 miles
May 12, 2012
Personally, I don't care for the audible door lock/unlock chime on our 2012 Subaru Impreza. I may be in the minority but generally any chime, chirp or melody associated with locking or unlocking a car are annoying to me. That is why I was glad to find this page in the manual.
The process of disabling (and enabling if that's your thing) the chirp on the Impreza is really simple. Hold down the driver's door unlock button while you poke the key in and out of the ignition a bunch of times. Then open the door and get out. The chime is silenced. I like it.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager
May 11, 2012
Our 2012 Subaru Impreza was in service a mere day before I went searching for the child safety seat LATCH anchors. That's the sort of thing that happens when you're a parent with kids that require such apparatus. The LATCH points are very easy to locate, two in each outer position of the rear seats.
When it comes to these tethers there are a few approaches. Some manufacturers leave them in plain sight. Others tuck them out of sight between the seat base and back, which are usually difficult to access. Subaru does things a little differently...
Subaru hides them behind velcro-lined straps. They are easily accessed once the flap is open. And if looks matter to you, then simply reattach the flap once the child seat straps are secured. This style offers the best of both worlds, functionality and form. Of the three most prevalent LATCH options around, it is my favorite.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager
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