2012 Subaru Impreza Sport: Las Vegas Road Trip
January 25, 2013
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.
Let me first say that I have a sliding scale that adjusts my opinions according to the price of the car. I then compare those opinions to the competition. In the Subaru's case, I was looking at a purchase price of $24,600 and trying to see if that price was a steal or a bad deal. That price tag puts you right in the middle of the competition with a lot of other similar hatches by other carmakers.
At first I felt there was nothing very distinctive about the Subaru that would set it apart from the competition. In fact, there are a couple of knocks against it. First, because of the CVT, it feels gutless, especially during mid-range lane changes. Also, there's plainness to the interior, with wide swaths of black plastic that both attract foot scuffs and an immediate coating of dust. But the seats are comfortable, the backseat is adequate and the storage area is generous. So I'm sure that Subaru enthusiasts would like the car. And the all-wheel drive capability will be a huge plus that sets it apart from the competition for ice and snow drivers.
By the time I'd completed 950 miles of driving I had developed respect for the Impreza. The only major detraction was the CVT, but since it improves fuel economy, I accepted it. And in Death Valley, I used the paddle shifters for engine braking to manage the steep grades and sharp corners. Still, I think the niche appeal of the Subaru is necessary to justify the price tag. All others will be well served to shop around for the best value.
Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 14,098 miles