2012 Subaru Impreza Long-Term Road Test - Miscellaneous

2012 Subaru Impreza Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Subaru Impreza: A Year Goes Quickly

May 22, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

Wondering why you haven't read any updates on our 2012 Subaru Impreza?

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Monterey to Los Angeles

April 16, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

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.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Nevada City to Monterey, CA.

April 15, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

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.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Los Angeles to Nevada City

April 10, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

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.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Northern California Road Trip Route

March 29, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

I've got a little over 1,100 miles to cover in the next five days and I'll be doing it in our long-term 2012 Subaru Impreza. I'll be spending the night at my father's house in Nevada City, then spending three days in Monterey, California, and finally taking the coastal route back home to Los Angeles. There will likely be snow on the ground as I pass Mammoth Mountain and Lake Tahoe, so I'll bring the chains just in case.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Recalled for Defective Key Fob

March 26, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Subaru has recalled 47,419 vehicles because of a key fob defect that could cause the fob to malfunction and inadvertently start the engine. Affected models include the 2010-'13 Subaru Legacy and Outback, certain 2012-'13 Subaru Imprezas and the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek.

All the affected Subarus are outfitted with an Audiovox remote engine-starter accessory.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: User-Friendly Clock

March 20, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

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.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Full of Cool Air

February 25, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

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.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: 15k Milestone

February 13, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

Our long-term 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited reached the 15k milestone during its recent road trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. And wouldn't you know it? I wasn't paying attention to the odometer and completely missed taking a photo when it happened.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Road Trip!

February 7, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

Don't get too excited. I'm just driving to Scottsdale, Arizona in our 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited. Should be about 760 miles round trip. Along the way there will be some of the most mind-numbingly boring desert landscape known to this country. And plenty of it.

Still, there's something about a road trip. Man and machine out on the open road. Good thinking time, good music-listening time, and maybe I'll play a book as well. Certainly good car evaluating time. And MAT (Mikey Alone Time).

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Funny Vanity Plate

February 6, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

When I spotted this vanity plate on this Subaru Impreza WRX on the way in to work today, I couldn't help but guffaw. Team America: World Police has a special place in my heart ever since I had to play Kim Jong-Il for our 24 Hours of Lemons race. In any case, wondered if the owner of this Subie was a fan, too, or if this tied in to their Impreza somehow.

Subaru Impreza owners, do you have a vanity plate for your car? If so, what is it and did your Subie inspire it?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza Sport: The Disappearing Handbrake

January 31, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza Sport

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

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2012 Subaru Impreza: 2012 Subaru Impreza: Return of the Outback Sport

January 17, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

Up until 2012, Subaru offered an Outback Sport version of the Impreza hatchback. Sort of an Outback Junior, it essentially consisted of an Impreza hatch with a raised suspension, available contrasting lower body paint/moldings, a few other unique styling tweaks and bigger wheels.

Now, with the debut of the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, it's déjà vu all over again. Although there's no "Impreza" in its name, the Crosstrek is obviously one with essentially the same tweaks that the old Outback Sport sported. So you have the requisite beefed-up suspension (it rides a full three inches higher), black wheel arch/rocker moldings and unique wheels. Although I'm not a fan of the standard Impreza's styling (too busy), for some reason it works for me much better with the Crosstrek.

I'm from New England, where Subaru's have been popular for ages thanks to their all-wheel-drive traction, solid reliability and (compared to SUVs) good fuel economy. I imagine a Crosstrek with the manual gearbox would make a fine winter/ski car back there...

You can find out more on the Impreza's tough brother here: http://www.edmunds.com/subaru/xv-crosstrek/2013/options.html?sub=suv

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 13,124 miles

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2012 Subaru Impeza Sport: No Desire for Dark Wheels

January 16, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

A lot of car enthusiasts dig dark wheels. I'm not one of them. Although I like the style of the Impreza Sport Limited's 17-inch alloys, can't say I feel the same about the dark gray finish. It has the effect of making them look like they're always coated with brake dust. That not only makes them look dirty, but also makes it hard to appreciate the style of the wheel, as it's hard to discern among all that darkness.

So I virtually cruised on over to tirerack.com and saw what I'd get, if I were to change out the Suby's wheels. Multi- and double-spoke styles are my faves so I picked these: http://bit.ly/WYQ2dB.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 12,929 miles

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2012 Subaru Impreza: A Passenger's Impressions

January 8, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

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

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2012 Subaru Impreza: All's Well That Ends Well

December 28, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

The holiday season can be a stressful time, and our 2012 Subaru Impreza was certainly feeling the pain. You'll recall that our little Subie limped into yuletide with some CVT issues that required a trip to the dealer.

The car was returned to us after a couple of days and we're happy to report that all injuries seem to have been healed. All it took was a new pressure switch, and not an entirely new transmission, as was initially feared.

So the Impreza is back to its old self, which is a good thing. The car was a dutiful and reliable ferry over the holiday weekend, handling assorted visits to various friends and acquaintances — along with a trip to the Hollywood Arclight for a weekend showing of "The Impossible" — without problem or complaint.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Hot Wheels

December 17, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

I've commented before on how much I like the simple yet sporty look of our Subaru Impreza. Its sheet metal is assertive, but not in a way that feels like it's trying too hard to impress. More quietly confident, as opposed to in-your-face aggressive. It's a brand of subtlety that I really admire, and not just in the automotive world.

Anyway, to my eyes, the car's wheels do a great job of building on this theme. They make a statement without being garish and obnoxious. Just one more thing to love about this great little car.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Going to the Dogs

December 07, 2012


An unusual story arrived in the Edmunds news room this morning. 

The driver in the news photo looks like a Subaru guy to me.

Weird question of the day: What would your dog drive?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Almost Zero

December 07, 2012


I think it's great that the Impreza is PZEV rated, meaning it probably emits less pollution than a post-Burrito lunch hipster on a fixie. But the acronym itself annoys me: Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. How the heck can something be "Partial Zero"? Call me old school, but something is either zero or it's not. Saying something is partial zero is like calling something a "half-truth" or, while you're boarding a plane, hearing the dreaded announcement "We have a very full flight today folks", as if there are varying degrees of fullness. 

Hmmm, maybe AZEV (Almost Zero Emissions Vehicle) didn't have the right ring to it...

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Floor Mat Retention Done Right

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

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2012 Subaru Impreza: I See You

November 27, 2012

subaru impreza mirror.jpg

Our Impreza is a hatchback, but its tall, generously sized side mirrors would be right at home on a compact SUV.

I, for one, appreciate the view.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Subaru Impeza Sport: A-OK at 10K

November 07, 2012


All systems are go. Our 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport is primed and ready for another 10,000 miles with us, and we're on schedule to get there just about the time its year with us is up.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 10.034 miles and counting

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Beware. The End Is Near

October 31, 2012


This actually happened. This place is real. It's in -- that's right -- Vegas. And it's more of a novelty store than a survivalist store. But with a name like that who can resist? I couldn't. And apparently I'm not the only one...

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2012 Subaru Impreza Sport: Of Ground Clearance & Back Roads

October 26, 2012


Earlier this week we all headed north to Willow Springs Raceway to fulfill our annual driver training requirement. My ride for the trip was the 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport.

I got there early, so I took the Subie on a few dirt roads to kill the time and to see if maybe it would have done just as well as our 2012 Honda CR-V on my recent trip to Nevada. Not from a cargo perspective -- to the surprise of no one the Honda is the clear winner there -- but from a back road competence point of view. Would the Impreza Sport have done as well?

In a word, no. The ground clearance isn't quite the same (5.9 versus 6.7) and the front bumper doesn't offer near as much angle of approach as the Honda. On top of that the CR-V's brush "rub zones" and rockers are unpainted textured plastic all around, while most of the low-hanging bodywork on the Impreza is painted body color. As a result I had to be more wary of the pucker bushes that run down the middle of two-track dirt roads and the small stones that tend to get flung up by the tires.

Pity, because I like the Subaru Impreza in principle. If only they made a version that was a bit taller and more ruggized for back road road exploration...

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Like The Way It Looks

October 19, 2012


I've always liked the Subaru Impreza through the years, but that fondness has been mostly related to the way it drove, not the way it looked. But I have to say the latest generation's sheetmetal is pretty appealing to me, at least in the hatchback Sport trim that we have. Yeah, the fender flares are a little overdone, but overall the car looks pretty sharp and more distinctive than it did before. Overall it has a bit more aggressiveness and personality to it, and I think that's a smart move on Subaru's part.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Quietly Impressive

October 11, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

I wasn't really expecting much from the Impreza, but it's grown on me in a pretty remarkable way. I like its communicative handling and its clean, sporty lines. I also like the fact that it's not as common a sight on the roads as some other picks in its segment; this makes it a much less generic choice.

There's no one thing that blows your socks off, necessarily, but the the whole package comes together quite nicely. So far, the Impreza strikes me as a car that would be easy and pleasant to live with.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Creaks and Groans

October 10, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

It's a little early for the Halloween spirit, but our long-term Impreza is emitting some spooky noises.

Alright, "spooky" is a bit strong, but it makes some noises.

Noise number one was a very low groan coming from the front when I left my parking spot last night. After I got done laughing at Riz as he wandered the lot aimlessly as he searched for whatever car he signed out, I made a sharp, low-speed turn. It's a bit like our old Corvette in the same circumstances when the differential in wheel speeds between left and right created that groan. Is it the diff, tires, all-wheel-thinga-ma-bob? Yeah, probably. It's not a big deal, and it certainly doesn't sound like something's wrong.

Noise number two is also minor, but a little more irritating. It's a creak coming from the right side of the dash. I'm a stickler for this stuff, and it bugs me over broken pavement, which is pretty much everywhere in L.A. It's the same kind of plastic-on-plastic creak that bugged me in our old long-term Challenger (sigh?I miss that beast).

That's it. Nothing ground-breaking or serious, which means the Impreza is doing its job well.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @7,921 miles

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Sales Up. Long Lost Twin Found

October 3, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

I happened to park next to an identical Impreza hatchback in the Edmunds parking garage today. Hopeful thought; the other Impreza's new owner was inspired by seeing our long-termer in the garage.

Incidentally, Impreza sales have risen considerably since the redesign. So far this year Subaru has sold 54,122 Imprezas, an increase of 154 percent compared to the same time frame in 2011.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza Sport: EyeSight Demo Toy

October 1, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

Let's make one thing perfectly clear: our 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport is not equipped with the EyeSight system depicted here. In fact exactly zero 2012 Subaru USA products offered the system, and it's only now showing up on our side of the Pacific as an on option on the 2013 Subaru Legacy.

The fact that I picked up this Impreza EyeSight demo toy in Japan, however, indicates that this system is more widely availablle in Japan. We may yet see it on more US models in the coming years, up to and including a Subaru Impreza like ours, which looks suspiciously similar to the car depicted on the box the toy came in. Time will tell.

But what is EyeSight? It's a collision avoidance system based around stereo cameras mounted inside on either side of the center rear view mirror. These cameras measure following distance in adaptive cruise mode and they keep track of lane markings in order to issue lane departure warnings. Should you mistakenly shift into drive when backing out of your garage, the system will reportedly intervene to prevent you from driving through your garage wall.

They're also programmed to trigger the brakes and stop the car from rear-ending the vehicle ahead if you space out at the critical moment in low speed stop and go situations. I didn't get to try the system in real life, but here's what the toy does.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: All We Need Now Is Gear

September 24, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

The Impreza Sport hatchback comes standard with roof rails. And as you can see, they're the real deal, with solid construction and a raised profile for clearance. It certainly seems fitting to have them on this Subie. But they're pretty prominent looking, almost to the point where our Impreza seems less than whole if it doesn't have recreational gear secured to its roof.

Naturally, Subaru offers all the accessories to make this happen, including the cross rails, bike adapters, kayak adapters and even a cargo carrier. Maybe we should make Mike Monticello's mountain bike a permanent fixture.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,276 miles

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Still Waiting For The New WRX

September 21, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

I happened to notice that Subaru has priced its 2013 WRX. It's a carryover model, meaning it's still based on the third-generation Impreza. Not that there's anything wrong with it. It's still a very capable and desirable car. The Evo's unchanged as well. But for the previous two new Imprezas, Subaru released the WRX at the same time as the new Impreza.

I'm still anxiously waiting to see what Subaru can do to mod its latest, fourth-gen Impreza. What do you think? Bummed about the wait, or no big deal?

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Road Trip to the Biggest Little City

September 4, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

A milestone birthday in the family called for a road trip north to Reno. Anyone who's driven up U.S. 395 from southern California knows the parking lot shown above: Erick Schat's Bakkery in Bishop -- maybe the most decadent Dutch carb-fest in the Western states. Cookies, donuts, pastries, candies, biscotti, and more than a dozen different breads, with not a low-fat, gluten-free, soy milk ingredient in sight (I made up the gluten-free part; I think Schat's is hip to that particular digestive sensitivity, but it just read better to disclaim it). They also serve a righteous BBQ turkey sandwich.

A 1000-mile round-trip on mostly highway road, but with slopes, grades, elevation changes and frantic bursts of passing, would be a good test of the Impreza's fuel economy claims.

Schat's is about six hours from Orange County. Reno and Lake Tahoe are still another three hours north. Once you've made it this far, you should know if you're gonna like a car for the duration. The Impreza didn't surprise. It was as comfortable and competent as we've come to know it from long highway commutes. After six hours in the saddle, no complaints with the seats.

The CVT is this Impreza's single biggest weakness, although that's largely a personal complaint. Your tolerance may vary. Only once, while trying to pass a small train of slower traffic on a long uphill, did the CVT and Impreza's modest horsepower reach its limits. Foot to the floor, in the lowest simulated gear the CVT would allow and the engine shouting itself hoarse, I couldn't manage a full pass and had to tuck in behind the lead car as the lane ran out. I was THAT guy, and a little embarrassed.

But that was the car's biggest failing. For nearly the entire drive, the CVT worked well enough. Passing on flatter terrain develops more buzz from the engine bay than you'd like, but you shrug and remind yourself that it's a four-cylinder. The paddle shifters also allow for stealthy moments of engine braking, good for when approaching small towns and the speed limit drops from 65 mph to 25 mph in the space of a quarter-mile.

Nothing subtle about these speed traps, but the paddles help you slow up gradually and avoid the tell-tale nosedive braking that draws the attention of the highway patrolman and local sheriff parked behind a stand of cypress trees.

But the true test of the CVT's competence is how much fuel it saves us. The EPA rates our Impreza at 36 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. Results in a future post.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Does Little Things Right

August 29, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

The Impreza reminds me a little of our former TSX wagon. The TSX didn't particularly excel at anything, but instead did alot of little things right. The Impreza is much the same. It's not a car you lust after, yet I find myself reaching for the keys anytime I have some errands on the list, anytime I know I'll be lurching through the stoplights in town.

The seats are comfortable, you can see around you, and the car is light on its feet, which somehow makes doing stuff seem a little more efficient. It's also compact enough to negotiate small parking lots and tight turns. The Impreza is just easy.

I've even made peace with the CVT and adapted to its nuances. It helps the Impreza leap out from a standstill with some authority, but you still have to grab a downshift paddle before it descends the ladder into a midrange bog. Alternately, sometimes you'll need to upshift before it strangles itself with revs. Just seems to depend on how it interprets your pedal pressure. Without paddles, the Impreza might be a deal breaker for me.

I'll soon find out how much I like the Impreza when I take it round-trip to Reno, where I plan to shoot a man just to watch him die. Nothing like a good highway run to expose a car's character. But first, we have to see how it does as airport shuttle. That's next.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: The Road from Cars Land

August 09, 2012

Impreza at Don Motel.jpg

As Mark noted, we had a fun assignment Wednesday: In-depth reporting on Cars Land from our perspective as the Car People. For the drive home, I skipped the freeways and took the Impreza along Katella Avenue -- a 13-mile trip from Anaheim to Long Beach.

I grew up in Southern California and we went to Disneyland at least a couple times a year for most of my childhood. We always took Katella, a straight-as-an-arrow street that's known as Willow Street in Long Beach and runs through five Orange County towns before it deposits you at Harbor Boulevard and the Disney properties. In those days, you saw burgeoning suburban developments and plenty of orange groves on the way to the Magic Kingdom.

The orange groves, of course, are long gone. Instead, there are minimalls, maxi-malls and corporate office parks. In the city of Cypress, Katella Avenue is home to both Mitsubishi Motors North America and Yamaha Motor Corporation USA.

Orange County was a white-bread kind of place when I was a kid. There is a wider array of cultural influences along the street now.  If you get tired of all-American Wienerschnitzel dogs and Pittsburgh Broasted Chicken, you can have falafel at Ararat Armenian restaurant and pupusas at El Carbonero No. 2.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: A Shifty Suggestion

August 09, 2012

downshift indicator.jpg

I like to control my own gear fate in the Impreza, so unless I’m cruising at highway speeds, I almost always flip it into manual mode. Like many cars that encourage drivers to maximize good fuel economy, the Impreza has upshift and downshift indicator lights in manual mode. 

The Impreza’s indicator array has one other position, however: The upshift and downshift arrows sometimes display simultaneously. The owner’s manual reveals why.

The arrows are not dictates – they simply outline your options. “When the upshift indicator illuminates, upshifting is possible (emphasis mine). When the downshift indicator illuminates, downshifting is possible. When both indicators illuminate, upshifting and downshifting are possible.” And if the shift indicators are still too much of an annoyance, you can deactivate them.

What's your position on shift indicators -- helpful hint or pesky intrusion?

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @ 4,358 miles

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2012 Subaru Impreza: It's a Hit

August 01, 2012


Sales of the all-new Impreza more than doubled over last July with 4,553 units sold in July 2012. Year-to-date sales of the Impreza are at 44,411 units compared to 17,099 for the first half of 2011.

Subaru reported a 16 percent increase in sales overall for the month of July over 2011.

Are you surprised by these numbers? Anyone planning to buy a new Impreza?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Know Your PZEVs and SULEVs

July 02, 2012

more impreza green1.jpg

In a comment to my earlier post on our Subaru Impreza, stovt001 wondered if the majority of mainstream cars are rated as Partial Zero Emission Vehicles, or PZEVs, in the parlance of the California Air Resources Board.

Good question. I did a little digging into the state's DriveClean Web site, and the answer is no: Most cars are not PZEVs. Here's a link to the 2012 PZEVs. There's plenty of them, but the list doesn't reflect the majority of mainstream cars.

To get the PZEV designation, a car has to rate a 9 on the state's smog score. In addition to our Impreza, our Mazda 3 also qualifies as a PZEV. Our Prius C, however, falls into another category: It's a "Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle" with an emissions rating within California's LEV 1 and LEV 2 exhaust emission standards.

Here's a glossary of California clean-car terms, just in case you haven't had enough on the subject.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: The PZEV Thingamajig

July 02, 2012

pzev impreza.jpg

Our 2012 Subaru Impreza wears its green credentials proudly on the back windshield. It is a "partial zero emission vehicle"-- a PZEV. That designation won't get it a carpool sticker, but it does mean that it is an "extremely clean conventional vehicle" with zero evaporative emissions and a 150,000-mile extended warranty for the emissions system.

PZEV is a category under the Zero Emission Vehicle requirement, an air-quality law developed by the California Air Resources Board and first adopted in 1990. The board says that the law is "an important regulation for meeting California's air quality and greenhouse gas reduction goals."

How good a job does a PZEV car do at reducing air pollution? As Edmunds green-car expert John O'Dell put it in a 2007 article, "They are so good at scrubbing emissions that the exhaust coming from their tailpipes is cleaner than the air sucked through their air filters in places -- such as Southern California freeways -- with particularly nasty pollution."

Because California is a huge car market and the 800-pound gorilla in the world of air-quality and greenhouse gas regulation, its law actually influences what cars automaker build, and where they're sold. O'Dell's recent story, Will California's Zero-Emissions Mandate Alter the Car Landscape? spells it out in detail.

As I was researching some details of PZEV, I came across this definition for the term at the California Air Resource Board's Web site:

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Gratuitous Puppy Photographs

June 11, 2012


Meet Paris, a black lab puppy. She's going home with us in the 2012 Subaru Impreza. But she's not ours -- we're just puppy-sitting for the weekend. 

My daughters have started volunteering for Guide Dogs for the Blind, you see. They want to be puppy raisers, the ones that raise the dogs from about 8 weeks to about 16 months and give them their basic training. After that the prepped pups go back to HQ in San Rafael, California to learn how to do the specific guide dog stuff.

Five puppy-sitting assignments are required before we can sign up for our own dog, but only if we and the powers-that-be decide that our family is cut out for this. For the girls, Paris is puppy-sitting assignment number five. The next puppy we bring home will very well be our own -- for the next 14 months, at least.   

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Engage!

May 16, 2012

 1000 miles Subaru Break In.jpg

That's it, we've cleared the 1,000-mile break-in period. Engage!

I'm going to drive into work today at 6,000 rpm just for the hell of it.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 1,000 miles

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2012 Subaru Impreza: It's Not Pretty Under the Hood

May 15, 2012


And I'm not talking about the technology, horsepower or efficiency. All of those elements are quite good actually. As you can see, I'm speaking literally here. This is one ugly engine bay. It looks like a scorpion devouring lunch, not an engine. Boxer engines have never been much for looks, at least the production versions anyway.

As far as its performance goes, it's pretty solid so far. Not overwhelming in any one category or another, just adequate across the board which is pretty much what I tend to expect from entry-level four-cylinder engines. We'll see how it feels once it's broken in a little more.

Ed Hellwig, Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Likes and Dislikes

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
Weak air-conditioner
Almost imperceptible seat heaters

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 919 miles

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2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited: New vs. Old

May 07, 2012


During my first night in our 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited hatchback, a previous-generation Impreza pulled up behind me at a gas station. Not only was it also a hatch, but it was even a naturally-aspirated car. (Anecdotally, I feel like I see more WRXs, than n.a. 2.5i cars in Southern California.)

The driver of the maroon car took no notice of me or the new Impreza, but of course I looked at his car and discreetly took a photo of it. I prefer the understated fender detailing (or rather, lack of detailing) on the older car -- the exaggerated flares on our car seem like unnecessary flourishes on a non-turbo Impreza.

Yet, I do like the front end of our car better. The shape of its headlights and more pronounced contours on its hood are a lot more inspired. So, solely in the exterior design department, what's your pick -- new Impreza or old (2008-2011)?

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 602 miles

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Past Long-Term Road Tests