2012 Subaru Impreza Long-Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2012 Subaru Impreza Long-Term Road Test

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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: Tag, You're It

March 18, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

I had a vague idea of what this button does before I researched it a little bit. The HD button seemed to enable or disable the HD radio signal search, but I've found this feature, when enabled, maddening. Hi-def radio is great in concept, but lousy when the signal wavers between big, bright and clean, and then standard FM fuzziness.

I also knew the TAG part of the button involved iTunes tagging, a way to tell Apple that you really liked a song you heard and might want to buy it. I tried tapping this button a handful of times, but apparently you need your device attached, and the iOS or iPod software has to be fairly recent. I'm out on both counts.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: One Tin Radio

February 8, 2013

2012 Subaru Impreza

No matter how I adjust the audio settings in our 2012 Subaru Impreza, it still sounds oddly tinny to me. It's like the music is coming from underneath a cheap metal bowl.

I don't profess to be a stereo expert, but I feel the same way every time I drive the Impreza. After fooling around with it, I usually just turn the volume down to zero. I'd rather hear silence than feel even slightly annoyed.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 14,270 miles

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2012 Subaru Impreza: TPMS Warning

December 07, 2012


This little gem showed up in the Impreza's instrument cluster Monday afternoon on my way home from a media event across the L.A. basin. Normally when these things happen it's because of a combination of factors. And nine out ten times than combination is apathy in checking tire pressures combined with a little cool weather.

But this was occuring during the warmest part of the day and it wasn't that cool -- about 65 degrees.

I put gauge to tire when I got home and discovered all four tires were about 5 psi low. A quick hit with the compressor cured that and the light went away the next time I drove the car.

Must have been right on the threshold.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor 

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Radio On The Radio

December 04, 2012


Why is there a radio on the Impreza's radio?

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor 

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Display Done Right

November 23, 2012

impreza multi-display.jpg

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

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Manual Mode Override

November 05, 2012


Here's a nice feature of the Subaru's CVT that I've found myself using frequently in the last few weeks. Its paddle shifters have veto power over the tranny when you need it most.

Sort of... 

Grabbing the downshift paddle while in Drive (assuming you're at an appropriate vehicle speed) gives you a simulated shift which, if nothing else, is more satisfying than slamming your foot down and waiting. It feels a little quicker than waiting for the CVT to think when you need speed immediately.

Certainly you're still at the mercy of the ever-slipping transmission, but I'd wager that grabbing the paddle gets you down the road a little sooner. Anyway, leaving it in Drive means the engine returns to a normal speed fairly quickly (usually a matter of seconds) without any stick shaking or paddle tapping. Accompany all of this, of course, is the gear display showing a swap into whatever simulated gear the tranny selected and then a corresponing swap back to "D."

It beats slipping the stick into "M" if all you're doing is dispatching a freeway doddler.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Knobs, Knobs Everywhere

October 29, 2012


There are five knobs on the Impreza's center stack. Five. That's at least four more than most cars these days. They make audio and HVAC adjustments quick and easy. No menu hunting, no repetative button punching.

Thanks, Subaru.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor 

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Bluetooth Blues

October 25, 2012


Because I made the mistake of not limiting my mom's access to my Facebook page she worries about me A LOT. And inevitably after a status update I get emails from my dad and sister, "Call Mom. She can't sleep because of your Facebook." But she's a worrywort, worrying over innocuous stuff like a picture of my dog swimming in a pool. So I wanted to take advantage of that two-hour drive back to L.A. from the Willow Springs driving school to call her and assure her that all is right in my world (and my dog's). Unfortunately, my phone just couldn't connect to our 2012 Subaru Impreza, which I was driving home.

Before I hit the road, I tried to set up the Bluetooth connection. I turned on the Bluetooth on my phone, making it discoverable, and set the BT on the Impreza to search for it. My phone found the Subie and the Subie gave a passcode but that was as far as it got. The prompt to type in the passcode never popped up on my phone and I got the "Failed" message on the car's screen after she kept searching for it. However my phone did indicate it was connected. But when I tried to make the call, it didn't sound through the car's speakers.

Now I know what you're all going to say, troubleshoot by RTFM. But why should I when I've been able to connect my phone so easily to other cars in the past? Maybe it was just a glitch? I dunno. But I did find a video of how to pair an iPhone to a 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI which is pretty much what I did with our car. Only difference is that I have a Samsung Galaxy SIII. Hit the jump for the video.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Love Me Two or Three Times

October 15, 2012

Impreza_iPhone connect.jpg

One of the Impreza's annoying habits: Usually without fail, the first time I plug in my iPhone via USB, the system won't recognize it. The screen tells me to Check Device. So I disconnect, wait a couple seconds, connect it again. Many times it'll pick up the USB connection on the second try. Sometimes it requires a third. I've also noticed that if you shut off the ignition and leave the phone connected, the system will start to recognize it on the next start-up -- only to freeze up about two seconds into whatever track was queued up earlier.

I put some of this down to simply owning an old phone, an iPhone 3G purchased late in 2008. This phone just will not die. Connection through Bluetooth is fine, incidentally. But always prefer to cable it up when possible to access folders and playlists through the interface.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Seriously?

July 16, 2012

It cant be operated.jpg

...and then it puts the lotion into the basket.

I hopped into our long term 2012 Subaru Impreza on Friday and, while still in the garage, started to adjust the stereo. We've got some editors on staff who hate midrange and being able to hear their music so it's not uncommon to get into a car with the fader set all the way back and the midrange at -904932840923. Along with adjusting the mirrors, I zero out the audio controls as soon as I hop into a new car. It's my routine.

Unfortunately, the Subaru doesn't agree with my routine and doesn't want me to adjust the fader, treble, bass or midrange while the vehicle is in motion. Volume? Sure. Bass? NO! That would be, I guess, too distracting.

So what can you do while the vehicle is in motion? Well, you can change the radio station, sort through your iPod, pick a playlist and I'm sure more things that are pretty much the same as adjusting the stereo controls.

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2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited: Stereo Thoughts

July 11, 2012

Impreza stereo.jpg

I don't like that to change to the next track via Bluetooth audio with my iPhone or with a CD (that's right, I said CD--I still listen to them sometimes, particularly books-on-CD) this Impreza head unit requires turning the same knob you use for changing radio stations. I much prefer a button for track changes, not a knob. 

Why? Because it's too easy to skip forward a couple of tracks instead of just one with a knob. The knob makes sense for tuning the radio because you're probably going more than one click forward or backward to get to whatever station you're looking for.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 3,250 miles.

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2012 Subaru Impreza: Better HD Radio

June 12, 2012

Good HD.jpg

The Impreza's Mary Poppins audio system wouldn't let Takahashi adjust bass and treble while he was in motion, but it will let you explore HD Radio options. There are a couple public radio stations in SoCal that use their HD2 and HD3 bands to broadcast interesting programming that's different from what they serve up on their main channels.

The problem I've had in my own car is that HD signal is frustrantingly intermittent: One minute I'm tuned into La Matinal from Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and the next, I'm listening to dead air. It can take minutes for the signal to restore itself.

But last night and this morning, the HD Radio signal in the Subaru brought in BBC Mundo loud and clear. It never cut out and it wasn't tinny or hollow-sounding.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @2,218 miles

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2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited: A Head Unit I Can Live With

May 29, 2012


It was with great pleasure I found this head unit in our new long-term Subaru Impreza. While it might look like a no-frills audio interface, it's a huge improvement over our previous Subaru touch-screen unit with navigation. Thanks to Mark's audio level adjustment prior to take-off, I never experienced the frustration he did. I was just happy to be able to adjust volume and tuning with knobs and select presets with real buttons. Bonus for a highly legible display showing my available HD channels, my Bluetooth readiness, phone charge and reception, and all the info I could ever need from the RDS. By the way, when was the last time a radio ever looked like the transistor radio icon Subaru rendered?

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2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited: Eclipsed City MPG?

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

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