$7,906 - $10,953

2012 Subaru Impreza Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Subaru Impreza was new.


Performance: 8.4

While reviewers think the 2012 Subaru Impreza needs more power to keep up with the speedy Mazda3, they’re impressed with the Impreza’s significant gains in fuel economy.

  • "The base Impreza 2.0i with a five-speed goes for $18,245, making it one of the nicest all-wheel-drive cars for under 20 grand, as well as one of the only all-wheel-drive cars for under 20 grand." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Yes, we'd like some more power down low, and we're not in love with the CVT, but in terms of suspension refinement, the Subaru is top notch." -- Autoblog
  • "I believe the greatest obstacle facing Impreza shoppers is the car's power. The new, smaller engine is less powerful than the previous generation's power plant." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

All Impreza models come with standard all-wheel drive and a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower. This engine is underpowered compared with top performers in the class, and that’s one of the first things test drivers noticed. Although the 2012 Impreza is slower, they don’t think it makes the Impreza boring to drive.

Paired with the 2.0-liter engine is a standard five-speed manual transmission, but reviewers haven’t tested this transmission yet, and predict that it will be faster and more engaging than the optional Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) they tested. The CVT comes with paddle shifters.

While most test drivers wish the Impreza had more power, they do cut it some slack because fuel economy has increased significantly compared with the 2011 model. With the CVT, the Impreza sedan averages 27/36 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA, and gets a lower 25/34 mpg with the standard manual transmission. Hatchback models get the same ratings with the CVT, but with a manual transmission, they average a slightly lower 25/33 mpg.

  • "The new 2.0-liter is smoother than growly old 2.5-liter. … Normally CVTs cause me to make a face like someone who smelled a fart, but this one features shift paddles on the steering wheel that allow you to hold one of six preset ratios if, say, you're terrorizing an on-ramp in rural Connecticut." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "With the CVT, Impreza feels eager from a stop, especially around town. Highway merging is a bit more leisurely, but no more so than in most other compacts." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Its new four-cylinder engine returns excellent fuel economy for a car with all-wheel drive, but acceleration is a bit off the pace." -- Edmunds
  • "No, the Impreza isn't a slug off the line, but there were times on uphill climbs where we really would have appreciated some extra grunt down low." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

Though they say that the Subaru Impreza can’t match the sportier Mazda3, reviewers are very impressed with the Impreza’s handling, and credit its outstanding cornering abilities to its standard all-wheel drive. A few test drivers report that the Impreza has some body roll, but most say it is firmly planted, and offers a comfortable, smooth ride. Paired with solid brakes, reviewers say the Impreza is very capable of tackling winter weather.

  • "With all-wheel-drive, the boxer engine's low center of gravity and double wishbones out back -- what we around here refer to as ‘classy rear suspension’ -- the base Impreza is a lot of fun in the corners. Which makes sense, since it's basically a WRX without the power." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Ride quality is surprisingly supple over most road imperfections, a pleasant surprise given Impreza's sporty intentions. ... Braking control is fine with an easy-to-modulate pedal." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The addition of a rebound spring inside the front MacPherson struts minimizes body roll in corners and the inch-longer wheelbase helps contribute to a more compliant ride." -- Road and Track
  • "Even without the opportunity to slide about, the nose felt heavy, and the body roll made me feel like I was pushing a car to do something for which it wasn't intended." -- Cars.com

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