First Look: 2012 Subaru Impreza

Cargo volume is also increased, especially on wagon models, which now offers 49.7 cubic feet of space once the rear seatbacks are folded. Better yet, thanks to the use of a smaller fuel tank and the relocation of the charcoal canister, the intrusive hump over the rear axle is a thing of the past.

Downsized Engine, Increased Fuel Economy
A smaller fuel tank may suggest a sacrifice in cruising range, but the 2012 Impreza counters that sacrifice with a significant boost in fuel economy. While a number of tricks, including careful aerodynamic sculpting and the adoption of electric power steering, certainly help, the biggest aid in increasing the Impreza's mileage lies with an all-new engine.

2012 Impreza models are fitted with a new 2.0-liter boxer-four-cylinder, which is similar to the FB-series 2.5-liter flat-four launched in the 2011 Forester. The new engine isn't a wild departure from the EJ-series 2.5-liter engine used in the outgoing Impreza, but it does eschew single overhead cams for a DOHC configuration, adopt variable timing for both intake and exhaust valves, and use a smaller bore size to help improve efficiency.

As it stands, the new 2.0-liter is rated at 147 horsepower at 6200 rpm, and 145 pound-feet of torque at 4200 rpm. That's down from the 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet offered by last year's 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Subaru counters that the 110-pound reduction in weight may not affect performance, but many consumers will likely find the improvement in fuel economy alone worth the sacrifice in both displacement and output.

Finalized EPA figures are still weeks away, but Subaru estimates that, when coupled with a new continuously variable transmission, the Impreza will be rated at 27/36 mpg (city/highway). Stick with the five-speed manual on lower trim levels, and those figures come in at 25/34 mpg, respectively. Those are impressive gains, considering 2011 Imprezas fitted with the four-speed automatic earned a 20/26-mpg rating from the EPA.

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