Like all Subarus, the Impreza comes with standard all-wheel drive. This used to be a penalty when it came to fuel economy ratings, but the 2012 Impreza has a new 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that’s rated at 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway when equipped with the continuously variable automatic transmission. The WRX and STI models continue to use turbocharged 2.5-liter engines that aren’t terribly efficient, but they more than make up for that with their exhilarating performance. Electric power steering is now standard on all Imprezas but the WRX and the STI. Thanks to a redesign, the Impreza is more stylish than the previous model, but we still prefer the aggressive look of an STI over that of the base car any day. The redesigned Impreza has all the typical safety appointments, better fuel economy, and a more luxurious interior, and yet Subaru has still managed to hold the line on pricing. The Impreza remains one of the best bargains on the market, but it doesn’t come across as a cheap car when you look at it or drive it. Increases in trunk capacity and rear-seat legroom are sure to please shoppers who found the old Impreza a bit cramped.

Drive: 4-wheel

Trim levels: 2.0i, 2.0i Premium, 2.0i Limited, 2.0i Sport Premium, 2.0i Sport Limited, WRX, WRX Premium, WRX Limited, WRX STI, WRX STI Limited

Body styles: Sedan, hatchback, 5-passenger

Engines: 2.0L flat-4, 148 hp, 145 lb-ft
2.5L turbo flat-4, 265/305 hp, 244/290 lb-ft

Transmissions: 5- or 6-speed manual, continuously variable

Passenger volume: N/A

Cargo space: N/A

Subaru has significantly upgraded the Impreza for the 2012 model year, but the WRX and the STI soldier on with the old platform and minor changes. The biggest news for the regular Impreza is a new 2.0-liter flat-four that gets up to 36 mpg. An upgraded standard audio system features Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, the Radio Data Broadcast System, and iPod control capability.

Front, side, driver’s knee, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; ABS; electronic brake-force distribution; brake assist; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.

All: 17-27 mpg city/23-36 mpg highway

  • Fun to drive
  • Improved fuel economy
  • Upgraded interior
  • STI and WRX are unchanged
  • Nonturbo cars are kind of vanilla

A much-improved entry-level Subaru.

  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Ford Focus
  • Honda Civic
  • Mazda 3

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