2012 Subaru Impreza: fuel-efficient compact with all-wheel drive

Redesigned for 2012, the Impreza was marketed as an upscale small car with the accent on all-weather handling. No other small all-wheel driver can compete with Impreza's combination of style, interior space, ride quality and fuel economy.
2012 Subaru Impreza 2012 Subaru Impreza.
The Impreza beats any other 2012 cars with all-wheel drive in fuel economy. The 2012 automatic AWD Impreza is rated at 27/35 mpg or 30 mpg combined. The manual transmission makes the Impreza a bit thirstier: 24/33 mpg. If you are planning to take the 2012 Impreza automatic on a long trip, you can expect to travel up to 435 miles or 700 kilometers before you will need to fill it up. In the quest to improve fuel economy, many car manufacturers opt for direct fuel injection in their engines. The 2012 Impreza manages to achieve good fuel economy with a conventional port fuel injection, which is simpler and less likely to have problems.

The North American 2012 Impreza is powered by a dual-cam 148-hp 2.0-liter FB20 boxer engine mated to a manual or a continuously variable transmission or CVT. See the photo of Subaru CVT. In a boxer engine, two pairs of cylinders positioned horizontally opposed to each other. The FB20 engine has a timing chain instead of a timing belt, which means that owners will have to spend less on maintenance. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard on all models.

The 2012 Impreza received a longer wheelbase compared to the previous generation, which resulted in more interior space.
2012 Subaru Impreza interior 2012 Subaru Impreza interior.
The rear head- and legroom is generous for its class; two adults can ride in the back of the Impreza with comfort. The rear 65/35 split seatbacks fold down, offering 52.4 cu. ft. of cargo space. The visibility is great and the long telescoping adjustment helps finding the right spot for the steering. High-quality interior materials are complemented by a nice finish. The sporty steering wheel is easy to grip. The center information display can be flipped through various screens from the steering wheel control buttons.
Impreza Engine
Subaru Impreza cargo area
Subaru Impreza cabin
Subaru Impreza cabin
Impreza's handling can be best described by the term "balanced." The suspension smooths out road imperfections well, yet the car feels sporty and responsive driving on a highway or on winding roads. The 2.0L engine is not super quick, but provides enough punch when passing on the highway.

How is the 2012 Impreza rated elsewhere? We looked at the ratings initially and later updated them in January of 2020: Consumer Reports marked the 2012 Impreza as "below average" for reliability, giving it low marks for the engine, but praising its ride, nimble handling and roomy interior. Owner reviews at Edmunds.com are also mixed: many owners complement visibility, interior ergonomics, cargo space and gas mileage, but mention that the engine burns oil. NHTSA awarded the 2012 Impreza with a 4-star overall rating for crashworthiness, listing 6 safety recalls.

We spoke to one of our friends who leased the Impreza for four years. He said he had zero problems outside of regular maintenance, although closer to the four year mark he noticed that the oil level started going down between oil changes. Still, he was happy with the vehicle and leased another Subaru, this time the Subaru XV, which is the same vehicle, but with a raised suspension.

For used car buyers, the engine and transmission are the primary areas of concern. This means that if you want to buy a used Subaru Impreza, look into getting a powertrain warranty from a reliable provider. If you are buying from a Subaru dealer, check the service records to know about repairs that had been done, as well as oil change records. The key to maintenance is keeping the oil level and other fluids topped up.