I have some experience driving in snow but when I found myself on a 13-hour road trip in the direct path of one of the biggest winter storms of the season, I started to worry just a little. I suspected this might happen, and that's why I opted to take the all-wheel drive 2012 Subaru Impreza on the trip. I was confident in the Subaru's ability to handle winter weather. By the time I made my way through all the roads had been plowed and salted so little was left. However, there was still some ice on the roads and a little slush at gas stations.
But it's not just the Impreza's all-wheel drive that comes in handy for a long Winter road trip, the optional all-weather rubber floor mats do a great job of handling rain, slush and dirt. This is especially handy when you have light colored carpet like in our Long Term Subaru.
My trip took me from Atlanta to Philadelphia, a trip that helped me get to know the Impreza's driver's seat pretty well. Both front seats are spacious and comfortable. They also fully reclined which was conducive to the quick naps I took so I could stay alert on the long trip. While I like the Impreza's seats, the USB iPod hookup isn't amazing. It took a while to just figure out how to shuffle my whole library instead of going A-Z. The confusing button labels weren't a welcome distraction on the winter roads. I didn't try to tackle the Bluetooth considering how much difficulty I had with the USB setup. During my weekend stay in Pennsylvania, each time I turned the car on the symbol that indicates the engine is cold came on. Strangely enough, an explanation for it is not located in the "symbols" section of the manual. Either way, the blue temperature light just means the engine is not warming up properly. The owner's manual doesn't give further instructions. I just drove gently until the light went out.
On the other hand, the seat warmers were a lifesaver in the below freezing Philadelphia weather and heated up immediately. Other driver's have praised the heated cloth seats, and I can see why.
I never use the trunk of my Corolla sedan but I became a huge fan of the hatchback/wagon layout of the Impreza - I fit everything I needed to bring and could still pull the cargo cover closed, hiding my belongings from would be prying eyes.
The sunroof was too noisy for my taste when opened but tilting it provided the perfect amount of air circulation without drowning out the radio. The Impreza isn't a luxury car but features like a cargo cover, heated seats and a sunroof seem to add real value to this $24,000 all-wheel drive wagon.
I currently drive a 2006 Corolla and that car feels more powerful than the Subaru. It seemed like I was forcing it to rev sometimes but it could have been due to the cold weather or the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
I also like the size of the Impreza and the wagon setup makes it feel like a mini SUV. Consider the Subaru Impreza if you're on a budget and are shopping for a compact SUV.