Used Car Review

2012 Subaru Impreza: Used Car Review

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author photo by Joe Tralongo February 2016

When one tallies up all the advantages found in the 2012 Subaru Impreza, it begs the question: "Why isn't every compact car built like this one?" The Impreza's roomy interior and choice of hatchback or sedan body styles make it very versatile, as do the numerous Subaru accessories accommodating everything from cargo to sports equipment. Despite its standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) design, the Impreza doesn't cost much more than its compact rivals, and its fuel economy figures are among the best in class. Sure, the Impreza isn't as stylish as the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra, nor is it as fun to drive as a Mazda3 or VW Golf, but if you're looking for more power and better handling, you can always step up to a WRX.

From its strong resale and reliability ratings to its excellent crash-test scores, the Impreza sedan and 5-door hatchback may seem hard to fault, but there are a few shortcomings worth mentioning. Subaru's audio systems are fairly antiquated, and the optional navigation system is downright primitive. The Impreza also lacks upscale options such as a power driver's seat, rain-sensing wipers or premium audio.

What We Like

Roomy interior; standard AWD; excellent fuel economy; strong resale; good safety ratings

What We Don't

Not much power under the hood; crude manual transmission; poor audio and navigation choices; hard plastics degrade an otherwise nice interior

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2012 Impreza offers a single engine choice, that being a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder good for 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. The Impreza offers a choice between a 5-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy figures with the manual transmission are 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, and the CVT automatic earns a slightly better 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Impreza is offered in two body styles -- sedan and 5-door hatchback -- and five possible trims. The sedan offers 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited trims, while the hatchback extends the range with 2.0i Sport Premium and 2.0i Sport Limited.

The base 2.0i comes with 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, variable wipers, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, a 5-speed manual transmission, AWD, auto-off headlights, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 65/35-split folding rear seat, a trip computer, cargo tie-downs (hatchback), 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a rear-window defroster and carpeted floor mats. The 5-door adds a rear wiper/washer and a rear roof spoiler. Standard safety features include electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, front-seat side airbags, and front and rear side-curtain airbags. A CVT automatic transmission is the only option.

The 2.0i Premium adds 16-in alloy wheels, a sliding front-center armrest, cruise control, Bluetooth, a rear stabilizer bar, two additional speakers for the audio system, a USB/iPod port and fog lights.

The 2.0i Limited adds the CVT automatic transmission, leather seating surfaces, 17-in alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic headlights, automatic climate control, a rear-seat armrest, the All-Weather package and HD Radio with a 4.3-in display.

The 2.0i Sport Premium adds unique 17-in alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, roof rails, unique seat fabric, fog lights and the All-Weather package.

The 2.0i Sport Limited combines the Limited sedan features with all the Sport Premium content.

Options for the Premium trims include the CVT automatic and the All-Weather package, which adds heated front seats, heated side mirrors and heated windshield-wiper de-icing. A power moonroof and navigation radio are also available.

Options for the Limited trims include a power moonroof and navigation radio.


The 2012 Impreza holds excellent 5-year residual and resale values, so finding a late-model car with low mileage at a good price might require a bit of shopping on your part. If you don't need AWD, you may find a comparably equipped Mazda3, Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra for less money. To get a good idea of the 2012 Impreza's price range, we suggest checking the used-car values at You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2012 Subaru Impreza:

A recall was issued for a possible situation in which the Occupant Detection System (ODS) may deactivate itself if the front-seat passenger is operating a device plugged into the 12-volt outlet or touches a metal part, such as the seat frame adjuster. Deactivating the ODS system can cause the front airbag to shut off.

A recall was issued for cars equipped with the CVT automatic transmission and Audiovox remote starting. If the fob is dropped, it could malfunction and cause the vehicle to start and idle for up to 15 minutes.

A recall was issued for a possible malfunctioning brake master cylinder that could cause an increase in the amount of brake-pedal pressure required to slow or stop the vehicle.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you. You can also check the NHTSA website; simply enter your vehicle's identification number for a list of performed recall repairs.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA gave the 2012 Impreza four out of five stars overall, with five stars in the rollover crash test and four in the front- and side-impact tests. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2012 Impreza its highest rating of Good in all tests performed and rated it a Top Safety Pick.

All Subaru Impreza models left the factory with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. If you purchase your Impreza through Subaru's certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle program, the powertrain warranty period is extended to 7 years/100,000 miles, and owners have the option to buy plans that will cover electrical issues, steering, suspension, brakes, air conditioning and the fuel system.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Mazda3 -- The Mazda3 offers the same room and good fuel economy but in a more attractive package with a better interior and audio options, plus superior ride and handling.

2012 Hyundai Elantra -- The Elantra offers a bigger rear seat than the Impreza, more features and better styling. It also has a longer basic warranty, which can be extended further if you buy a CPO vehicle.

2012 Ford Focus -- The Focus offers more trim-level options and better fuel economy. It's roomy, sporty and can be loaded with such premium features as Sony audio, parallel-park assist and a much better navigation system.

Autotrader's Advice

We think the 2.0i Premium with the All-Weather package is the best buy. Body styles are a toss-up: The 5-door is more versatile, while the sedan offers a more secure trunk to protect valuables. If you want navigation, our suggestion is to save your money and put in a good aftermarket unit; you'll lose the factory microphone (it's only compatible with Subaru radios), but you can keep the steering-wheel controls.

Find a Subaru Impreza for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Subaru Impreza: Used Car Review - Autotrader