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2012 Subaru Impreza Preview

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Subaru's made major inroads into new garages with vehicles like the latest Legacy, but can the new Impreza duplicate the same feat--even if it's up against the new 2012 Ford Focus and the 2011 Hyundai Elantra?
Subaru thinks so, and it thinks its new four-door sedan and five-door hatchback will do so with a generous helping of its usual hallmarks, with a pinch of high fuel economy as a finishing touch.
The new Impreza arrives later this year with some significant new bodywork, which even execs admit is a big step up from the prior version. There's some of the same trapezoidal love going on at the front end as you'll find on the Focus and even more so, on the 2013 Ford Taurus shown off at the other end of New York's Javits Center. The five-door also does a keen take on the shape that's made the Renault Scenic a perennial in Europe. Finally, Subaru's reps say, they don't have to hide behind their styling.
The traditional appeal to Subaru faithful lies under the creased new hood. A new horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine displaces 2.0 liters and delivers 148 horsepower. A five-speed manual or a CVT will be offered, while all-wheel drive will be standard, as it is on all Subarus. The CVT in higher-grade cars gets pre-programmed "gears" with paddle shifters, for a little more feeling of direct control--a principle that also works well in Nissan's Rogue, for example.

 

Electric power steering should make the Impreza feel more responsive, along with a reconfigured, all-independent suspension that shares some pieces with the bigger Legacy sedan and wagon.

The power steering also does its part to push the Impreza closer to the loftier fuel-economy numbers of the Elantra, Focus and Chevy Cruze. Subaru touts a 27/36-mpg estimated EPA rating, which it predicts will be the best figures delivered by any all-wheel-drive vehicle sold today, while also marking a 30-percent improvement over today's car, which checks in at 20/27 mpg with the larger 2.5-liter flat four and a five-speed manual.

The new Impreza's wheelbase is almost an inch longer, while the overall length is the same. More space inside the cabin comes from trimmed-down door panels, but no real gains in overall width. Subaru says in front, a steeper windshield and bigger doors help entry and exit; the added length gives rear-seat passengers a couple inches more knee room, and helps the five-door get a flat load floor.
The Impreza's also gunning for top safety ratings. A driver knee airbag is new on the safety front; stability control is standard.

Base, Premium, Sport Premium, Limited and Sport Limited versions are in the works. All versions have power windows, locks and mirrors; telescoping/tilting steering wheel; keyless entry; and a split/folding rear seat. Moving up the trim lines add features like larger wheels and tires; Bluetooth; iPod controls and a USB port; and heated front seats.

Option packages will include a navigation system with texting capability and real-time traffic, leather seating, HD Radio and a power sunroof.

We'll have more on the new Impreza before it goes on sale in the fall.

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