High mpg’s for more than just 2WD.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- April 21, 2011
The 2012 Subaru Impreza – Pricing TBA and a 27/36 mpgUS city/highway rating.
Subaru introduced its all-new fourth-generation 2012 Impreza four-door and five-door compacts last week at the 2011 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS). Sporting an all-new 2.0L powertrain, the 2012 Impreza offers an incredible 30-percent improvement in fuel economy over the outgoing versions without hybridization or adding a diesel… In addition, more room, better handling, improved interior and new infotainment technology provides more choice in the hotly contested C-Segment.
Numerous exterior and interior design elements combine to give the Impreza a sportier stance while also offering the driver and passengers a more commanding, confident view of the road. The windshield is more raked and the bottom of the A-pillar moved 7.9 inches forward. This allows for a front door opening that is nearly five inches longer for easier entry/exit, abetted by doorsills that are 0.8-inch lower than before. Rear doors are also larger on both body styles.
To maximize driver visibility in corners, the Impreza features thinner A-pillars. Exterior side view mirrors with 23-percent more surface area enhances visibility and driving safety, and relocating the mirrors from the A-pillars to the doors contributes to improved sight lines.
The combination of a longer wheelbase and redesigned door and roof trim and front seats provides increased passenger and cargo room. Vehicle length and width remain the same as before for both sedan and five-door models, yet, thanks to redesigned door panels, the 2012 Impreza offers increased hip and shoulder room.
Rear seat passengers gain nearly two inches of legroom, thanks to the longer wheelbase and a new, scalloped-style front seat backrest design. Sedan trunk room and five-door cargo room are both increased, and the five-door now provides a completely flat load floor with the standard 60/40 split rear seatbacks folded. Relocating the car’s electronic control units (ECU’s), power window motors and fuel vapor charcoal canister are “behind the scenes” details that helped make the new gains possible within the same exterior package as the outgoing model.
The 2012 Impreza interior is incorporates a more modern instrument panel and a multi-function display with trip computer located in the center of the dashboard. Richer looking appointments including soft-touch materials for the dashboard, door trim and center console armrest are included. In the higher trim models, the armrest features a slide adjustment for greater comfort and versatility.
In the sedan, trunk functionality is improved with support arms that are reshaped and enclosed within the trunk interior trim, ensuring that they do not make contact with stored items when the trunk is closed. When the trunk release is activated, from within the car or via the remote control, the trunk lid opens wider than before. Larger door pockets can hold plastic drink bottles and large maps. Numerous compartments located in and around the center console hold all manner of today’s personal items, such as phones, USB drives and MP3 players. For those who still prefer to listen to music on CD, the console compartments provide ample storage for jewel cases.
New front seats are designed with long-distance comfort in mind and feature higher seatbacks, increased lumbar support and cushions that more effectively distribute pressure. A tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard on all 2012 Impreza models.
The entry level 2012 Impreza lineup features power windows, door locks and side mirrors, a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, outside temperature gauge, a mutli-function display with fuel economy information, remote keyless entry system, security system with engine immobilizer, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, variable intermittent windshield wipers and a low windshield washer fluid warning light. Even carpeted floormats, often an option in many cars, are standard equipment in all 2012 Impreza models.
Impreza Premium models add 16-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel audio and Bluetooth control switches, a rear stabilizer bar for crisper handling, adjustable console armrest, body-color exterior mirrors and chrome interior door handles. The Premium models also cater to the latest demand for versatile and easy-to-use infotainment technology. The standard audio system in the Premium models features Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, Radio Data Broadcast System (RDBS), iPod control capability, USB port, 3.5mm aux. input jack and six speakers.
The Premium models can be equipped with an optional All-Weather Package (heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer). An available Alloy Wheel Package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, single tailpipe outlet with stainless steel tip for sedan model, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter handle. When equipped with the optional Lineartronic CVT, the Impreza Premium, Limited and Sport models also feature a 6-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters.
A power moonroof and a navigation system are available as separate options for the 2012 Impreza Premium models. The new navigation system includes a 6.1-inch touch screen LCD display, voice control, iTunes tagging, SMS text messaging capability, XM Satellite Radio and XM NavTraffic (both XM services require subscriptions). Updated map data can be downloaded to a personal computer and then transferred into the system via secure digital (SD) card.
The Impreza Sport Premium is a five-door model that combines standard 17-inch alloy wheels and the All-Weather Package with fog lights, roof rails, and unique seat fabric and rocker panel spoilers.
At the top of the Impreza range for 2012, the Limited and Sport Limited (five-door only) models deliver the highest level of comfort and convenience. In addition to the Premium content, the Limited and Sport Limited add the Alloy Wheel Package and All-Weather Package, plus the luxury of leather upholstery, automatic climate control, upgraded instrumentation, chrome exterior door handles (the Limited four-door and five-door models), fog lights and auto on-off headlights. A further audio upgrade (above the Premium) features a 4.3-inch display screen and standard HD Radio. The power moonroof and navigation system are separate options on the Limited, as well.
The 2.0L with the Lineartronic CVT
The 2012 Impreza is powered by an all-new 2.0L I4 Boxer engine mated to a five-speed MT or the available new Lineartronic CVT (standard on Limited and Sport Limited). With either transmission, the 2012 Impreza delivers significantly higher fuel economy than the car it replaces.
The new 2.0L produces 148 HP and 145 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Thanks to a double overhead-cam design. The Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS) controls valve timing on both the intake and exhaust valves to optimize performance, fuel efficiency, and emissions. The 2012 Impreza employs a more efficient exhaust system that allows an optimized catalyst placement for faster heat-up to reduce emissions immediately after engine startup.
Subaru first introduced its Lineartronic CVT in the 2010 Legacy and Outback models, and now the 2012 Impreza debuts a lighter, quieter and more compact version that delivers improved performance. Unlike a conventional AT, which uses fixed gear ratios, a CVT provides infinite variability between the highest and lowest available ratios with no discernable steps or shifts. The CVT continuously and smoothly adapts to performance demand, helping to keep the engine in its most efficient operating range. Compared to CVT’s used in other brands, the Impreza CVT provides wider ratio coverage, due to a larger difference between the largest and smaller pulley diameters.
Subaru refined the CVT in the 2012 Impreza to deliver smooth, linear acceleration, closer to a conventional automatic transmission while still delivering the efficiency benefits of a CVT. Low-speed acceleration in particular feels even stronger than a comparison of performance figures alone might suggest. The engine now also supports standing-starts in the pre-selected “second gear” ratio to reduce the likelihood of wheel spin on slippery surfaces.
Impreza Premium, Sport and Limited models with the CVT also feature a 6-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle shifters, which allow the driver to control the transmission via six pre-set ratios. The driver can engage manual mode with the floor shift lever or, when in “D” mode, temporarily access manual mode by operating an up- or downshift shift paddle. In that case, the transmission will return to automatic mode once the vehicle is traveling at a constant speed.
Improved Fuel Economy
In addition to the new engine’s greater efficiency, the Impreza adopts additional technologies to maximize fuel economy. Among these is the new electric power steering system, which by itself contributes a 2-percent efficiency increase. The tires, in 15, 16- or 17-inch sizes, exhibit lower rolling resistance for better fuel economy without compromising braking distance or other performance parameters. A further efficiency gain comes from reducing disc brake drag by using a spring-type pad return mechanism.
Because the 2012 Impreza offers such a significant increase in fuel economy over the outgoing vehicle, Subaru was able to use a smaller-capacity fuel tank (now 14.6 gallons compared to 16.9 before) while also increasing driving range. The smaller fuel tank, in turn, enabled Subaru to relocate the charcoal vapor canister, which helped increase cargo room.
Ride and Handling
Strengthened suspension components in front and rear enhance handling while new liquid (hydraulic) engine mounts help to damp out vibration. A new front support connecting the front crossmember and rear bushing section of the front arm enhances stability, agility and ride quality. The double-wishbone rear suspension features new, strengthened components and pillow ball bushings for improved ride, straight-line stability, handling and vehicle response. Highline models add special rebound springs in the front dampers, as well as a rear stabilizer bar, for even more responsive handling. The enhancement of body rigidity and the new suspension design help to reduce levels of noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). The stiffened rear subframe ensures greater resistance to twisting, also contributing to enhanced stability and handling. New sound insulators in the toe board and around the floor tunnel also contribute to interior quietness.
Subaru’s Ring-Shaped Reinforcement Frame safety structure provides crash protection and occupant safety. Building on Subaru’s safety prowess (all 2011 Subaru model lines are IIHS “Top Safety Picks”), the 2012 Impreza was designed to excel under the more stringent 2011 NHTSA testing regimen. The new body structure makes greater use of high-tensile strength steel and features special stiffening elements at key locations.
The 2012 Impreza includes as standard equipment front seat side impact air bags and side curtain air bags that offer additional head protection for front and rear occupants. The new driver’s front airbag offers added protection for drivers who position themselves close to the steering wheel. Immediately after deployment, the driver’s airbag spreads thin and wide, then thickens as deployment reaches completion. The passenger-seat front airbag, features a shell-type design with a center groove, thus exposing the passenger to less impact force upon deployment. All 2012 Impreza models add a new driver’s knee airbag to the roster of safety features.
All Impreza models for 2012 are equipped as standard with Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) (it is federally mandated and that is why its included) , which combines stability and traction control functions. Likewise, all 2012 Impreza models are equipped with a standard 4-wheel disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and the Brake Assist safety system.
Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
Subaru offers two different Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive systems in the 2012 Impreza. In models equipped with the five-speed manual transmission, the Continuous AWD system uses a viscous-coupling locking center differential to distribute power 50/50 front to rear. Slippage at either set of wheels will send more power (up to 100 percent) to the opposite set.
Impreza models equipped with the Lineartronic CVT feature the Active Torque Split AWD version that uses an electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch to actively control power distribution in response to driving conditions. This system can transfer more power to the rear wheels under acceleration and can transfer up to 100 percent of available torque to the rear wheels in response to road conditions.
All told, 36 hwy from a C-Segment anything with 4WD is as impressive as the … Well, the Impreza!