2012 Subaru Impreza Delivers Higher Fuel-Economy, More Stylish Looks

With oil prices surging higher, Subaru’s timing for the launch of its redesigned 2012 Impreza couldn’t be better. The Impreza is Subaru’s smallest U.S. offering, and according to a company press release, the roomier, more stylish 2012 model gets an estimated 36 mpg on the highway.

The 2012 five-door Impreza hatchback will be unveiled at the New York auto show later this month. Subaru says that the new Impreza will be the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive vehicle on the market when it goes on sale this fall.

No pricing information for the 2012 Impreza has been released. Starting prices for the current model-year four- and five-door models are $18,220 and $18,720 respectively, including destination charges.

Although few official details about the 2012 Impreza have been released, it is expected to feature a continuously variable transmission and an all-new four-cylinder boxer engine.

A concept version of the new Impreza was unveiled at last year’s Los Angeles auto show.  That model featured a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Subaru’s 2011 Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter engine.

With the launch of its new boxer engine, Subaru is choosing gains in fuel-efficiency over power.  The current model-year Impreza delivers 170 hp and 170 lb-ft or torque. Performance of the new flat four-cylinder engine drops to 148 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque.

Subaru says the 2012 Impreza will offer “improved levels of comfort and refinement.” Some have criticized the 2011 Impreza’s lack of rear-cabin room. Subaru responded to similar criticism of its Legacy model by giving it more rear-passenger leg-room.

The 2012 Impreza will be competing against a number of best-sellers in the small car segment, including the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla. A key component of the Impreza’s value proposition is the fact that it is the only model in the segment to come with all-wheel drive standard – as do all Subaru models.

Judging from the concept model, the 2012 Impreza will feature a sleeker roofline, taller body sides, a wider front grille and narrower, angled headlights for an overall sportier appearance. For decades, Subaru has focused on practicality over style to varying degrees of success.  The 2012 Impreza may indicate a something of a shift in thinking for the automaker that once touted lack of style as a selling feature with slogans like “Cheap and ugly does it.”

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