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Do you like choices? If so, you will be enamored with the many options that are available for the 2012 Subaru Impreza.

There are 14 versions of this year’s Impreza, which is offered as either a sedan or hatchback. Four of the selections are the WRX and STI trims, which are high-performance versions of the Impreza.

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Subaru redesigned the Impreza for 2012 in hopes that the brand would gather more widespread popularity.

The new Impreza is an option for car-buyers seeking a relatively inexpensive compact car ($17,995 to $22,895) that can handle itself in snow country. If you didn’t know, all Subaru vehicles come equipped with all-wheel drive.

What’s not so appealing about the new Impreza is the engine. Gone is the standard 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that had been around for a long time. In its place is a more gas-efficient version that gets 27-36 mpg.

The improved gas mileage is the obvious upside for the 2012 Impreza. Yet what’s not very impressive is the rather sluggish new engine, a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that produces a lackluster 148 horsepower and 145-pound-feet of torque.

The Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium wasn’t the ideal companion for a summer trip to Lake Tahoe, where climbing the mountainous region was challenging for a five-speed manual transmission vehicle that goes 0-60 mph in just under 10 seconds. Some of the Impreza’s most serious rivals can cover that same distance 3 seconds faster.

In contrast, the Impreza WRX is a turbo-charged 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that has 265 horsepower. Note that the gas mileage ranges from 17-25 mpg, considerably less than the standard Impreza models. The WRX and STI trims range in price from $25,595 to a high of $36,095.

The overall handling by the Impreza is confidence inducing. The steering feels comfortable, the braking is very solid, and no doubt the traction that is provided in rainy or snowy conditions is greatly appreciated. There is wind and road noise at higher speeds, but it’s at a level that won’t bother most drivers.

The interior of the Impreza provides considerable room and comfort for both front and back seat occupants. One can enter and exit the vehicle with ease, which isn’t always the case in smaller cars. Another positive is the soft-touch dash and doors. Cargo space has increased for 2012. The hatchbacks have 22.5 cubic feet and the sedan’s trunk features a convenient wide opening.

Despite the smaller engine, the 2012 Impreza remains a solid entry in the compact vehicle category. The all-wheel drive feature is a rarity for the class and the improved gas mileage is a major plus as well. However, vehicles like the Mazda 3, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra have more style and their fun factor is greater than the Impreza.

2012 Subaru Impreza

  • Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 148 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 27-36 mpg
  • Price: $17,995 to $22,895
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 3 years/36,000
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