A Larger, Classier Cabin
At a time in automotive history when vehicles' shoulder lines are getting high enough to make a submariner claustrophobic, the 2012 Impreza is more like a skiff. The 2012's windowsills are almost 2.5 inches lower in the front than they were in the 2011 model. The dashboard sits lower, and the driver sits almost an inch higher. Even though the A-pillars emerge from farther out on the hood, they're narrow enough not to obstruct one's vision. The side mirrors are large, and the over-the-shoulder view is good with either body style. This is all great for normal driving, but I'd still like to see optional parking sensors or a backup camera — features that are making their way into compact cars but aren't available here.
Shorter drivers will love the low hoodline and generous range of seat-height adjustment. Everyone will appreciate the same from the tilt/telescoping steering wheel. For its class, the Impreza has ample front headroom and legroom. While the backseat's legroom specification doesn't seem exceptional, it's nearly 2 inches more than the previous generation, and I found it uncommonly accommodating for someone who's 6 feet tall. Credit goes to the shape and softness of the front seatbacks. With the front seats fully back, my knees pushed into them, but I didn't feel squeezed. There's no backseat center armrest except in the top trim level, however, and the backrest angle isn't adjustable, even in the hatchback version. The center floor hump is high, too, when compared with some front-drive compacts.
The 2012's cabin quality improves markedly over the 2011's. Silvery plastic is sparse. The center control panel bezel and steering-wheel spokes are a higher-quality gray material. The headliner isn't woven fabric, but it's not as cheap-looking as traditional mouse fur. Likewise, though the sun visors are still vinyl, gone are the sharp seams and general cheapness of the past.
There are more soft surfaces than before, including the entire dashboard as well as the armrests and other so-called touch points. The center console remains hard and simple but does the job. The Limited offers leather for the first time in an Impreza. Just because a car has leather doesn't mean it's well-done, but it is in the Impreza.
The sedan's trunk is still on the small side at 12 cubic feet, but it's 6 percent larger than in the 2011, and the hinges don't encroach on the cargo area. The hatch's cargo area is wide, low and easy to load. Twelve cubic feet are available under the optional retractable cargo cover, and there's 22.5 cubic feet behind the backseat, otherwise. The total volume is 52.4 cubic feet with the backseat folded.