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2012 Subaru Impreza: Value-priced all-wheel-drive

Less horsepower may seem like a bad thing, but the Subaru Impreza embraces the new frugality with stylish looks, a practical hatchback body style, and an excellent all-wheel-drive system.

2012 Subaru Impreza
Wayne Cunningham/CNET

For the 2012 update, Subaru downsized the engine, losing half a liter and a little power. But mating that smaller engine with a continuously variable transmission results in very good fuel economy, high 20s in our testing.

As an urban runabout and occasional ski weekend car, the new Impreza is a good choice. The all-wheel-drive system gave it excellent grip during our review, dealing with slick, rain-washed roads and gravel surfaces.

Cabin tech has never been Subaru's strong suit, but the company is making efforts in that direction. Standard Bluetooth works for hands-free calling and audio streaming to the stereo. iPod integration is also available through a USB port.

But among the varied trim levels for the Impreza, only the very top, Limited models get either navigation or a new enhanced display for the stereo. CNET's review car, although in Premium trim, was stuck with a standard radio display.

Click here to read the full review of the 2012 Subaru Impreza.