2012 Subaru Impreza
2012 Subaru Impreza. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2012 Subaru Impreza

Chicago, Illinois – There is nothing quite as monotonous and tedious as driving 1,300 kilometres of non-stop busy freeway.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. In early February, along the 1,300 km between Ottawa and Chicago, one is almost certain to drive into weather that will challenge both driver and car. In past years I have driven through freezing rain, freeway closing snow storms, lake effect snow squall white-outs and bone-chilling minus 40 Celsius temperatures.

But the journey was always worth the effort because at the end of the 1,300 km was the Chicago Auto Show, one of the best auto shows in North America.

This year, the only challenge was staying awake – while driving, and while attending the show.

Hyundai Elantra GT
Hyundai Elantra Coupe
Hyundai Elantra GT (hatchback, top) and coupe. Click image to enlarge

Usually a venue of choice for manufacturers to show off new high performance and truck products, only six manufacturers revealed new product at this year’s Chicago Auto Show.

Perhaps the most significant announcements were the two new Elantra models, a coupe and a five door hatch from Hyundai, and Nissan’s new NV200 compact cargo van that will compete head to head with the Ford Transit Connect.

Less significant was Kia’s reveal of the Kia Optima Limited, a full-load version of Kia’s successful sedan, and a customized Soul revealed as the Trackster concept. Similarly GMC chose Chicago to debut its updated 2013 GMC Acadia and Acadia Denali.

While Ford showed off the convertible version of the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500, Chrysler didn’t actually have a press conference, choosing to invite journalists to its stand for cup cakes and a walk around four ‘personalized’ vehicles, one from each division, to mark the 75th anniversary of Mopar.

The Mopar ’12 300 will be available this summer straight from the factory, while the Fiat 500 “Stinger,” Mopar Jeep Compass “True North” and Dodge Dart “GTS 210 Tribute” custom configurations will be available in the fall as stage kits or á la carte from the Mopar catalogue.

GMC Acadia
Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500
GMC Acadia (top) and Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500. Click image to enlarge

While no one expects Chicago to compete with Detroit for North American and world-wide reveals – its relaxed atmosphere, world-class facility and emphasis on trucks and high performance tend to compensate – this year’s line-up of new product reveals was a bit yawn-inducing.

Also yawn-inducing was the long, tedious and uneventful journey from Ottawa to Chicago and back again. One cannot fault the 2012 Subaru Impreza sedan for this, as it did its level best to keep me awake, but when the temperatures range from plus five to plus ten degrees Celsius under mainly clear skys for 1,300 km, there isn’t a car built that can prevent the onset of fatigue.

I had hoped to tell you how well one of the smallest and least expensive all-wheel drive vehicles actually handles the worst of winter, but the weather didn’t cooperate. It just didn’t happen.

But I did learn a lot about the new Impreza, some good, some not so good. My ride was a 2012 Subaru Impreza 4-door sedan with a Touring package option. The Touring package adds upgraded audio, Bluetooth connectivity, illuminated ignition key ring and glove box, chrome interior door handles, cloth door trim, heated front seats, automatic headlights, classier grille, 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels and windshield wiper de-icer (not needed on this trip!) to a long list of standard equipment. Even in base trim, the Impreza is equipped with power door locks and windows, cruise control, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, multi-functional instrument display with outside temperature, clock, average and real time fuel economy, travel time, driving range and average speed, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat and 60/40 split, flat folding rear seatbacks.

Base price is $19,995 while the Touring package with automatic CVT transmission brings the as tested price to $22,995 plus $1,695 delivery charge.

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