Subaru Impreza vs Ford Focus

Nowadays, the compact car segment is as competitive as high school cheerleading tryouts. One-upmanship is the name of the game, so if one car has heated seats, the competition heats both rows. If one car offers touchscreen infotainment, the next will add voice control. It’s a good time to be in the market for a compact city car, but which one will fit your life best? Let’s find out…

The 2012 Ford Focus & 2012 Subaru Impreza are both c-segment runabouts, but they live at opposite ends of the market. The Focus is a suave European job, that’s long on style, and driving acumen. The Impreza on the other hand, ditches the whole style scene, in favor of bare-knuckle practicality. These two cars couldn’t be more different.

2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus is actually one of Europe’s best-selling cars. It was designed to handle narrow, winding streets, while carrying 4 of your nearest and dearest. The suspension has been softened for the U.S. , but the Focus still has a direct, confident feeling. You can slalom traffic, or hot-foot it down a curvy backroad with confidence (thanks partly to the Torque Vectoring Control, which uses the front brakes to send torque to the front wheel with the most traction). But the ride will remain smooth, and comfortable. A Cadillac, it’s not. But it doesn’t become ‘unsettled’ over the rough stuff, like many in segment have a tendency to do.

2012 Ford Focus 1

You can get the 2012 Ford Focus as a 4-door sedan, or a 5-door hatch. The 2012 Ford Focus Hatchback has pleasantly aggressive lines, and a sporty stance. It also has 44 cubic feet of ‘stuff room, with the rear seats folded. The 2012 Ford Focus Sedan on the other hand, has a sizable trunk (13 cu-ft), but it looks like a pregnant grub worm.

The interior of both cars benefit from Ford’s recent obsession with soft-touch materials. Most of the surfaces that you regularly touch inside the car, feel smooth and expensive. And there’s a metric ton of sound insulation too. This soft, quiet feel bodes well for a car that has such an impressive list of available features. You can spec a voice-controlled 8-inch touchscreen, with MyFord Touch & Wi-Fi. Multi-colored ambient lighting, one-touch power windows, keyless ignition, a self-parking system, a fancy leather interior, and a 6-speed DSG transmission (sans paddles).

2012 Ford Focus 2

The 2012 Ford Focus is powered by a direct-injected 2.0 liter 4-cyl, which is good for 160-hp  While that isn’t enough grunt to lay black 11’s at the stoplight, it’s more than enough to propel this European family car to the Super-Sale at Pier 1. With the standard 5-speed manual, you’ll see gas mileage figures of 26 city / 36 hwy / 30 combined,.28/38/31 with the 6-speed DSG, and 28/40/33 with the ultra fuel efficient 2012 Ford Focus SFE.

2012 Subaru Impreza

Where the 2012 Ford Focus is, focused, on being able to blend into Milan or Modesto, the 2012 Subaru Impreza seems most comfortable in places where plaid is, appropriate for any occasion. There’s no purple ambient lighting, and no self-parking feature (Subaru figures their target market can park a car themselves). But an advanced All-Wheel Drive does come as standard equipment.

2012 Subaru Impreza 1

The 2012 Subaru Impreza was designed to get you, and your stuff, wherever you need to be. Mother Nature be damned. If it’s snowing outside your mountain cabin, the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system can split engine torque evenly between the front & rear axles. Combine that with generous ground clearance, and the 2012 Subaru Impreza becomes your personal snow plow. It can also make short work of rain-soaked asphalt, and dirt roads.

The interior of the Impreza is a nice place to be, but it lacks the design emphasis that you get in theFord. There’s an appropriately sporty look to the dash, and loads of soft touch points throughout the cabin. You can get your 2012 Subaru Impreza with the fully-monty luxury treatment too, i.e. heated leather, touchscreen infotainment, sunroof, voice-op navigation. But it’s not until you delve into the options list, that you discover this car’s intended purpose.

Available on all but the base 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i, the All Weather Package adds a windshield de-icer, heated side mirrors, and heated seats. There’s also an optional set of All-Weather tires. And the 2012 Subaru Impreza has an impressive 5.7 -5.9-inches of ground clearance (depending on the model). So when you add in the standard AWD, it’s easy to see that this is a car for people who measure snow by the foot, or land by the mail.

2012 Subaru Impreza 2

 The 2012 Subaru Impreza is available as a roomy 4-door sedan, or a roomier 5-door hatch. Opt for the sharp looking sedan, and you have to make due with a 12 cu-ft trunk. The 2012 Subaru Impreza Hatchback on the other hand, has a CUV-like 52 cu-ft of stuff room with the seats down, and an equally impressive 22 cu-ft with the seats upright (that’s more than enough room for 4 sled dogs).

To make sure that you don’t break down on the trek to your in-law’s cattle station, the 2012 Subaru Impreza is powered by a new twin-cam version of Subaru’s famous flat-4 engine. It displaces 2.0 liters, and makes 148-hp with 145 lb-ft of torque. Though it’s not a powerhouse, the 2012 Subaru Impreza rarely feels out of breath, even with the optional CVT transmission. Expect fuel economy figures of 25 city / 34 hwy / 28 combined from a 5-speed manual sedan, 27/36/30 with the CVT. Those figures are the same for the 2012 Subaru Impreza Hatchback, except it loses 1 highway mpg with the manual transmission.

So the Ford Focus vs Subaru Impreza comparison in short, the Focus is a fashion-conscious modernista, and the Impreza is for people who, wear plaid.