The Subaru Impreza is a stylish and sought-after car from the Subaru lineup. It is available as a sedan as well as a hatchback. It is one of the best sellers for Subaru, and it has good reasons to be so. For someone who decides to buy a Subaru Impreza a common question that arises is, what is the best Subaru Impreza year?
The Impreza is a compact car that has been manufactured by Subaru since 1992. For a car to be manufactured for so long, there should be something extraordinary about it. With the Subaru Impreza, the stand-out feature is probably its safety.
Subaru is focused on improving its safety features as much as possible. Those improvements are seen in the Impreza. Like any other car, no two model years of the Impreza are equal. While some years resulted in exceptional cars, there were also some years to forget.
For a buyer, choosing the best possible vehicle to suit their needs and the most reliable version of it is imperative. If you choose the Subaru Impreza, now you need to find, which is the best Subaru Impreza year. With almost 30 years of Imprezas in the market, spanning 11 generations, choosing the best can be overwhelming.
- Subaru Impreza Overview & History
- Common Problems & Issues
- Worst Model Years To Avoid
- Best Model Years To Buy
- What To Expect When Buying One?
The Japanese carmaker Subaru has been producing cars since 1954. Though it entered the automotive world in that year, it was in 1968 that it sold its first car in America. The first model in the market was the Subaru 360. It was considered cheap and ugly but did not disappoint with the engineering.
By the mid-70s, Subaru skyrocketed in the auto manufacturer’s hierarchy. The Subaru FF-1 Star was one of the cars that brought tremendous success to the company. By the late 70s, Subaru had built enough momentum to be one of the biggest car manufacturers globally.
Subaru showed intentions of slowing down heading into the 80s. The Subaru BRAT became quite the sensation, as it was the most efficient 4WD passenger car on the market. This was followed by the Subaru XT Coupe which was another success.
The 90s was the first time mankind set its eyes on the Subaru Impreza. The rally version of the Subaru Impreza ended up winning 3 back to back World Rally Championships soon after its introduction. This laid the foundation for Subaru to rise to unprecedented heights. It is still one of the greatest foreign cars to invade American soil.
The Subaru Impreza has gone through a lot of changes to become the car that it is today. The first-ever Subaru Impreza was a wagon. A few years later, the Impreza Turbo GT was produced, which was the first step of evolution for the car in the power department.
These are just a couple of the changes that the car went through. Throughout the 11 generations that the car existed, it evolved little by little, adapting to the customer’s needs, and delivering the car we love today.
Subaru Impreza Problems
Before settling on which year is the best year for the Subaru Impreza, first, let us look at some of the common problems that the Impreza faces. With almost 3 decades of Imprezas finding problems in the model is not hard.
Just because there are a few problems with the model does not mean that the car is bad. But by knowing the common problems, you will know what to expect and how to overcome those problems. And if you do not like a specific problem, you can avoid buying that model altogether.
Here are the most common problems associated with the Subaru Impreza.
Problems #1: Airbag Inflation Error
For a company and a model that takes pride in its safety, this is not a good sign. Whenever you find problems related to safety it hits a company hard. With the Subaru, it should sting a little bit more. Airbag issues are seen in a lot of cars and you often find them out before it is too late.
The Subaru Impreza is one of the numerous models that was equipped with faulty Takata airbags. The airbags did not inflate upon impact due to a problem with the inflators. In the faulty airbags, the inflator’s propellant was known to break down with prolonged exposure to high humidity or temperature.
With a malfunctioning inflator, your airbags will not be able to inflate when you are in a crash. Can believe that is not even the worst part? The degraded propellant could cause the inflator to explode. If this happens, this can cause a crash or even kill the passenger. At least two dozen people have been killed so far, with hundreds more injured.
In 2020 half a million Subaru Imprezas were recalled due to this issue. Among the affected models covered by the new recall are the 2004-2011 Subaru Impreza. During the recall, the inflators were replaced at no extra cost.
Problems #2: Engine Damage
The Subaru Impreza engine doesn’t have the greatest reliability as per many reviews. The average life span is just 92,000 miles, which is very poor. This is not covered by the warranty either. Subaru only offers a measly 6-year or 60,000-mile warranty for the Impreza.
There is no specific problem associated with the engine. The engine is known to fail in many different ways. since fixing an engine costs thousands of dollars in case of any damage, you should know which model years are affected by these poor-quality engines. According to user reviews Imprezas made in 2006, 2008, and 2012 are prone to premature engine failure.
Older Imprezas suffer from excess oil consumption. This is mostly associated with the piston rings and rod bearings. Replacing them often fixes this problem. If the problem sits for longer in your engine, you might have to rebuild it. Subaru eventually fixed this problem in the 2013 Impreza. So newer Imprezas do not have this issue.
Another common issue with this engine is a blown head gasket. The engine requires frequent head gasket replacements after reaching 100,000 miles. Though aftermarket head gasket sets cost relatively low, including labor you are looking at $2000 or more. The problem is more common in Imprezas older than 2011.
Problems #3: Engine Stalling
Similar to a damaged engine, the Impreza also suffers from a stalling engine. The 2012 Impreza was famous for this problem since many units suffered due to this issue. Many owners report that their engine stalls while they’re driving at highway speeds.
Regularly if your car is about to stall, engine damage would be the problem. When this happens the check engine light will illuminate. In this case, the check engine light did not illuminate, and the car stalled out of nowhere.
Eventually, Subaru figured out that a damaged engine valve springs as the culprit behind the Impreza’s engine stalling and malfunctions. Some of the Imprezas manufactured between 2012 to 2014 were recalled and the bad valve springs were replaced.
Problems #4: Sudden Acceleration
The 2012 Subaru Impreza comes with an all-wheel-drive continuously variable transmission. This is considered a really good transmission, and seriously enhances the handling of the Impreza. After a few years of use, and a few thousand miles under the hood, this is exactly what causes the sudden accelerations.
Customers complain that their cars, suddenly accelerate while driving at low speeds. In some other cases, it was reported that the car would jerk forward when it was parked. This is another serious problem, as it doesn’t only harm the car, but it could cause an accident.
The problem is more common in the 2012 Impreza. The problem was known to develop after about 40,000 miles. Many 2012 Impreza owners have stated that they had to pay over $4000 to fix this problem.
Problems #5: Transmission Failure
Apart from abrupt accelerations, the Subaru Impreza transmission is also known to fail completely. The 2006 and 2007 models were some of the common models that faced transmission failures. When the manual transmission on these cars fails, it could cost thousands of dollars to fix. Most of these transmission failures were caused by the teeth in the gear falling apart.
Other than a complete failure, newer models such as 2012, 2013, or 2015 models are prone to developing transmission problems. The 2012 models shift incorrectly, which causes sudden surges while driving in reverse.
The 2013 model, on the other hand, has had problems with the operation of its CVT. This makes it dangerous to drive through slippery roads. The 2015 transmission faced a similar issue as the 2012 model. It hesitates to shift to a higher gear.
Subaru Impreza Years To Avoid
If you are looking to buy a Subaru Impreza, you should know that not every year is a good one for the Impreza. There are a few years that were really bad. Subaru Impreza is one of those cars that are in a budget car zone in the standard all-wheel-drive market. Subaru has never been the most reliable car.
While a lot of models of the Impreza are not up to par, there are some models that are downright unusable.
Here are some of the worst years for the Subaru Impreza, that you should definitely try to avoid buying.
2008 Subaru Impreza
The 2008 Subaru Impreza was one of the worst years for the car. It received the most number of complaints from the users. A lot of the cases were about the visibility through the windshield. The 2008 model has a thin film over the windshield which decreases visibility during rugged weather conditions.
Though the above problem was more common there was another problem that was constantly mentioned with the car. This was with the engine. The head gasket was a common point of failure. Numerous reports mention that the head gasket leaks motor oil.
2012 Subaru Impreza
Even though in sheer numbers the 2008 ranks worse, the 2012 model is the worst model. Most of the 2008 problems were regarding the windshield visibility, which was an easy and cheap fix. While the 2012 Impreza suffered damages that were much harder to fix.
Most of the complaints this year were regarding the engine consuming too much oil. Another issue was sudden accelerations. These 2 issues arise from 2 major components of the car, the engine, and the transmission. Since these components are the costliest to fix, this is the worst year for the Impreza.
2013 Subaru Impreza
The 2013 Impreza inherited most of the problems of the model from the previous year. Though the numbers were down slightly the problems that came with this were still intense.
Again the most problems were engine and transmission related. Most complaints were regarding excess oil consumption and sudden accelerations. Another issue with the transmission is that it fails to shift into the right gear. Since these problems cost a lot to fix, this is one of the worst models for the Subaru Impreza.
These 3 are the worst years for the Subaru Impreza and if you are looking to buy a Subaru Impreza, it is best if you can avoid buying any of the above years. Even though they have problems, they aren’t really unusable, if you believe that you can cope with the risks associated with the car you can go ahead and purchase the car.
Best Year For Subaru Impreza
Subaru is a really good and reliable car. If you avoid the above-mentioned years, you will be happy with what you purchase. The best way to figure out which year is the best, the best way to do it is by eliminating the years that are not good.
Subaru’s 2.5-L turbo four-cylinder is one of the engines that had a lot of problems. Subaru Imprezas made between 2009 and 2014 are fitted with these engines. The engine received a class-action lawsuit, alleging the pistons and PCV also known as the positive crankcase ventilation systems in the high-performance 2.5-L turbocharged engines may overheat or malfunction.
When your engine faces this issue, it costs thousands and thousands of dollars to fix. Taking a risk with such an engine is inadvisable.
We already cleared the 2008 Subaru Impreza is something to avoid, what about buying an Impreza older than 2008. Buying an Impreza older than a decade is sure to have a few problems. That is true with any car if it is on the road for over 10 years and driving through hundreds of thousands of miles.
Buying an older Subaru might have some problems but you will be able to purchase it for a cheap price. So if you are willing to go through some trouble it can be worth it. When looking at Imprezas from the 2000s the 2002 Impreza had a few problems associated with it so it is best to avoid that as well.
What Year Should You Buy
Now that we have cleared out most of the years from the Subaru Impreza lineup up considering you do not want to buy an Impreza from the 2000s, that leaves us with Imprezas which are 2015 and newer. You won’t find a lot of faults with the engine or the transmission or any other major components of these newer Subarus.
If you look at the 2018 Subaru and the Subarus that continued after that year, you wouldn’t find a lot of problems with them. Almost all the problems that were associated with these years were regarding the integrity of the windshield and occasional malfunctions with the windshield wipers. Since these aren’t going to cost you a lot to fix, this is not a major problem.
Subarus between 2015 and 2017 also had the same windshield and suffered the same problems. While considering the frequency of the problems that these models face, it can be seen that the 2017 model is slightly better than the other 2 models.
The Subaru Impreza that you should buy depends on your budget. If you have a big budget going for the newest possible Subaru is the best option. But if you have a tighter budget and looking for a Subaru that is worth the price, 2017 is the best Subaru Impreza year.
1993 Subaru Impreza
The 1993 Impreza introduced the world to Subaru’s new compact offering. Built tough, it was praised for its durability. While quite basic in today’s terms, it established Subaru’s reputation for reliability. If you spot one today, check for rust and regular maintenance records.
2002 Subaru Impreza
The 2002 model marked a significant change with the introduction of the WRX variant. This sporty version offered turbocharged excitement. Look for models with original parts, as modified ones may face reliability issues. Regular oil changes are crucial for this turbo model.
2010 Subaru Impreza
Redesigned yet again, the 2010 model offered an improved cabin and smoother ride. Its all-wheel drive was praised, especially for wet and snowy regions. For potential buyers, ensuring that tire rotations have been frequent is key to avoiding drivetrain issues.
2015 Subaru Impreza
The 2015 model stood out for its impressive fuel economy and spacious interior. Equipped with modern safety features, it’s a top choice for families. One tip: Always ensure that its continuously variable transmission (CVT) fluid is checked during maintenance.
2018 Subaru Impreza
Stepping into recent times, the 2018 Impreza incorporated Subaru’s Global Platform. This change meant better handling and a more comfortable ride. With advanced tech and safety features, it became an instant hit. However, always updates its infotainment system to avoid glitches.
2020 Subaru Impreza
In 2020, Subaru focused on minor tweaks, refining its already solid Impreza. With its EyeSight suite of safety features, it’s ideal for safety-conscious drivers. If buying used, check if all recalls were addressed for a hassle-free experience.
Is A Subaru Impreza A Good Car
Before you decide whether to buy or not to buy a Subaru Impreza, you should know what to expect from the car. This includes both the pros and the cons.
How Long Do Subaru Imprezas Last
For someone who decides to buy an Impreza, or someone who has already bought an Impreza, this is an important question to ask, how will a Subaru Impreza last?
In reality, even though Subaru Imprezas have a few problems, they last a really long time. On average an Impreza will be able to get 200,000 to 250,000 miles under the hood. Averaging 15,000 miles a year that puts the Impreza’s lifespan at around 13 to 17 years.
Ultimately, maintenance plays a really big role in how long a car lasts. If you keep your car maintained regularly and do not skip scheduled maintenance, you are looking at a car that could last well over 300,000 miles. On the other hand, if your car isn’t shown proper care you won’t get a lot of miles out of it.
All Wheel Drive
This is not an FWD car that can be used as a part-time all-wheel-drive car. This is a full-time all-wheel-drive car. Though it is not necessary when cruising on the highway, it still gives you a bit of an off-road capability.
With a lot of cars that offer AWD, you see delays in sending power to the rear axle and non-ideal torque splits can lead to discouraging situations off the beaten path. Subaru uses an innovative system to go around this problem as it uses a boxer engine that runs longitudinally. With the weight balanced to the left side and the right side, both axles front and rear receive an even amount of power.
All-wheel drive is cool and all, but it is not the most efficient. Since you don’t really need it while driving on the paved road you might wonder about the fuel being wasted. The Subaru Impreza has a fuel economy of 37 miles per gallon on a highway.
But if you compare the Impreza with other AWD cars, you will see that the fuel economy is impressive.
Another huge factor that you need to consider before buying a car is maintenance costs. A lot of factors go into calculating maintenance costs, but with reviews from previous users, we can get an estimate of how much the maintenance of the Impreza costs.
For the first 10 years of use, the Impreza will cost $5900 for maintenance and repairs. This puts the annual maintenance cost at $590. How does this compare with other cars in the category? This beats the industry average for popular sedan models by $939.
Other than maintenance the other thing to worry about is major repairs. Within the first 10 years, there is a 17.73% chance that you will run into a major repair. Compared to other sedans this is a 3.77% lower chance.
Considering the numbers, the Subaru Impreza seems to be a reliable car.
Best Subaru Impreza Year: In Conclusion…
The Subaru Impreza is one of the best cars that is produced by Subaru. Not many cars can stand the test of time, and the Impreza has been around for almost 3 decades. Throughout these years it has somewhat collected a cult following.
If you are looking for an affordable yet sporty sedan, that will last for a long time, then the Subaru Impreza was made for you. If you are on a low budget and looking for a Subaru Impreza, you can purchase a Subaru Impreza from the early or mid-2000s for less than $15,000. Since the Impreza is known to last more than 200,000 miles, that is not a bad selection.
If you have a bigger budget, 2017 is the best Subaru Impreza year. If you can slightly extend your budget by a few thousand more, you can buy a newer 2018 or 2019 Impreza. But for the price you pay, and the reliability the 2017 Impreza is totally worth it.
Best Subaru Impreza Year Essential Knowledge
Need-to-know knowledge bullets from this guide:
- The Impreza is a compact car that has been available since the early 90s and comes in hatchback and sedan.
- The Impreza has a comfortable interior, standard all-wheel drive, and several safety tech features.
- The 10 best Subaru Impreza model years are 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2010, 2006, and 2001.
- The 6 worst model years of the Impreza are 2019, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, and 2002.
- The 2022 and 2023 models of the Impreza have identical features, and their newest models are the best.
- The 2015 and 2016 models have low numbers of reported problems and complaints.
- The 2010 Subaru Impreza had fewer issues than its 2012 and 2013 successors, which had airbag problems.
- The 2006 Subaru Impreza received impressive owner reviews for its practicality and handling, and the model had a styling refresh.
- The 2001 Subaru Impreza is the oldest model on the list and has the least number of complaints and impressive scores.
- The 2019 Subaru Impreza, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, and 2002 models had various issues like windshield cracking, airbag warning light on, sudden unintended acceleration, burned-out clutch, and gasoline odor, among others.