No matter the generation or year model, the Subaru Impreza delivers the handling of a sports car while also giving a pleasant ride to its driver and passengers. While the latest models offer the best performance and advanced features, older Imprezas can keep up with proper care and maintenance. This model’s resale value is pretty good—CarEdge.com estimates that an Impreza in good condition will roughly depreciate by only 43% after five years of ownership.
Are Subaru Imprezas Reliable Cars?
The Subaru Impreza enjoys average scores in major reliability ratings. RepairPal rates it a 3.5 out of 5.0, putting it 33rd out of 36 compact cars. While the 2008-2011 model years consumed more fuel because of their all-wheel-drive powertrain, Imprezas in general enjoy good fuel economy. By sticking to Subaru’s recommended service schedule and never skimping on maintenance, it can reach 200,000 miles and beyond while still performing well.
Top Subaru Impreza Problems
While the Subaru Impreza doesn’t run into problems very often, repairs for this car can prove quite costly. CarComplaints.com identified the two most troublesome model years—the 2008 Subaru Impreza developed problems that drew the most complaints from its owners, while the 2012 model can be considered the worst year because of numerous serious and costly problems that develop at low mileage.
To give you a better idea of what issues to expect, here are some of the most common Subaru Impreza problems:
Fixing an engine problem can cost thousands of dollars, so it’s important to recognize which Subaru Impreza model years are most likely to develop this kind of problem. Based on reports from owners of this model, the 2006, 2008, and 2012 Imprezas are prone to engine issues.
Older Imprezas have had problems with using up more engine oil than normal. In some cases, this issue can be fixed by replacing the piston rings and rod bearings to eliminate leaks. There were a few instances where owners had to rebuild their engine, which takes a long time and costs a lot of money. Subaru was eventually able to fix this problem by the time the 2013 Impreza came out.
Another common engine problem for this model is blown head gaskets. Subaru Imprezas built before 2011 may need to replace their engine’s head gaskets multiple times once they reach 100,000 miles. An aftermarket head gasket set can cost you anywhere between $100 and $200. Including labor costs, repairs can set you back by roughly $2,000.
In a similar vein, some units of the 2012 Subaru Impreza have had engine problems. Some owners report that their engine stalls while they’re driving at highway speeds. Normally, the check engine light would activate to warn the drivers about the impending engine trouble. But in many cases, the light didn’t illuminate.
Subaru eventually identified damaged engine valve springs as the culprit behind the Impreza’s engine stalling and malfunctions. The automaker recalled some 2012-2014 Subaru Impreza units to replace their bad valve springs in an attempt to solve their engine problems.
Abrupt and Inadvertent Acceleration
The 2012 Subaru Impreza handles well on the road thanks to its responsive steering and all-wheel drive continuously variable transmission (AWD CVT). But as it puts on the miles, some units may suddenly speed up without warning. Out of all the Impreza model years, it’s the most likely to develop sudden acceleration problems.
Owners have reported abrupt surges of speed while driving at low speeds or idling with their foot pressing down on the brake pedal. Their engine revs loudly as their vehicle abruptly zooms forward. A lot of these drivers could have gotten into a serious road accident and were lucky that they were able to stop their vehicle in time.
The sudden acceleration issue tends to develop once the Impreza reaches around 40,000 miles. Many 2012 Subaru Impreza owners report spending over $4,000 in repairs to fix the problem.
When the manual transmission of a 2006 or 2007 Subaru Impreza fails, it can cost thousands of dollars to repair. In most cases, the teeth on the transmission’s gears of these model years can fall apart. Some of the gears may not work at all.
On the other hand, the 2012-2013 and 2015 Subaru Impreza are the most likely model years to develop transmission problems.
Aside from outright failure, the 2012 model can shift into the wrong gears or randomly speed up in reverse. The 2013 model, on the other hand, has had problems with the operation of its CVT. This makes it dangerous to drive on slippery road surfaces. Finally, the 2015 Impreza may hesitate when the driver steps on the gas pedal, which can lead to the car lunging forward as it speeds up.
Air Bag Problems
The Subaru Impreza is one of the numerous models that was equipped with faulty Takata airbags. The inflators in the flawed airbags used a propellant that can break down after prolonged exposure to high humidity or extreme temperatures. The degraded propellant could cause the inflator to explode, which could harm or even kill the driver or passengers. Fortunately, Subaru spokespersons stated that this issue hasn’t caused any crashes or deaths.
In January 2020, Subaru issued a recall for nearly 500,000 vehicles. These various models had already received temporary replacements for their bad Takata airbags while their owners waited for a permanent solution.
Among the affected models covered by the new recall are the 2004-2011 Subaru Impreza. Dealerships replaced the airbag inflators at no cost to the owners.
As long as you’re aware of the potential problems with the particular Subaru Impreza model you’re planning to buy, choosing this car should come with little risk. If you have your heart set on getting a used Impreza, do your best to learn about the most common issues with the model that you want. This will help you make sure that the seller has cleared everything before you buy the vehicle.