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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated June 22, 2024

The Subaru Impreza: Have 10+ Year-Old (Second And Third Generation) Models Aged Well?

Their Reliability, Overview, And Possible Mechanical Problems

2013 Subaru Impreza

In today's very high-priced used car market, many shoppers are looking for "older" models that have aged well as a way to save significant dollars.

The good news is that the Subaru Impreza has generally earned a reputation as a fairly reliable vehicle over the years. So, could it be a possible candidate in the current car market environment? Well, mileage, condition, and maintenance history is everything in the older market.

And by "older", I am generally referring to 10+ year-old Imprezas, so those produced in the Impreza's second and third generations, which covered the 2000 - 2014 model years.

But clearly, prospective buyers must weigh the benefits of affordability and performance against potential drawbacks, such as higher maintenance needs, repair risks, and outdated technologies.

So here, ...

1. First, we'll look at what history has proven about the reliability of second and third generation Impreza models (again, 2000 - 2014).

2. Then we'll do an overview of both generation's features and characteristics so potential buyers can get to know the vehicle better.

3. Following each overview, we'll then list each generation's possible mechanical issues as reported by owners so they can be checked before buying one today.

4. And then we'll follow that with "Things To Do When Considering An Older Impreza".

2000 - 2014 Subaru Impreza Reliability

The reliability reputations of the second (2000-2007) and third (2007-2011) generation Imprezas are generally positive, with some differences based on specific issues and overall improvements over time. Here’s a detailed look at the reliability reputations of both generations:

Second Generation Subaru Impreza (2000-2007)

Solid Engine Performance: The engines, particularly the turbocharged versions found in the WRX and WRX STI models, are praised for their durability and performance when maintained properly.

Strong AWD System: Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system is a standout feature, offering excellent reliability and performance in various driving conditions, contributing positively to the vehicle’s overall reliability reputation.

Head Gasket Issues: The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engines are somewhat infamous, however, for head gasket failures, which can be costly to repair. This issue is a significant blemish on the reliability reputation of these models.

Routine Maintenance: Owners who adhere to regular maintenance schedules report fewer issues and a longer lifespan for their vehicles. Neglecting maintenance can lead to more significant problems, particularly with the head gaskets and timing belts.

Durability: Generally, the second-generation Impreza is considered durable and capable of handling high mileage, provided it's well-maintained.

Third Generation Subaru Impreza (2008-2014)

Improved Engine Design: Subaru addressed some of the head gasket issues from the previous generation, leading to a better reliability reputation for the engines in this generation.

Enhanced Interior Quality: The improved interior materials and build quality contribute to a more positive ownership experience and fewer interior-related issues.

Consistent AWD Performance: The all-wheel-drive system continued to be a strong point, providing reliability and confidence in various driving conditions.

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Oil Consumption: Some models are reported to consume more oil than expected, which can be a concern if not monitored regularly. This issue has slightly impacted the overall reliability perception.

Transmission Concerns: Both manual and automatic transmissions have reported issues, though not widespread enough to significantly tarnish the vehicle’s reliability reputation.

Safety and Longevity: Improved safety features and crash test ratings enhance the vehicle's overall reliability and longevity.

Owner and Expert Opinions:

Consumer Reports and JD Power: Both generations generally receive good marks for reliability from sources like Consumer Reports and JD Power, with specific caveats related to known issues like head gaskets and oil consumption.

Owner Experiences: Many owners report high levels of satisfaction with their Imprezas, often highlighting the vehicles' longevity and the effectiveness of the AWD system. However, there are notable mentions of the need for regular maintenance to avoid significant issues.


Both the second and third generation Imprezas have built strong reliability reputations, with improvements seen in the third generation. The primary concerns for the second generation revolve around head gasket failures and wheel bearing issues, while the third generation has improved in those areas but introduced concerns about oil consumption and some transmission issues.

Overall, they are considered reliable vehicles, especially valued for their AWD capabilities and engine performance. With diligent maintenance, both the second and third generation Imprezas can provide reliable service for many years and miles. Owners who stay on top of regular maintenance and address known issues promptly can expect their Impreza to last well over 200,000 miles and potentially up to or beyond 250,000 miles.

(More on specific mechanical problems below.)

Second Generation (2000 - 2007) Subaru Impreza Overview

2006 Subaru Impreza WRX

Subaru redesigned the Impreza for the 2002 model year and repositioned it from an entry-level car to a "premium" subcompact, while dropping the Coupe models.

Sedans came in RS 163 horsepower 2.5-liter versions as well as turbo WRX. Wagons offered the same choice with 2.5 TS and WRX models, plus there was an SUV-like Outback model, also with the 2.5-liter engine but with 173 hp.

With this generation's standard 4-wheel-drive, this car really grips the road and gets solid driveability ratings. But it's the WRX and WRX STI that really stand out.

The WRX is the hot-rodded version of the Impreza and most model years of this car just fly. With its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 227 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque, it goes from 0 - 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds.

The STI has a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that produces 300 hp and 300 pound-feet of torque and was the most powerful Subaru ever sold in North America.

All models received new styling, engines with horizontally-opposed cylinders, and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. All of these Imprezas were equipped with antilock brakes, all-wheel drive, a CD player, power windows, and power locks.

The sedans were designed with slightly wider front bodywork than the hatchbacks. And both WRX sedans and hatchbacks featured a sport suspension, an aluminum hood with functional scoop, and unique seats and interior trim accents.

2006 Subaru Impreza WRX Limited Hatchback

For the 2006 model year, base-level sedans and hatchbacks were renamed 2.5i from 2.5 RS and got increased horsepower to 173, like the Outback. A base WRX TR sedan was added as are top-line Limited sedan and hatchback models. WRX models also got standard 17-inch wheels (up from 16), while the STi retained its 17s.

All models also got a revised nose and taillamps. Front side airbags became standard on all Imprezas, not just for the WRX and STI.

Second Generation Subaru Impreza Possible Mechanical Problems

This production run is generally regarded as a reliable vehicle. However, like any car, it has had its share of more common mechanical problems that have been reported by owners, and should therefore be included in an inspection before buying one today:

Head Gasket Failures: A well-known issue for Subaru vehicles of this era, including the Impreza, is head gasket failure, particularly in the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engines. Symptoms include overheating, coolant leaks, and oil mixing with coolant.

Clutch Problems: Clutch wear and failure have been reported, particularly in manual transmission models. Symptoms include slipping, difficulty shifting gears, and unusual noises when engaging the clutch.

Wheel Bearing Issues: Premature wheel bearing failure is another somewhat common problem. Signs include humming or grinding noises coming from the wheels, especially noticeable when turning.

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Transmission Issues: Although not widespread, some owners have reported issues with the automatic transmission, including delayed shifting, slipping, and harsh gear changes.

Suspension Problems: Worn or failing suspension components, such as struts and control arms, can cause problems like poor handling, uneven tire wear, and noises when driving over bumps.

Fuel Pump Failures: There have been instances of fuel pump failures, leading to issues such as hard starting and stalling.

Timing Belt and Tensioner Issues: The timing belt and tensioner should be replaced according to the maintenance schedule, typically around 105,000 miles. Failure to do so can lead to catastrophic engine damage.

Electrical Problems: Issues such as malfunctioning power windows, locks, and lighting have been reported by some owners. Additionally, some models have had alternator and battery problems.

Rust and Corrosion: Depending on the climate and exposure to road salt, rust can affect the rear wheel wells, undercarriage, and suspension components.

Third Generation (2008 - 2014) Subaru Impreza Overview

2013 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

In this generation, initially, the WRX was tuned to emphasize ride comfort over handling athleticism. Frankly, the result wasn't very inspiring, or successful, and was quickly changed for 2009 when the WRX's suspension was firmed up and the power boosted by 41 horses.

The pre-change setup now existed only on the automatic 2.5GT. Both sedan and hatchback body styles came in 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5GT, WRX, WRX Premium, and WRX Limited trims, while the hatchback also came in Outback Sport, WRX STI, and WRX STI Special Edition trims.

Powering the 2.5i and Outback Sport models is a horizontally opposed 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The automatic-only Impreza 2.5 GT is outfitted with a turbocharged version of that engine that's good for 224 horsepower and 226 lb-ft of torque.

The WRX model was given an even more boosted version of the 2.5 GT's engine that's rated at 265 horsepower and 244 lb-ft, and is paired with 5-speed manual transmission only. Output for this STI comes in at 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque, and it's coupled with a 6-speed manual tansmission. And all models are all-wheel-drive.

Standard features for the 2.5i include full power accessories, cruise control, air conditioning, keyless entry, and a 4-speaker audio system with a CD player. The Premium trim adds alloy wheels and an upgraded sound system. The Impreza Outback Sport features a raised suspension for better ground clearance as well as two-tone exterior paint.

Older Subaru Impreza WRX (2008)

And there's also a host of performance versions. The 2.5GT comes with a firmer suspension, 17-inch wheels, heated front seats, a sunroof, and automatic climate control. The WRX features specialized wheels and suspension tuning, and also comes standard with most of the Impreza's optional features. The Limited models adds a sunroof and leather upholstery.

Features of the STI include an upgraded suspension, Brembo brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels, and highly bolstered sport seats. And if you're lucky, you may be able to find one of the only 125 STI Special Edition versions that have the wheels and suspension of Japan's STI spec C model.

Third Generation Subaru Impreza Possible Mechanical Problems

This generation has also been generally known for its reliability, but it still has some more commonly reported mechanical problems which should be included in a pre-purchase inspection:

Head Gasket Failures: Similar to previous generation, head gasket failures can occur, particularly in the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engines. Symptoms include coolant leaks, oil mixing with coolant, and overheating.

Oil Consumption: Some owners have reported excessive oil consumption, especially in higher mileage vehicles. This can lead to low oil levels and potential engine damage if not monitored regularly.

Transmission Problems: Both manual and automatic transmissions have had reported issues. For manual transmissions, problems like clutch wear, slipping, and difficulty shifting gears can occur. Automatic transmissions can experience delayed shifting, slipping, and harsh gear changes.

Wheel Bearing Failures: Premature wheel bearing wear is a known issue, causing humming or grinding noises, particularly noticeable when turning or driving at higher speeds.

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Timing Belt and Tensioner: As in the previous generation, the timing belt and tensioner need to be replaced according to the maintenance schedule (typically around 105,000 miles) to prevent catastrophic engine damage.

Brake System Issues: Problems with the brake system, such as warped rotors, can cause vibrations when braking. Some owners have also reported premature brake pad and rotor wear.

Fuel Pump Failures: Some owners have reported fuel pump issues which can lead to hard starting and stalling.

Electrical Problems: Malfunctions in power windows, locks, and lighting systems have been reported. Additionally, some models have experienced issues with the alternator and battery.

Engine Misfires: Misfires can occur due to faulty spark plugs, ignition coils, or fuel injectors, resulting in rough idling, poor acceleration, and a check engine light.

Air Conditioning Problems: Some owners have reported issues with the air conditioning system, such as weak airflow or failure to cool, often due to a faulty compressor or refrigerant leaks.

Things To Do When Considering An Older Impreza

Older Subaru Impreza 2.5GT Sedan (2009)

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

And My #1 Price Tip: It's important to get dealers to compete for your business by using auto sites such as and (both, actually), whether looking for a new or used car. Competition among dealers for your business is what gets you a lower price, and it's very easy.

Also, Always Know The Value Of Your Trade-In

Whether you are trading or selling on your own, it's just a good idea ... even whether you are in the market or not at the moment. You can then use this important information for a number of purposes ... to negotiate with a dealer, or to know how to price your car in the retail market, or simply to know the value of one of your assets, which is always a good idea.

Getting trade-in values online tend to vary a lot from site to site. But I've found the one at Edmunds Trade-In Quotes is particularly comprehensive and accurate.

It's free and just takes a couple of minutes. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN# followed by many simple, but specific, yes/no questions. It really focuses in on the detail of the specific vehicle.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting A Low Impreza Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" Subaru Impreza if the price was really good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

And checkout our Facebook page for more tips, car news, and fun.

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