3 Subaru Impreza Model Years You Should Never Buy

Subaru is a highly respected carmaker, and for good reason. The brand consistently produces reliable and efficient machines, though some model years inadvertently miss the mark. The Subaru Impreza, a compact car that comes in sedan and hatchback body styles, has been a staple in the Japanese automaker’s lineup since 1993.

Consumer Reports has regarded the sedan as a good choice for several years. But the following three models are problematic.  

What’s wrong with the 2009 Subaru Impreza?

Two Subaru Impreza sedans customised by Tiley Motors of Bristol, England, taken on March 19, 2009
Two customized Subaru Impreza sedans in 2009 | Joby Sessions/Future via Getty Images

The 2009 Subaru Impreza had plenty going for it upon its debut. In fact, Kelley Blue Book named it one of the top 10 coolest new cars under $18,000, Subaru says.

But several significant aspects of the car didn’t work for Consumer Reports‘ testers. The 2009 Impreza scored well in most categories in the CR road test, garnering 4 out of 5 for its transmission, braking, ride, noise, and comfort level. The reviewers even remarked that the 2009 Impreza is practical, relatively fun to drive, and provides a better cabin than the previous version. 

However, the Impreza disappointed reviewers with its fuel economy of 24 mpg, subpar for a small car.

But real trouble for the 2009 model begins with its reliability. CR surveyed owners, and they reported the trouble spots they experienced with their cars over the years. The 2009 Impreza received the lowest rating in overall reliability: 1 out of 5. Why so low?

For starters, this model year has 15 recalls. Also, owners have faced major transmission problems, faulty suspension and fuel systems, and brake issues. In addition, the 2009 Impreza has experienced major body integrity problems. Many owners have reported that the body makes loud noises, leaks air and water, and cracks easily.

In fact, the 2009 Impreza finishes second to last in a ranking of the reliability of small cars in 2009. 

The same complaints dog the 2010 Subaru Impreza

Unfortunately for Subaru Impreza fans, the 2010 model suffers from many of the previous year’s problems.

Consumer Reports praises the car’s safety ratings and give it 3s and 4s out of 5 for its performance in most metrics, aside from a 2 out of 5 for the cargo area. But the fuel economy remains the same as the previous model, as do the abysmal reliability scores.

The 2010 Impreza also has 15 recalls, and it received a 1 out of 5 in reliability and owner satisfaction. Many owners have reported major and minor problems with the engine, and several have experienced problems with the power equipment, in-car electronics, exhaust, and suspension. 

However, the 2010 Impreza improves on its scores from the previous model, including better ratings in transmission reliability, fuel systems, and drive systems.

But that isn’t enough to boost its overall reliability score out of the red zone. CR puts this vehicle in last place for reliability among small cars in 2010. 

2013 Impreza problems sound familiar

The Subaru Impreza underwent major changes for the 2011 model year and garnered much higher reliability scores, as did the 2012 model. But 2013 was a different story.

The 2013 Impreza still earned decent scores on Consumer Reports‘ road test, and its braking and interior impressed reviewers. It also improved on gas mileage enough to get a better overall 27 mpg. 

But as for reliability, the 2013 Impreza slid back to its old ways of the 2009 and 2010 models, receiving a pitiful 1 out of 5 for overall reliability. Once again, drivers have reported major engine problems, transmission and drive system issues, and body hardware woes. 

Interestingly, the 2010 Subaru Impreza still ranks above the Nissan Sentra, Mini Cooper, and Ford Focus in reliability among 2013 small cars. 

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