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Car shoppers may be figuratively blinded by the light of a low sales price, but a vital consideration when buying a new car is its maintenance costs. After all, any dollars saved on the initial cost of a model can quickly be negated by high repair or maintenance bills. Subaru has earned a reputation for its general reliability, but according to RepairPal, one of the brand’s models has notably higher maintenance costs than its stablemates, and it’s not the Ascent SUV, the brand’s largest vehicle offering.

Subaru is the middle of the pack among reliability factors

RepairPal ranks Subaru at No. 14 out of 32 major automakers in reliability rating based on the cost, frequency, and severity of repairs among manufacturers’ models. The average annual repair and maintenance cost across Subaru’s models is $617, slightly less than the average of $652 across all notable brands. The website reports Subaru models require an average of 0.3 visits to a repair shop annually, and there is a 13 percent probability of such a repair being deemed “severe.”

For comparison, Subaru’s fellow Japanese automaker, Honda, has the lowest cost among all automakers, at $428 annually. Honda places ahead of Hyundai ($468), Toyota ($441), Nissan ($500) and Mitsubishi ($535). However, Subaru does beat out several domestic brands like Chevrolet ($649) and Ford ($775) for lower average repair costs.

The WRX STI commands the highest annual repair costs among Subaru models

The Subaru WRX STI is the performance variant of the already sporty WRX sedan that made its debut, at least in its latest guise, for the 2015 model year. While the WRX STI stands as a blue-collar hero among budget-minded enthusiasts, it can be a heavy hitter to the wallet when it comes time to take it to a shop.  

RepairPal notes that the WRX STI has the highest annual repair and maintenance costs among Subaru models at $758 annually. It’s unclear if modifications gone wrong or overly enthusiastic drivers launching the WRX STI into ditches drives up this annual cost. Still, RepairPal does note three common problems among the model.

The most commonly reported issues are a failed knock sensor, misfire issues requiring “improved spark plug wires,” and problems regarding the ABS control module.

The WRX STI — a rally hero and affordable sports sedan

The Subaru Impreza WRX STI made its debut in the early 1990s and is one of the most iconic cars to ever compete in world rallying, partly because it was a perennial championship contender (and winner). Additionally, enthusiasts who wanted a taste of its terrain-attacking rallying pedigree could do so in a relatively affordable manner with the road-going version.

The second generation Impreza WRX STI model debuted in 2000, according to Emanual Online. It upped the hooliganism factor with a giant rear wing, a massive hood scoop, up to 300 horsepower, and gold wheels, which became an iconic styling feature of the model. During this time, the 2003 model year specifically, it began selling in the U.S. Later, the Impreza WRX STI was in its third generation in 2008 when it swapped out its sedan body style to become a hatchback.

The fourth generation was introduced for the 2015 model year, but by this point, it had broken away from the Impreza and effectively became a standalone sedan model. Still, many of its classic features, like a boxer engine and six-speed manual, remained, though a CVT was also introduced.

The WRX STI fell out of the lineup after the 2021 model year, but there are murmurings the nameplate could be revived as an EV.

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