Buying a used car can save money upfront, but depending on the car you purchase, you may end up pouring more money into it for repairs and maintenance. Subaru is generally a popular choice, but some models are not as well-received depending on the year. The 2012-13 Subaru Impreza falls into that category. Newer models, such as the 2021 Impreza, are typically more reliable and provide a comfortable ride at a reasonable price. However, even with a price under $20,000, it is out of reach for many people, and used cars often offer a cheaper way to get into a vehicle. So, before you buy that used Impreza, check out what Consumer Reports has to say about the 2012-13 model years.
Consumer Reports: Buy this, not that
Consumer Reports recently put out a list of used cars that burn oil that you shouldn’t buy, along with what you should buy instead. Some cars include the 2010-13 Acura MDX, with the 2010-13 Lexus RX as the proposed alternative, and the 2010-12 Audi A4, with the 2010-13 Lexus ES as an alternate option. The 2010-15 Audi Q5 and the 2012-19 BMW M5 also made the list, with the 2011, 2013-14 Acura RDX and the 2013-15 Lexus GS as suggested alternatives.
Subaru has several models listed as big oil burners, including the 2010-15 Forester and Outback models, with the 2010-15 Honda CR-V suggested as an alternative, the 2010-15 Legacy with the 2010-15 Toyota Camry as a suggested as an alternative, and the 2010-14 Tribeca with the 2010-14 Toyota Highlander, picked as an alternative. The 2012-13 Impreza was also known for burning through oil, and Consumer Reports proposed the 2012-14 Mazda3 as an alternative.
You don’t want a 2012 or 2013 Subaru Impreza
While the Impreza has consistently been one of the lower-priced cars with standard all-wheel drive, its reliability has never been great, particularly for 2012 and 2013 models. In general, these model years performed well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests and had agile handling. However, the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter flat-four engine was known for burning through oil. This was such a prominent issue that Subaru extended the factory warranty for the 2012-2013 models, but only for five years, so these older model years are no longer covered under warranty.
A better alternative is a 2012 to 2014 Mazda3
The alternative car Consumer Reports recommends, the 2012-14 Mazda3, has a reliability rating of five out of five, as well as a five out of five fuel economy rating. The Mazda3 has a few engine options for 2012-14 models model years. These include a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, with the option of an automatic or manual transmission.
All three model years are recommended by Consumer Reports, which is only given to vehicles with consistently above-average reliability that also performed well in safety tests when they were new. They also are a Green Choice, which means the EPA certified each model year as among the 20% lowest-emitting passenger vehicles for that model year.
If the 2021 Subaru Impreza is outside of your budget and you are set on an Impreza, avoid the 2012-13 models. Additionally, if you are in the market for a used car, and a sedan in particular, and don’t have strong ties to Subaru, the fun-to-drive Mazda3 is a good option. In terms of maintenance costs, reliability, and fuel economy, it is a reasonable choice. The Mazda3 does have a fairly cramped rear seat, and it won’t block out road noise very well, but no car is perfect.