Used Vehicle Review: Subaru Impreza, 2008 2011 used car reviews subaru reviews
2010 Subaru Impreza 2.5i Sport hatchback. Click image to enlarge

The second post in this thread suggests that the head gaskets used in the WRX and STI’s turbocharged motors use a better head gasket that is interchangeable with that in the non-turbo 2.5L motor in 2005-and-newer Imprezas. The idea here is that using that more robust gasket would prevent future leaks.

In other used Subaru reviews (like this Forester article, and this one about the Legacy), I’ve written about how the newest models in each case showed no signs of leaky gaskets, and that perhaps Subaru had addressed the problem. Nuh-uh — the real reason is that most owners’ cars hadn’t showed symptoms of leaky gaskets yet. While neither Consumer Reports nor TrueDelta.com report any head gasket troubles in 2008-and-newer Imprezas, I would not rule out the possibility of trouble in the future as the engine ages.

Here’s an epic 18-page discussion on 2.5L engines with leaky head gaskets. Fast-forward to page 14 or 15 to read posts made in the last couple of years.

Used Vehicle Review: Subaru Impreza, 2008 2011 used car reviews subaru reviews
Used Vehicle Review: Subaru Impreza, 2008 2011 used car reviews subaru reviews
Used Vehicle Review: Subaru Impreza, 2008 2011 used car reviews subaru reviews
2010 Subaru Impreza 2.5i Sport hatchback. Click image to enlarge

A chirp/squeal or “pssht” sound is caused by the air conditioning compressor. In a best-case scenario, it’s the drive belt slipping on the pulley when the compressor clutch engages. Worst case, the noise is from the clutch itself and means it’s time to replace the compressor.

There are many mentions of spun crankshaft bearings (essentially a failed bearing caused by a low oil level, among other things) in Impreza engines, but it seems that most of these are the turbocharged motors in the WRX and STI. All the same, it appears that this engine, too, is sensitive to having the proper amount of oil in the crankcase.

The Impreza performed well in crash testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the car its best “Good” rating in frontal offset and side impact tests. From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Impreza got five stars in every test, save for rear seat side impact protection, where it scored four stars.

A true apples-to-apples comparison of the Impreza’s resale values means lining it up against the few other compact cars that offer (or have offered) all-wheel drive. That relatively short list includes the Toyota Matrix, Suzuki SX4 and Dodge Caliber (though the Dodge’s AWD option disappeared after 2008), and the Impreza is pricier than all of them. I’d argue it’s worth the extra cost if only for the extra refinement it boasts next to the Toyota and Dodge, and the interior space bonus compared to the Suzuki.

(The AWD Pontiac Vibe was gone before this third-gen Impreza arrived; the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart was AWD too, but its turbo motor was more of a match for the WRX, not the base Impreza.)

I wouldn’t call this the best-looking Impreza, but this third-generation version was the best all-around car, offering more refinement and interior space than its predecessors. It’s a well-made car too, and a better one than the redesigned 2012 model, which feels less substantial. If you set your sights on a used Impreza, choose one with detailed service records that show the head gasket have been done recently. Either that, or negotiate a price that leaves enough money in your pockets to have them replaced, because they probably will fail at some point.

Pricing

Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) April 2012:

Year
Model
Price today
Price new
2011
Impreza 2.5i Sport wagon automatic
$25,575
$26,695
2010
Impreza 2.5i Sport wagon automatic
$20,725
$26,695
2009
Impreza 2.5i Sport wagon automatic
$18,425
$26,695
2008
Impreza 2.5i Sport wagon automatic
$16,250
$25,995
Online resources