Like all cars, the Subaru Impreza has fluids that require periodic changes to prolong the life and durability of the components within which that fluid circulates. In addition to typical fluids like engine coolant, engine oil and transmission fluid, your Impreza has a differential and all-wheel-drive system components that require fluid changes as well. Familiarize yourself with the service schedule relating to these fluids, and confirm that the seller has done the same. According to this discussion about Subaru Impreza fluid changes, many owners fail to adhere to the service schedule for fluid changes, which can reduce the life of various systems, and cause issues.  The gist? Be sure the Impreza you’re considering has been treated to quality, on-time fluid changes as prescribed by the service manual, and especially those fluid changes relating to its AWD system. Plan to continue doing the same, and your vehicle will thank you in the long run.

Note that CVT-style transmissions typically need to be refilled with a very specific fluid, in a very specific way, to avoid issues, and often have complicated and involved procedures to ensure proper measuring, flushing and filling. In general, then, a CVT fluid change is best left for the dealer, though other fluid changes can be handled by virtually any shop.

Focus some attention on the central command screen, aka Subaru StarLink, if equipped. Cycle the system through all of its functions and settings, confirming all on-screen interfaces and associated functionality work as expected. Any non-functionality, crashing, or lagging, can typically be fixed with a hard reset, or a software update. Here’s some more reading.

Confirm that the back-up camera system, if equipped, is working properly, by activating it several times over the course of your test drive.

Other checks should include a quick scan of the Impreza you’re considering for excessive wear to the body and interior, especially in the cargo area, door-sill plates, seating surfaces and centre console. Look for signs of excessive wear and tear, possibly caused by careless cargo hauling, neglectful loading of gear, or use of the vehicle to transport pets with scratchy claws, and call any excessive wear you note into pricing negotiations.

On a five-door model, open the tailgate hatch, and pull downwards on it, lightly. If it closes with minimal effort, the gas struts designed to keep it open could be worn out, which can cause eventually cause the hatch to fall, and whack you in the noggin. Rear hatch strut replacement is easy and inexpensive.

A note on the EyeSight system, if equipped: This camera-based safety system requires a clear view out the windscreen, making it extra-important to ensure the windshield on the model you’re considering is free of damage or cracks, and that you’re using quality wipers which are in good shape. The EyeSight system on some 72,000 vehicles was recalled due to a potential problem, and shoppers should have the system run through a diagnostic scan at a dealer to confirm proper functionality ahead of their purchase, for maximum peace of mind. The EyeSight system may require a recalibration procedure after a windshield replacement, too. More reading here.

The Verdict: For maximum peace of mind, a 2014 or newer Impreza is likely your safest bet. If purchasing an earlier model, be sure to talk to your local Subaru dealer about the potential oil consumption issues, and whether or not the model you’re considering may be affected. And, in any case, be absolutely sure the vehicle hasn’t missed any of its important fluid changes.

A list of recalls

Crash Test Scores:
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick / Top Safety Pick +

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