Avoid all Imprezas and buy a Legacy if you are going to buy a Subaru - the build quality is substantially better. I have had this car for 5 years and babied it, yet it still continues to fall apart. The rear wheel bearings have been replaced 3 times, the power window regulator died, the steering column coupler fell apart, the struts and alternator died at 70K, the engine was replaced at 100K after a bad rod knock developed (after fixing a head gasket leak), the CV joints have torn repeatedly, etc. What a lemon! This car only has 100K on it, but is constantly breaking down. The AWD system and overall pep of the engine are great, but avoid Imprezas due to their poor build quality.
AWD, engine performance, ease of maintenance
Only fair fuel economy, needs more cup holders, very poor build quality.
Looks like you got 1 lemon out of a huge stock pile. It happens especially when people don't take care of these cars. Sounds like the previous owner beat the crap out of it for it to develop a HG leak, bearings to go bad, replace the CV shafts, and wheel bearings. Also, in 99 the notorious HG problem was fixed when they went from DOHC to SOHC so can't blame that, but that was mostly on the 2.5l.