This is a good smallish car that will get you from point A to point B. Not so small that you can't put a fairly large dog or a couple of adults in the back, or put the seats down and haul some stuff. It's not a luxury car but it has been very good to/for me. After suffering through a used luxury car (that a friend sold me) with massive repair bills, I bought this new. 4 years and 29K miles later it's doing fine.
I get regular oil changes and other routine maintenance, and keep it in a garage at night. This car has had some wear and tear but no major issues that weren't externally caused. (rear-ended, rocks kicked up on highway). It's never broken down randomly or behaved oddly in a severe way, which is more than I can say for the European monster I used to own. Minor issues with the Subie so far: a plastic piece fell off the driver sun visor, but visor still works; one occasion where turn signals started acting oddly then the problem resolved itself.
This past winter I had some problems with sliding on ice, so I am planning on getting winter tires this year. I live in an area where road conditions can be awful and only the major roads are plowed, if you're lucky.
The sound system is decent. Not as good as my previous car but I'm told pre-2011 sound systems in Imprezas were awful. Visibility is pretty good.
In comparison to other cars: The Forester is sluggish compared to this car in terms of pickup and maneuverability, but the Forester has better visibility because it sits higher. I have driven Nissans and the Impreza is less responsive and maneuverable than a Nissan sedan, but more responsive and maneuverable than American cars I've driven. Compared to the Euromonster this has more road noise and a less gentle suspension, but not bad. I test-drove an Impreza sedan and the sedan grips the road better than the hatchback. I chose the hatchback because I prefer that style and it has more legroom.
Bought this car new in Feb 2011. Loved the looks and wanted that legendary Subaru reliability. Boy, we were sorely mistaken. We just traded it in after the last straw--and it's January, 2013.
We had to have the engine REPLACED at 18K.
REPLACED. This is a dealer-serviced car, driven gently back and forth to work and to the grocery store, etc. Engine knocked, we took it in, and it spent the next MONTH and change in the shop.
After they replaced the engine, we thought everything was okay--until a few weeks ago, when it began knocking AGAIN. We took it back in. For the last time. We traded that heap and haven't looked back.
This car was probably a lemon, but still disappointed.
Manual transmission is responsive, with tight gears.
Holds the road well.
Very little sliding or skidding on slick, icy roads.
An engine that doesn't completely flake out at 18K miles.
I guess I would like the interior to be a little less plastic-y and cheap, but it's a cheap car, so that's probably pressing my luck.
The in-dash Tom-Tom needs something to protect it from glare, needs to work ALL THE TIME (voice cuts out from time to time for no reason, then will return several hundred miles later, after I've forgotten it's supposed to talk to me.
First time this happened the sudden, loud command scared the crap out of me), and needs to not become unresponsive when hot (won't respond to touch).
We won't be purchasing another Subaru after this experience.
Bought new and now have currently about 28k miles. Overall great car, suspension is very forgiving but a little to soft for my opinion-that is my only gripe. MPG I average 28-30 on hwy and about 23-25 city. A lot of the wrx components can be switched to the 2.5i such as suspension or brakes. The 2.5i brakes compared to the wrx brakes are pretty stupid IMO; both have same caliper but different size rotors-I upgraded to wrx rotors using wrx caliper bracket and braking is much better now. Handles great in snow, the only thing that limits it is the crappy oem tires. Overall a great car for someone looking for a AWD vehicle at a great price. Do not overlook this car, you will not regret it!
-AWD-handling in all weather conditions is superior, hands down
-Compatibility to wrx parts
-Tons of room! (hatchback)
-Upgrade to wrx brake rotors
-Upgrade oem tires
-Upgrade oem stereo-sounds very distorted at volume 30/40...even with "upgraded stereo" that comes with tweeters in the front doors
-If you want a more firm suspension, upgrade to wrx or aftermarket struts
-Aftermarket Swaybars!-Absolute must!, the car does not even come with a rear sway bar!
I leased a 2011 Impreza Outback Sport (all weather package) in April 2011.
I've since put about 18k miles on it and am reasonably satisfied with it so far.
It's not a performance model but it's fun to drive and with the seats folded down I get plenty of space to haul things like my entire acoustic drum set.
It's your typical, versatile Subaru, but the the quality of the interior is a bit lacking.
The seats' cloth is thin and feels flimsy.
The front passenger door has rattled from the speaker's bass since day 1.
The driver side head rest
wobbles a bit.
I can even feel where the posts end in the seat-back when I lean my head against it.
Also the center console latch broke 3 weeks in.
-All Weather Pack (heated mirrors, seats and lower windshield for wipers and rubber floor mats and roof cross-bars)
-Sport Mode and stiffer suspension than previous model years makes it a lot of fun to drive aggressively (very little body roll)
-Cargo room is very spacious with rear seats folded
-Subaru reliability is unbeatable and resale is still tops
-No mechanical problems to date
Road noise even with the roof cross-bars off is excessive.
It needs more sound deadening material in the doors, headliner, and could use some shielding underneath.
The sound system is great but everyone had problems with the front passenger door rattling uncontrollably and Subaru dealerships had no clue how to fix it which was very frustrating (not complicated at all, you can easily google it).
My center console now has a sweet velcroe feature that keeps it shut since the latch broke.
Overall, interior is shoddy.
We had a 2002 Impreza Outback Sport (the hatchback Impreza).
At 150,00 Head Gasket and Catalytic Converter went. They broke again 50,000 miles later. The 2002 model only lasted 200,000 miles and Subaru Annapolis and Subura National Customer Service said it is not worth fixing a 200,000 mile car; buy a new one. What?!? That is why we bought a Subaru- to go the distance more than other cars....I'd be scared to buy this one unless you get it for the price of a Hyundai!
Make a car that tends to last longer than 200,000 miles and actually have dealers with faith to fix cars over 200,000 miles. The new commercial should say "Love Your Subaru to 200,000 miles only because we don't love them after that". Subaru lost one customer this year!