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 just got my new Subaru a couple weeks ago, but this car is quite fantastic. It is reliable, fun to drive, has plenty of space in the back, and the AWD is (or will be) a godsend in bad weather. Even on rainy interstates this car feels impervious where other cars i have owned felt nervous or uncomfortable. If you live where the weather is perpetually bad, this hatch really is worth your look.
This car is fun to drive, has a great manual transmission, and plenty of power even with just the 2.5 base engine. Fuel economy is pretty good for an AWD car (I'm averaging 26 MPG), and it feels impervious to the elements. It tracks on the highway like a much larger car, but feels small and fun when pushed into a corner. Got my car for $19000 and I got bluetooth, ipod integration, better stereo, and a sunroof. Hill-holder feature is awesome on hills.
The interior feels a little on the cheap side, and the engine can be growly under load (although this isn't something i consider bad at all, some people might like it quieter.) Avoid the automatic tranny if you can, its wicked old and makes the car much less fun. Also, the seats can get a little uncomfortable on long freeway jaunts.