We bought our Impreze new and have loved it ever since. We have put 175,000 miles on it over the years. Only work we ever had to do on it was tires, brakes and a muffler. We don't count the new oil pump we needed because that was caused by trying to pull too many small trees out of the ground with the help of the AWD. The AWD is the best though, as long as you are not landscaping with it. Can't spin the tires / car if you try even in the snow. In a nutshell Our little pea pod has been safe, reliable and a lot of fun to drive over the years.
I got this car as a college graduation gift in spring of 1996. It has been a reliable workhorse since. It has taken the abuse of Midwestern snow and ice, and well as tackled storms in Colorado. I just passed 144,000 miles this week. I would recommend a Subaru to anyone who values quality and reliability.
I have not had any problems with my 1996 Impreza since I bought it off the show room floor 8 1/2 years ago. In Vriginia with the snow. Having AWD is a real must. I am considering going to a newer Subaru and may put this one on the market. It will be tough. The only real complaint I have is that the tires wear out quicker and the road noise can be loud at times.
My overall score may not be as high as others, but I don't love it any less. Overall, great value, fun car, and great features. I'd buy it again - but not the automatic. Good and firm handling, with high ground-clearance for snowpack or dirt roads. 2.2 is peppy, but the automatic limits performance. High torque makes up for avg horsepower. Real killer with auto is 90-10 AWD bias. Manual is 50-50. Mild understeer coming into a turn but neutral steer coming out. As bad as 16 mpg when driving aggressively in the city! Noticed from exhaust smell and smog test results that my air-fuel runs rich. Overall 20+ mpg isn't bad.