Used 1997 Subaru Impreza

1997 Subaru Impreza
List price range
1997 Subaru Impreza


  • Outstanding handling, all-wheel drive, spunky good looks, comfortable seats


  • Could use a few more ponies under the hood, price
Subaru Impreza years

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

Subaru built a solid reputation for itself in the Seventies building inexpensive (and built to stay that way) four-wheel drive passenger cars. The company enjoyed success in the Northeast, Rocky Mountains, and Northwest, providing people with reliable transportation that could thwart most attempts by Mother Nature to keep them from arriving at their destinations. Aside from a major rusting habit and offbeat styling, Subarus kept loyal owners happy.

Then Subaru decided it wanted a bigger piece of the auto market pie. The Impreza was originally conceived to battle the Ford Escorts, Toyota Corollas and Chevy Cavaliers that sold so well to young adults. A zippy ad campaign touting the underpowered Impreza as What to Drive alienated traditional Sube buyers and turned off the young adults it was supposed to appeal to. Sales of the Impreza were less than successful, and Subaru scrambled to find a solution.

Wonder of wonders, the company decided to reacquaint itself with its legend. Subaru is concentrating on all-wheel drive cars again, and is emphasizing AWD in every ad, article and brochure you can lay your hands on. Ah yes, The Beauty Of All-wheel Drive. The Impreza is available in coupe, sedan and wagon form. Traditional front-wheel drive editions have been banished from the roster.

For 1997, Subaru infuses the anemic 1.8-liter and 2.2-liter engines with additional horsepower and torque. Peak torque occurs lower in the 2.2's rev range, providing more useable oomph. The Outback Sport is the big news this year; it features a suspension lift, more ground clearance, and snazzy styling that should appeal to SUV intenders. All Imprezas are facelifted, featuring new grilles and large functional hood scoops that suck in air to help cool the engine bay.

Good thing the hood scoop has been added, because you'll keep the zingy 2.2-liter boxer engine revved up. The Impreza behaves like a street-legal rally car, and is a hoot to toss around. Fling it into a corner, and it clings to the pavement. The Impreza is comfortable, though the side glass feels a bit too close. Steering and braking is communicative, and the interior is well-laid out with easy-to-use controls and legible analog gauges.

Two other developments for 1997 disturb us, however. The LX model disappears from the lineup, and most of its standard equipment can be ordered for the L Coupe. Model simplification is a good thing, but the LX's anti-lock brakes did not make the transition to the L's options list. To get ABS, you must order the Outback Sport. This doesn't make much sense from a company touting safety in its advertising. Also new are the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) controls. The 1996 Impreza had three simple to use rotary dials. For 1997, HVAC controls are a combination of slide levers and knobs that don't look or function as nicely as those from last year.

Overall, we find much to like about the Impreza. We've driven Outback Sport and L Coupe models, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The wagon has a small cargo area when the rear seat is raised, partially due to the steeply raked rear window. Drop the seat, though, and you've got 62 cubic feet to mess around with. Other quibbles include a cramped rear seat and ugly K-Mart issue plastic wheelcovers on the Outback Sport.

Subaru is aiming the Outback Sport at consumers who would otherwise be considering a Toyota RAV4, Geo Tracker, or Kia Sportage. Unfortunately, it has trouble delivering what most folks want in a sport-utility. It's not capable of serious off-road adventure, and it doesn't provide a commanding view of traffic. Cargo volume with the rear seat up can't match the Kia or the Toyota for usability. However, Imprezas are a blast to drive hard and fast, and the all-wheel drive system performs brilliantly on a variety of road surfaces.

What's it cost for a fun car with all-wheel drive peace of mind? Brightons start at just over $14,000 including destination charges. Better accommodations will run you as much as $17,500 for an L Wagon with an automatic transmission. Want ABS? Plan to spend at least another grand. As good as all-wheel drive is, the budget-minded compact shopper must ask whether the price commanded by the Impreza is worth it. As much as we like the Impreza, we're skeptical.

1997 Highlights

Imprezas receive a facelifted front end that includes a Hemi-size hood scoop. A new Outback Sport Wagon debuts, with over six inches of ground clearance, foglights and a slightly raised roof. LX model disappears, which means only the Outback is equipped with ABS. Power and torque for both Impreza engines are up for 1997, and some new colors are available. HVAC controls are revised.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Subaru Impreza.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

My Subaru
TAA's Car,03/06/2004
Never had a problem with the car. Just typical maintenace has been done. Battery replaced once since I have owned it.
My Tricked out Scooby
Awesome car!! There are plenty of mods that can be done for someone who is looking to trick their Subaru out. I have chrome rims/altezza's/spoiler/system/exhaust etc on mine. I'm a fast driving teen and this car can handle a beating.
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Features & Specs

20 city / 27 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
137 hp @ 5400 rpm
See all Used 1997 Subaru Impreza features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Subaru Impreza
Used 1997 Subaru Impreza Overview

The Used 1997 Subaru Impreza is offered in the following submodels: Impreza Sedan, Impreza Coupe, Impreza Wagon. Available styles include L 4dr Wagon AWD, L 2dr Coupe AWD, Outback Sport 4dr Wagon AWD, L 4dr Sedan AWD, and Brighton 2dr Coupe AWD.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Subaru Impreza?

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Which used 1997 Subaru Imprezas are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 1997 Subaru Imprezas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Impreza for sale - 1 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $23,734.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 8 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $12,765.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Impreza for sale - 5 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $23,853.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 6 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $16,666.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 Subaru Impreza?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Subaru lease specials
Check out Subaru Impreza lease specials