Subaru Impreza Years to Avoid: A Comprehensive Overview

(Last Updated On: March 13, 2024)

Subaru, the Japanese car manufacturer, is renowned for building robust, effective vehicles that frequently outclass their rivals. The Subaru Impreza, which comes in sedan and hatchback versions, stands out in its range. Nevertheless, not every version of the Subaru Impreza may prove equal when it comes to toughness and dependability, necessitating the avoidance of certain Subaru Impreza model years.

Here, we will delve into the Subaru Impreza years that you might want to avoid, based on user-reported complaints, recall records, and other data. We’ll also take a closer look at their overall reliability, common problems, and factors to consider when buying a Subaru Impreza. So what’re you waiting for? Let’s get moving!

What Are The Impreza Years To Avoid?

This infographic introduces the concept of the Subaru Impreza years to avoid.

While buying a used Subaru Impreza can be a good deal, some model years are known for specific problems and are not the best investment. Based on data from various sources, here are the Subaru Impreza years you might want to steer clear of:

  • 2006 Subaru Impreza
  • 2008 Subaru Impreza
  • 2010 Subaru Impreza
  • 2012 Subaru Impreza
  • 2013 Subaru Impreza
  • 2015 Subaru Impreza
  • 2016 Subaru Impreza
  • 2017 Subaru Impreza
  • 2018 Subaru Impreza
  • 2019 Subaru Impreza

These model years are notorious for certain issues, including problematic transmission systems, leaky head gaskets, faulty electronics, and more. Let’s delve deeper into these issues.

Why, What’s The Deal?

Here's an infographic detailing the common problems found in Subaru Imprezas. This is used to further illustrate the Subaru Impreza years to be avoided.

2006 Subaru Impreza: Although this model year isn’t the worst, it has its share of problems. For instance, it had 80 complaints and ten recalls as per Car Complaints. The most significant issue was the faulty transmission system, making shifting a hassle. There were also complaints about a leaky head gasket, often requiring replacement at a low mileage of around 71,550 miles.

2008 Subaru Impreza: This year model tops the list with the highest number of complaints (297) and a whopping 15 recalls. The most prevalent issue was with the windshield/windows, which developed a film obstructing the driver’s view. Another recurring problem was the leaky head gasket causing oil leaks, similar to the 2006 model.

2010 Subaru Impreza: Among the notable issues with the 2010 model were electronics problems, including faulty tire pressure monitors, gauges, warning lights, and USB ports. The 2010 Impreza was also affected by the Takata airbag issue, where the inflators in the airbags could disintegrate after prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures.

2012 Subaru Impreza: This year model is considered the worst in the lineup due to its high number of complaints (332) and six recalls. The most severe problem was the sudden and accidental acceleration, presenting a significant safety risk.

2013 Subaru Impreza: Next on our list, the 2013 model suffered from transmission issues and high oil consumption, which could indicate engine problems. In some cases, owners had to rebuild their engines, making it an expensive fix.

2015 Subaru Impreza: This Impreza year to avoid was plagued by abrupt acceleration occurrences, transmission failure, and intermittent fuel pump issues. All of which, as you can image, can pose a significant issue.

2016 Subaru Impreza: Similar to many other model years, this Subaru Impreza iteration was plagued with CVT problems, jerky acceleration behavior, and miscellaneous infotainment related issues.

2017 Subaru Impreza: Noticing any trends here? This Subaru Impreza model year is plagued by the typical Subaru problems of excessive oil consumption and electrical system issues – specifically related to the infotainment system.

2018 Subaru Impreza: This Subaru Impreza is still suffering from excessive oil consumption, except this year also has the tendency to spontaneously crack the windshield.

2019 Subaru Impreza: We’re getting better now, but this Subaru Impreza year still suffers from the ongoing infotainment system issue.

Related article: Best Year Subaru Impreza

Subaru Impreza Recalls by Year
The number of recalls for Subaru Impreza by year. Years 2008-2010 and 2017 had the most recalls.

I Thought Subarus are Generally Solid, are Imprezas Reliable or Not?

Contrary to the popular belief that Subarus are reliable, the Impreza model, unfortunately, does not score high in terms of reliability. The Impreza scores 49.45 in reliability, placing it in the not-very-reliable category, according to It has the second-lowest score in the Subaru group, only ahead of the Subaru Tribeca.

Furthermore, gives the Subaru Impreza a reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5, which is below average for compact cars. The annual repair cost for a Subaru Impreza is $653, which is average for this type of vehicle. However, if there are any unexpected repairs, there is a 17% chance it will be severe.

See other models:
> Subaru Legacy Years to Avoid
> Best Year Subaru Legacy

Overview of Their Reliability Over The Years

As a model, the Subaru Impreza has had ups and downs in its reliability ratings. For example, it underwent significant changes in 2011, and the model’s reliability improved significantly that year, as did the 2012 model. However, 2013 saw a return to the reliability problems of previous years, with the model scoring a low 1 out of 5 for overall reliability.

On the bright side, there are a few model years that stand out for their reliability. The 2011 and 2017 Subaru Imprezas are considered the most reliable years for the model, providing comfortable rides, good safety features, and excellent dependability.

How Does The Forester Fare?
> Best Years for Subaru Forester
> Forester Years to Avoid

List of Common Subaru Impreza Problems

Despite the robustness and efficiency typically associated with Subaru vehicles, the Impreza is known for having certain common issues across various model years. Some of the most frequently reported problems include:

  • Rear oil leak: This problem can lead to a significant loss of engine oil, which can further damage the engine if not addressed promptly.
  • Black smoke from the exhaust: This is an indication of engine problems and usually results in decreased fuel efficiency and performance.
  • Rodent attraction to soy-based coating on wires: This issue can lead to electrical problems and costly repairs if rodents chew through the wires.
  • Unresponsive infotainment system: This can be frustrating and detract from the overall driving experience.
  • Windshield prone to cracking: This not only affects the vehicle’s aesthetics but also poses a safety risk.
  • Poor control and sloppy handling: This can make the vehicle difficult to drive, especially in adverse weather conditions.

Read more: Subaru Battery Problems: Causes, Solutions, & Prevention

Should You Still Buy One?

Despite its issues, the Subaru Impreza can still be a good buy, especially if you’re considering the more reliable model years (2011 and 2017). It’s a compact car that offers good ride quality, high safety scores, and impressive fuel efficiency, making it a good choice for daily commuting. However, if you’re considering other Subaru Imprezamodel years, it’s essential to be aware of the potential problems and factor in the cost of potential repairs.

Read next: Are Subaru WRX Reliable? Yes and No (Here’s Why)

Pros and Cons

Like any vehicle, the Subaru Impreza has its pros and cons. On the plus side, it offers a comfortable ride, good safety features, and excellent all-weather capabilities due to its standard all-wheel drive. It also comes in both sedan and hatchback variants, giving buyers options to suit their needs.

On the downside, the worst Subaru Impreza years years are plagued with reliability issues, which can lead to costly repairs. The vehicle’s fuel economy, though decent, is not as good as some of its competitors in the compact car class. Some owners also complain about the vehicle’s performance and handling.

My Opinion and How To Tell For Yourself

As an experienced automotive writer, my opinion is that the Subaru Impreza can be a good buy if you choose the right model year. The 2011 and 2017 model years are known for their reliability and are generally free from the major issues that plague other years. However, it’s important to do your own research and consider factors like maintenance history, mileage, and overall condition before making a purchase.

One of the best ways to determine if a used Subaru Impreza is a good buy is to have it inspected by a trusted mechanic. They can identify any existing issues and give you an idea of potential future repairs. Also, be sure to test drive the vehicle to see how it handles and if it suits your driving style.

Keep reading: Subaru Dashboard Lights and Meanings

Recap of The Worst Impreza Years

Here's a recap infographic further reminding you of the years to avoid.

To recap, the worst Subaru Impreza years to avoid, according to consumer complaints and recall data, are:

  • 2006: Issues with the transmission and a leaky head gasket.
  • 2008: Numerous complaints about the windshield/windows and a leaky head gasket.
  • 2010: Problems with the electronics and airbags.
  • 2012: Known for sudden and accidental acceleration.
  • 2013: Noted for transmission issues and high oil consumption.
  • 2015: Abrupt acceleration, transmission failure, and fuel pump issues.
  • 2016: CVT problems, jerky acceleration, and infotainment issues.
  • 2017: Excessive oil consumption and electrical system problems.
  • 2018: Spontaneous windshield cracking and oil consumption.
  • 2019: Malfunctioning infotainment system causing distractions.

If you’re in the market for a Subaru Impreza, it’s advisable to avoid these model years. I also recommend following a thorough checklist when examining an Impreza when considering a purchase. Use this official Subaru checklist below:

Ending Thoughts

While the Subaru Impreza has had its share of problems, it’s not all bad news. The 2011 and 2017 model years are known to be reliable and could be a good choice for those seeking a compact car with all-wheel drive. However, as with any used vehicle purchase, it’s essential to do your homework, inspect the vehicle thoroughly, consider the potential cost of future repairs, and always remember these Subaru Impreza years to avoid.

Read next: Subaru Outback Years to Avoid


Are Subaru Imprezas generally reliable?

While Subaru as a brand is known for its reliability, the Impreza model has had some issues. According to various sources, its reliability ratings are below average compared to other compact cars.

What are the common problems with Subaru Imprezas?

Common problems reported by Subaru Impreza owners include issues with the transmission, a leaky head gasket, problems with the electronics, and high oil consumption.

Should I buy a used Subaru Impreza?

Buying a used Subaru Impreza can be a good decision, but it’s important to choose the right model year. The 2011 and 2017 model years are known for their reliability. However, be sure to have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before purchasing.

Which Subaru Impreza years should I avoid?

Based on user-reported complaints and recall data, you might want to avoid the 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2013 Subaru Impreza model years.

What is the most reliable Subaru Impreza year?

According to various sources, the 2011 and 2017 Subaru Impreza model years are the most reliable.

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