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Absolute Best Years Of The Subaru Impreza

Writing about the Subaru Impreza is almost a weekly ritual on this blog. We’ve written extensively about the features and capabilities of this car. However, we have yet to answer what model year you can best buy on the second-hand market. Let’s start with a quick answer and then dive into more detail:

The 2015 and 2016 Subaru Impreza are the best second-hand models you can buy. Both models have no engine or transmission problems. Also, they’ve been recalled fewer times than other model years and have less severe problems. Finally, they’re both cheap in maintenance, with the 2015 model costing $524 per year and the 2016 model costing $483 per year.

However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below we’ll dive into extensive detail about the Impreza and the different model years. We’ll look at what model year has the most and most minor problems, and we’ll do the same for the recalls it has had. Furthermore, we’ll discuss the maintenance cost for each generation so you can get a feeling of how much each model year costs. Read on!

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Also read: How Many Miles Can A Subaru Impreza Last? (Answered) & How Many Miles Can A Subaru WRX Last? (Answered)

What Year Has The Least Problems?

First of all, it’s essential to look at the number and the severity of the problems that different model years of the Impreza have. The reason for this is that this gives us a rough understanding of the build quality of each generation. Furthermore, we get to see any significant problems we should look out for.

In the table below, we’ve stated each model year together with the number of problems that have been reported for that model year on the website of repairpal.com. We can see immediately that the most recent years of this model have few issues. This is normal because these newer models haven’t had time to develop defects yet. However, not seeing any problems in the 2016 and 2017 model years is a good sign because these model years have had time to fall out of warranty, and they also had time to put some mileage on their odometer.

Furthermore, it’s clear that the 2011 – 2015 model years all hold up very nicely in terms of build quality. These models have been on the road for a while, but still, there are no significant outliers. However, when we look at the models that have been produced in 2010 or before that, we see that this is where the problems start.

We found that there is not simply one major issue for these later generations. Instead, these cars suffer from minor defects all around. Therefore, it seems wise to stay away from these models. Below the table, we’ll discuss the more significant problems that recent models of the Impreza had had to give you an idea of what you should look out for when buying a used Impreza.

Model YearProblems
20200
20190
20180
20170
20160
20151
20142
20131
20121
20112
20108
200910
20089
200711

Failing O2 Sensor

The air sensor in the front may develop a crack which, in turn, causes the check engine light to illuminate. This happened in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 model years with an average of 140,000 miles on the odometer. Replacing this sensor will cost a total of $200, including labor.

Failing Spark Plug Wires

Models manufactured in 2011 or before can sometimes develop problems with the spark plug wires, which will cause misfiring of the engine. This typically happens at the 130,000 miles mark. Fixing this will cost around $200, including labor.

Faulty Knock Sensor

Impreza manufactured in 2014 or before 2011 can have a failing knock sensor which will cause the check engine light to illuminate. This usually happens around the 110,000 miles mark. Replacing a knock sensor will cost $350, including labor.

Oil Leaking From The Rear Of The Engine

2007 models of the Impreza used a plastic oil baffle plate that was prone to breaking, which then caused a significant oil leak from the rear of the engine. This happened after an average of 125,000 miles.

Also read: Subaru Impreza Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids & Subaru WRX Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Which Year Has The Least Recalls?

Besides the problems, it’s also essential to look at the number of recalls the Impreza has had for each model year. This also gives a clearer image of the build quality of more recent models. Furthermore, it’s essential to know that, in the table below, we grouped several recalls according to our insight. This is because Subaru tends to issue multiple different recalls that mean the same thing.

In the previous subheading, we already saw that models produced before 2011 have many minor problems. Also, the number of recalls suggests this is not the generation with the highest reliability. Major recalls for this generation included the brake lights not illuminating properly (19V149000), the air injection pump overheating and causing a fire (16V738000), brake fluid leaks due to corrosion of the brake line (14V311000 and 14V830000), and half a dozen recalls for faulty airbags that could explode without warning.

The problems with the brake fluid lines, brake lights, and the air injection pump continued to be a problem for the 2011 – 2013 model years. New recalls for these model years included sudden engine stalling (18V772000), sudden engine start with the engine continuing to run for up to fifteen minutes (13V061000). Given that these are major mechanical recalls, it seems wise to stay away from these models.

Model YearRecalls
20212
20201
20193
20184
20175
20161
20151
20143
20135
20127
20115
20105
20097
20088
20071

Also read: The Exact Bolt Pattern Of A Subaru Impreza

Now, things have cleared up for the 2015 and 2016 model year. As stated earlier, these model years have no significant problems. Furthermore, they have been on the road for a while now, and still, these cars have also not had any critical recalls. All of this suggests that the build quality of these model years is solid.

For some reason, the 2017 – 2019 model years seem to be a lot less reliable than their predecessors. Both the 2017 and 2019 model year had a recall for the backup driving camera (17V132000), two recalls for an increased risk of sudden engine stalls (17V216000 and 19V743000), and three recalls for a sudden loss of power (19V745000, 19V744000, 21V264000). The 2018 model year had the same problems, although fewer recalls. However, a new recall was added for a failing fuel pump.

Of course, the most recent models (2020 and 2021) have had few recalls, but that’s because they haven’t been on the road for that long. The 2020 model year was recalled for a failing fuel pump (21V587000), just like the 2018 model year. The 2021 model year was recalled for a design problem with the front suspension, which could increase the risk of a crash (21V675000), and another small recall about shift linkage cable (21V024000).

Also read: Subaru Impreza Towing Capacity: Can It Tow A Trailer, Boat, Or Jet Ski?

Which Year Costs The Least In Maintenance?

Besides knowing all the problems and recalls, we feel it’s also essential to know precisely how much each model year costs in maintenance annually. This gives us an overview of what model year is the best pick for your wallet.

Let it be clear that there’s very little information about this particular subject regarding recent model years. This is always the case because these cars have very few problems, and all are fixed under warranty at a dealership. Therefore, our information starts with the 2018 model year.

We see in the table below that all model years of the Subaru Impreza are fairly doable in terms of maintenance. However, the 2015 and 2016 model years (minor problems and the least recalls) perform better in this category. Therefore, it does seem to be that these two model years are the best pick for the Impreza.

Earlier model years all have maintenance costs running up to the high $600 and low $700 per year. This suggests that the 2015 and 2016 model years are the best picks.

Furthermore, the number of problems in the pre-2012 models becomes clear since all of these models have maintenance costs close to $700 or even close to $800. Therefore, we would advise you to stay away from Imprezas that were manufactured in or before 2012.

Year Of ManufacturingSubaru Impreza Maintenance Cost
2018 $     488
2017 $     503
2016 $     483
2015 $     524
2014 $     618
2013 $     697
2012 $     714
2011 $     722
2010 $     672
2009 $     768
2008 $     654
2007 $     564

Also read: The Complete Cost Of Maintaining A Subaru

What To Expect From A Second-Hand Impreza In Terms Of Price?

Let’s assume you’re in the market for a second-hand Impreza. By now, we’ve established that a 2015 – 2016 model year Impreza is probably your best pick. However, what can you expect to pay for such a car, and how many miles does it still have left? In this blog, we found out that Impreza’s are reliable cars that can last up to 200,000 – 230,000 miles. Let’s take 200,000 miles as an example here.

According to data from caredge.com a 2015 – 2016 Impreza will have a resale value of 57 – 65% or $13,500 – $15,500. Furthermore, it will have a mileage of 60,000 – 72,000 on the odometer. This means the car still has 128,000 – 140,000 miles left. Assuming a usage of 12,000 miles per year, an Impreza can still last you another 10,5 – 11,5 years.

This would mean a second-hand Impreza would cost you between $1,285 – $1,476 per year in depreciation. For a car as reliable as the Impreza, we would consider this a pretty good deal.

Sources