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Best & Worst Years of Subaru Impreza – Graphs & Owner Surveys

The best years of the Subaru Impreza are: 2019-2021, 2016, 2014, 2010, and 2005. The years you should absolutely avoid are: 2001-2003, 2007-2009, 2004, 2011-2013, 2015, and 2017-2018. Most issues are related to the catalytic converters going bad, though the variable-valve timing (VVT) system can also cause headaches.

Black Subaru Imprez in motion at a city street

For over 30 years, the Subaru Impreza has delivered the Japanese automaker’s signature “boxer” four and AWD approach to car-building. It led to the long-running Forester wagon not to mention the rally-inspired WRX and even hotter STI variants. 

During that period, the Impreza has developed a reputation for safety and long-term reliability, but as with any vehicle, some model years are more reliable than others. So, now is a great time to look back over 20 years of FIXD data to determine the best and worst Subaru Impreza model years.

Best Years



All-time FIXD Reliability Score highs


Excellent value, low upkeep costs


Significant FIXD & Owner Reliability Score increases


Biggest improvement in reliability


Both FIXD & Owner scores move up strongly

Worst Years



Bottom-of-the-barrel reliability


3rd-gen launch problems


Poor FIXD Reliability Score & market values


New 4th-Gen woes, hard on the wallet


Both reliability scores go the wrong way


Struggles with 5th-gen debut

Subaru Impreza Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings, MPG, and Value v.s. Maintenance & Repair Costs Year by Year

The first chart below, Subaru Impreza Reliability Score, is the main driver of our best and worst model year rankings. It is a combination of objective FIXD device data and subjective owner-reported information. Typically, the first year of a new generation – like 2008, 2012, and 2017 – will struggle with reliability as the kinks are worked out, which is reflected in the chart. A similar theme plays out with competition like the Honda Civic, Volkswagen Jetta, and Ford Focus.

From there, we blend in published government safety scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and fuel efficiency figures per fueleconomy.gov

We also incorporate market values from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) against owner-reported annual maintenance costs. That goes into the ranking decision along with owner survey answers and pertinent safety recalls. Lastly, with details on common Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs), we can create the final rankings below. 

If you’re in the market for a car, take a look at our article on the USA’s most reliable and cheapest to repair cars in the U.S. Don’t get stuck with a lemon, use our data to help you shop.

Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years

Subaru Impreza Engine Reliability Score

The FIXD Reliability score (green line on the Subaru Impreza Reliability chart) is based on the number of CELs thrown by each model year. After tallying them up, we weight this objective score by mileage and convert it into a 1-10 scale where 10 is the best and 1 is the worst. 

By asking Impreza owners, “How reliable would you say your car is?”, we can pull together a subjective reliability score for comparison. This multiple-choice question offers answers from “Just Point A to Point B driving” to “I could take a cross-country trip, no problem.” After converting the answer into a 1-10 scale, we create the gray line above.

As you can see, the objective and subjective reliability scores mostly move in the same direction. But occasionally, like in 2007, the scores diverge dramatically in what is typically a rebuke of the aforementioned positive owner sentiment. We’ll explain this in the relevant sections below but it helps illustrate the importance of analyzing both sets of data. 

Any gaps on this chart, and those below, are due to a lack of data. You can find out more about our reliability scoring process at the bottom of this article and learn about some of the most common CELs to expect from Subaru.

NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years

Subaru Impreza NHTSA Safety Rating

Subaru has historically made it a point to highlight the level of safety baked-in into all of its vehicles. Looking at the chart above, you can see those efforts have paid off. 

The Subaru Impreza (green line) generally tracked – or ranked higher than – the auto industry average (gray line) on safety over the past 20 years. In 2011, the NHTSA instituted more strenuous testing protocols and Impreza safety dropped along with the rest of the market, but quickly recovered. 

Both the gray line – average crash test safety rating across the industry – and the green line – Impreza safety ratings – illustrate published NHTSA data. 

Understanding how a given model year of the Subaru Impreza ranks for safety is important as it plays a big role in keeping insurance premiums down. If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours. 

What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:
North Carolina
New York

MPG – Over The Years

Subaru Impreza Average MPG

If you’ve ever heard about the “iterative process” used by engineers to apply lessons from the prior version of a product to future versions and wondered what it means, this Subaru Impreza Average MPG chart is the visual definition of that process.

It illustrates how Impreza’s fuel economy has incrementally increased steadily over 20 years. It helps that Subaru has stuck with a flat-four motor, which has only gotten more efficient over time with better technology. We created the chart by averaging the combined fuel economy figures – from fueleconomy.gov – across all trims of each model year.

Current Market Value of All Subaru Impreza Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each

Subaru Impreza Market Value vs Cost of Repairs

This chart plots current Subaru Impreza market values from KBB against annual maintenance costs per owner surveys. It’s a valuable set of data points in defining why some model years are best avoided. For example, values drop into 2004, which is one reason these Imprezas are on our list of models to avoid as we look at below. 

When shopping for a used Subaru Impreza it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!

Important Features Timeline

Subaru Impreza Timeline of Important Features

1996 – Brighton trim becomes base model

1997 – AWD lineup standard, new Outback Sport variant

1998 – Performance-oriented 2.5 RS trim debuts

1999 – 2.5L engine revised with more power

2000 – 2.5 RS setup expanded to sedan

2001 – RS trims add CD player and special floor mats

2002 – 2nd-gen debuts with all-new turbocharged WRX

2003 – Keyless entry becomes available

2004 – Mid-cycle refresh, STI variant arrives

2005 – More power across the board

2006 – Active Valve Control System (AVCS) made standard

2007 – Updated stereo systems added to WRX models

2008 – 3rd-gen debuts with revised powertrains and a larger cabin

2009 – Four-corner disc brakes and stability control are now standard

2010 – Front grille revised, new Special Edition package

2011 – Audio upgraded with Bluetooth & iPod integration

2012 – 4th-gen debuts with new 2.0L engine and CVT option 

2013 – Bluetooth is now standard, available backup camera

2014 – Infotainment touchscreen with voice control offered

2015 – Debut of EyeSight advanced safety, 1st-gen standalone WRX

2016 – STARLINK suite of connectivity offered 

2017 – 5th-gen debuts on all-new platform, available 8” touchscreen

2018 – Automatic headlight system added to options

2019 – CD player and dual front USB ports added to the Premium trim

2020 – EyeSight made standard on Imprezas with CVT

2021 – Premium models come with SI-Drive performance management system

2022 – 2nd-gen standalone WRX debuts

The Best Years of the Subaru Impreza

Subaru Impreza 2.0 at a street

Taking into account FIXD and Owner reliability, government safety scores, fuel efficiency, and Impreza owner survey responses, we’ve come up with this list of the best Subaru Imprezas. Pertinent recall information and notes about common DTCs are included as well. 

Note: The 2006 Subaru Impreza is not included on our Best & Worst list due to a lack of data.

2019 Subaru Impreza car at the Frankfurt IAA Motor Show.

FIXD App Engine Reliability: 9-10/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 7-9/10

KBB Value: $17,375-$20,455

Fuel Economy: 28-29 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250-$1,083

Safety Rating: 5/5

The most recent Subaru Imprezas we have data for earned the title “Best of the Best” by achieving a perfect FIXD Reliability Score of 10/10 in 2020 and 2021 while improving from a 7/10 to 9/10 in 2019. As well, this range has perfect safety scores, all-time highs for fuel efficiency, an overall increase in market values, and a decrease in annual maintenance costs. That’s as close to a homerun as it gets.

In 2017, Subaru made a 6.5” infotainment touchscreen and smartphone mirroring standard, while adding an 8-speaker Harman-Kardon audio system to the list of options. It was clearly well received as owners of the 2019 and 2020 Impreza agree that the entertainment system works great and the stereo thumps.

All three of these model-year Imprezas rank highly for use primarily as a family vehicle. That makes sense as over the years, Subaru has worked to move the Impreza from a scrappy compact with rally-racing roots to a comfortable mainstream sedan. 

One hiccup for these Imprezas is the relatively high annual maintenance costs for 2019 models at just over $1,000. Owners agree, with 50% of them citing expensive repairs as a hassle. But, this is tempered by upkeep costs that move down the following two years

The VVT system is a common problem area for the 2019-2021 Impreza with DTC P0018 and P0011 being the most frequent issues. P0018 pops when the correlation of the crankshaft and camshaft positions is out of range. And DTC P0011 is a severe issue that indicates it’s time for a new camshaft position sensor.

DTC P0420 is another typical cause of CELs over this period. It means the catalytic converter is on the fritz, an issue we look at in this DTC P0420 video. Replacement of a catalytic converter can run as high as $2,000, but you can save money with our DIY DTC P0420 guide.

There were five recalls on the 2019 Impreza including one for an issue with the Engine Control Module (ECM) that impacted about 466,000 vehicles. There was only one recall for the 2020 Impreza and two recalls for the 2021 model, but the NHTSA issued an unusually strong statement for one of those 2021 recalls. 

The recall was related to weld failure on lower control arms that affected just over 800 Imprezas, a relatively small number. However, a note reading “URGENT: DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE” accompanies the recall details, so be sure to check if your 2021 Impreza was impacted using the NHTSA VIN tool

Any Subaru dealer should fix a recall-related repair free of charge on a vehicle up to 15 model years old. 

2016 Subaru Impreza at an empty city street
This AI-generated image may not accurately represent all aspects of the intended subjects whether a person or object.


FIXD App Engine Reliability: 8/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 10/10

KBB Value: $11,306

Fuel Economy: 26 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250

Safety Rating: 4.6/5 

2016 was the final year of 4th-gen Impreza production and Subaru had the reliability dialed in. Both the FIXD and Owner Reliability Scores moved up versus the prior year and there was only a single recall for a problem with brake lights not illuminating.

Safety scores are strong this year, fuel economy is on the high end of the scale, and maintenance costs sit at all-time lows. These 2016 Imprezas are also an excellent purchase value as the odometers average just 75,000 miles against a KBB market value of about $11,000.

A malfunctioning catalytic converter, indicated by DTC P0420, is one of the most common issues for these Imprezas. Expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for a new catalytic converter. DTC P0171 is another frequently encountered code. It means the air-to-fuel ratio is out of balance as we discuss in this DTC P0171 explainer video.

If DTC P0700 lights up, it means there is an issue with the Transmission Control Module. Addressing this could be as simple as topping off the transmission fluid or as expensive as a new module, which runs about $800.

2014 Subaru Impreza parked in the mountains
This AI-generated image may not accurately represent all aspects of the intended subjects whether a person or object.


FIXD App Engine Reliability: 8/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 10/10

KBB Value: $11,490

Fuel Economy: 24 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $1,000

Safety Rating: 4.6/5 

Halfway through 4th-gen production, the 2014 Impreza saw a 2-point increase in the FIXD Reliability Score and a 6-point increase in the Owner Reliability Score. Those figures, though impressive, are bogged down somewhat by annual upkeep costs of $1,000, which is why these 2014 models land lower than the 2016 Impreza on the rankings.

Nonetheless, owners are happy with their 2014 Imprezas as an above-average contingent think driver visibility is excellent, the seats are comfortable, and the entertainment system is easy to use. That latter highlight is related to the 33% of owners who use their 2014 Impreza as an “office on wheels”. 

That is seven times higher than average for this metric and correlates with the addition of standard iPod and Bluetooth connectivity in 2013 along with available Aha smartphone integration in 2014. 

Once again, DTC P0420 which likely means it’s time to replace the catalytic converter, is a popular trouble area on these Imprezas. The other two most common DTCs, P1449 and P0456, both have to do with the Evaporative Emissions Control (EVAP) system. In both cases, a loose gas cap is often the problem.

Of the three recalls issued for the 2014 Impreza, an issue with spring failure on engine valves was the most significant. It impacted roughly 165,000 vehicles. 

2010 Grey Subaru Impreza in the city street

FIXD App Engine Reliability: 7/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 4/10

KBB Value: $7,308

Fuel Economy: 23 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250

Safety Rating: 4.6/5 

The 2010 Subaru Impreza, in production towards the end of the 3rd generation, posted the biggest year-over-year FIXD Reliability Score increase going from 1/10 the year before to 7/10 for the 2010 model year. These Imprezas also saw an increase in average fuel economy and an average of just $250 in annual maintenance costs. 

However, an Owner Reliability Score that goes the other way, a drop in market values, and a relatively high recall count of 15 push the 2010 Impreza towards the bottom of our Best Of rankings. Of those 15 recalls, seven were related to airbag problems that affected more than four million vehicles.  

High counts of DTC P0420, which indicates the catalytic converter is on its way out, are prevalent here as with so many other Impreza model years. DTC P0304 is another common cause of CELs which means a misfire has been detected. In this case, expect to replace the ignition coils, which should cost you less than $200 at a shop. 

Another relatively low-cost repair you may encounter is related to DTC P0137. It lights up when low voltage within the oxygen sensor circuit is detected. It will run you $200-$300 to have a mechanic handle or you can learn how to replace an oxygen sensor yourself and save some money in the process. 

2005 Black Subaru Impreza WRX STI at a show

FIXD App Engine Reliability: 6/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 10/10

KBB Value: $4,880

Fuel Economy: 21 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250

Safety Rating: 4.25/5 

In 2005, Subaru added drive-by-wire throttle, a new automatic transmission, and more power output to the Impreza. Normally this type of powertrain work would hurt reliability, but instead, the 2005 Impreza showed improvements in both reliability categories over the prior year. 

The market values dropped in 2005, but this was during 2nd-gen production when Subaru was constantly revising headlight designs. The “Blob Eye” style adopted in 2004 may be less desirable than the original “Bug Eye” design that this generation Impreza arrived with. 

Over 30% of owners feel that their 2005 Impreza is cheap to repair. This is three times higher than average and correlates with annual repair costs of about $250. Not bad for an 18-year-old car that averages 275,000 miles. 

This goes hand-in-hand with CELs for the 2005 Impreza which are mostly tied to relatively low-cost repair work. One of them, DTC P0133 indicates it’s time for a new oxygen sensor, a job that runs between $200 and $300. And DTC P0304 likely means the ignition coils need replacing which shouldn’t cost you more than $200. 

The asterisk to this low-cost upkeep is the persistent issue with catalytic converter replacement. A common trouble area to most Subaru Impreza model years, it is indicated by DTC P0420 and can cost up to $2,000 to fix. For the DIYers, this DTC P0420 guide will help you take on the work yourself and save some dough. 

There were six recalls on the 2005 Impreza including five for airbag problems. The other recall, which impacted over 300,000 vehicles, was related to the failure of a front lower control arm. 

The Worst Years of the Subaru Impreza

Moving 2007 Subaru Impreza performance rally race car

Working with the same information to determine the best Subaru Imprezas, we’ve compiled a list of model years to avoid. You can expect more issues with reliability, higher maintenance bills, and in some cases lower safety ratings with these poor-performing Imprezas. We are starting from the absolute worst and progressing to the “best of the worst”.

2001 Blue Subaru Impreza parked in the street

FIXD App Engine Reliability: 1/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 5-10/10

KBB Value: $6,396-$10,421

Fuel Economy: 20-21 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250

Safety Rating: 4.25/5 

It’s a dismal honor to be ranked “Worst of the Worst”, but thanks to the lowest possible FIXD Reliability Scores all three years, the 2001-2003 Impreza takes that title. This is not totally unexpected as 2002 was the first year of 2nd-gen production, a milestone that frequently takes a toll on reliability. 

But it’s not helped by an Owner Reliability Score that ping pongs up and down, above-average time in the shop for 2002 models, the weakest fuel economy of any Impreza, and a relatively high incidence of recalls, investigations, and consumer complaints per the NHTSA. 

Though the 2001 Impreza had only three recalls, there were six recalls issued for both the 2002 and 2003 Impreza. 2002 also saw four investigations and 300 complaints, which is on the high side. And those recalls were a hodge-podge of build-related issues like control arm failure, fuel line leaks, and loose driver-seat bolts.

Bright points include low repair bills and above-average safety scores, but most owners find the seats uncomfortable and think the sound system stinks. 

An interesting survey data point for the 2003 Impreza points to 33% of owners using their Subaru primarily for outdoor and off-road use. At the time, there was an Outback Sport trim with a heavy-duty suspension that was mildly lifted. Marketed for outdoor adventure, it seems Subaru nailed that design intent on the head. 

DTC P0037 is one of the most common trouble codes found on these early Imprezas. It means the heated oxygen sensor, which monitors catalytic converter efficiency, is malfunctioning. Replacing the oxygen sensor will cost $200 to $300. 

A loose gas cap is typically the cause of DTC P0457 which is technically triggered by a leak in the EVAP system. And our old friend the catalytic converter continues to be a thorn in the side of the 2001-2003 Imprezas. As indicated by DTC P0420, expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for a new unit. 

2007 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan at the City streets

FIXD App Engine Reliability: 1-3/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 7-10/10

KBB Value: $7,741-$9,243

Fuel Economy: 22 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $536-$750

Safety Rating: 4.2-4.6/5 

The 2007-2009 Imprezas marked another stretch of poor reliability scores no doubt driven by the debut of the 3rd-gen model in 2008. It is also a period that illustrates why it’s so important to weigh the objective FIXD Reliability Score and subjective Owner Reliability Score when considering a purchase. 

As seen on the reliability chart towards the top of this article, those figures were 2/10 and 7/10 for the FIXD and Owner scores in 2007, respectively. Reviewing the survey data, we can see that 67% of these owners think their Impreza can handle at least a 500-mile road trip – or even a cross-country excursion – without issue. 

However, the thousands of FIXD devices installed in these owners’ cars paint a different picture. That would be the fact that the tally of DTCs for 2007 Imprezas was 84% higher than average. Objectively, these are not reliable Imprezas, so shop accordingly. 

Owners of these model-year Imprezas universally agree that repairs are expensive and the entertainment system is aggravating. But the redesigned internals for the 2008 WRX mill had a positive effect as more owners than average report using their car for driving fast. 

Usually, a new Legacy generation brings an uptick in fuel efficiency, but that’s not the case here as this metric stays flat for all three years. Maintenance costs are near the average of $558 in 2008, but the 2007 Impreza comes in $200 higher than that. On top of that, the 2007 and 2008 models spend between two and three days per year in the shop.

Driving the point home that the 2007, 2008, and 2009 Subaru Impreza should be avoided are a large number of recalls. There were nine recalls in 2007 and fifteen recalls for both the 2008 Impreza and 2009 Impreza. In all three model years, there were eight recalls for airbags that combined to impact over a million vehicles each year. 

As with every other Impreza up to this point, DTC P0420 is one of the most common causes of a CEL. It means the catalytic converter is ready to bite the dust with a new one costing as much as $2,000. If DTC P0457 pops, it means there is a leak in the EVAP system that is likely caused by a loose gas cap. 

DTC P0304 is another frequent trouble code that arises when an engine misfire is detected as we look at in this DTC P0304 video. It could mean you need to replace the spark plugs but is more likely indicative of the need for new ignition coils. 

2004 Subaru Impreza WRX ride on mud puddle with splash at countryside road at daytime

FIXD App Engine Reliability: 3/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 4/10

KBB Value: $5,603

Fuel Economy: N/A

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $750

Safety Rating: 4.25/5 

The 2004 Impreza ranks slightly higher than the 2007-2009 models because it falls within an upswing for the FIXD Reliability Score, while those later models move up and then back down for this metric. To be clear, we still don’t recommend the 2004 Impreza and neither do owners as their subjective reliability score plummets in 2004. 

Strong safety scores are a bright spot in 2004 but a significant decline in market values and annual maintenance costs that run $200 higher than average dim that shine. These Imprezas average nearly two days in the shop each year with a 33% chance that an expensive repair is related to the engine. 

This latter point is borne out by two of the three most common DTCs being tied to the engine. Both – DTC P0302 and P0304 – are triggered by a misfire that should be addressed immediately. In either case, you are looking at new spark plugs, new ignition coils, or both. Fortunately, DTC P0457 – which is caused by an EVAP system leak – can usually be fixed by tightening the gas cap.

Owners of the 2004 Impreza are unimpressed with the seat comfort and storage space but do like driving fast as 50% report using their Impreza to do so. That percentage, which is five times higher than average, is driven by the arrival of the rally-inspired WRX in 2002 and hotrod STI variant in 2004. 

There were eight recalls issued for the 2004 Impreza and five of them were related to airbag problems. There was also one regarding front lower control arm failure that affected over 300,000 vehicles. 

2011 Subaru Impreza off-road

FIXD App Engine Reliability: 5-6/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 4-8/10

KBB Value: $7,555-$11,225

Fuel Economy: 23-24 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250-$1,625

Safety Rating: 4-4.8/5 

Thanks to FIXD Reliability Scores heading down to midpack levels, the 2011-2013 Impreza lands on our list of worst model years. That score does tick up for 2013, but is still on the low side and accompanied by a significant drop in the Owner Reliability Score. 

The new 4th-gen Impreza arrived in 2012, which surely impacted these results as any new model launch typically hurts reliability as the automaker irons out the kinks. That is especially true in this case as an entirely new powertrain was introduced in 2012. 

This did have the beneficial impact of driving up fuel efficiency in 2013, but it also pushed annual repair costs to an all-time high of over $1,600. That is nearly three times higher than average. 

Subaru places a big emphasis on safety. The low score in 2011 is due to the NHTSA instituting more rigorous crash test protocols, but by 2013, the Impreza was back above the industry average for this metric. It correlates with Subaru adding more high-strength steel to the 4th-gen Impreza structure and a newly standard driver’s knee airbag.

Something that didn’t change was the disliked stereo system, which 50% of owners in 2011 and 2013 are unimpressed with. At the time, base Imprezas had four tinny speakers with the option for six, and no mention of efforts to improve the sound with the release of the 4th-gen model in 2012. 

And though reliability was questionable, the rally-racing ethos hit new heights in 2013 with nine different trims available across the WRX and STI models. It correlates with 33% of 2013 Impreza owners primarily using their Subaru for “sport/driving fast”.

No one should be surprised to learn that DTC P0420 is the most common culprit of a CEL for these Imprezas. As we cover in this DTC P0420 video, it is triggered by a malfunctioning catalytic converter

If DTC P2443 pops, brace yourself for a new ECM that can cost as much as $1,500. That aligns with the 67% chance of an expensive repair being within the engine for 2013 Imprezas.

And DTC P0455, an EVAP system-related problem with the leak detection pump, is yet another pricey problem point. Repair of this issue can cost as much as $560.

The 2011 Impreza was subjected to a relatively high 14 recalls, with the majority related to problems with airbags. There were six recalls in 2012 and four recalls in 2013, including one that year for an overheating air injection pump that impacted some 100,000 vehicles. 

2015 Subaru Impreza in an empty street at night
This AI-generated image may not accurately represent all aspects of the intended subjects whether a person or object.


FIXD App Engine Reliability: 7/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 9/10

KBB Value: $9,806

Fuel Economy: 26 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250

Safety Rating: 4.6/5

The 2015 Impreza isn’t all bad as evidenced by the low annual repair costs and solid average fuel economy figure. But, both the FIXD and Owner Reliability Scores head down versus the prior year, so we can’t recommend it. And the significant drop in KBB values against relatively low average odometer readings of 75,000 is further cause for concern. 

There is also a high incidence of engine-related CELs that could lead to bigger problems as all three of the most common DTCs for the 2015 Impreza revolve around the VVT system. 

Both DTC P000A and P000D are triggered by a slow response from the camshaft position sensor. DTC P0018 pops when the correlation of the camshaft and crankshaft position is out of range. 

These engine issues may have something to do with just 18% of owners expecting their Impreza to go past 200,000 miles. This is 12 points lower than the average for this metric and is of particular concern as these models typically haven’t even hit 100,000 miles meaning owner confidence is quite low. 

On another negative note, 50% of owners don’t like the entertainment system on these 2015 Imprezas. As this was the first year of the lineup of standard touchscreen interfaces, it’s possible the technology wasn’t quite ready.

There were only two recalls for the 2015 Impreza with one for a malfunctioning collision mitigation braking system that impacted about 71,000 vehicles. 

 2017 Subaru Impreza at a Motor Show.

FIXD App Engine Reliability: 7/10

Owner-Reported Reliability: 10/10

KBB Value: $12,530-$15,475

Fuel Economy: 26-28 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $500-$750

Safety Rating: 4.8-5/5

There’s a lot to like about the 2017 and 2018 Subaru Impreza – above-average safety scores, improved fuel economy, and strong market values. However, the FIXD Reliability Score dropping to 7/10 and staying there for two years is no bueno. It coincides with the arrival of the 5th-gen Impreza and lands these models on our list of years to avoid. 

Granted, we are talking about the “best of the worst”, but high annual repair costs, a sound system that continues to stink, and a prevalence of VVT system issues keep the 2017 and 2018 Impreza on the wrong side of our rankings. 

Those VVT problems are indicated by DTC P0018, which is the most frequently encountered trouble code for these Imprezas. It means there is a problem with the correlation between the crankshaft and camshaft positions. 

DTC P0455 pops when there is an EVAP system leak that can often be fixed by tightening the gas cap. If you see DTC P0171, it means the air-to-fuel ratio is out of balance as we discuss in this DTC P0171 explainer video. 

As for recalls, the NHTSA issued seven for the 2017 Impreza including one for PCV valve failure that affected about 200,000 vehicles. Of the five recalls for 2018 Imprezas, the most significant was one related to failing fuel pumps that impacted 176,000 vehicles. 


There are four Subaru Impreza model years – 2002, 2007, 2009, and 2013 – that have a 50% chance of $500+ repairs being engine-related. All are on our list of years to avoid, but 2013 and 2002 are particularly prone to engine problems given the 67% and 75% chance, respectively, of an expensive day at the shop being due to engine repairs. 

And the 2007 Impreza has the dubious honor of both engine and transmission problems. This model year comes with a 50% chance of the transmission being the cause of an expensive repair, so be sure to stay on top of your automatic transmission service if you own one of these Imprezas.

Across 20 years of FIXD data, the Impreza averages 123,000 miles and the 2005 model comes in the highest with about 275,000 miles on the clock. As well, 30% of owners think their Impreza will crack 200,000 miles versus just 1% who don’t. 

Given that, it’s reasonable to say 225,000 miles is considered high mileage for a Subaru Impreza. That may leave you as much as 50,000 miles to work with before the engine gives up the ghost. Keep in mind that the year of the Impreza you buy may determine whether you can afford to drive those extra miles.

The Subaru Impreza competes in a wide range of segments from hatchbacks to sedans and small wagons. It also has the distinction of standard AWD since 1997, which not all competitors offer. 

But some good alternatives include the Honda Civic, Volkswagen Jetta, Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, and Toyota Corolla. If you need something bigger and want to stay in the Subaru family, a Forester is worth looking at as well.

What owners of the Subaru Impreza like to use their car for:

Frequent Use Categories: How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)
Family Vehicle ****
Lots of Driving (travel/long commute) *****
Hauling/Towing *
Office on Wheels *
Sport/Fast Driving **
Luxurious Driving *
Outdoor/Off-Road *

A Note About Data and Information Sources

This article has many details about the Subaru Impreza’s reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.

  • FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App

The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing. 

This is an objective score.

  • Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data is the result of surveying Subaru Impreza owners who use FIXD. 

The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from owners of the Subaru Impreza.  

This is a subjective score.

To determine the Owner Reliability Score we ask each car owner:

How reliable would you say your Subaru Impreza is?

a. Just point A to point B driving

b. A Daily Commuter

c. Good for a 100-mile road trip

d. Good for a 500-mile road trip

e. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem

From here we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:

a. = 2

b. = 4

c. = 6

d. = 8

e. = 10

Keep in mind, owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is. 

One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.

Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.

Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others. 

It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars. 

Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores, people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data. 

We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.

  • KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Subaru Impreza with typical mileage for that respective model year.
  • Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
  • Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Subaru Impreza owners
  • Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.


  1. Subaru Impreza model-specific information. Retrieved July 31, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/  
  2. Subaru Impreza model-specific recall information. Retrieved July 31, 2023, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls    
  3. Subaru Impreza model-specific information. Retrieved July 31, 2023, from https://www.auto-brochures.com   
  4. Subaru Impreza model-specific information. Retrieved July 31, 2023, from https://media.subaru.com/homepage.do 
Profile Picture of Niel Stender

Niel Stender grew up doing replacement work on his old Cherokee and sweet Mitsubishi Starion, which led to a degree in mechanical engineering and a job at Ford as a vehicle dynamics engineer. His writing infuses that automotive background with sales and marketing experience. Writing about cars for close to a decade now, he enjoys digging into some of the more technical mechanical systems under the hood and throughout a vehicle.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

Niel Stender

Niel Stender

Niel Stender grew up doing replacement work on his old Cherokee and sweet Mitsubishi Starion, which led to a degree in mechanical engineering and a job at Ford as a vehicle dynamics engineer. His writing infuses that automotive background with sales and marketing experience. Writing about cars for close to a decade now, he enjoys digging into some of the more technical mechanical systems under the hood and throughout a vehicle.

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