1997 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport 2.2L from North America
I loved this car
Thermostat got stuck shut on a cold winter day (~190k miles). Was able to limp home 200 miles with the heat full-blast and occasional breaks to prevent overheating.
Developed a stutter between 1800-2200 RPM. After much needed maintenance (fuel filter, air filter, spark plugs) it was less pronounced, but still there until I sold it.
Changed the timing belt at ~180k miles; based on the condition, it looked like it may never have been changed and I am surprised it never broke. Changed idlers and water pump too, ~$500 in parts and 3 hours of my time.
Shifter linkage bushing was very worn, but I got used to this and never bothered fixing it. It made it a little hard for drivers not familiar with the car to find the gears.
I sold a Jeep XJ with 210k miles to buy this Impreza OBS for better fuel economy while still having AWD for the snow. I would get 30 MPG on the highway, and while performance-wise this was not the quickest vehicle, it was endless fun in the snow. Even with cheap all-season tires, this car stuck to the road well and could break loose in a repeatable, predictable way whenever you wanted it to, and track straight when you didn't. Once in the snow I even pulled a Range Rover out of a small ditch after ~1 foot of fresh snow.
After sustained 4k RPM powerslides in a ski area parking lot once, the thermostat seized shut and the car began to overheat. It was the closest I'd ever been to being stranded in that car, but thanks to the cold temps I was able to blast the heat full bore with the windows open and a t-shirt on, and limp home at 50 mph for over 3 hours.
Aside from performance and reliability, this car was adaptable to every aspect of my life. At one point it was outfitted with a rack capable of carrying 5 downhill mountain bikes for shuttling, has been used to haul firewood across my old property in 1 foot of fresh snow (this did require fairly frequent reversing and ramming), climbed Hurrah Pass in Moab, UT (and caught up to a group of Jeeps on the way down), and I even was able to load a Ford F350 Dana 50 front axle in the back with the seats folded down (and knuckles removed from the axle).
From when I bought it at 156k miles until I sold it at a little over 200k, I don't think I put more than $1500 of work into it including timing belt and a set of tires. I sold it 4 years after buying it for only $200 less.
I really loved this car... I frequently consider buying another one whenever I see them in good condition for a good price, but I also realize that it was more fun to own when I lived in a snowy climate. When I sold it, it was definitely tired, but it grew up on the east coast in a salty environment, and considering the rust it had, I didn't see it worth spending the money to really go through it and tune it back properly.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 27th January, 2015