This review is a little long, but I just can't get over how much better this Subaru Impreza Outback Sport is than all the other cars I've ever owned in the past 20 years. I'm currently 39 years old and I swear I wish I would have discovered Subaru back in my 20's, and I would have saved myself a ton of headaches and a mountain of money.
Over the years I've owned a long list of cars from various makes and brands that include American brands as well as Asian and European brands: (in no particular order) Triumph, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Saab, Volvo, Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Subaru, Pontiac, Ford, and Chevrolet. Some of these cars I drove for a few months and sold. Others I drove for many years.
I can tell you with 100% honesty that Subaru's are VERY RELIABLE. It's not unusual to see a Subaru still on the road that is 15+ years old with 200,000+ miles on it and STILL going strong. Sure, you'll need to replace a wheel bearing or 2, and you'll need regular maintenance, oil changes, belts, the timing belt every 100k or so, but aside from that, it will run almost forever.
I currently have a 1997 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport as my daily driver with the 2.2 liter engine and automatic transmission. This Subaru currently has 189,773 miles and drives perfectly, starts right up, burns no oil at all even with the high miles. Unlike the Honda and Volkswagen I've owned in the past, I never have to add oil to this Subaru in between changes.
My gas mileage is around 21 city and 34 highway. It's amazing how much better MPG you get on the highway. I can go almost 400 miles on a single tank on the highway, but in the city, I only get about 270 miles per 11 gallon tank. You only have to use 87 Octane in this car. Some of the low city MPG is due to my running the A/C all the time, and my heavy foot driving style.
I've owned a lot of cars from various makes over the years, several Volkswagen Jettas and Golf GTI's, Honda Accord, Civic, Toyotas, that were decent cars, but this Subaru is much better. The Subaru feels VERY solidly built and tough, it feels really tight and handles very well around corners. The whole car feels like it is altogether much more sturdy than any Honda I've ever driven. The steering is very responsive, and you can really feel what's going on with the tires. The engine is very powerful for a 4 cylinder.
I love how the Subaru uses a Boxer Flat 4 cylinder engine like a Porsche or VW Bug. This design really makes a big difference in the way the whole car drives. The flat 4 counterbalances itself, so you get a very smooth running engine with great power. The horizontal engine design also keeps the weight LOW in the car, and you can really feel the difference around corners. This Subaru is GLUED to the road and has almost no lean at all. I can take exit ramps at crazy speeds and it just goes right around them, smooth and stable as a rock.
The Suspension is very well done, the car handles absolutely perfectly. yet the ride is not harsh or jarring at all. You can drive over potholes and not really feel them. Try that with a Honda, and trust me, you'll KNOW you hit a pothole in a Honda. But with Subaru, it just goes right over everything with a smooth and comfortable ride that's not too soft or cushy.
I recently had the timing belt and tensioner replaced at the Subaru Dealership, total cost $615. On the Volkswagen Jetta I use to own, this service would have cost me over $3000.
I'll also say that 4x4 drive REALLY comes in handy in a lot of situations. I never realized how valuable full time 4 wheel drive is till I started driving this Subaru. When it rains, I never have to slow down or worry that I'm going to slide off the road anymore like with my Volkswagen. I'm not sure what Subaru does with their suspension, but this car is very easy to drive in bad conditions. It feels very solid and SAFE. This Subaru just goes right through the worst rain storms like a dream. You'll never get stuck in the mud or sand again with a Subaru, you can honestly drive almost anywhere over any surface, sand, mud, you name it, this car just goes right over it. And if you live in a snowy area, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for a Subaru in deep snow. This car is awesome in snow, and just plows right through it.
I took a trip to the mountains for a family reunion, and it snowed about 12 inches overnight. I mean the snow was up to the front bumper!! So I thought, OK here is the real test of this Subaru, let's see what it can do! Now keep in mind this is an OLD Subaru, a 1997 with nearly 190,000 miles on the clock... My Subaru started right up the first time, even though it was 12 degrees outside. Then I just gave it a little gas and it drove right though the snow like a knife though butter. This car ROCKS in snow!!! It's like driving a RALLY CAR that just rips through everything you throw at it. Unlike a big SUV, you don't have all that MASSIVE WEIGHT to pull you down the hill or off the road. The Subaru is LIGHTWEIGHT and handles like a sports car. I was able to drive right though 13 inch snow without chains or snow tires. I was amazed. There is no way in Hell my Honda or Volkswagen would have made it out of the driveway.
I've never been more happy with a car in my life. I'm SOLD on Subaru from now on, and recommend them to everyone I meet.