No your not scaring me away at all, actually despite the lack of suggestions for models and years this is exactly what I wanted... the truth.it's not turning me off, in fact it's drawing me towards.
"If I do the maintenance required and find one that's been loved it should be with me forever. If I do encounter a problem that I can't fix... I know where to turn!!!"
This is exactly what I wanted when I bought my jeep, that I didn't receive. Luckily, I was able to fix all the problems.
I will go ahead and post looking for a mechanic in my area
I think most are shying away from recommending a specific model/year because everyone's tastes are a little different. You need to go try out a few different models and see which fits you best. Head room, leg room, & seating position are different in each of the models, and there is some variation between years (model changes/updates over time)
Me personally - I like the Legacy wagon - has more interior cargo space than the Impreza/Forester - it suits me, and my purposes. We had two large dogs that had to be hauled to the vets office - the wagon gives plenty of space for doing so. I have also done a lot of other "hauling" of stuff with it - including moving my mother a couple of times...we used a truck & trailer for the large stuff, but all the smaller stuff was moved in my car - it is amazing how much you can fit in a Subaru with a little careful packing - LOL
I dont typically have passengers (maybe one in the front) so backseat leg room doesnt concern me as much (rather limited in the older/smaller versions).
The Forester is going to be taller with much more headroom, and more legroom judging by the 98 model we have in our driveway... backseat legroom is also greater than the Legacy, but cargo space is a bit smaller (shorter behind the backseat)
I have no experience with the Impreza, so I cant really comment on that model - in all honesty, I dont really care for how they look (especially the wagon versions) - but that is a personal thing - nothing to do with the actual driveability/comfort/function of the car. You might find you like it better than the others.
Basically it boils down to what is going to fit you and your needs best (model choice), and when buying used, how well was it cared for by the previous owner(s). Records proving services are a huge plus...general condition - both inside and out - can indicate care as well. What kind of condition is the interior in? does it "fit" with the mileage? if the interior is in very good condition (clean, no tears, no gunk in cracks & crevices), and the miles are higher, chances are it was well cared for - if the interior is worn/dirty looking/tears in the fabrics and the miles are lower - it probably wasnt well cared for.
as an example: we have a 98 Forester in the drive - the original owner took very good care of the car - the second owners - not so much...we are 3rd owners...
The car has over 364,000 miles on the odometer and is physically in good condition - you dont get those kinds of miles by not caring for the car long term (and this particular model is one of the first that had the headgasket failure prone engine - the EJ25D - again, you dont get that kind of mileage without caring for the car).
The sad part of this one is the 2nd owner (they bought the car in December 2012) that did nothing but put gas in it and drive it - even after it started having issues - it wasnt taken in to be checked out until it was far too late, and the "mechanic" (i use the term loosely here) they took it to was a complete idiot and started a fire under the hood (that was in early May of this year - we bought it in June).
I hate to say it, but we may not be able to resurrect this one - just too much damage, too many problems at this point - but we got it ridiculously cheap so we arent out that much, and many parts can be reused elsewhere.