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kyleinpdx

Impreza Outback Sport: 90s-2001 vs. 02/03 vs. 04-06? Which to buy?

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I just recently totaled my 2001 Impreza Outback Sport.  I'm looking to buy another used one, but don't really know much about the history of the car (or any cars for that matter).  I've gotten a feeling that there are maybe more problems and recalls w/ the 02/03 models...?  Is this true?  It seems like the body style was basically the same from the beginning through 2001, then they only did the "bug eye" model for two years - 02-03.  I like the 04-06 too. There seem to be a lot of 02s and 03s for sale, as well as lots of 90s ones, but I can't find ANY 2001s that are in good condition.  Is there a reason for that?  Were there less made?  Is it a more popular version?  Are there major differences in the engine between all these years?  Known problems or recalls?  Anyway, my budget is around $8000.  Pretty sure I want another Impreza Outback Sport, but not sure which is the most reliable in that budget.  I would rather buy an older one that's got a better reputation than a more recent one that's got a bad history.  Any opinions? Thanks!

Edited by kyleinpdx

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With your budget in mind, I would say the 04/05 might be attainable, depending. Certainly the bug eyes, which IMO are ugly as hell, but to each his own. At least with the 02 and up models you will be getting into the 2.5, nicer interiors, more sound deadening, better handling, and nicer road trip cruising features, and a "bigger" car in general. 

 

The early gen stuff 93-2001 is very sought after by "us" rally cross and tuner guys (like me) because it the closest we can get to original 22b and first gen STI copy cat cars. OBS are a class of there own and have a very big "wagon mafia" following. there a ton of them out there but yes they are becoming harder to find, and people want an arm and a leg for them. Especially in the Pacific North West area. The 2000-2001 OBS have a few more styling cues that a lot of people like (double rear wing, new gen 2.2, only grey/black interior combo available, etc) and yes less were made in those years. 

 

Here is a fact site that may help in your decision making.  

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cars101 is a great resource.  we dont' know what you value...price, reliability, high mileage capability, safety, etc.

 

They don't change much over the years - 00-06 probably incurs the most changes regarding engine, safety (airbags possibly), etc.

 

Brakes, suspension, etc are all about the same really, front suspension is basically interchangeable (not that you'd want to due to some dissimilar items), but functionally and all they're very similar.

 

up to 1996 is non-interference EJ22.  about the best engine subaru has ever made.  finding a pristine condition one is hard but makes for an easy, inexpensive, and reliable 250,000 mile vehicle.

 

1997-1998 is interference EJ22.  equally robust but make sure all timing components are replaced for interference reasons.  not that it really matters because you should be doing all of that to even 96 and earlier models for reliability/maintenance.

 

1999-2001 is Phase II EJ22.  a variants of the EJ22 and a nice option for avoiding EJ25 head gasket issues.

 

99's have a "delayed forward engagement" issue with automatic transmissions.  not a huge deal and easily remedied if it happens but nice to know ahead of time and be sure if you test drive one to start it when it's dead cold and see what it does when going from park to drive.

 

2002+ is EJ25. Watch out for headgasket issues.  Google if you're not aware.

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Well I have a 97 IMP OBS and  love it!! Its super reliable. 2.2 manual with 260,000. It runs great, has 185psi in all cylinders. The best year of Imprezas as far as Ive heard.

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