"I own a 1998 Subaru Impreza Outback, and have for a little more than eight months. It's been an excellent car. Except for a slight oil leak onto the engine manifold that leads to a smell at idle, the car has been perfectly reliable.
The fuel economy and the ride quality are the only downsides so far. I get about 22 MPG in mixed driving, and have never got above 26 MPG even on long trips. This is decent, but I can see why these weren't more popular when they came out: fuel economy matters. Some of the plastic bits are rattly and, with the bad roads, I generally have to raise my voice to be heard at highway speeds. I have some excellent 80k-rated Michelin tires, but these have added to the road noise.
I bought the car from a used dealer for about $1k less than the KBB excellent rating. It needed some rust work and a new strut tower, but besides that, this has been an excellent, gutsy little car.
Is it really an offroader? No, it's a subcompact, but I've literally climbed mountains in it. It's a little cramped in the back seat, but the cargo room is great. On my twice-annual cross-continental college odyssey it performs excellently.
A great first car."
Pros: "Reliable, Excellent build quality, great engine"
Cons: "Small, Not enough leg room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this vehicle used, and have owned it for over 8 years now. Considering it was already 10 years old; I have had to do very little maintenance besides tires and brakes. Very reliable, never had a break down. Great car, fun to drive. Never had any engine problems. The design is great, although it could give the driver a bit more leg room. I am six feet tall, and feel a bit cramped when I drive it. Have had a few plastic parts break on the interior, but besides that, no complaints! My first car, and the best car I will ever own."
"I own this '95 Impreza L AWD, Auto, with 2.2L for about 6 months. This is simply a great and reliable car. My observed fuel economy is 22 mph city and 29 mpg highway.
The AWD is great. It's not as unstoppable as, say, a Jeep Cherokee, but it'll get you out from sticky situations 99% of the time. I often drive to work at 5am before the roads are plowed and this car drives thru 5" of snow with no problem.
There were 3 problems that came with the car at the time of purchase:
(1) Leaky RF axle bearing seal
(2) Defective knock sensor (causing hesitation)
(3) Defective coolant temp sensor (prevent engine from starting).
All are fixed now.
Comfort level is just OK, certainly not up to par with the newest compact cars, but no complaint for daily driver and freeway driving under 4 hours.
The only thing I wish to have in this car is a 5-speed manual."
"My OBS with 148,000 miles has never left me stranded. I even drove it off the highway into a tree and then drove out of the ditch and back home. Really solid car. The 2.2 L engine is much more reliable than the 2.5 L engine in the larger Outback, although it is a bit underpowered. All wheel drive comes in handy more often than you would expect."