I was hoping to trade my 95 Subaru in and claim the clunker rebate since I only get 17 mpg. I was disappointed to see that the car is rated 21 mpg city. My gas gauge is unreliable so I routinely watch my mileage and check my mpg. I drive primarily on city and country roads where there is moderate traffic. Why the difference?

The government rating is a guestimate and your records/driving habits reflect a truer approximation of gpm.

First of all, the gas mileage ratings for cars back in that era were unrealistically optimistic.
Some people could achieve the published mpg figures, but most could not.

As to why you only get 17 mpg on this car, it has to be one or more of these factors:

How well the car is maintained
How you drive the car
The inflation pressure in your tires
Whether you carry extra weight in the car
The traffic conditions in which it is typically driven
The rolling resistance of your tires

Your Impreza is lighter than my '97 Outback was, and is considerably lighter than my '02 Outback.
I consistently got 24-25 mpg in “mixed” city/rural driving with the 4-cylinder '97 Outback, and I consistently get 23-24 mpg under the same conditions with the 6-cylinder '02 Outback.

Something is wrong if you are only getting 17 mpg on an Impreza, but from this distance, we don’t know which of the factors on the above list apply to your situation.

If you drive on the city roads, is there stop-and-go traffic? Also, how good are the roads where you are?

In the 90s mileage ratings were determined with the vehicle indoors on a dynamometer. They were not measured under actual driving conditions. Where you drive and the condition of your vehicle will affect the mileage you get. Underinflated tires reduce gas mileage considerably. Lack of routine maintenance also can reduce mileage.

My '96 Subaru Legacy wagon gets approximately 25 mpg around town and closer to 30 mpg on the highway. 17 in an Impreza is not very good.

Regardless, these cars do not qualify for the clunker program.

The EPA MPG values for all the “older” vehicles on the site have been revised to the more recent EPA MPG standard.

I see from that site that only the Suburu SVX got a combined MPG rating of 18 MPG (which meets Cash-for-Clunkers). All the other Suburu’s had much higher Combined MPG values.

The site will show you the new (post 2008) and the old (pre-2008) EPA mpg values for any vehicle.