So, messing around last night, i confirmed what i saw in the shop manual i downloaded (bought on ebay)...there is indeed a jack plate just behind the drain plug under the Impreza 2.0i that one can use to jack up the car.
i was lucky (partially): my "normal" jack just fits under there and clears. however, to jack up the car, i can't swing my "lift arm" to big of an arc due to limited clearance. but with some patience, i can indeed jack the car up with my standard floor jack. the are is so nice and broad, there is no real need to put a piece of wood or hockey buck in the "cradle" of my floor jack.
i still need to figure out though, the jack stand issue. has anyone tried to place jack stands inboard or outboard of the pinch welds. my existing jack stands, i think are too shallow and so if i were to use them, all of the load would come down to the pinch weld which i'm guessing would cause them to bend.
so my solution is to either get another set of jack stands that fit this car well (if people have ones that work well to distribute the weight around the pinch weld like the OEM jack, please let me/us know!), or as some have suggested, just buy some ramps...
i also have come to the conclusion that changing oil on this car without raising it should be easier than my wife's prius (which i did last night) since the drain plug is reachable and the oil filter is on top.
my only minor concern with changing the oil without lifting the car is for the first oil change and if somehow (likely?) the factory overtightened the drain plug. i won't have much leverage on my socket wrench from the angle/distance i'm working from...after the first change, this should be an issue, but i am a little worried about the first change. guess i should just invite a strong friend over, just in case.
anyway, any jackstand experiences would be appreciated!