Full 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX Review
What's New for 2013
The Subaru Impreza WRX returns unchanged for 2013.
In all honesty, we were hoping to be introducing an all-new 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI in this space. By all accounts, the new sport-tuned models would have been based on the redesigned Impreza that debuted last year. We were hoping that the improvements in fuel efficiency and interior quality would have carried over to the WRX, but alas, we must wait yet another year.
To the Subaru's credit, the WRX and STI still offer thrilling performance, even as they start their ride off into the sunset. The Impreza WRX generates 265 horsepower and features a well-tuned and balanced chassis that allows for hard cornering on a track or on winding canyon roads. Then there's the added benefit of all-wheel drive to help improve traction in inclement weather or while powering quickly out of tight corners. The WRX STI further enhances performance with a more powerful turbo that kicks output up to 305 hp, plus limited-slip differentials both front and rear to get that power to the pavement.
Outside of performance, however, the 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI come up short of the competition. A certain lack of refinement is most noticeable within the interior, where hard plastics abound and the fit and finish seems unimpressive. The navigation and audio systems are also a sore spot, as they suffer from indifferent performance and frustrating controls.
In dramatic contrast, the new 2013 Ford Focus ST provides a much nicer cabin with up-to-date electronics. The Focus ST doesn't out-perform the WRX in terms of performance numbers, but it's just as rewarding to drive at full throttle. The handsomely appointed 2013 Volkswagen GTI is also worth checking out, although it is even more outclassed by the WRX when it comes to performance. The even sharper WRX STI variant of this Subaru gets you into a different sporting class altogether, and at that level its archrival 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution comes into play.
With the likelihood of a much improved WRX and STI set to debut next year, we find it hard to recommend a 2013 model. At the very least, we'd wait to see what finally arrives. If time is of the essence, we'd steer shoppers toward the aforementioned alternatives.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI models are available in either sedan or five-door hatchback body styles. The WRX is offered in base, Premium and Limited trims, regardless of body style. The Limited trim is available on the STI, but only as a sedan.
Standard WRX features include 17-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension, cruise control, full power accessories, automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, sport front seats, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio and a six-speaker CD player with iPod connectivity and auxiliary audio input.
Upgrading to the Premium trim adds foglights, a sunroof, a trunk lid spoiler (for sedan models), heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer and heated front seats. Limited trims further benefit from xenon headlights and leather upholstery.
The WRX STI trim adds a more powerful engine, 18-inch BBS wheels, Brembo brakes, front and rear limited-slip differentials, SI-Drive vehicle settings, an even more aggressively tuned suspension and a bigger hood scoop along with xenon headlights, foglights (for hatchbacks), heated seats and faux-suede and leather upholstery. The WRX STI Limited sedan adds foglights, different 18-inch wheels, a sunroof and leather upholstery.
A touchscreen navigation system is available on all WRX and STI models and also includes voice activation, real-time traffic, text messaging capabilities and satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX is a turbocharged 2.5-liter horizontally opposed "boxer" four-cylinder that produces 265 hp and 244 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission and all-wheel-drive system are standard. In Edmunds testing, a WRX went from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, which is the quickest time among similarly priced high-performance compacts. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg in combined driving.
The STI gets a version of the same engine boosted up to 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard. It went from zero to 60 in a blistering 4.5 seconds and achieves fuel economy of 17/23/19.
Every 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, hill-hold assist, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the WRX came to a stop in an excellent 114 feet, while the STI did it in an even better 106 feet.
In government crash tests, the WRX was awarded four out of a possible five stars for overall, frontal and side impacts. Similarly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety bestowed its highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
With a priority placed on performance, the 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX suffers when it comes to interior quality. The cabin's design is decent enough, but is rife with cheaper, hard plastic trim. Furthermore, opting for the navigation system will also get you loads of frustration, as the menus and operation of the audio system are unintuitive and complicated. It's also worth noting that sound quality from the stereo is disappointing.
There is, however, plenty of room inside the cabin for passengers and cargo. Generous head- and legroom provide enough space for taller adults, and the front seats feature aggressive bolstering to keep passengers securely anchored to their seats when cornering. When it comes to hauling stuff, the hatch can accommodate up to 19 cubic feet of cargo. Folding the rear seats expands that space to a generous 44 cubes. The sedan is no slouch, either, with its 11.3-cubic-foot trunk.
The 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX offers an impressive amount of performance for the money, featuring plentiful power and tenacious cornering grip thanks to its firm suspension and summer performance tires. The WRX STI kicks it up a few more notches with limited-slip differentials front and rear, powerful Brembo brakes, a six-speed manual transmission and truly thrilling acceleration when the throttle is wide open. Ride quality for either version is acceptable considering the performance, but some drivers might object to the extra levels of road noise.
Both WRX models are wildly entertaining to drive hard, but in the face of newer, more polished competition, their former luster has dulled quite a bit. And with the likelihood of a new crop of WRXs on the horizon, we suggest shoppers postpone their purchase.