2015 Subaru WRX Sedan (2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo AWD 6-speed Manual)
Driven On 12/17/2013
The Subaru WRX isn't the quietest, most comfortable or best-looking car. However, its acceleration and handling are class-leading. It's spacious and practical enough for a small family, and the all-wheel drive will help you through winter. The WRX is a reasonably priced performance car you can drive every day.
PerformanceThough its acceleration numbers may be hard to duplicate in the real world, the 268-hp WRX provides continual thrills in a straight line or around corners. It doesn't disappoint in the areas that matter most to enthusiast drivers.
A deluge of mid-range power makes it easy to keep the 2.0-liter turbo flat-4 in its sweet spot. The 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds is a second quicker than most rivals, but requires a violent, high-rev launch technique.
The WRX came to a stop from 60 mph in 110 feet, which is typical for sport compacts with summer tires. The brakes showed good resistance to fade, but pedal response was unremarkable.
The steering is direct with lots of feedback, one of the better electric systems out there. Mid-corner response and feel are especially impressive. Not hyper or fidgety on the highway.
Grip is truly impressive (0.94 g on the skidpad), allowing for a rapid pace in our slalom (70.1 mph) and on a mountain road test route. All-wheel drive means no torque steer.
The heavy clutch becomes tiresome in traffic, and the engagement point can be tricky. The throttle causes jerkiness in certain situations. It's not the easiest car to drive smoothly.
ComfortThe excessive and tiresome noise inside the cabin could be a deal-breaker for many, even in comparison to other sporty compacts. The supportive and highly adjustable front seats, however, are fantastic and stand out in this segment.
Supportive seats offered consistent comfort during a full day of driving. The 8-way power driver's seat adjusts broadly, and is friendly for tall and short folks alike. Lacks lumbar adjustment.
Shoppers unaccustomed to sporty cars will find the WRX stiff, but it's actually well-damped and comfortable for the segment. Good enough to mask the incessant bobbing of choppy LA highways.
This car is immensely loud inside, with an abundance of road and wind noise. After a day behind the wheel, our ears were getting tired. Worse yet, the weak stereo can't compensate.
InteriorWhat this car lacks in good looks, it makes up for in useability. The WRX's spacious cabin is simple to use and easy to see out of. It would be even better if offered as a hatchback like its competitors, but as a sedan, it's hard to beat.
The climate control system couldn't be simpler. Radio faceplate is easy to use, but the display is too small for iPod/satellite read-out. You must use redundant audio screen in dashtop trip computer.
A tall greenhouse and seats without aggressive bolsters make it relatively easy to get in and out despite this being a sporty car. Same goes for the back seat.
A 6-foot-tall rear passenger can sit behind a 6-foot driver. The driver's seat offers more adjustment, and therefore room, than expected of a compact car. Headroom may be tight for those long in the torso.
The low dash and hood create an expansive view of the road reminiscent of Japanese cars from decades past. Tall windows and huge mirrors further benefit visibility. Rearview camera is standard but tiny.
Modestly sized glovebox and armrest compartment, but usefully sized cupholders and center stack bin. The 12.0 cubic-foot trunk has a large opening and 60/40 split-fold rear seat. Useful.
ValueRivals cost less and give you more stuff, but if you prioritize performance over equipment, the WRX represents excellent value. Newly-added refinement means your significant other is less likely to think you're nuts for paying $30,000 for a compact Subaru.
Build Quality (vs. $)
A clear step up from the Impreza and the prior WRX. It approaches (though still falls short of) the VW GTI and Ford Focus ST. Soft touch materials, no flimsy bits and the switchgear feels nice to use.
Rivals have less power and do without all-wheel drive, but offer equal equipment for less money. Still, a rearview camera and abundant audio features (Bluetooth, satellite and HD radios) are standard.
The WRX starts at $26,295. Our Limited test car was $30,790 yet lacked navigation, keyless start and much-needed premium audio. A similarly equipped Focus ST would be thousands less.
EPA estimates are 24 mpg Combined (21 City/28 Highway). We achieved 22.2 mpg overall. On the highway-heavy Edmunds evaluation loop we achieved 28.9 mpg, while a VW GTI got 29.4.
The basic warranty is 3 years/36,000 miles, powertrain is 5 years/60,000 miles, corrosion for 5 years/unlimited miles. These are average warranty numbers for the segment.
Subaru offers roadside assistance for 3 years/36,000 miles.
Fun To DriveWhether taking a city turn with gusto, rocketing away from a traffic light or venturing onto a rugged dirt road, the Subaru WRX is an engaging car to drive. Oftentimes this "fun-to-drive" section doesn't count for much, but here, it's paramount.
The prodigious mid-range power brings a smile every time. A mechanical-feeling shifter and communicative steering make you feel like a part of the car. You can't ask for much more than that.
Its styling is certainly more interesting and appealing than an Impreza, but there are some awkward angles. It's not especially good looking … but to drive, well, she's got a great personality.