Used 2015 Subaru WRX STI Limited
Used 2015 Subaru WRX STI Limited for Sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
The redesigned 2015 Subaru WRX reclaims its place as a sport compact performance benchmark. It's got the power and handling that few can match. Overall refinement, however, remains an issue.
Ever since its debut back for 2002, the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX has been a cult favorite with drivers drawn to its considerable performance and affordable price. Now, for 2015, enthusiasts again have a reason to smile as a fully redesigned WRX arrives and, yes, it still offers massive bang for the buck. But Subaru also hopes this new 2015 WRX will gain an even wider audience, thanks to a slightly roomier cabin, increased performance and improved fuel efficiency.
As before, the 2015 WRX is based on the Impreza sedan, though Subaru has dropped "Impreza" from the WRX's name to signify a higher-performance bloodline. Compared to its humble relative, the 2015 WRX features a stiffer chassis, a retuned suspension and a major power increase. As a result, its performance capabilities are far beyond those of the standard-duty Impreza.
For that power surge the base 2015 WRX relies on a new, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It's smaller than the previous-generation WRX's 2.5-liter engine, but peak horsepower is up slightly -- now 268 -- and, more importantly, it makes more usable midrange power and returns better fuel economy. That power goes to all four wheels, naturally, but this time it's through a revised, torque-vectoring AWD system that improves traction and car control when driving out of turns. You also get your choice of two new transmissions: a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that has steering-wheel-mounted paddles for manual-like shifting when the desire strikes. With either transmission, you're looking at a 0-60 mph dash of under 6 seconds, which is excellent for this class of car.
The winged wonder, the high-performance WRX STI, is back as well, but it carries on with its larger 2.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 305 hp. This could be seen as disappointing given that the STI has effectively had the same power output for more than a decade. But Subaru says it's sufficient and wanted to focus more on making the STI an even better-handling car. To that end, there's even stiffer suspension tuning, quicker and more communicative steering (it's still hydraulic-assist, unlike the regular WRX's new electric-assist power steering system) and an adjustable center differential that can be used by the driver to fine-tune the car's traction characteristics. The results are impressive, as the STI grips heroically through turns and feels sharper and better balanced than any previous WRX sold here.
Outside of performance, though, the WRX comes up a little short in a couple areas. The new car grows 1 inch in length, which opens up trunk and passenger space a bit, but the 2015 WRX's interior design and materials quality, though noticeably improved, are still nothing special. Forward visibility is excellent, but the cabin is still excessively porous to wind and road noise, and the suspension is undeniably stiff-riding, especially in the STI. Finally, Subaru's optional touchscreen navigation system is merely adequate relative to the competition and needlessly ties up basic audio functions within its screens and menus.
Despite its flaws, the WRX remains nearly peerless. Its only true current performance rival is the aging Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. The 2015 Volkswagen Golf R will change that however, with 292 hp, standard all-wheel drive and hatchback versatility that the WRX no longer offers. More affordable alternatives include the 2015 Ford Focus ST and 2015 Volkswagen GTI. Both offer nicer interiors with easier-to-use touchscreens, but they're also slower than the Subaru, and their front-wheel-drive layout will appeal less to hard-core drivers.
In the end, your choice will likely depend on what you want from your high-performance sedan. And the 2015 Subaru WRX and WRX STI, though flawed, continue to offer a level of performance and driver engagement that's rare at this price point.
2015 Subaru WRX configurations
The 2015 Subaru WRX and WRX STI are high-performance sedans that seat five. The WRX is offered in base, Premium and Limited trim levels. The WRX STI is offered in base, Limited and Launch Edition trims, the latter limited to 1,000 units.
Standard WRX features include 17-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, cruise control, full power accessories, automatic climate control, sport front seats, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 4.3-inch central display, a rearview camera, a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and a USB/iPod interface.
Upgrading to the Premium trim adds foglights, a sunroof, a trunk lid spoiler, heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer and heated front seats. The Limited model gains LED headlights (low beams only), leather upholstery and an eight-way power driver seat.
The base WRX STI builds on the base WRX's equipment list by adding a more powerful engine, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, foglights, Brembo brakes, front and rear limited-slip differentials, driver-selectable modes for the center differential and a more aggressively tuned suspension. STI Limited models add an eight-way power driver seat, lighter weight 18-inch BBS wheels, leather upholstery and a premium nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
The small production-run Launch Edition gets gold-painted lightweight BBS wheels, leather upholstery with simulated suede inserts, keyless ignition and entry and a short-throw shifter.
A touchscreen navigation system is available on all but the base model WRX. It also comes bundled with a 6.1-inch display, voice controls, smartphone app integration (Aha radio), satellite radio and, depending on the trim level, keyless ignition/entry and the nine-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. Other major options for the WRX and WRX STI include a performance exhaust, upgraded speakers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Performance & mpg
The 2015 Subaru WRX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter, horizontally opposed four-cylinder boxer engine that produces 268 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and an all-wheel-drive system are standard. A new CVT is optional and features steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and settings that mimic either a six- or eight-speed automatic.
In Edmunds testing, a manual-equipped WRX accelerated from zero to 60 mph in an impressively quick 5.4 seconds. Subaru claims a WRX with the CVT requires 5.9 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy with the manual transmission is 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway). The CVT model is rated at 21 mpg combined (19 city/25 highway).
The STI uses a turbocharged 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder boxer engine rated at 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission offered. Fuel economy rates 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway). During Edmunds testing, the STI Launch Edition went from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.
Every Subaru WRX comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver-side knee airbag and active front head restraints.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Subaru WRX earned a highest possible rating of "Good" in the small-overlap and moderate-overlap frontal offset impact tests. It also earned a "Good" rating for its performance in the side impact, roof-strength and whiplash protection (seat and head restraint design) tests.
During Edmunds testing a WRX STI Launch Edition came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet, which is a very short distance for a sport compact car.
The 2015 Subaru WRX delivers the power and handling performance of cars nearly twice its price. The new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is strong throughout its rev range, and its rush of midrange power will surprise you at first, and then quickly become addictive. This is a car that feels even quicker than its acceleration numbers indicate. The manual transmission is a little tricky to use because of its heavy clutch action and the sensitive gas pedal, though it's still the obvious choice for gearheads. The new CVT is surprisingly capable, and its different driver-selectable modes and shift paddles make the most of what the WRX has to offer.
Thanks to a firmer chassis (up to 40 percent stiffer than last year's WRX), a retuned suspension and the new torque-vectoring feature for the all-wheel-drive system (which helps the car's handling balance when exiting corners), the new WRX is a noticeably tighter and more precise-handling car than before. It absolutely devours tight, twisty roads and imparts a feeling of driver confidence that its front-wheel-drive competitors simply can't replicate. The ride quality is undoubtedly stiff, but for this class of car we don't think many drivers will take issue. Less forgivable, however, is the large amount of wind and road noise coming into the cabin at freeway speeds.
As for the WRX STI, it simply kicks everything up a few more notches with its trick limited-slip differentials, powerful Brembo brakes and stronger engine. It's an even sharper tool than the standard WRX to be sure, and will win favor with drivers wanting a car for track days. But the firmness of the ride quality gets kicked up a few notches, too, and it presses the limit of acceptability in our opinion. There's more power and cornering ability with the STI but the performance benefits definitely come at the cost of comfort. You'll have to be a dedicated WRX fan to put up with the STI's rough ride on a daily basis.
Interior quality has never been the WRX's strong suit, but the 2015 WRX can claim to be the best of the breed so far. The cabin design is simple and straightforward and the controls are very easy to locate and use. The new 4.3-inch multi-information display atop the center stack relays audio, Bluetooth and climate control information, as well as a turbo boost gauge display, all-wheel-drive operation and the rearview camera.
That said, most competitors in this price range give off a more premium vibe, and the difference will likely be most apparent (and bothersome) to buyers who pick out a loaded WRX and expect more in the way of interior refinement. We're also not very keen on the base audio system's poor sound quality or the finicky touchscreen interface that comes with the optional navigation system.
On the upside, the cabin is spacious, with plenty of room for passengers and cargo. One inch of added wheelbase gives the new WRX even more generous rear legroom. A new thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel imparts the proper sporty vibe after you slide into the firm, well-bolstered driver seat. The driver positioning is particularly excellent, as is outward visibility thanks to thin roof pillars and large side mirrors. Trunk space measures 12 cubic feet, a respectable figure, though hatchback competitors have an edge when it comes to total versatility.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
Brake, turn, accelerate, jump.
Once it was being ruthlessly caned on a tortuous bit of tarmac called Skaggs Springs Road on a cold, clear day near the Pacific Ocean, it became clear that the 2015 Subaru WRX restores the faith. The original Subaru WRX gave American enthusiasts the car for which they'd been clamoring. Various permutations in intervening years had, well, uneven success in replicating that result.
The 2015 WRX resets the clock.
What Makes This a Sharper WRX?
The 2015 Subaru WRX sheds the word "Impreza" from its model name, but the approach remains the same. Subaru engineers took the current Impreza, ran it through the fast-car operating room and produced a WRX that nods at previous ones, yet goes its own way.
For starters, the engine that has powered every previous WRX, known internally as the EJ-series, is gone. There's no five-door body style either. And you can get leather seats and an automatic. So, has the WRX gone soft?
Actually, it's stiffer. Reinforcements to the Impreza's body shell have resulted in torsional rigidity that is up by 41 percent, while bending stiffness increases some 30 percent over the old WRX. It's all in pursuit of improved handling, as a stiff chassis allows the suspension to better respond to inputs from the road.
It also allows that suspension to effectively exploit higher spring rates. In the case of the new WRX, engineers did just that, stiffening the front springs by 39 percent and the rears by a whopping 62 percent. Handling, then, is the focus of the new car.
And at the risk of giving away the plot early, yes, this is easily the sharpest, most precise WRX ever. The somewhat ropey body roll and rubbery driveline lash of previous cars is a memory. The new WRX's body stays impressively flat in corners, and it changes direction with newfound alertness. And there's grip: Subaru says the new car orbits its skid pad at 0.93g, just 0.01g less grippy than an Evo on the same surface, while exhibiting a roll angle similar to a BRZ or Porsche Cayman.
The flip side of all this precision is a ride that's stiff-legged and busy in casual driving. Yet the car somehow soaks up all the bumpiness when you go on the attack. Pound it down truly crappy, wondrous roads like Skaggs Springs Road and it stays faithfully on line and never loses its composure.
Uses the Brakes To Turn. Here's How
Suspension travel is said to be similar to that of the outgoing car, while there's a noticeably firmer brake pedal backed by a 1-inch-diameter master cylinder (up from 15/16 of an inch) and bigger, thicker disks.
Turn-in is assisted by what Subaru calls Active Torque Vectoring, which drags the inside front brake to help point the nose, reducing initial understeer. Its electrically assisted steering's ratio is quicker, too. The outcome is that response from the helm is immediate and very precise.
What's more, the chassis remains alert even when cornering loads are high, allowing minute adjustments to your line that would have been lost in the syrupiness of the old car. Steering effort from the new rack is a shade light and it could use more feel, but that's just being fussy. This is one capable car.
The New Engine Is a Noticeable Upgrade
The new car's direct-injected 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, known internally as the FA20, is borrowed from the Forester Turbo with minimal changes. Stiffer valve springs and revised cams support higher revs (6,700 rpm redline versus 6,000 in the tall wagon), while the Honeywell turbo huffs out a max of 15.9 psi boost pressure.
In the 2015 Subaru WRX this flat-4 generates little more peak power than the EJ25 2.5-liter four in the outgoing car (268 horsepower at 5,600 rpm versus 265 at 6,000 rpm) but its 258 pound-feet of torque from 2,000-5,200 rpm is a meaningful improvement. The new car's additional 59 pounds isn't enough to sap the fun out of the broader torque curve.
The torque is more accessible in day-to-day driving, especially as there are now six forward gears rather than five in the old car. This cable-shifted manual gearbox is an adaptation of the Forester's six-speed, adding carbon-lined synchros and a shifter with shorter throws. After rowing the lever on our drive in Northern California, we're pleased that it moves through the gates free of notchiness or resistance.
A Better CVT Than We Expected
And then there's the automatic, a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is Subaru's way of expanding the WRX's appeal that's got the fanboys all abuzz. With paddle shifters, two modes, three levels of aggression and a clever calibration that switches to stepped ratios when the throttle is depressed beyond a certain point, the CVT actually works astonishingly well.
In fact, based on our time with both transmissions, we reckon it's possible the CVT car could be quicker point to point than a manual one on a tight, technical road with lots of gearchanges. The reason? There's no torque interruption during gear ratio changes in the CVT, whereas in the manual there's a brief pause following a gearchange before the floodgates reopen in earnest.
Nevertheless, Subaru's stopwatch tells a different story. Sixty falls in 5.4 seconds with the manual and 5.9 seconds with the CVT in "launch mode," activated simply by two-pedaling the car on the line and then releasing the brake and flooring the gas.
Both versions of the new car are deceptively rapid, as the flat torque delivery spells less drama when you squeeze the throttle. It's responsive and enthusiastic, not abrupt. The engine note has lost the characteristic flat-4 warbling chuffle, too, due to the pairing of exhaust pulses within the twin-scroll turbo. Consider it the price paid for the new mill's more tractable power delivery.
Your Mileage Will Vary
Fuel economy takes a jump forward. Manual-equipped WRXs are projected to turn in 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway), an increase of 3 mpg over the current car. Things get murkier for CVT-equipped cars, but suffice it to say that in the real world you can expect better than the numbers on its sticker of 21 mpg combined (19 city/25 highway).
Left in "Intelligent" mode it is said to unofficially achieve 25 mpg combined (23 city/30 highway). For a more thorough explanation, read our First Look at the 2015 WRX.
It Wouldn't Be a WRX Without Styling Controversy
Exterior changes are comprehensive. Relative to the Impreza upon which it is based, the WRX gets a unique hood, headlights, front fenders, doors, fascias, rear blisters.... In fact, every panel is new save for the roof, deck lid and glass.
All that work has resulted in styling that's charmless and anonymous, lacking even endearing quirkiness like that of previous WRXs. If styling could be a color, the new WRX would be beige.
There's no shortage of wind or road noise in the cabin, but the panoramic visibility on offer is terrific. Its slender A-pillars, low cowl and door-mounted mirrors afford a great view that allows you to place the car with confidence. The thick-rimmed, smaller-diameter steering wheel feels great, though its leather wrap has been processed to within an inch of vinyl. And the seats continue the WRX tradition of offering lateral support beyond what you'd expect from looking at their bolsters.
More Variations Than Ever
Three trim levels bring new levels of creature comforts to the once-basic rally special. You'll be able to have leather seats with heat and power adjustments in the range-topping Limited trim, along with LED headlights.
The CVT gearbox, navigation and 440-watt Harman Kardon boom-boom audio system will be optional on the upper two trim levels. No word yet on pricing, though it's likely the Limited will stretch the model's MSRP to new heights.
Despite the added features, the new 2015 Subaru WRX has decidedly not gone soft. In fact, its driving experience and capability is arguably closer to that of a (gasp!) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution than previous WRXs. How this twist of irony plays out among die-hards of either brand is something we're looking forward to watching.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2015 Subaru WRX STI Limited Overview
The Used 2015 Subaru WRX STI Limited is offered in the following styles: STI Limited 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M).
What's a good price on a Used 2015 Subaru WRX STI Limited?
Save up to $300 on one of 2 Used 2015 Subaru WRX STI Limited for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, VA with prices as low as $27,988 as of12/10/2018, based on data from dealers and consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from4.8 to 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for Used 2015 Subaru WRX STI Limited trim styles:
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Used 2015 Subaru WRX STI Limited Listings and Inventory
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Should I lease or buy a 2015 Subaru WRX?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.