2016 Subaru WRX Review
2016 Subaru WRX Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Both the WRX and STI offer impressively quick acceleration
- superb handling abilities and steering responses when going around turns
- enhanced traction provided by standard all-wheel drive
- many premium safety equipment options available.
- Above average amounts of wind and road noise
- aggressive suspension tune in the STI makes for a rough ride.
Coming off a full redesign last year, the 2016 Subaru WRX has a few welcome changes. All trim levels get an upgraded touchscreen interface with new smartphone app integration. There also are new optional safety systems and driver assistance technologies. Finally, Subaru has created a new special edition of the WRX STI called the Series Hyper Blue.
When you take a spin in a 2016 Subaru WRX, you can tell right away that it has the right stuff. It's a blast to drive thanks to its turbocharged power and sharp handling, and the standard all-wheel drive is a definite bonus if you live in a place with a lot of wet weather. Learn more about what else we like about this sport sedan below.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2016 Subaru WRX 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.92 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$212/mo for WRX Base
Avg. Compact Car
After its complete redesign for 2015, the 2016 Subaru WRX offers the same heaps of power and performance as before, for a relatively affordable price. The base engine is one of the strongest in its class, with sub 6- second 0-60 acceleration even in the base model with the optional continuously variable automatic transmission. The WRX is a lot of fun when the road gets twisty, too, thanks to its precise steering, nimble handling and standard all-wheel drive. The upgrade STI version simply ups the ante.
Unhappily, though, the WRX interior appointments and design remain pretty middle-of-the-pack, and the cabin isn't as insulated against high-speed wind and road noise as much as we'd like. Many will find the STI's track-tuned suspension still a bit too stiff for comfortable daily driving as well.
The 2016 Subaru WRX carries on from last year's redesign with just a few changes.
But will you really care? That depends on your priorities. The closest competition for the WRX has traditionally come from the Mitsubishi Lancer, but the Ralliart and Evolution are discontinued for 2016. Instead, look to hot hatchbacks from Ford and Volkswagen. Ford offers its front-drive, 252-horsepower Focus ST and all-new all-wheel-drive Focus RS, while VW builds the Golf GTI and all-wheel-drive Golf R. All four deliver stellar performance along with high-quality interiors. The Mini Cooper JCW hatchback remains one of our favorites in the sport-performance class as well. But overall, the 2016 Subaru WRX remains hard to beat if performance and fun top your list of desires for an affordable performance car.
Performance & mpg
Subaru's 2.0-liter turbocharged, horizontally opposed four-cylinder "boxer" engine continues to power the 2016 WRX model in all three trim levels. Its 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque are directed to the all-wheel-drive system through a standard six-speed manual transmission. An optional CVT with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters that let the tranny impersonate either a six- or eight-speed automatic, depending on driving mode, is available for the WRX Premium and Limited trim levels. The WRX Premium and Limited trims also get inverted front struts for improved handling.
The 2016 Subaru WRX cranks out 265 hp, while the STI boosts it up to 305 hp.
In Edmunds testing, a manual-equipped WRX posted a speedy 5.4-second 0-60-mph run. Subaru says the WRX with a CVT needs 5.9 seconds to cover the same distance. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the WRX with a manual transmission is 23 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway), while CVT-equipped models are unchanged at 21 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway).
The STI steps up the game with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine rated at 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. A beefed-up six-speed manual is the only transmission available. In our testing, the STI accelerated to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds. EPA fuel economy is 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway).
Every WRX model gets standard traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, active front head restraints, a rearview back-up camera, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning systems are options on the WRX Limited with either the manual or CVT, and are standard on the STI Limited.
Subaru's EyeSight front collision mitigation system, however, is reserved for the WRX Limited with a CVT. The package adds adaptive cruise control, automated pre-collision braking, and lane keeping assistance systems and independently operating, steering-responsive foglights to help illuminate curves.
In Edmunds brake testing, a WRX stopped from 60 mph in a short 106 feet. An STI actually took a bit longer at 108 feet in our test, though its upgraded brakes showed superior fade resistance after multiple panic stops compared to the regular WRX.
The WRX received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest rating of "Good" for small overlap and moderate overlap frontal-offset collision tests, side impact resistance, roof strength and whiplash protection.
The 2016 Subaru WRX's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is muscular throughout its operating range and delivers a particularly addictive flood of midrange power. The manual is likely to remain the transmission of choice for true gearheads, despite its tricky-to-modulate clutch action. The CVT is more refined than most, and the steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles combine with the WRX's driver-selectable operating modes to present plenty of opportunity to make the most of the engine's output.
As is only right and fitting for a car with World Rally Championship heritage, the WRX is tight and precise, devouring twists in the road with confidence. Subaru's big gun, the 2016 WRX STI, raises the bar a few more pegs with its more powerful engine, limited-slip differentials, hefty Brembo brakes and beefed-up six-speed manual. It's a blast to drive and makes the most of its all-wheel-drive traction, but the side effect is the stiff ride quality, which can be jarring even for this class of car.
WRX interiors typically have taken a backseat to performance, and that's the case with the 2016 WRX. What you get is a pretty basic design and layout, but with simple and easy-to-use controls. The base audio system is improved this year, however, and now has a 6.2-inch screen.
Subaru improved the base audio system for the 2016 WRX, now with smartphone integration and a 6.2-inch touchscreen. A 7-inch screen is optional.
Seating is pretty roomy, as is the trunk, and while hatchbacks still have an edge, cargo space (12 cubic feet) is further helped by the fold-down rear seatbacks. The WRX is a driver's car and the driving position is spot on, as are the firm, nicely bolstered sport seats. Thin roof pillars provide for excellent outward visibility, and large side mirrors make it easy to monitor conditions to the side and rear.
2016 Subaru WRX models
The high-performance 2016 Subaru WRX and WRX STI are available only as five-seat sedans. The WRX can be had in base, Premium and Limited trims; the WRX STI comes only in base and Limited trim levels.
Standard WRX features include 17-inch wheels and summer performance tires, a trunk-lid spoiler, cruise control, sport front seats, automatic climate control, a 4.3-inch vehicle information display, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera, 60/40-split fold-down rear seatbacks, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and Subaru's Starlink six-speaker infotainment system with 6.2-inch touchscreen, satellite and HD radio, CD player, USB interface and auxiliary input and smartphone integration.
Stepping up to the WRX Premium gets you 18-inch wheels and summer tires, foglights, a power sunroof, heated front seats, windshield wiper de-icers and heated outside mirrors. The Limited model adds to that with an eight-way power driver seat, leather-trimmed upholstery, LED low-beam headlamps and keyless ignition and entry.
WRX Premium buyers who stick with the manual transmission can get the optional 7-inch Starlink screen and premium nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, bundled with navigation. Limited buyers who select the CVT can get the navigation and premium audio system bundled with Subaru's optional EyeSight front collision mitigation system. It includes adaptive cruise control, automated pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assistance systems. The package also includes an electronic parking brake, blind spot detection, navigation, rear cross-traffic alert and steering-responsive foglights that help illuminate corners and curves.
The WRX Limited with a manual transmission can be ordered with the optional blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert systems bundled with navigation and the premium nine-speaker media system. The EyeSight system, though, is not available with the stick shift.
The 2016 WRX STI model comes with all the WRX and WRX Premium items except the sunroof but adds a more powerful engine, Brembo brakes, front and rear limited-slip differentials, driver-selectable modes for the center differential and a more aggressively tuned suspension. Dual-zone climate control is also standard. Step up to the STI Limited trim level and you'll get back the sunroof and add keyless ignition and entry, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and the premium audio system with navigation and the 7-inch Starlink screen.
Options for STI models are limited to a package for the base trim that includes keyless ignition and entry, navigation and the premium audio system. The only option for buyers of the STI Limited is the no-cost choice between the iconic rally-style tall wing spoiler or the new low-profile trunk lip spoiler.
There's also a limited edition of the STI available this year. Called Series Hyper Blue, it's essentially an STI Limited but with special exterior paint and interior trim.
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
The perfect daily driver
Xavier Rodriguez, 08/20/2015
2016 Subaru WRX Premium 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I've owned this car for a few weeks now and Now onto the pros. The first thing would be the engine, it's amazing! You have plenty of power down low in the rev band so getting the car up to speed is very easy. Also, there is plenty of torque so if you want to pass someone on the highway in 6th gear you can easily once boost kicks in. 0-60 times very close to the STi because you can get … the 60 mph in 2nd gear. If you're into modifying your car, the FA20DIT engine takes mods on very well. If you look online you can see people with Stage 2 WRX's making very similar power to Stage 2 STi's. ETS has over a 400 whp WRX with a stock block, fuel pump, and injectors (try that with the EJ257). The next pro is the AWD system which is amazing for all four seasons. You get the excellent traction you would expect out of a Subaru during the winter months but also get the excellent traction on the dry pavement as well. Once you know how to launch an AWD car properly, this thing takes off like a rocket ship with barely any wheel spin like a FWD/RWD car would have. The MPG is very good if you stay out of the turbo, you can easily get 30mpg+ just cruising on the highway. Subaru also definitely stepped up their game in terms of interior material quality. The interior has much more soft touch points than in previous iterations of the WRX. The Premium model comes with nice features such as fog lights, cold weather package (heated seats, side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer), and sunroof. Now onto the cons. I am not a huge fan of the stock 6-speed transmission. I didn't get the STi short throw shifter so I can't speak on that but the stock shifter has pretty long throws and it's very notchy. I've also sometimes had difficulty going from 2nd to 3rd gear when driving the car quickly. I've grinded the gear before as well as sometimes accidentally go into 5th gear. Subaru has never been known for having great transmissions, but I wished they made this one a bit better. Another con is the stock sound system which is absolute garbage! I didn't get the H/K upgrade or the Kicker upgrade so I can't speak on those, but the stock speakers are just horrible. Very quiet with no bass. Definitely something I plan on upgrading as soon as possible. Another thing I don't like is that stock center armrest, I wish it was a bit higher. There is an extension you can get as well as a JDM center armest option you can buy online, but I wish they made it a bit taller from the factory. If you can deal with these cons which aren't a huge deal, then this is the perfect daily driver for someone who likes to have a bit of fun on their commute to work and back. The car is quick, practical, safe and reliable which will be tough to beat. If you want to leave it stock, you'll have fun. If you want to modify it, you'll have even more fun! I look forward going to work each day because I know I get to drive this car.
4 out of 5 stars
2016 base model WRX
Pearl White WRX, 08/01/2015
2016 Subaru WRX 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I went from a 2007 stage 2 STI to a bone stock 2016 WRX. During the 1st 1,000 miles it was hard to tell just how fast the WRX would end up being after break-in. The turbo spools so much faster than the STI but then I was shifting around 3k RPM. Luckily I had read many reviews about the touchy throttle, quick spool and then running out of steam around 5k RPM so I knew what to expect once … I did get past the break-in. If you're looking for a dragster this is not the car for you, especially in stock form. The turbo spools very quickly and very suddenly, at 5,000-5,750 RPM there is a very noticeable dip in power and then it starts picking up again and then you have to shift. The stock tune is really my main complaint, but I understand Subaru intentionally tuned it very conservatively for longevity. It handles better than the 2007 STI without a doubt. The STI had very stiff suspension but noticeably more body roll and under steer. Where the STI could really stretch it's legs on a racetrack, the WRX really shines blasting through the canyons. With it's short gear ratios and instantaneous spool, the windier the road the better. My other critiques would be the gear shifter feel, the STI was not a smooth shifter either but the WRX is very notchy. The stock speakers and Bluetooth are not great, sometimes the stereo will refuse to connect to Pandora. The all black interior shows off every speck of dust no matter how often you clean it. The initial bite of the break peddle is not as good as the STI (but most cars aren't). The dreaded Rev hang is definitely noticeable but actually doesn't bother me at all, but it was weird at first. I know I'm way in the minority on this issue, but I think the stock exhaust is a little loud and boomy (my stage 2 STI was catted, resonated and I had the stock mufflers on it. I know, weak!) And seriously this is just nitpicking. 99% of WRX owners will replace the stock tune, shifter and bushings, add louder exhaust and upgrade the stereo. So basically all my "complaints" are extremely fixable. Now what I love about the WRX. The looks, I absolutely love this body style! The lip spoiler, the 17 inch dark grey stock rims. The interior is very well laid out and the steering wheel is awesome! It handles amazing, unbelievable for a $27k car! The fuel economy is great. The gauges and touch screen interface with the backup camera are really nice. The seats and the driving position are perfect in my opinion. The extra 2 inches of legroom in the backseat go a long way, 6+ feet tall passengers can comfortably fit back there now. The truck space and folding rear seat backs make it very practical. The outward visibility with the little split windows up front are great. Overall there is very little to dislike about the 2016 WRX base model. For a $27,000 non front wheel drive, 4 door, 6 speed manual sporty car, I couldn't find anything else I would rather have.
5 out of 5 stars
A perfect car
Avijeet Tomer, 11/02/2015
2016 Subaru WRX STI 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
This is one perfect car, grateful to Subaru for making it. The only negative is the fuel economy, which is acceptable to me given how good everything else is. Drives fantastically well! Every single drive in this car feels great and a lot of fun even without pushing it. The transmission, the steering, the engine's power and torque curves, the sound, the brakes, the control, the … road-holding ability, the predictability of the outcome of any decision you make while driving, even if it is a quick or panicky decision, the visibility, add all this driving fun to the fact that it has 4 doors, seats 5 people with ample legroom in rear, good trunk comparable to other equally priced sedans, an amazing full time all-wheel drive for all season driving, scorching sun or freezing blizzard, with manually-adjustable front to rear wheels torque split, driving modes for throttle response that actually change the throttle response, not just a gimmick, like Intelligent for comfortably smooth throttle response in traffic jams, while Sports and Sports Sharp modes for quicker throttle response for more fun driving. The only gripe is that some times on long drives, the front seats hurt the back, both driver and passenger. Does not always happen, so not a consistent problem, but when it does it's not pleasant.
4 out of 5 stars
108K miles. Purchased in late 2015. A reflection
2016 Subaru WRX 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I got the car in October 2015. Right off the bat I loved it, dealer serviced its whole life, no issues until about 70K. At around this time I had a washer in the center differential "explode" as my tech at the time and now personal friend said. I was past my warranty and Subaru ended up doing a one time good will on it and saved me from an $1800.00 repair bill. No one knew why it … happened and it was something that never happened before apparently. Got the car back and all was well up to about 100k miles(prior a recirculating valve hose popped off, but no biggie). At this point my throw out bearing was failing and I thought they would have replaced it when they had the transmission off the first time, as it had a service bulletin/limited recall on it. That was not the case, even though I brought it to their attention prior. Asked Subaru of America to maybe help out a bit, they declined (oh well, was worth asking). Threw in a new clutch and flywheel (Clutchmasters fx200 kevlar and ACT fly wheel) because, well I'm paying to have it off at 100K miles, why not just change it now then in 40 down the road? Then that TOB bearing broke off a piece and collapsed the clutch over the course of 4000 or so miles, this isn't so much a reflection of Subaru at this point but is something to keep in mind about choice of clutch when it comes time to change yours if you buy used. Over all though, you will notice that the clutch and 6 speed transmission are the bulk of the problems with FA20DIT WRX's. So if you're buying one, just know that it's the least reliable car of one of the most reliable brands, it's a sports car with 4 doors, and it needs often more aggressive then suggested maintenance to get the most out of it. With that said it is a fantastic car over all. With aggressive tires it will refuse to break traction, and the AWD 40/60 takes off like a bat out of hell. With the new engine platform you can expect often times better then advertised gas mileage(30~41) mpg hwy with normal tires) too if you have enough self control to not keep it in boost all the time. The gearing isn't optimal(not terrible) as some more qualified reviewers could explain if they put it head to head with the old 5spd. Big fan of the twin scroll turbo as well, super punchy in the lower mid range, but drops off on the top of the revs. If you go hard in corners, your tires won't last long either (40K on a summer Hankooks) The Subaru Bluetooth can get a little jenky if you have odd ball phones, other then that it all works fine. Most my miles are highway in FL so this will have a lot to do with what temperatures, miles, environment that this particular car has seen. I drive it spiritedly, but no launches or abuse. Hope this helps anyone looking to buy make a more informed decision.
2016 WRX Highlights
|Combined MPG||23 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$212/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||all wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood