2017 Subaru WRX Review
Pros & Cons
- Both the WRX and STI offer impressively quick acceleration
- Superb handling abilities and steering responses when going around turns
- Enhanced traction from 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
- Interior quality falls behind rivals
Edmunds' Expert Review
Regardless of engine/transmission choice, the WRX is a blast to drive. It steers nimbly and sharply, and you can utilize the all-wheel-drive system to put the power down a lot more quickly coming out of a turn than you can in a front-drive rival like the Focus ST. The WRX does exactly what Subaru meant it to be: it's a thrill machine that grips and rips with enthusiasm.
The standard WRX's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine bogs down a bit if you try to pull away quickly at low rpm, but it's strong throughout the rest of its operating range. There's a big surge of turbocharged power in the midrange that becomes quite addicting. The manual transmission's clutch is tricky to modulate smoothly, but given the overall enjoyment to be had from shifting your own gears, it's a small price to pay, in our opinion. If you don't want to row your own, the CVT is a good consolation prize, with steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles and driver-selectable operating modes to present plenty of opportunity to make the most of the engine's output.
The more powerful, larger engine in the WRX STI raises the bar a few more pegs. Combine it with limited-slip differentials, hefty Brembo brakes and a beefed-up six-speed manual and you've got a truly serious performance sedan. It's a blast to drive and makes the most of its all-wheel-drive traction. The STI has a very stiff ride quality, however, which is jarring even for this class of car.
With the WRX, the emphasis is clearly on the performance, not the interior. As a driver's car, 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 sides and rear.
Interior design and layout are basic, with simple and easy-to-use controls, but not much in the way of frills. Audio quality and infotainment usability were previously sore spots for Subaru, but with this generation of WRX, things have improved quite a bit. Especially improved are the base audio system and the standard 6.2-inch screen.
The WRX has 12 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk. This is below average for a small sedan. Also, most of the WRX's rivals are offered as more versatile hatchbacks (the GTI can hold up to 22.8 cubic feet of cargo behind its rear seats, for instance).