2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited

Style:
2017 Subaru WRX
MSRP
$39,995
2017 Subaru WRX

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

Overall rating

If you're looking for a grocery-getting sedan with best in-class fuel economy, a comfortable driving experience and a reserved demeanor, you've come to the wrong review. The 2017 Subaru WRX is as akin to those things as Congress is to bipartisan deal-making. Instead, this is a compact four-door offering an entirely different group of virtues: a raucous rally-based heritage, beefy turbocharged power and precision handling and steering.

The WRX and even-faster WRX STI are powered by turbocharged, four-cylinder engines. Both offer decent fuel economy but place the emphasis on power: 268 ponies in the regular WRX and 305 hp in the STI. You can make the most of this power, too, thanks to the extra traction provided by the WRX's sophisticated all-wheel-drive system. Hit the gas exiting a tight turn and the WRX won't lose any power due to overzealous wheelspin. Of course, there's the traditional benefit, too: all-wheel drive provides extra traction in wet weather.

Precise steering and track-worthy handling are other WRX hallmarks. Unfortunately, this focus on performance comes at the detriment of some modern creature comforts. The WRX interior is outfitted with decent tech, but it's not going to wow you with superb build quality, low levels of road noise or stylish design. Granted, those concerns fade away pretty quickly when you're testing the limits of grip along an empty canyon road on your day off. It's therefore a simple question you need to ask yourself: Are you willing to trade a bit of comfort and practicality for fun?

Before you answer that question, though, you should take a look at what the competition is up to. The standard WRX goes up against cars like the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI. All three are quick and reasonably priced, but the ST and GTI are a bit more grown up. Their interiors and on-road performance are a bit more refined, and they offer enhanced practicality thanks to their hatchback body styles. On the downside, though, their front-wheel-drive layouts don't give you as much performance potential.

If you're looking for rivals for the more powerful WRX STI, you'll again be seeing Ford and Volkswagen badges. This time, it's the Focus RS and Golf R. Both share the same benefits noted above, but they have all-wheel drive to put them back in the running, along with some serious power upgrades of their own. Overall, we think the 2017 Subaru WRX is undoubtedly fast and fun to drive, but that competition is stiff. A test-drive is probably the best way to figure out which is your favorite. Just be sure to ask for a route with plenty of curves.

Every WRX model gets standard traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, active front head restraints, a rearview camera, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning systems are optional.

Subaru's EyeSight is optional on the WRX Limited with a CVT. The package adds automated pre-collision braking (both forward and in reverse), lane departure warning and intervention systems and independently operating, steering-responsive foglights to help illuminate curves.

In Edmunds brake testing, a WRX with summer tires stopped from 60 mph in a short 106 feet. A slightly heavier (by about 100 pounds) STI actually took a tiny bit longer at 108 feet in our test. To its credit, the STI's upgraded brakes didn't fade as much 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, as well as a "Good" score in the side-impact, roof-strength and seats/head restraints (whiplash protection) tests. The WRX's EyeSight option received the highest possible rating of "Superior" for its optional crash avoidance and mitigation technology.

2017 Subaru WRX configurations

The 2017 Subaru WRX is only available as a sedan. There are a total of five trim levels when you split up the standard WRX and the more powerful WRX STI. The standard WRX can be had in base, Premium and Limited trims; the WRX STI comes only in base and Limited trim levels.

The base WRX comes with 17-inch wheels wrapped in summer performance tires, a trunk-lid spoiler, cruise control, sport front seats with cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, a 6.2-inch vehicle information display, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth connectivity and Subaru's Starlink six-speaker infotainment system with a 6.2-inch touchscreen, satellite and HD radio, CD player, USB and auxiliary inputs and smartphone app integration.

Next up the trim ladder is the WRX Premium, which adds 18-inch wheels (also with summer tires), foglights, a sunroof, heated front seats, windshield wiper de-icers and heated mirrors.

The WRX Limited model adds to that with an eight-way power driver seat, leather-trimmed upholstery, LED low-beam headlights, keyless ignition and entry and a 7-inch Starlink touchscreen.

WRX Premium buyers who stick with the manual transmission can also get the optional 7-inch screen, plus a premium nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

The WRX Limited with a manual transmission can be ordered with navigation and the premium nine-speaker media system, plus optional blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert systems. Limited buyers who select the continuously variable transmission (CVT) can also get those features, plus Subaru's optional EyeSight front collision mitigation system. It includes adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking and lane departure warning/intervention systems, plus an electronic parking brake and steering-responsive foglights that help illuminate corners and curves. The EyeSight system is not available with the stick shift, though.

WRX STI base models come with all the WRX Premium items except the sunroof. The base STI also adds a more powerful engine, Brembo brakes, front and rear limited-slip differentials, driver-selectable modes for the center differential, a more aggressively tuned suspension and dual-zone automatic climate control. Step up to the STI Limited and you'll get back the sunroof and add unique 18-inch BBS wheels, keyless ignition and entry, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and the premium audio system with navigation.

Optional for the STI Limited is the no-cost choice between the iconic rally-style tall wing spoiler and a low-profile trunk lip spoiler. Note that EyeSight is not offered for the WRX STI.

There are also several dealer-installed options available for both the WRX and STI, including a performance exhaust (for the base WRX), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, short-throw shifter, various carbon-fiber trim, unique shift knobs and interior lighting accents.

For the standard WRX, power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter, horizontally opposed four-cylinder "boxer" engine that puts out 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive and a manual transmission are standard.

A CVT with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is optional for WRX Premium and Limited trim levels. Those paddles let the transmission impersonate either a six- or eight-speed automatic, depending on driving mode.

When we tested the standard WRX with the manual transmission, it went from zero to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. Subaru says the WRX with a CVT takes 5.9 seconds to cover the same distance. For some perspective, a VW GTI we tested (with the DSG automated transmission) took 6.1 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph. A Ford Focus ST takes 6.4 seconds to get to 60 mph.

EPA-estimated fuel economy for the WRX with a manual transmission is 23 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway), while CVT-equipped models are rated at 21 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway).

Power for the STI comes from a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine rated at 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. A beefed-up six-speed manual is the only transmission you can get with the STI. In our testing, the STI accelerated to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds. That's quicker than a Golf R with the manual (5.3 seconds), but a Golf R with the DSG automatic rocketed to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds in our testing.

EPA fuel economy for the STI is 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway) for the STI.

Driving

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.

Interior

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).


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2017 Subaru WRX.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Awesome
Roland,08/11/2016
I drove the 2017 WRX and the STI,and I have to tell you,the only reason I bougt the STI is because it sound better,if feels better,and performs better.that simple,my STI limited it has everything I want on a car.It's been a year now and I had drove the car for about 5500 miles and I just recently change the oil and the car is still brand new,I think it sounds a little louder,i have not done any performance at all but what can i say I love my STI.
Clunking noise.
Tim Matthews,03/09/2018
Since about 4,000 miles, the car developed a clunking noise in the front suspension. It is progressively getting worse. I has been in the shop four times across two different dealerships. They can't fond the problem but they admit it is making a noise. Even Subaru America will not do anything. At this point I am hiring a lawyer.
Speedy!
Aaron Comins,01/28/2017
Awesome car and i mean awesome! Extremely fast and exhilarating to drive. Few cons are non heated steering wheel and nav Screen is small.
Best combination of fun and value!
Matt,04/08/2017
Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, nothing rivals this car. It performs like a Corvette (actually outperforms a Corvette in bad weather) but you can get two of these for the same price. I'm too old for a car with a wing-- I think they look silly-- but when Subaru added the option of a lip spoiler instead of the wing I went ahead and made the purchase. The back seat is plenty roomy for two adults (or a baby seat or two). Note that it ships with summer tires, so if you live somewhere that gets below 45 degrees you'll need a second set of tires and rims. Also, you'll need the center arm rest extension for comfort, but be warned that the Subaru arm rest extension will replace your nice padded carbon leather/red stitching with cheap black plastic. Get the JDM dual console arm rest extension from subispeed instead-- it gives you the same higher elbow support but it allows you to reuse the original console lid, preserving the overall look and feel. Update: still love to get into this car every time. My son and I took it on an epic four day road trip from Chicago to the west coast. It's fine if a bit loud on the interstate, but it really shines on the twisty two lane roads. Very comfortable seats, the interior controls have before intuitive, and with new all season tires the road noise is lessened. Update 10/10/2018: A year and half into owning the car, I'm still thrilled to get into it every morning. One drawback: the navigation system is garbage. But with Google maps on my phone, I have a perfectly adequate workaround.
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Features & Specs

MSRP
$39,995
MPG
17 city / 23 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
305 hp @ 6000 rpm
MSRP
$39,995
MPG
17 city / 23 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
305 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all 2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Good
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

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More about the 2017 Subaru WRX

Fifteen years ago, the Subaru WRX introduced many Americans to the notion of all-wheel-drive sport compact performance. The 2017 Subaru WRX powers forward with a 2.0-liter "boxer" four-cylinder engine, just like the original, while the maximum-performance WRX STI variant gets a 2.5-liter boxer with even more verve.

Either way, there's certainly no shortage of speed. The base WRX checks in at 268 horsepower, while the STI boasts 305 hp. That's a lot of ponies for a sedan the size of a Corolla. Sure-footed all-wheel drive makes the most of that impressive output whether the road is wet or dry, joining with accurate steering and crisp handling to provide a true sport-sedan driving experience.

A purist-pleasing six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, while a commuter-friendly continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional. Because gearless CVT transmissions can be unsettling for drivers accustomed to moving through the gears one step at a time, Subaru has programmed this one to "shift" through a series of simulated gear ratios. Consequently, it feels much like a regular automatic to the driver, even though there's no actual shifting going on.

Glancing at the sticker price of the WRX or especially the STI, some shoppers might expect luxurious appointments and a refined ride. These aspects are notably absent. The WRX is available in three different trim levels with a number of appealing amenities. But the overall experience remains relatively austere and intense, particularly with the STI's firmer suspension. There's also a fair amount of hard, cheap-looking interior plastic, which is disappointing in a car of this price range. The WRX family isn't for everyone; in other words, it's aimed at enthusiastic drivers who are willing to forego some comfort and polish in return for performance that inspires.

On the safety front, Subaru's EyeSight bundle — including lane-departure prevention and forward collision mitigation with automatic braking — is available, though only on the high-end Limited model (and only when equipped with the CVT). According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, crashworthiness improves from "Good" for the regular WRX to "Superior" for the EyeSight-equipped model.

Fuel economy ranges from 23 mpg (20 city/27 highway) for the manual transmission WRX to 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway) for the manual-only STI, with the self-shifting WRX splitting the difference. You can certainly find more fuel-efficient performance cars in this day and age, though the endearingly quirky character of Subaru's engines will add value for some shoppers.

At the end of the day, the 2017 Subaru WRX is an all-season athlete meant for those who want every trip to be a thrill ride. Just like the original all those years ago, the standard 2017 WRX is a no-brainer if you're looking for AWD performance on a budget, though again, pricier versions bring cosseting luxury-brand alternatives into play. If you're a fan, Edmunds' peerless reviews and pricing data can help you find the WRX that's right for you.

2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited Overview

The 2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited is offered in the following styles: STI Limited w/Wing 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and STI Limited w/Low Profile Trunk Spoiler 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M).

What do people think of the 2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited?

Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2017 WRX STI Limited 4 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2017 WRX STI Limited.

Edmunds Expert Reviews

Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited and all model years in our database. Our rich analysis includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2017 WRX STI Limited featuring deep dives into trim levels including STI Limited w/Wing, STI Limited w/Low Profile Trunk Spoiler, etc. with careful analysis around pricing, features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving and performance. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.

Read our full review of the 2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited here.
Our Review Process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.

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Why trust Edmunds?

Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including all models of the 2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited and all available trim types: STI Limited w/Low Profile Trunk Spoiler, STI Limited w/Wing. Rich, trim-level features & specs and options data tracked for the 2017 Subaru WRX STI Limited include (but are not limited to): MSRP, available incentives and deals, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (interior and exterior color, upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, cruise control, parking assistance, lane sensing, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy and MPG (city, highway, and combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (interior cabin space, vehicle length and width, seating capacity, cargo space). Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds expert review, safety rating, and color.

Should I lease or buy a 2017 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.

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