The folks at Subaru hit the bullseye with last year's redesign of the WRX. The high-performance compact is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, selling as fast as it goes.

Pricing and Equipment

Although it may be the rebel of the lineup, the WRX comes in the same three trim levels as other Subarus:

  • Priced at $26,595, the Base WRX gets a rearview camera, automatic climate control, and a display audio system with Bluetooth. The base model rides on 17-inch wheels, and a six-speed manual is the only transmission offered.
  • For $28,895, you step up to the Premium with extras like foglamps, a sunroof, heated mirrors, heated front seats, and summer performance tires on 18-inch wheels. An automatic transmissions is available for $1,200.
  • The $30,395 Limited throws in leather seating with driver power and LED headlamps. Exclusive to the Limited is a $4,095 option package that includes navigation, a Harman Kardon sound system, and Subaru's EyeSight system of active safety technology.
  • For an even higher level of performance, the manual-only STI model is endowed with a larger engine, upgraded brakes, and a specially tuned suspension. The STI is available in Base ($34,695) and Limited ($39,995) trims.

Performance Pros

2016 Subaru WRX Zoom

The WRX starts out with a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 268 horsepower. STI version gets a 2.5-liter that ups the ante to 305 horsepower. Even with the automatic, the standard WRX hussles from 0 to 60 mph in just under 6 seconds. The STI can make the sprint in 5 seconds flat. All-wheel drive is standard across the board.

Performance highlights include:

  • Transmissions: The 6-speed manual offers commendably short throws and splits power evenly between the front and rear wheels—and also from side to side when necessary for optimum handling. The regular WRX can get a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that performs much like the manual, except power is split 55/45 in favor of the rear.
  • Handling/Steering: With its firm, sport-tuned suspension and responsive electric power steering, the WRX is one of the best-handling compacts we could hope to find. The STI throws in front and rear limited-slip differentials and slightly quicker hydraulic-boosted steering for a even higher level of grip.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Considering everything the WRX can do on a track, we're impressed by its 23 mpg in combined city and highway driving. With the CVT, mileage dips to about 21 mpg combined. As expected, a ferocious STI isn't so miserly, delivering 19 mpg combined.

Performance Cons

  • We expected the WRX to ride firmly, which won't be an issue for most buyers. However, the STI's ride is so stiff that it pushes the limits of what's acceptable in a modern passenger car.
  • In spirited driving, we found road and wind noise to be excessive at times (or even intolerable depending on your point of view).

Interior Pros

Subaru WRX InteriorZoom
  • The standard sport seats, clad in grippy fabric, do an excellent job of holding you in place as you toss the WRX about.
  • Passenger room surpasses than of any coupe competitor. The WRX is just as spacious as in back as any mainstream compact sedan.

Interior Cons

  • The WRX's cabin is all about functionality. You won't find anything particularly stylish or attractive going on.
  • While interior materials feel durable, they're decidedly bland, neither sporty nor upscale.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

CVTs have a reputation for limiting performance, but that's definitely not the case here. The CVT is adept at mimicking the action of a manual transmission, especially in top performance mode.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

To us, the WRX feels more like entertainment than transportation. It's not quite civilized enough to serve as a daily driver unless you're a hardcore enthusiast.

The Bottom Line

The WRX shines as a rally racer you can buy right off the showroom floor.