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Video + Review: 2022 Subaru WRX Test Drive

By Autolist Editorial | April 29, 2022

Vehicle Type: A four-door, compact sports sedan.

Price Range: From $30,000 to $43,000, including destination.

Powertrain: A 271-horsepower, turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission.

A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional.


What’s New for 2022?

The Subaru WRX is all-new for 2022; it rides on a new platform and is motivated by a more powerful turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four-cylinder engine.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a revised CVT is optional (which Subaru calls the Subaru Performance Transmission or SPT). A new top-end GT model with adaptive dampers and more standard technology and safety features also joins the lineup.


Video Review:


What’s Good?

  • Tenacious grip from AWD system
  • Feisty turbo power
  • Roomy interior
  • Fantasic bargain for base model

What’s Bad?

  • No manual transmission for the GT trim
  • Manual models lack some active safety and technology features
  • Exterior styling (mainly the body cladding) is polarizing
  • Infotainment system can be frustrating

Would we buy one? Yes!


More Photos:

See more 2022 Subaru WRX Photos.


Overview:

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The Subaru WRX is a four-door compact sports sedan that was redesigned for the 2022 model year to welcome the fifth generation of the WRX. It competes against the Toyota GR86, Subaru BRZ, Honda Civic Si, Volkswagen Golf GTI, Hyundai Veloster N, and the Hyundai Elantra N.

Introduced to the US in 2002, the WRX was initially heavily based on the Subaru Impreza compact sedan and hatchback. But when the Impreza was redesigned for 2012, the WRX was not and instead was set on its own path as the automaker's performance sedan.

For 2022, the WRX gets its first substantial redesign since 2015. While it now shares more components under the skin with the Impreza and the company's other models on the Subaru Global Platform, the WRX continues with more aggressive suspension, steering, brakes, and other components than the Impreza — as well as altered styling.

In addition, the new WRX receives a more powerful 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine, with an output of 271-horsepower, and a revised (optional) CVT mimics quicker gear changes to keep the power on tap.

Pricing is competitive compared to rivals like the GTI and Civic Si, as well as the soon-to-be-revived Acura Integra.

And this is as good as it gets for the WRX -- Subaru has announced there will be no super-fast STI version of this generation.


Overall Score: 3.4/5 stars

Safety Features: 3/5 stars

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The 2022 Subaru WRX has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The WRX can have limited safety features and driver assistance technology depending on the model and transmission. Blind-spot monitoring, for instance, is only available on the Limited trim and above.

Models with the CVT get the full EyeSight driver assist technology suite that adds active lane control, automatic forward emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. Subaru also offers an emergency steering system to avoid potential crashes under 50 mph, but this is only available on models with automatic transmission.

We found it frustrating that EyeSight wasn't at least offered on the trims lower than the GT.

Most competitors in its class offer more standard safety features. For instance, the Honda Civic Si provides adaptive cruise control as a standard feature. And the Hyundai Elantra N offers standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane-keep assist.


Value: 5/5 stars

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The Subaru WRX cost about $30,000 to start -- a screaming deal -- and the GT trim will hit $43,000. That starting price would be a modest increase over the 2021 model, but for an all-wheel-drive performance car, the WRX has long been one of the more affordable choices.

The Hyundai Elantra N is slightly higher in price, but it's front-wheel drive, giving the WRX a slight upper hand despite offering fewer features.

At the same time, the Civic Si undercuts the WRX on price but offers significantly less power — expect the mechanically related Acura Integra to also start over the $30,000 mark with additional standard features.

And it's easy to push the redesigned 2022 Golf GTI perilously close to $40,000, while the all-wheel-drive Golf R start at about $45,000.


Tech Features: 3/5 stars

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The WRX base model could use more standard technology features, especially considering rivals in its class come with more tech and safety features.

All models come standard with Subaru's Starlink infotainment system, accessed through a new portrait-style 11.6-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming connectivity, SiriusXM Platinum Plan, SiriusXM Travel Link, and HD Radio.

The WRX offers one of the largest touchscreens in its class; however, it doesn't offer wireless smartphone connectivity like the Honda Civic Si. There's some unnecessary convolution in the operating system. For instance, pressing the heated seat control sometimes brings up a new menu instead of changing the intensity.

Thanks to its logical menu layout and large on-screen buttons, the large central touchscreen is easy to use. While it relies primarily on touch inputs from the driver, the physical controls for the stereo and climate system make operation more straightforward with their intuitive placement.


Practicality: 3/5 stars

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The WRX can hold up to 12.5 cubic feet of cargo space, which is smaller than the class average but still enough for the average owner. There are 60/40-split folding rear seats to help hauling matters, a wide trunk opening, and a low liftover height that helps reduce the effort needed to stow away more oversized items.

But the hatchback configuration on the Integra, Golf GTI, and Subaru's own Impreza offers more flexibility and space.

The front seats offer strong side bolstering to keep the driver and front passenger secure even through cornering. There is ample headroom and legroom in both the front and rear seats, too.

The thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel and the analog gauges add to the racing pleasure and a more refined driving experience. If track days are a highlight, then the GT trim's Recaro front seats offer more aggressive bolstering to keep the front occupants firmly in place.


Styling & Design: 3/5 stars

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At first glance, the new WRX looks similar to the previous model, including the prominent head scoop. However, the narrowed headlights have been pushed out further right to the corners to make space for the new grille, which improves the car's aerodynamics.

In addition, every intake and vent on the exterior of the WRX is fully functional. There's new plastic cladding around the wheel arches, which not everyone will love, but they do feature a hexagon texture to improve the airflow and aerodynamics, similar to that of a golf ball. Darker colors on the WRX hide this cladding nicely.

The driver has excellent outward visibility and a nearly unimpeded view through sharp turns and corners, thanks to the thin front roof pillars.

The cabin balances economy-grade compact sedan elements with sporty touches and valuable space. The seats are highly supportive and comfortable, while the D-shaped steering wheel and alloy-faced pedals contribute to the sedan's sporty mission.

While the front of the vehicle is laden with higher quality materials to remain competitive in its class, the material quality at the back is lower than in the front. There are more hard plastic surfaces; however, this may improve durability and longevity, especially if you have children in the rear seats.


Driving Experience: 5/5 stars

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This car is a blast to drive, especially considering it starts at $30,000. A lot of that is thanks to the larger and more powerful engine versus the previous model: 271-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

The WRX accelerates with a fearsome thrust with ample power under the hood. The standard all-wheel-drive system offers active torque vectoring and sends power to the wheels with the most grip and helps fine-tune how the car traces around a curve.

The chassis handles all of this sports car's momentum with ease. The first three trim levels feature sport-tuned suspensions, while the top GT model has adaptive dampers. And all models offer three different drive-mode settings.

A 6-speed manual transmission comes standard, and a CVT is optional (except on the GT trim where it's standard). According to Subaru, the CVT offers 30% quicker upshifts, 50% quicker downshifts, and lower fixed gear ratios than previous model years.

But we still would recommend the manual gearbox any day of the week.


Fuel Efficiency: 3.5/5 stars

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The WRX offers a decent fuel economy with a small turbocharged flat-four-cylinder engine. The manual transmission WRX has EPA ratings of 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined.

The CVT is less fuel-efficient than the manual transmission, with EPA ratings of 19/25 mpg city/ highway and 21 mpg combined.

Most rivals have a better fuel economy than the WRX. The Hyundai Elantra N with manual transmission gets 25 mpg combined, and the Mazda 3 with the turbo engine gets 27 mpg combined.

Subaru recommends using premium fuel if you want to take advantage of the engine's full potential; however, it can also run on regular fuel with a likely decrease in power output.


What Does the 2022 Subaru WRX cost?

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The base WRX start at about $30,000, including destination and it includes everything that makes the WRX a blast to drive.

This includes the 271-horsepower, 2.4-liter flat-four-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive and a standard six-speed manual transmission. In addition, it comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, full LED headlights, and a self-dimming rearview mirror.

The CVT (or SPT as Subaru calls it) is another $2,000 - $2,250 depending on the trim. An oil cooler, automatic emergency steering for adaptive cruise control, and lane centering are all included when choosing this optional gearbox.

Subaru's Starlink multimedia system is also standard and is accessed through the 11.6-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming connectivity, SiriusXM Platinum Plan, SiriusXM Travel Link, AM/FM stereo, and HD Radio. Some minor driver assistance features include a rear-seat reminder and automatic high beams.

The Premium model costs $32,500 (including destination) and adds on 18-inch alloy wheels, aluminum pedal covers, heated side mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, LED fog lights, heated front seats, USB ports for the rear passengers, keyless entry/ignition, and voice-controlled dual-zone automatic climate control.

Buyers can also add a powered moonroof and an 11-speaker Harman Kardon audio system to this package for another $1,875.

The Limited trim is about $37,000 (including destination) and adds a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, powered moonroof, steering-responsive headlights, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, simulated suede upholstery, and the Harman/Kardon audio system.

If you choose the CVT, you will also get automatic rear braking.

The GT trim is all-new for the Subaru WRX and stickers for around $43,000. This model comes standard with CVT and all the extras accompanying it, including a custom setting for the selectable drive modes. Other additions include Recaro sport front seats (the driver's seat is 8-way power-adjustable), simulated suede covering the dashboard, and an adaptive suspension.

If it were our signature on the check, we would choose the Limited trim since it adds on more safety features and higher-quality cabin materials at a slightly higher price, not too far above the standard model.


More Photos:

See more 2022 Subaru WRX Photos.