2018 Subaru WRX Review

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2018 Subaru WRX Overview

The latest-generation Subaru WRX, now a separate model from the Impreza on which it is based, is still a fairly fresh design. The 2018 model therefore doesn’t make much of a splash when it comes to updates, but both the WRX and its hotter WRX STI sibling do get some cosmetic tweaks and new optional features. Unfortunately for fans of the old WRX hatchbacks, the sedan is still the only body style available.

Compared to the Impreza, the WRX has its own hood, fenders, bumpers, and lights. It still looks like barely more than a hotted-up family car, even though it’s a precisely engineered all-wheel-drive (AWD) performance car underneath the surface. For 2018, the WRX gets a new front bumper, a larger grille, and different black exterior trim. The Limited trim also comes with new steering-responsive LED headlights, which STI buyers get standard, while the Premium trim offers a $2,050 Performance package with Recaro front seats, red brake calipers, and premium brake pads. The 2018 Subaru WRX starts at $26,995, which is a bit more than the comparable $24,775 Ford Focus ST or $25,595 Volkswagen Golf GTI. That said, the WRX is still an all-time favorite among the tuner crowd, and it offers a lot of performance for the money no matter which way you look at it.

Under its skin are the ingredients that have served the WRX so well for years and years: a boxer 4-cylinder engine, a turbocharger, and AWD. The motor is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit with a twin-scroll turbo good for 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The standard gearbox is a good old-fashioned 6-speed manual, although a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is an available option. Manual models come with an AWD system with a viscous coupling that divides power 50:50 front-to-rear but can split torque from side to side as well. CVT models get a slightly different AWD system, with several driving modes that alter the shift pattern and a 45:55 front-to-rear power split. For a 4-cylinder car, the WRX has never been all that frugal on gasoline. 2018 models should get 21 mpg city, 27 highway, and 23 combined with the manual and 18, 24, and 21 with the CVT, which certainly isn’t terrific but is livable. Because of its performance-tuned, turbocharged engine, the WRX also runs on premium gas.

With a flat-four engine sitting low in the chassis and rally-bred underpinnings, the WRX is a tight-feeling driver’s car under its somewhat pedestrian appearance. The latest model has revised suspension settings as well as small changes to the shifter and electric power steering system for improved handling, not that the car needed it.

The WRX has never been about showing off, focusing instead on the business of driving and driving quickly, and therefore typically has an interior that’s even less exciting than its bodywork. The 2018 model still doesn’t look like much on the inside, but it does get the latest version of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system, a larger 6.2-inch screen, and supposedly better-quality interior materials (such as the available leather upholstery). Standard features include new heated exterior mirrors, automatic climate control, steering-wheel audio controls, and a multifunction display with a turbo-boost gauge and traction monitor. At the top of the WRX lineup, the Limited trim gets a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and exclusive available options such as a navigation package with blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and a Harmon Kardon audio system.

Available on WRX Limited models equipped with the CVT—but not the hotter WRX STI—is Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assistance suite, which uses onboard cameras to provide adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keep assist. The 2017 WRX has also earned the admirable Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Updated

Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a Formula Vee. After receiving history degrees, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.

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