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2021 Subaru WRX Review, Pricing, and Specs


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Overview

The 2021 Subaru WRX doesn’t offer a modern aesthetic or a smooth ride, but it does have standard all-wheel drive and the ability to entertain driving enthusiasts. Its 268-hp turbocharged flat-four-cylinder produces a unique, grumbly soundtrack and pairs with a standard six-speed manual or an optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Too bad its engine is hindered by noticeable turbo lag and surges in acceleration that make the WRX feel both slower than it is and difficult to drive smoothly. Those who don’t mind bouncing over bumpy roads will appreciate the Subaru’s racy suspension, because it makes the sedan more fun to drive on twisty roads. We’re not sure whether those people will also appreciate the WRX’s outdated interior and accompanying noisiness, but it’s all part of the rawness that makes the Subie either endearing or annoying—depending upon your point of view.

What’s New for 2021?

Subaru releases the WRX into 2021 without any major changes between this year’s model and last year’s version. The only update is that the Premium trim level now comes standard with passive hands-free entry and push-button start.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

  • Base: $29,000 (est.)
  • Premium: $31,000 (est.)
  • Limited: $33,000 (est.)

    With base, Premium, and Limited trims tightly grouped in terms of features and price, WRX buyers will want to look over their options carefully. If we were writing the check, we’d opt for the mid-level WRX Premium. Sticking with the six-speed manual will not only save you $1900 over the cost of the CVT but will also save on your therapy bills, as grabbing gears in a WRX on a twisty gravel road is a highly effective stress reliever. While the base car offers nearly all the same thrills, the Performance package is only available on the Premium.

    Engine, Transmission, and Performance

    The WRX earns its performance stripes courtesy of its standard turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four engine. With 268 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque, and all-wheel drive to put it to the pavement, the sedan launches like a proverbial rocket whether it’s equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission or the optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that’s available on Premium and Limited models. In daily driving, its laggy on-again-off-again power delivery is often more painful than pleasurable, as the turbocharged sedan expresses an initial hesitancy to get moving, followed by a surge of unexpected acceleration. As with its powertrain, the WRX’s chassis is best enjoyed when being pushed hard. The well-weighted and surprisingly feelsome electric-assist steering works with the standard all-wheel-drive system and sticky summer tires to inspire confidence that the car will go precisely where you point it. While its ride is on the stiff side, it’s never punishing. Still, the Subie lacks the polish and refinement found in vehicles such as the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI. Credit the WRX’s standard summer tires, as well as the Performance package’s upgraded brake pads, for the sedan’s impressive and fade-free braking performance.

    Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

    The EPA estimates that the WRX with the standard manual transmission will earn 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg highway. Surprisingly, the automatic version sees those ratings drop to 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. The latter figures are worse than those of several mid-size crossover SUVs. While we’ve only tested a manual-equipped model on our 200-mile highway route, which is conducted at a steady 75 mph to simulate its real-world efficiency, it earned 30 mpg—3 more than advertised.

    Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

    The WRX is a car made for hard driving, not for cosseting its passengers. Dark, loud, and made of middling materials, its cabin is a bleak place within which to while away the miles. On the plus side, the Subie offers low windowsills and minimal blind spots, as well as simple secondary controls. While all models feature comfortable and well-bolstered seats, we’re partial to the optional Recaro front seats. Comfortable and supportive, the seats also feature red trim that adds some much-needed color to the otherwise somber cabin. A spacious trunk and a standard 60/40 split-folding rear seat provides the WRX with plenty of space for carrying cargo. Still, its limited interior storage areas leave few places for hiding various odds and ends.

    Infotainment and Connectivity

    While the base WRX comes standard with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, upper-end Premium and Limited models swap in a larger 7.0-inch unit. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but built-in navigation is only available on the top-of-the-line Limited. A single auxiliary input and USB port are standard on the base model; however, the Premium and Limited add a second USB port.

    Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

    The WRX earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Although every version comes standard with seven airbags, only the CVT-equipped WRX Limited has Subaru’s EyeSight system that includes driver-assistance technology. Key safety features include:

    • Available forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
    • Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
    • Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist

      Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

      The WRX’s warranty is nothing out of the ordinary. Those in search of more comprehensive coverage will be better served by the Elantra Sport.

      • Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
      • Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
      • No complimentary scheduled maintenance

        Specifications

        Specifications

        2018 Subaru WRX Manual with Performance Package

        VEHICLE TYPE

        front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

        PRICE AS TESTED

        $32,205 (base price: $32,205)

        ENGINE TYPE

        turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve flat-4, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
        Displacement

        122 in3, 1998 cm3
        Power

        268 hp @ 5600 rpm
        Torque

        258 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm

        TRANSMISSION

        6-speed manual

        DIMENSIONS

        Wheelbase: 104.3 in

        Length: 180.9 in

        Width: 70.7 in

        Height: 58.1 in

        Passenger volume: 96 ft3

        Trunk volume: 12 ft3

        Curb weight: 3330 lb

        C/D TEST RESULTS

        60 mph: 5.5 sec

        100 mph: 14.9 sec

        130 mph: 30.2 sec

        Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 7.1 sec

        Top gear, 30–50 mph: 12.8 sec

        Top gear, 50–70 mph: 8.6 sec

        ¼-mile: 14.2 sec @ 98 mph

        Top speed (mfr’s claim): 144 mph

        Braking, 70–0 mph: 156 ft

        Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g

        C/D FUEL ECONOMY

        Observed: 21 mpg

        75-mph highway driving: 30 mpg

        Highway range: 470 miles

        EPA FUEL ECONOMY

        Combined/city/highway: 23/21/27 mpg

        More Features and Specs

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