Table of Contents
2022 Subaru WRX Premium
Class: Sporty/Performance Car
Miles driven: 257
Fuel used: 12.0 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 21.4 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/26/22 (mpg city/highway/combined)
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||271-hp 2.4L|
|Engine Type||Turbo 4-cylinder|
Fuel type: Premium
Base price: $32,105 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test car: none
Price as tested: $33,100
The great: Zippy, accessible acceleration; athletic handling; distinctive high-performance character
The good: Standard all-wheel drive offers rally-terrain/inclement-weather capability; decent dollar value for an AWD sporty/performance car; generously sized infotainment screen; practicality of 4-door-sedan body style
The not so good: Driver-assistance features aren’t available with manual transmission; so-so fuel economy for a compact car
Stand back from the 2022 Subaru WRX and take in the long view, or poke your head under the hood and in the cabin and you come away with one conclusion: There’s just a whole bunch of new in this thing.
Your eyes don’t deceive you. The fifth generation of Subaru’s abundant-fun compact sedan is redesigned on a new platform, a change that makes it a little longer and wider than before. (For good or ill, its looks are now all its own even as it continues to be based on the mainstream Subaru Impreza sedan.) Two other things get bigger as well—the “boxer” 4-cylinder engine and the infotainment display. To top it off, ride quality is improved even as it maintains great reflexes.
Unfortunately, the incumbent WRX will never be more raucous than it is because the manufacturer has announced that it will not build an STI version for this generation. The apparent rationale is that meeting changing federal emissions and fuel-economy standards with a higher-performance model would soon become untenable. There’s still a 4-level lineup of WRXs, with base, Premium, and Limited models continued, but a new GT at the top that comes standard with the automatic “Subaru Performance Transmission” (Subaru’s name for its performance-tuned CVT transmission), electronically controlled dampers, and Recaro sport seats.
For its test of a ’22 WRX Consumer Guide was presented with a Solar Orange Pearl Premium with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. Sticking to the base powerteam (the continuously variable Performance Transmission is an option), the Premium starts at $33,100 with delivery. That $2500 jump from the entry-level job bestows it with an 11.6-inch “Multimedia Plus” touchscreen for the Subaru Starlink infotainment system, Starlink Safety and Security telematics, heated front seats and exterior mirrors, windshield-wiper deicer, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access and starting, dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors, automatic up/down for rear-door windows, rear-seat armrest with cup holders, and twin USB charge ports in the back of the center console. Exterior distinctions are larger and wider 18-inch alloy wheels with 245/40R18 performance tires, LED fog lights, and a body-color trunklid spoiler.
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All of the new WRXs are powered by a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine rated at 271 horsepower at 5600 rpm. It replaces a 2.0-liter mill that generated 268 ponies, but the bigger engine’s real advance is in minimizing turbo lag and improving responsiveness. Hit it hard from a stop and there’s only a minimal delay before the car digs in and scoots. Then, too, there’s great flexibility from engine—it will noodle along in first gear in really slow traffic and stays strong in the middle gears. With a plump torque band—maximum 258 lb-ft is present from 2000 to 5200 rpm—there’s not a lot of downshifting needed to maintain decent power, again helpful in traffic. A precise shifter and firm but well-balanced clutch pedal make the WRX easy and pleasant to drive. The note from the high-flow exhaust system sounds a bit muscular.
This driver recorded 23.8 mpg after a test drive of 116.6 miles that included 57 percent city-type operation. That’s not bad for a car rated by the EPA at 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 22 combined.
The new WRX is fashioned from the Subaru Global Platform with a lowered center of gravity and stiffer chassis (the manufacturer claims a 28-percent increase in overall torsional rigidity and a 75-percent gain in suspension mounting-point rigidity). In our test it cornered confidently carrying some speed on expressway ramps, and in slower but tighter turns. The tradeoff is stiff reply to bumps, but it’s not jittery or twitchy in steady-state smooth-surface driving. Subaru’s signature all-wheel drive is, of course, standard on all WRXs. Steering is responsive, as is braking from the big discs.
The big tablet-like infotainment display that kicks in at the Premium level veritably fills the shield-shaped pod in the middle of the dash. There you’ll be able to reach out and touch all the included systems and apps—including climate control. As such, there are no knobs or dials for temperature or fan settings, just touch-sensitive repetitive-push virtual buttons. Physical volume and tuning knobs are provided for the audio system, which make it really easy to input audio presets. Analog speedometer and tachometer gauges are large and legible.
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The dimensional changes, including a slight wheelbase stretch, contribute to added interior room. Front-row occupants enjoy good space on supportive seats and a comfortable driving position. There’s decent legroom for two adults in back, but not as much headroom as up front.
People filling those seats will find the surroundings attractive but not overly plush. Premiums have cloth upholstery and most soft-touch material is on the armrests and centers of the door panels. The dash and rear door tops aren’t padded, and front door tops are only lightly. Leather does cover the flat-bottom sport steering wheel and shifter knob, and pedals are faced in aluminum. A big glove box is the best cabin-storage choice because the console box is small (and placed too far back to be an effective center armrest); all door pockets—with bottle holders—are slight; and there’s only one rear-seat pouch, that on the back of the front passenger seat. Exposed cup holders are in the console and, as noted, rear armrest.
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There’s 12.5 cubic feet of space in a trunk that is very wide at the back near the bumper, but narrows between the wheel houses and doesn’t extend all that far forward. The 60/40-split rear seats retract slightly higher than the level of the trunk floor but a flexible panel eases the transition at the threshold. A little organized space is available under the trunk floor.
Base and Premium owners are pretty much on their own when it comes to looking out for their well-being. They don’t get so much as blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring. Subaru’s EyeSight suite with adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and pre-collision braking can be ordered, but only in conjunction with the automatic transmission.
Subaru has changed its little rally-inspired sport sedan, some to the good and perhaps some to the not-so-good. It is undeniably new.
First Spin: 2022 Subaru WRX
2022 Subaru WRX Premium Gallery
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2022 Subaru WRX Premium
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2022 Subaru WRX Premium
2022 Subaru WRX Premium