The Subaru WRX is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine. In standard WRX guise, it produces 268 horsepower, which is fed to all four wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission. The WRX STi is powered by a 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 305 horsepower. The STi features the same all-wheel-drive system and 6-speed manual combination that is so potent in the standard WRX. The Sport Lineartronic continuously variable automatic transmission is available on the WRX but not on the STi.
The WRX comes in three trims: Standard, Premium and Limited. Standard WRX models come with 17-inch wheels and a 6.2-inch Starlink multimedia touchscreen infotainment system, which features HD Radio, smartphone integration, a CD player, USB and iPod inputs, six speakers and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and audio streaming. Automatic climate control, rear backup camera, tilt/telescopic steering, full power accessories and cloth sport seats with driver's 6-way manual adjustability round out the base features.
The WRX Premium comes equipped with 18-inch wheels, heated front seats and mirrors, a power glass moonroof, fog lamps and an aero package that includes a rear spoiler.
Limited trim includes everything from the Premium trim as well as a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, leather-trimmed upholstery, and LED headlights. Subaru's EyeSight driver assist technology is available on the WRX Limited and includes active safety features like adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning.
Beyond the bigger engine, the STi differentiates itself from the WRX with a more aggressive exterior, featuring a unique hood and more pronounced fender flares. The bumpers are also more aerodynamic, giving the STi the impression of a high-performance vehicle. Underneath, the STi backs up this impression with lower, stiffer springs, bigger brakes and 19-inch alloy wheels.
The STi comes loaded with features and is available in standard and Limited trims. Standard features include a 60/40 split folding rear seat, a leather wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, a 3.5-inch LCD screen mounted in the instrument cluster and a dual-zone climate control system.
Optional across the WRX range is a navigation and Harman/Kardon audio package. A Performance Package deletes the sunroof but adds Recaro front seats, painted brake calipers and better brake pads.
Safety features include big anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control, a host of airbags, and the confidence of Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
As much as I love spending time with tech-rich dream machines, more often than not, I like my cars to be... simple. I just want to get in and go without having to fuss with driver profiles or sport settings or anything like that. I just want simple, honest fun. And for that, it's tough to beat the Subaru WRX.
For 2020, the WRX gets a new, which is what I'm testing here. Only 500 of these versions will be sold in the US, all of which feature upgraded suspension components, "ceramic white" paint, black badges and some pretty awesome matte-bronze wheels.
At its heart, the WRX is a point-and-shoot car. The turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer-four puts out enough power for backroad shenanigans -- 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque -- but it's not so much that the car ever feels hard to manage. The turbocharger delivers 15.9 psi of maximum boost, and I love being able to just dig into the throttle in second or third gear on my favorite twisty road to unleash that torque, accented by the distant "psssh" of the blowoff valve.
The Good ~ Series White gets nice suspension upgrade ~ Powerful turbocharged engine ~ Standard all-wheel drive ~ Lots of fun for under $35K
The Bad ~ Interior looks as old as it is ~ Not much in the way of tech
The Bottom Line The WRX offers affordable, dependable fun that brings out the speed demon in all of us.
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