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2016 Subaru WRX Review

The 2016 Subaru WRX has thrilling performance, plenty of features, and solid safety scores. However, it ranks in the bottom third of a very competitive class because of its below-average reliability rating, mediocre cabin, and high ownership costs.

Pros & Cons

  • Agile handling
  • Potent engines
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Mediocre interior materials
  • Below-average reliability

New for 2016

  • Touch-screen infotainment system standard
  • Numerous advanced safety features introduced




Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 8.8
Interior: 7.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.5
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2016 Subaru WRX Overview

Is the 2016 Subaru WRX a Good Used Car?

With its razor-sharp handling and brisk acceleration (not to mention its high-performance STI trims), the 2016 Subaru WRX’s performance rivals actual sports cars. It's a fine option if you're looking for a sporty compact car, and standard all-wheel drive widens its appeal even more. That said, the WRX isn’t the best overall option in this class. Its interior is rather noisy and comes dressed in hard plastics. It also earns below-average marks for reliability. Not to mention, used WRX models are usually much pricier than class rivals like the Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus ST, both upfront and over the course of ownership.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve researched 20 Subaru WRX reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of automotive industry experience combined. While we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To ensure our reviews remain impartial, we refuse expensive gifts and trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2016 Subaru WRX?

Prices for the 2016 Subaru WRX range from about $22,000 to about $34,000, with the average price landing around $27,500. This data comes from around 400 listings for the 2016 WRX on our site. Actual prices fluctuate depending on the vehicle's features, mileage, condition, and location.

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How Much Does the 2016 Subaru WRX Cost to Own?

The 2016 WRX tends to be much more expensive than many of its competitors when it comes to gas, insurance, repair, and maintenance costs. You can expect to pay around $30,300 over five years for these expenses.

By comparison, a 2016 Volkswagen GTI has lower five-year costs by about $6,700. The 2016 Subaru Impreza's costs are around $8,000 lower than the WRX's, and the 2016 Ford Focus' costs are about $8,400 lower.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New WRX?

Subaru refreshed the WRX for 2018, giving it an updated front design and nicer cabin materials. Newly available features include Recaro front seats and reverse automatic emergency braking. The suspension and steering have also been retuned feel for better handling and performance. You'll have to decide if these changes are worth the higher price, or if you'd rather save some coin by going with a used model. The 2018 Subaru WRX starts at just under $27,000, which is actually lower than the average price of a used 2016 model. However, that average used price takes into account the top trims and higher-performance models. That means you likely won't get as much bang for your buck with a new model as you would with a used model.

Read about the new Subaru WRX »

There are plenty of new cars that retail for less than the average price of a 2016 WRX, and some even undercut the low end of the 2016 WRX's price range. The sporty 2018 Mazda3 starts at just over $18,000, but $20,000 gets you a mid-range model with a livelier engine and features like heated front seats and leatherette upholstery. Other performance-oriented compact cars worth considering include the 2018 Honda Civic Si ($24,100), the 2018 Volkswagen GTI ($26,415), and the 2018 Ford Focus ST ($25,170). Our best car deals and Best Price Program may help lower the price of a new car to make it more attractive than buying a used WRX.

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How Reliable Is the 2016 Subaru WRX?

The 2016 Subaru WRX has a below-average reliability rating of 2.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about WRX reliability »

2016 Subaru WRX Recalls

As of this writing, there are two recalls for the 2016 WRX. One addresses a problem with the turbocharger air intake duct cracking and possibly resulting in the engine stalling. Another recall covers the automatic emergency braking system, which may not function as intended and could result in the car not automatically stopping for an obstacle. Before buying a 2016 WRX, make sure these recalls have been addressed to avoid these issues.

See more information on Subaru WRX safety recalls »

Which Model Year of the Subaru WRX Is Best?

For decades, Subaru sold the WRX as a performance trim of the Impreza. The WRX was fully redesigned and spun off as its own model for the 2015 model year. Though a 2015 WRX may cost less than a 2016 model, the 2016 is a better bet. A touch-screen infotainment system became standard for 2016. Also, several driver assistance features were introduced for the first time (as options). These include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

There were no major changes to the WRX for the 2017 model year, so you're better off going with a 2016 instead. It will likely save you money, and you'll get a nearly identical car.

Compare the 2015, 2016, and 2017 WRX »

Which Used Subaru WRX Model Is Right for Me?

The 2016 WRX comes in six trim levels: base, Premium, Limited, STI, STI Limited, and STI Series.HyperBlue. Standard features in the WRX include a 6.2-inch touch screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a USB input, satellite radio, a CD player, and cloth upholstery. The WRX Premium adds heated front seats and a moonroof. The WRX Limited trim adds leather upholstery.

The base model WRX is a great value, thanks to its many standard features. If you want a WRX with the automatic transmission, however, you’ll need to shop for WRX Premium and WRX Limited trims. Only the Subaru WRX Limited is available with Subaru’s EyeSight advanced safety features.

Performance enthusiasts will want to go with a WRX STI and its 305-horsepower engine and  six-speed manual transmission. STI models also include a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, and limited-slip front and rear differentials. The WRX STI Limited adds proximity keyless entry, a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, and blind spot monitoring. A limited-edition model – the WRX STI Series.HyperBlue – adds unique paint and interior trim. Only 700 units of this model were produced.

See 2016 Subaru WRX trims and specs »

What Does Subaru's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Subaru offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles five years old or less and with fewer than 80,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. For its certified pre-owned vehicles, Subaru extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to seven years from the original sale date or 100,000 miles. Subaru provides no additional coverage for CPO vehicles, so buyers receive the remainder of the original three-year/36,000-mile new-car warranty. However, buyers can purchase additional coverage. Every CPO Subaru must pass a 152-point inspection. Additional benefits like owner loyalty discounts, a one-year Starlink Safety Plus trial subscription, towing, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Subaru warranty page carefully.

According to our analysis, Subaru’s CPO program isn’t particularly robust. Among affordable automakers, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, and many others have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the WRX?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2016 Subaru WRX a Top Safety Pick+ and gave it the highest rating of Good in all five areas tested. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not crash test the 2016 WRX.

All 2016 WRX and WRX STI models come with a rearview camera. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are available in WRX Limited and WRX STI Limited trim levels. The Subaru EyeSight package is available only in Subaru WRX Limited models with an automatic transmission. That suite of features includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

See WRX safety scores »

2016 Subaru WRX Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2016 Subaru WRX or 2016 Volkswagen GTI?

The 2016 Volkswagen GTI is a well-rounded hot hatch that's more well-rounded than the WRX. With either 210 or 220 horsepower, the GTI isn't as muscular as the WRX. Still, it gets moving quickly and tackles winding roads with agility. Although you can't get a GTI with all-wheel drive, it delivers better gas mileage than the WRX. Inside, the Volkswagen has plenty of passenger space, and its hatchback form means you can carry lots of cargo. You can also find GTI models with cool features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. With a slightly higher reliability rating and slightly lower ownership costs, the GTI is a practical choice that doesn't sacrifice much in the way of fun.

Which Is Better: 2016 Subaru WRX or 2016 Ford Focus ST?

The 2016 Ford Focus ST is a hatchback version of Ford's compact car, and its turbocharged 252-horsepower engine helps it rival the base WRX's performance chops. With the Focus ST, you'll also get athletic handling and lots of cargo space. However, like the Ford, the Subaru has sub-par reliability ratings. The Focus also has a little less rear-seat legroom. Go with the WRX if you're willing to pay more upfront and more in the long run, or if all-wheel drive is a must-have. Otherwise, the Focus ST should deliver most of what you're looking for at a lower price.

Which Is Better: 2016 Subaru WRX or 2016 Subaru Impreza?

The WRX is a high-performance version of the 2016 Subaru Impreza sedan. Both vehicles have the same standard features and roomy interiors, along with standard all-wheel drive. While the WRX has below-average reliability, the Impreza's is a little better. The Impreza also offers much better fuel economy, significantly lower average prices and ownership costs, and a more capable hatchback variant. Its sole 148-horsepower drivetrain produces sluggish acceleration, though. The WRX is the better choice for those looking for lively performance. But if you just want an economical compact car with all-wheel drive, the Impreza fits the bill.

Compare the WRX, GTI, and Focus »

2016 WRX Performance

How Does the 2016 Subaru WRX Drive?

The 2016 Subaru WRX comes standard with a 268-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual or a Lineartronic continuously variable automatic (CVT). The WRX’s muscular engine blasts the WRX up to speed quickly, and it offers robust passing power for highway maneuvers. Enthusiasts should enjoy the smooth action of the manual transmission, but the automatic CVT is refined in its own right. The latter also comes with paddle shifters that allow drivers to change gears manually. A pliant suspension and grippy all-wheel-drive system allow the WRX to slice around corners with poise, yet still provide a comfortable ride.

The Subaru WRX STI raises the performance bar considerably. It comes with a 305-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, upgraded all-wheel-drive, and high-performance brakes. The WRX STI ferociously accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and boasts even sharper handling than the base model. However, its stiff suspension yields an uncomfortable ride at times.

Does the 2016 Subaru WRX Get Good Gas Mileage?

Fuel economy estimates for the 2016 WRX range from 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for a manual transmission base model, down to 17/23 mpg city/highway for STI models. Those mileage numbers are lower than sporty rivals like the 2016 Ford Focus ST (22/30 mpg) or the 2016 Volkswagen GTI (25/34 mpg).

Read more about WRX performance »

2016 WRX Interior

How Many People Does the 2016 WRX Seat?

The 2016 Subaru WRX has seating for five and offers generous interior space. The front seats are supportive and have large side bolsters that hold passengers firmly in place. The rear seats can accommodate two adults comfortably with head- and legroom to spare, which isn’t always the case in this class. Cloth upholstery comes standard; leather upholstery and heated front seats are available. The WRX’s cabin has a clean and minimalist design, but its materials feel cheap and there’s a lot of road and wind noise.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2016 Subaru WRX?

The 2016 WRX has two sets of lower LATCH anchors in its rear seat, and three upper tether anchors. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the system a rating of Marginal. They note that the lower anchors are deep in the seat cushions, and it's hard to move your hands around the anchors.

2016 Subaru WRX Features

All 2016 WRX models come equipped with Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, a USB port, a rearview camera, and Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system. A 6.2-inch touch screen is also standard, and a larger 7-inch touch screen with satellite navigation is available. The Starlink system is user-friendly, thanks to its straightforward menus. It supports voice recognition and also offers an app suite with Pandora, iHeartRadio, Aha, and more. There are convenient physical climate and audio controls around the touch screen, making it easy to adjust settings on the go.

See 2016 Subaru WRX specs »

Read more about WRX interior »

2016 Subaru WRX Dimensions

Subaru WRX Cargo Space

The 2016 Subaru WRX has 12 cubic feet of trunk space, which is less than many other compact cars offer.

2016 WRX Length and Weight

The 2016 WRX is 15.1 feet long. The car's curb weight ranges from 3,269 pounds for a base model with manual transmission to 3,450 pounds for the WRX Premium with the CVT.

Where Was the 2016 Subaru WRX Built?

Subaru built the 2016 WRX in Japan.


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