2018 Subaru WRX

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MSRP: $26,995 - 40,895

2018 Subaru WRX Review

The 2018 Subaru WRX has awesome overall performance, but it ranks midpack because its interior quality and overall practicality can't match many class rivals.

8.4

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 9.0
Interior: 7.4
Safety: 10.0
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful engines
  • Athletic handling
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Roomy seats
  • Subpar fuel economy
  • Outdated infotainment system
  • Interior quality a notch below rivals'
  • Below-average predicted reliability rating

New for 2018

  • Updated suspension and steering
  • Updated front seat design
  • More driver assistance features

Is the Subaru WRX a Good Car?

The Subaru WRX is a great car when it comes to performance, but just a decent car otherwise. It has two powerful turbocharged engine choices and razor-sharp steering. The WRX is also one of the few compact cars with standard all-wheel drive. Inside, the WRX provides plenty of space in both rows of seats.

Subaru refreshed the WRX for 2018. Still, many other cars in the class have nicer cabins with more modern tech features. Also, fuel economy and trunk space are both below average for the class. The WRX's interior shortcomings offset its performance chops enough to relegate the car to the middle of our rankings.

Should I Buy the Subaru WRX?

If you're looking for a compact car with a big personality, the WRX is a great choice. However, its roughly $27,000 starting price is on the high end for a compact car. For those who want a more well-rounded car – or a better deal – there are smarter choices in this class. The Honda Civic has an upscale interior, along with engaging driving dynamics from its performance trims. The Mazda3 is one of the sportiest cars in the class. Both of these rivals cost much less than the WRX, though neither offers all-wheel drive.

Compare the WRX, Civic, and Mazda3 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Subaru WRX?

Subaru spun off the WRX into its own model (from the old Impreza WRX) for the 2015 model year. It then saw few major changes until 2018, when it was refreshed inside and out. The 2018 WRX receives an updated front fascia, improved cabin materials, and available Recaro front seats. The refresh also includes a retuned suspension and improved shifting and steering feel, which results in better handling and performance. 

These changes are nice, but if you're looking to save money, you can likely score a used WRX for much less than a new model. Just know that you'd miss out on the 2018 model's improvements. To research other used WRX models, read our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Subaru WRX. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn more about savings on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Subaru WRX »

We Did the Research for You: 36 Reviews Analyzed

For our 2018 Subaru WRX review, we researched dozens of professional evaluations, along with safety scores, reliability data, and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best buying decision possible. This 2018 Subaru WRX review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking and reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our editorial team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our reviews are unbiased, we don't accept expensive gifts or incentives from car companies, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Subaru WRX Cost?

The WRX has a starting price of just under $27,000, which is one of the highest base prices in the class. There are several higher trims as well, and they cost even more. The well-equipped WRX Limited starts at around $31,600, and the WRX STI – the performance-oriented version of this little sedan – has a starting price north of $36,000.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Subaru dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Subaru deals page.

Subaru WRX Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Subaru WRX or Honda Civic?

The Honda Civic consistently ranks near the top of our compact cars list. It's incredibly well-balanced, with few faults. The Civic is available in coupe, sedan, and hatchback body styles, which all have more cargo space than the WRX. The Civic's cabin is quiet and well built, and its upper trim levels look nearly as good as some entry-level luxury cars. In the Honda, you'll also get more rear-seat legroom and newer tech features, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If you're considering the WRX for its performance, cross-shop it with a Civic Si or Civic Type R. Si models put out 205 horsepower (a good jump from the max of 180 in other models), while the Type R manages 306 horses. Like the WRX's higher trims, the Civic's sport-tuned models offer a manual gearbox as the sole transmission. The Civic Si’s $24,100 price tag isn’t as low as the standard Civic’s, but it's still cheaper than a base WRX. The Type R ($34,700) is in line with what the WRX STI costs, and both deliver similar performance.

Which Is Better: Subaru WRX or Mazda3?

The Mazda3 is one of the few compact cars that goes toe-to-toe with the WRX in athletic handling. Though the Mazda’s engine choices aren’t as powerful as the Subaru’s, they still deliver quick acceleration and great gas mileage. The Mazda3's cabin is one of the best in the class, featuring upscale materials. All the seats are comfortable and supportive. Both the sedan and hatchback body styles offer more cargo room than the WRX. The Mazda3's infotainment system is easy to use. All things considered, you're better off going with the Mazda. It matches many of the Subaru's strengths, but it adds a lot more. The Mazda3 also retails for about two-thirds of what the WRX does, making it a much better value for your money.

Which Is Better: Subaru WRX or Subaru BRZ?

The Subaru BRZ is the only other performance-oriented car from the brand, and there are many differences between it and the WRX. The low-slung, two-door BRZ doesn’t come with a turbocharged engine, and it’s smaller than the WRX. The BRZ sources its power from a four-cylinder engine. It's also more fuel efficient than the WRX, though the BRZ is the only Subaru model that lacks all-wheel drive. Still, the BRZ feels light and nimble on the road. Overall, unless you're set on driving a sporty two-door, the WRX is the better pick. It offers a roomier back seat and more trunk space, while the BRZ's second row is practically unusable. The WRX costs a couple of thousand dollars more, but it’s worth it.

Compare the WRX, Civic, and Mazda3 »

WRX Interior

How Many People Does the WRX Seat?

The WRX seats five people. The front seats provide ample support for all-day drives, and driver visibility is excellent. The rear seats are roomy and comfortable, and they have plenty of head- and legroom for adult passengers.

WRX and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors in the WRX. The lower anchors are set deeply in the seat, but that’s the only real complaint with them. The tether anchors are easy to find, and you won’t confuse them with other hardware.

WRX Interior Quality

The WRX’s cabin prioritizes function over form. It’s well-designed and features quality materials, but it doesn’t have the upscale feel of some rival cabins.

WRX Cargo Space

The WRX trails many small cars when it comes to trunk space. It has a 12-cubic-foot trunk, and the sedan body style is the only option (many competitors are also available as hatchbacks, which have more cargo space). But 12 cubic feet is still enough room for about nine carry-on bags or three sets of golf clubs.

WRX Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the WRX include a six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a StarLink infotainment system with a 6.2-inch touch screen. Available features include a moonroof, two USB ports, a nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, navigation, and an upgraded infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen.

The WRX offers some nice connectivity features, and the StarLink infotainment system is easy to use. However, it looks a little dated compared to rival systems, which have sharper displays and more usable interfaces.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

WRX Performance

WRX Engine: Packs Quite a Punch

The WRX has the strongest base engine in the class: a 268-horsepower turbo-four. It delivers plenty of power for driving around town and on the highway. The WRX STI has even more juice. It features a 305-horsepower turbocharged flat-four that provides outstanding acceleration.

WRX Gas Mileage: Nothing to Write Home About

The WRX’s fuel economy isn’t impressive. At its most efficient (with the base engine and manual transmission), it earns 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The WRX also requires premium gasoline, which makes the subpar efficiency even more painful at the pump.

Compared to fuel-efficient rivals like the Honda Civic and Mazda3, the WRX will cost you about $800-$850 more in gas money each year – that’s if you have the most efficient WRX setup mentioned above.

WRX Ride and Handling: A Mover and a Shaker

The Subaru WRX is one of the most fun-to-drive compact cars. Its steering is engaging, and its standard all-wheel drive gives you plenty of road grip. The ride remains generally smooth in the base WRX, though the WRX STI has a stiffer suspension that transmits more bumps into the cabin.

Read more about performance »

WRX Reliability

Is the Subaru WRX Reliable?

The 2018 WRX has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five from J.D. Power. Many small cars have higher ratings.

Subaru WRX Warranty

Subaru backs the WRX with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. Many other cars in the class have similar warranties.

Read more about reliability »

WRX Safety

WRX Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety names the 2018 WRX a Top Safety Pick+, the agency’s highest accolade. The WRX earns the highest score of Good in all six crash tests. It also has a rating of Superior for its frontal crash prevention and a score of Good for headlight performance.

WRX Safety Features

A rearview camera comes standard. Available driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pre-collision braking, reverse automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, and Subaru's Starlink Safety and Security telematics system.

Read more about safety »

Which Subaru WRX Model Is Right for Me?

The Subaru WRX comes in five trims. Every WRX features a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. The performance-oriented STI models feature a more powerful engine and other performance-related upgrades, making them the trims of choice for buyers seeking the most driving enjoyment. If you’re OK with the less-powerful engine (which still has more horsepower than most rivals’ engines), then the WRX Limited makes a great choice. It’s available with plenty of comfort and convenience features, and it costs thousands less than the STI trims.

Subaru WRX

The WRX has a base price of $26,995. The base WRX doesn’t offer any option packages or notable available features. You can add several styling accessories, the most expensive of which cost a few hundred dollars.

Subaru WRX Premium

The WRX Premium starts at $29,295. To the standard features found in the base model, the Premium trim adds a moonroof, heated front seats, two USB ports, and the StarLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen. You can add a continuously variable automatic transmission for $1,200. For $2,050, you can add the Performance package, which includes Recaro sport seats, though you'll lose the moonroof.

Subaru WRX Limited

The WRX Limited has a starting price of $31,595. In addition to the features in lower trims, the Limited comes with a power-adjustable driver’s seat. A CVT is available for $1,200, and an option package that includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a Harman Kardon audio system, and an upgraded StarLink system with navigation is available for $2,100.

Subaru WRX STI

The WRX STI starts at $36,095. The STI features a 305-horsepower turbo-four engine, a high-performance sport suspension, a rally-inspired rear spoiler, and Brembo brakes. Along with the base model, this is the only trim that doesn’t come standard with a moonroof. However, you’ll still get standard dual-zone automatic climate control. There’s one option package available for $2,500, which adds keyless entry, push-button start, and Recaro sport seats.

Subaru WRX STI Limited

The WRX STI Limited has a starting price of $40,895. The STI Limited comes standard with Recaro sport seats, a nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and the upgraded StarLink system with navigation. There aren’t any notable features available for the STI Limited, but you can get some styling upgrades.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Subaru dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Subaru deals page.

See 2018 Subaru WRX specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Subaru WRX is a good car with performance chops that few compact cars can match. Beyond its spacious seats, however, it isn’t as practical as many class rivals. The WRX doesn’t have the fuel economy or trunk space that many buyers want from a compact car, and many competitors have more modern tech features. This is a good car, but unless all-wheel drive and driving enjoyment are your main priorities, you should probably shop around.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2018 Subaru WRX is among the swiftest and best-handling compact cars around. It's not especially quiet or comfortable, but it's a reasonably priced performance car you can drive daily." -- Edmunds
  • "Unlike many cars in this class, the new Subaru WRX and STI are a blast to drive, rain, snow or shine, thanks to their sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems. If you like your speed balanced with 4-season usability, room for five and a sizable trunk, you'll like these turbocharged sedans." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While there are only a handful of affordable, high-performance all-wheel-drive compacts to choose from, the 2017 Subaru WRX and WRX STI rank among the best for performance, reliability and affordability. … [It's] blessed with a roomy rear seat, a comfortable interior and a big trunk, making the WRX sedan a remarkably versatile sports car." -- Autotrader (2017)
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