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2018 Subaru WRX Review

The 2018 Subaru WRX ranks near the back of the competitive compact car class. The WRX has spry driving dynamics, powerful engines, and roomy seating space, but a firm ride, noisy cabin, and below-average predicted reliability rating keep it from ranking higher.

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful turbocharged engines
  • Sporty handling
  • Roomy seating space
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Firm ride quality
  • High projected ownership costs




Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 8.9
Interior: 7.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.3
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Subaru WRX Overview

Is the 2018 Subaru WRX a Good Used Car?

Yes, the WRX is a fine option if you’re shopping for a sporty used compact car.

The 2018 WRX has many highlights:

  • Spacious interior with five seats
  • Punchy turbocharged engines
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Agile handling
  • Excellent safety score
  • Many available safety features
  • User-friendly infotainment system

It does have a number of drawbacks though:

  • Firm ride quality, especially in STI models
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Noisy cabin at highway speeds
  • No support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • Mediocre trunk space
  • High projected ownership costs for the class

Before you buy, consider higher-rated sports sedans like the 2018 Volkswagen GTI and 2018 Ford Focus ST. Both of these hatchbacks deliver an exciting driving experience but without the stiff ride, and they have higher predicted reliability ratings and more cargo space than the WRX.

Compare the WRX, GTI, and Focus »

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve analyzed 32 Subaru WRX reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability ratings and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

How Much Is the 2018 Subaru WRX?

Based on listings for the 2018 Subaru WRX on our site, the average price is $29,000, which is much higher than average for the class. Prices range from $24,000 to $36,500 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Subaru WRX Cost to Own?

The WRX’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be about $27,900, or $5,580 per year. That’s much higher than average for a compact car.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New WRX?

The price of a 2019 Subaru WRX starts at around $27,200, but it can top $40,000 in with STI models. Though you can spend a lot less and get a used 2018 model, it may be worth opting for a 2019 WRX if you want the latest tech features. The 2019 WRX has an updated touch screen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; these systems were previously unavailable.

Read about the new Subaru WRX »

You can save even more money with a used 2015, 2016, or 2017 WRX. These models are part of the same generation, and they have comparable engine performance, driving dynamics, and styling. The biggest differences involve active safety features. The 2016 model was the first to offer Subaru’s EyeSight package. This means the 2015 models are not available with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, or lane departure warning. If these features are important to you, stick with a 2016-or-newer model.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 WRX »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Subaru WRX?

The 2018 WRX has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about WRX reliability »

2018 Subaru WRX Recalls

At the time of writing, there are no recalls for the 2018 Subaru WRX.

See more information on Subaru WRX safety recalls »

Which Used Subaru WRX Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Subaru WRX is available in six trim levels: base, Premium, Limited, STI, STI Limited, and STI Type RA. The base model WRX is the best option for most shoppers. It offers excellent performance and a fine list of standard features, like a touch-screen infotainment system, satellite radio, and a rearview camera. If you’re looking for active safety features, you’ll need to opt for the WRX Limited trim. It’s the only WRX available with Subaru’s EyeSight package.

  • Subaru WRX: The entry-level WRX has a turbocharged 268-horsepower boxer engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and all-wheel drive. Standard features include a 6.2-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, a USB port, satellite radio, a CD player, six speakers, a rearview camera, remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, cloth seats, heated side mirrors, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
  • Subaru WRX Premium: The uplevel Premium trim is available with a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission. This trim gains a 7-inch touch screen, an additional USB port, heated front seats, a moonroof, fog lights, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
  • Subaru WRX Limited: The Limited trim includes leather seats, power-adjustable front seats, push-button start, and steering-responsive LED headlights.
  • Subaru WRX STI: The high-performance STI model has a 305-horsepower engine and a six-speed manual transmission. This trim comes with suede and leather front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels, and a large rear wing.
  • Subaru WRX STI Limited: This trim includes Recaro sport seats, a navigation system, a nine-speaker stereo, and blind spot monitoring.
  • Subaru WRX STI Type RA: Subaru only released 500 units of the Type RA model, which gets a slight bump in output to 310 horsepower. This variant loses its spare tire but gains a carbon fiber roof, a carbon fiber rear wing, and a track-tuned Bilstein suspension.

See 2018 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 Subaru WRX a 2018 Top Safety Pick+. The compact car earned a top rating of Good in six crash tests and the best rating of Superior for the effectiveness of its available front crash prevention system. The WRX’s headlights received mixed ratings for how well they illuminate the road ahead: Poor for the standard halogen lights (base and Premium trims), Acceptable for the available LED lights (Limited trim), and Good for the optional curve-adaptive LED headlights (Limited trim with the EyeSight package).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not put the 2018 Subaru WRX through crash tests.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • adaptive pivoting headlights
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • forward collision warning
  • automatic emergency braking
  • adaptive cruise control
  • lane departure warning
  • lane keep assist
  • head-up display (EyeSight Assist Monitor)

See WRX safety scores »

2018 Subaru WRX Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Subaru WRX or 2018 Honda Civic Si?

The 2018 Honda Civic Si is a better pick for most shoppers. The Si offers spry handling and brisk turbocharged acceleration like the WRX, but it yields a smoother ride on rough roads, and it gets superior fuel economy. The Civic Si also includes tech features that the WRX doesn’t, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Better still, its ownership costs are projected to be much lower.

Which Is Better: 2018 Subaru WRX STI or 2018 Volkswagen Golf R?

Few compact cars are as quick and as powerful as the WRX STI, but the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R is one of them. This all-wheel-drive Volkswagen hatchback can keep pace with the Subaru on twisty roads. It provides a smoother ride in day-to-day driving though, and it has substantially more cargo space. The Golf also has nicer cabin materials. Before you buy a WRX, test-drive the Golf R.

Compare the WRX, Civic, and Golf »

2018 WRX Performance

How Does the 2018 Subaru WRX Drive?

The Subaru WRX is billed as a rally car for the road, and it genuinely feels like one. Its flat four-cylinder engine emits a nice rumble, and it assertively zips the car around town and up to highway speeds. Punch the gas pedal, and this turbocharged engine delivers a surge of passing power. The WRX STI has a more powerful engine with an extra 37 horsepower, and it yields even more authoritative acceleration.

Both models feel exceptionally stable around turns thanks to the car’s grippy all-wheel-drive system and taut suspension. The steering is quick and nicely weighted, and the brakes provide strong stopping power. The downside to this sporty handling is a brittle ride quality. The WRX tends to jitter and jolt over rough pavement. The impacts from bumps are downright harsh in the WRX STI due to its stiffer sport-tuned suspension.

The car’s transmission options aren’t particularly refined. The standard six-speed manual transmission has a nice short throw, but it feels notchy, and the clutch can be tough to modulate smoothly. The available continuously variable automatic transmission operates well, and it can be shifted manually using steering-wheel paddles, though it saps some of the character from the WRX’s engine.

  • Base engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque
  • Available engine:  
    • 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque (310 horsepower in the STI Type RA)
  • Drivetrain: all-wheel drive
  • Transmissions: standard six-speed manual; available continuously variable automatic (CVT)
Does the 2018 Subaru WRX Get Good Gas Mileage?

The WRX gets poor fuel economy for a compact car.

  • WRX, manual: 21/27 mpg city/highway
  • WRX, automatic: 18/24 mpg
  • WRX STI, manual: 17/22 mpg
  • Type RA, manual: 16/22 mpg

Read more about WRX performance »

2018 WRX Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 WRX Seat?

The Subaru WRX is a four-door sedan with five seats. The hip-hugging front seats are supportive and comfortable for longer road trips, and there’s ample head- and legroom, even for taller drivers and front passengers. The rear seats are nice as well, and they can comfortably fit two adults with room to spare, which isn’t always the case in this class.

The WRX has a crisply styled interior, and its large windows and thin roof pillars provide great visibility in all directions. Its cabin materials are a mix of soft-touch surfaces and hard plastics though, and the interior lets in lots of road and wind noise, which can be tiresome on long drives.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth seats

Available seating features:

  • leather upholstery
  • power-adjustable front seats
  • heated front seats
  • Recaro sport seats
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Subaru WRX?

The WRX has two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. For ease of use, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this setup the second-highest rating of Acceptable. The lower anchors are set deeply in the seat, but that’s the only real complaint with them.

2018 Subaru WRX Features

The WRX has a simple and intuitive control layout. The standard 6.2-inch touch screen and available 7-inch touch screen have straightforward menus and sharp graphics, and they respond quickly to inputs. Both screens are complemented by easy-to-use buttons and knobs for the audio and climate controls. That said, neither system supports the popular Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone functions.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 6.2-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, a USB port, satellite radio, a CD player, and six speakers
  • Available infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, a navigation system, a nine-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, and an extra USB port
  • Additional standard features: automatic climate control and remote keyless entry
  • Other available features: proximity keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, a moonroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control

See 2018 Subaru WRX specs »

Read more about WRX interior »

2018 Subaru WRX Dimensions

Subaru WRX Cargo Space

The WRX has 12 cubic feet of trunk space. That’s about average for a compact car. However, a number of class rivals are available as hatchbacks, and they can hold more cargo. These include the 2018 Ford Focus ST and Focus RS, the Volkswagen GTI and Golf R, and the Honda Civic Type R. Notably, the Subaru Impreza comes in sedan and hatchback body styles.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Subaru WRX Length and Weight
  • Length: 15 feet, 1 inch
  • Curb weight: 3,294 to 3,525 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Subaru WRX Built?

Subaru built the 2018 WRX in Japan.


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