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2020 Subaru WRX Performance Review


Performance: 7.7

The 2020 Subaru WRX provides much more athleticism than your average compact car. It has two powerful turbocharged engine choices – one of which comes in the high-performance STI model – along with adept handling and standard all-wheel drive. It rides smoothly, but fuel economy is poor for the class.

  • "… the WRX is such a brilliant performer, offering the kind of performance that can shame cars that are twice, even three times its price. On the track, the 2.0-liter turbo proves to be a willing partner that's always ready to serve up ample power. The torque-vectoring system helps avoid understeer when exiting corners, and the firmer suspension holds this car in the curves as if the tires were glued to the asphalt." -- Autotrader
  • "Absent a track to roll my loaned WRX onto, I took to the next best thing at my disposal: the vacant but well-maintained state park roads in New York's lower Hudson River Valley. Cruising down the sweeping curves and straightaways, I couldn't help but smile at the rush of acceleration and the purr of the engine, even without driving excessively fast." -- New York Daily News (2018)
  • "When you take a spin in a 2017 Subaru WRX, you can tell right away that it has the right stuff. It's a blast to drive thanks to its turbocharged power and sharp handling, and the standard all-wheel drive is a definite bonus if you live in a place with a lot of wet weather." -- Edmunds (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The WRX comes standard with a 268-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is available. Few other cars in the class offer this much horsepower, and the turbo-four engine is potent enough for most driving situations. The manual transmission's clutch is heavy, though, which can make the WRX a chore to drive in stop-and-go traffic.

WRX STI trims feature a 310-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and the STI comes only with a six-speed manual transmission. The STI builds on the base WRX's impressive performance, delivering even quicker acceleration. It also has a pleasant engine note.

This Subaru gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway when equipped with the base engine and manual transmission. Most other cars in the compact car class get better fuel economy. Opt for the CVT, and ratings dip to 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The STI's ratings are a bit worse: 16/22 mpg city/highway.

  • "No other engine sounds like Subaru's turbocharged 4-cylinder and you can hear the WRX's signature thrum from a few blocks away. The 2.0-liter version in the WRX makes plenty of power and likes to rev to its 6,700-rpm redline. With the standard 6-speed manual transmission, which features tightly spaced gears and a short-throw shifter, it can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 6.0 seconds. The additional power from the STI's 2.5-liter is obvious from the driver's seat. It'll squirt to 60 mph in about 4.7 seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "The heavy clutch becomes tiresome in traffic, and the engagement point can be tricky. The throttle causes jerkiness in certain situations. Not the easiest car to drive smoothly when equipped [with] the manual transmission." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • The manual transmission's gearing combined with significant turbo lag presented some challenges on the road, as well. The engine isn't awake until about 2,500 rpm. Before then you're just waiting for the turbo to spool up. I found myself downshifting often to get on boost quicker. And if you're slowing for a turn while in third gear, you'll almost always want to perform a rev-matched downshift to avoid lugging the engine. I happen to like that the drivetrain keeps you busy, but the constant shifting might be too much work for some." -- Motor Trend (2018)

Handling and Braking

The WRX is one of the most fun-to-drive cars in the class. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, a rarity in this segment, giving it outstanding road grip. It also has excellent handling and sharp steering, making it feel like this Subaru is glued to the road. As you might imagine, the WRX’s ride is a bit firm, but it's still comfortable over most road surfaces.

  • "Both cars are comfortable enough for the daily commute, but they're quite visceral. You hear that horizontally opposed engine and feel the road's surface. If that's your thing, few cars are this fun to drive. Steering effort is high, but there's plenty of feel, and the all-wheel-drive system provides astonishing grip for driving around guys in their more expensive German super sedans." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "You feel invincible tossing the WRX into a corner as the wheels remain planted and the car keeps turning in." -- Motor Trend (2018)
  • "Drivers unaccustomed to sporty cars will find the WRX stiff, but it's actually well-damped and comfortable for its class, and good enough to mask the incessant bobbing of choppy L.A. highways." -- Edmunds (2018)
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2020 Subaru WRX

MSRP: $27,495 - $41,695

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