The First 2023 Subaru WRX Reviews Are Mixed | Autance

The new WRX has plenty of features car enthusiasts like, but not everybody who’s driven it is sold yet.

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The First 2023 Subaru WRX Reviews Are Mixed | Autance © The First 2023 Subaru WRX Reviews Are Mixed | Autance

The latest WRX has been somewhat divorced from its humble hotted-up Subaru Impreza roots for a little while now. The 2022 WRX only further increases that delta with a new engine, an entirely new body, and chassis, and wickedly controversial styling, complete with cladding. All the changes aside, is the new WRX that good?

Welcome to another Review Rundown, where we’ve gathered and contextualized a whole bunch of good reviews so you can get a range of perspectives in one place.

Here’s the Scoop

Completely new for 2022, Subaru’s released a new version of its hyper-speed, rally-inspired sedan. Still no hatchback or wagon, though.

On The Powertrain

In a move shocking nearly no one, the new WRX uses a variant of the 2.4-liter, turbocharged boxer four-cylinder that’s already doing duty in the large Subaru Ascent family hauler. That engine is mated to a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic. As of right now, Subaru does not have any CVT models to test, apparently due to supply chain issues.

From Elana Scherr for Car and Driver: “It’s quick from a start but most enjoyable above 3000 rpm, when the boost is boosting and the revs are revving to the 6100-rpm redline. Slow down or select too high a gear, and it’ll lug and sigh until the turbo wakes up.”

From Jonny Lieberman for MotorTrend: “More power would be good, as well as another 1,000 rpm before redline, which is set at a modest 6,000 rpm. Like all previous WRXs, the engine is effectively dead below 3,000 rpm. However, once the turbo is fully cooking, the quick, darty character these cars are renowned for shows up.”

From Victoria Scott for SlashGear: “At higher speeds, keeping the car pulling hard from third to fourth is basically impossible. Despite this frustrating power delivery, 80 mph still keeps the motor – which redlines at a relatively low 6,000 RPM – churning at 3,000 RPM, which makes me wonder what the oddly wide gear ratios were in service of if not high-speed poise or fuel economy.”

From Mark Takahashi for Edmunds: “Acceleration is pleasantly brisk though not awe-inspiring, which is what we’d expect. It has enough power to have a lot of fun on a tight, winding road or an autocross, but not so much that it becomes unwieldy during a bumper-to-bumper commute.”

From Bradley Iger for The Drive: “Peak torque is said to arrive at just 2,000 rpm and stay flat until 5,200, but out in the rolling hills and switchbacks of Mendocino National Forest, it feels like boost comes on after 3,000, and more than once it felt like the engine wanted to stall until I gave it some additional throttle while going up a driveway in second gear at about 10 mph.” 

On Handling and Ride

The Subaru WRX’s new chassis is a tad bit lighter than the old car, about 20 lbs. It also rides on an entirely new platform, with incremental changes in wheelbases, track, width, and length. Adjustable ride dampers are available, but only on automatic models, which were not available for testing. 

From Jeff Perez for Motor1: “Tweaks to the steering rack yield an 11-percent increase in quickness, which means I’m able to flick the WRX into corners with impressive speed…..the steering is too lightweight and vague, and it paints an unclear picture of what the tires and suspension are doing atop those twisty forest roads.”

From Aaron Brown for Road & Track: “On a twisty paved road, the new car—tested with the familiar static suspension setup—is planted, predictable, and easy to hustle. It’s everything a WRX should be, and there are few sports cars with more-forgiving handling.”

From Collin Woodard for Jalopnik: “What they probably will care about, though, is the fact that despite improvements, the ride is still quite stiff. The roads on our drive route were definitely worse than average, and honestly, it started to get old after a while. I can’t imagine someone considering upgrading to “the cool Impreza” or cross-shopping against a 3 Series will be happy with how rough the ride is.”

From Lyn Woodward for Kelley Blue Book: “I feel a lot more composure, a lot more control, and a whole lot less body roll, when I’m turning around corners.”

From Bradley Iger for The Drive: “The chassis tweaks are more evident, though. Both at low speeds and out on the highway, the ride is noticeably more compliant than the outgoing WRX, yet body motions are still well controlled at higher speeds and during hard braking.

From Victoria Scott for SlashGear: “On the rare wide corners where I would approach anything resembling the WRX’s limits, it was definitely fast, and the relatively stiff suspension tuning – along with its 28% stiffer chassis – does help it carry a terrifying amount of speed through the turns.”

From Jason Cammisa on his own personal Instagram: “Ride quality is very taut and manages to stay out of bump stops unless you hit something big; test car had occasional bushing clunk on rebound over big stuff.”

From Ryan Douthit for Driving Sports TV: “The power I think is fine……but I don’t think the standard WRX, really needs that. I do hope the upcoming WRX STI has at least 400 horsepower, this new chassis is ready for it.”

On Interior Packaging, Quality, and Comfort

The WRX’s brand chassis shares no body panel inside or out with the Subaru Impreza. Thus, its packaging is bespoke, and in theory, should lead to a more optimized interior, for both passengers and driver.

From Jonny Lieberman for MotorTrend: “The seats are a bit more comfortable than before, and Subaru claims they’re more effective at holding the occupants in place, which is key. But ain’t no one ever bought a WRX for its interior, and that fact will remain true of the VB generation.”

From Bradley Iger for The Drive: “Although the new WRX is longer and wider than the outgoing model, the expanded dimensions are more evident inside rather than outside, where increased legroom, shoulder room, and headroom up front make the cabin feel noticeably less cramped, especially if you’re a lanky dude like myself.”

From Elana Scherr for Car and Driver: “Two adults will be comfortable in back, and while the lowered roofline cuts into headroom, a road trip with four full-size people would not be a problem. Full size, not Bigfoot size.”

From Aaron Brown for Road & Track: “After three full days of driving in two different trim levels of the WRX, I can confirm the seats are well-bolstered and comfortable. In the backseat, headroom has shrunk slightly due to a lower roofline. One passenger complained that the seats were angled a bit too upright.”

From Mark Takahashi for Edmunds: “There’s excellent outward visibility from the driver’s seat. Much of the credit goes to the thin front roof pillars that give you a nearly unimpeded view through sharp turns. For those in the rear seats, there’s plenty of foot room and legroom for the average adult, while headroom should be adequate for those shorter than 5-foot-8 or so.”

On Styling

The WRX has never been a looker, but its fender cladding has firmly divided public opinion. Yet, folks tend to mellow out when they see things in person.

From Jeff Perez for Motor1: “Side-by-side, the new WRX definitely looks sharper than the outgoing car – if by just a smidge…..And when you pair that cladding with a bright hue, like the new Solar Orange Pearl or Ignition Red paint, the contrast is jarring but interesting. Subtler hues, like black and grey, do a better job of hiding all that plastic. But it’s a Subaru, so why not embrace the funkiness?”

From Collin Woodard for Jalopnik: “Design-wise, it’s actually hard to get mad at the new WRX. I wanted to care more about the wheel arches and their plastic surrounds, but if I’m going to be honest, I really don’t. The appearance isn’t actually that bad when you look at it with your own eyes, and the car is still generally decent-looking.”

From Bradley Iger for The Drive: “There are a lot of vents, scoops, and aero bits in the mix as well, but it’s all functional stuff. The cladding has been a hot-button topic since the car was shown in September, and while I suspect there’ll be a lot of aftermarket delete kits produced, it’s not all that offensive in person.”

The Verdict So Far

In all, it seems like the 2022 Subaru WRX is a mixed bag. There have been marked improvements in quality, fit and finish, but it seems like the consensus is that it was at the expense of the car’s “soul”. Still, at the end of the day, it’s a four-cylinder, rally-inspired sedan with 270 horsepower and a six-speed manual. Dull is kind of on a sliding scale here; no doubt the car is significantly more engaging than the average crossover.

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