June 25, 2022

Turns out cheap, or at least reasonably priced, the fun still exists. Who knew?

The 2022 Subaru WRX is new, right down to the platform. With turbocharged power, a manual transmission, simple controls and a functional design, the rally sport sedan lives up to its heritage and at a great price. But it has a few functional flaws, a divisive design, and steering that could be better.

After spending a week hustling the 2022 Subaru WRX around town, here’s where it falls and misses.

Subaru hasn’t forgotten what makes a WRX a WRX, and a 6-speed manual transmission is still standard.

Hit: let’s mobilize!

It looks like Subaru has embraced the WRX’s original mission as a rally car for the streets. It has all the equipment needed for the job: standard all-wheel drive, turbocharged engine, manual transmission and sporty handling. The new WRX 2.4-liter turbo-4 develops 271 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The boost activates earlier than in the last generation car. The 6-speed manual transmission is a bit cogged, but it’s satisfying in the age of automatic and dual-clutch gearboxes. The most overlooked part is a manual handbrake that just begs to be pulled for side action. You won’t find this in a current or future Honda Civic Type R.

2022 Subaru WRX

The WRX’s steering is a little too boosted.

Miss: Light to the touch

The WRX’s steering is a little light. In a crosswind on the highway, with roads covered in ice and snow, it took an annoying number of corrections to keep things straight and steady. It’s less troublesome at parking speeds. This was not an issue with the latest WRX, and I would prefer slightly heavier and more stable steering.

2022 Subaru WRX

Dimpled fender flares prioritize function over form.

Hit: dimpled, but not for the effect

Excessive siding with an unfinished look is a point of contention for many. The WRX’s fender flare cladding may not look pretty, but it’s functional. The plastic features a dimpled finish almost like a golf ball. Road & Track reported that it helps improve airflow. Engineers said the unpainted, textured flares were significantly more effective at maintaining airflow around the car than the smooth, painted flares. Beyond that, the front flares have functional venting for further aero enhancements. Function is always sexy on a sports car, even if looks are not.

2022 Subaru WRX

The rear of the latest WRX is more Honda Civic than Subaru WRX.

Miss: Civic Atmosphere

The front end of the latest WRX takes an evolutionary design approach. It’s sleeker than before and it looks good. The rear looks like a ninth generation Honda Civic (2011-2014). It’s a shame the rear didn’t take an evolutionary approach like the front. If you’re going to copy someone’s homework, at least copy someone who passed the exam.

2022 Subaru WRX

One-touch automatic window controls are a delight.

Hit: a key is a premium key

The WRX is an inexpensive sports car, not a high-end luxury sedan. Still, my $33,100 Premium trim model featured one-touch window controls for every window and every switch. It was a pleasant surprise. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is just the right size, although it’s a shame it can’t be heated. It’s a Subaru after all.

2022 Subaru WRX

How many taps does it take to turn on the heated seats in a Subaru?

Lack: Functionality issues

Subarus are generally simple machines to use, and in many ways the WRX is too. Examples include manual parking brake and easy-to-read analog gauges. But the new 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system, first seen in the Outback, is prone to glare due to its mounting angle. Regardless of the screen displayed, two screen presses are required to turn on the heated seats. It’s silly in any car, especially a Subaru. The Forester retains small rocker switches on the center stack that provide a satisfying click when in use. The WRX no. The heated seats also don’t come back on after a key cycle like many new cars. At 5-foot-10, I found the center console places the center armrest too far back for comfortable use while cruising the highway.

Functional issues aside, the 2022 Subaru WRX is simply unbeatable when it comes to performance per dollar.

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Subaru WRX Premium 2022

Base price: $30,100 including $995 at destination
Price as tested: $33,100
Powertrain : 271 horsepower 2.4L turbocharged boxer 4-cylinder, 6-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy: 19/26/22 mpg
The hits: Strong turbocharged power, value, premium touches, functional and aerodynamic design
Failures : Functional issues, controversial upholstery, rear looks like a Civic, overboosted steering

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