By KBB.com Editors
If you think all cars built by Subaru are practical all-wheel-drive family haulers, you don't know the WRX. Based on the Impreza platform, the WRX models take all-around performance to extreme levels, with powerful turbocharged engines, rally-inspired suspensions and pretty reasonable sticker prices. Although other cars such as the MAZDASPEED3 and Volkswagen GTI come close in horsepower, neither offers the sure-grip traction provided by Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive System. Available as either a sedan or wagon, and with different trim and performance levels, the WRX is equally comfortable serving as an everyday commuter or a technological street terror, and the all-wheel drive makes this one hot rod that's undaunted by snow and rain. The base TR model allows do-it-yourself tuners a clean slate and a sub-$25,000 price tag.You'll Like This Car If...
If a combination of performance and price trumps all other considerations, the Subaru WRX and WRX STI are nearly untouchable.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're used to big, torque-happy sports cars, the WRX's turbocharged four-cylinder engine won't deliver the kind of performance with which you are familiar. Though fast, the WRX needs to rev high before the power really comes on strong. The super-fast STI is loud and has a decidedly firm ride.What's Significant About This Car?
New horsepower rating standards lower the WRX's output from 230 to 224 horsepower and the STI from 300 to 293. New for 2007 is an auxiliary audio input jack and an MP3-compatible six-disc CD changer. STI models get a slight freshening, a Torsen limited-slip differential and the addition of a new Limited trim level.Driving It Driving Impressions
In turns the WRX is masterful, not displaying much body lean until pushed near its limit, and with steering that's precise and quick. In the 293-horsepower STI, a six-speed gearbox is teamed with an adjustable center differential, which allows the driver to choose how the engine's torque is apportioned between the front and rear axles.
When needed, you can always fall back on the WRX's supreme stopping power, provided by an impressive set of twin-piston front brake calipers. Needless to say, whether on wet or dry pavement, you'll have difficulty finding another car in this price range that is as much fun to drive as the WRX.
Driver Control Center Differential
The STI's DCCD (Driver Control Center Differential) allows you to adjust the torque-split between the front and rear axles.
Though some might find it overkill, we like the big functional hood scoop.
The Subaru WRX TR employs the same interior as the Impreza sedan, which is comfortable but not conducive to performance driving. The WRX adds a set of supportive sport bucket seats, a leather shift knob and an optional Momo steering wheel to an interior that is mostly black, with occasional splashes of silver and gray trim used sparingly throughout. The WRX Limited adds a touch of class with heated leather seating, a power moonroof and an optional beige interior.Exterior Notable Standard Equipment
The Subaru WRX TR includes a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel ventilated anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power mirrors, power windows, power locks, front side-impact airbags, limited-slip rear differential, AM/FM stereo with single in-dash CD and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The standard WRX adds automatic air conditioning, color-keyed mirrors, three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport bucket seats, fog lamps and a 120-watt stereo with in-dash six-disc CD changer. The STI trim gets a more powerful engine, a six-speed manual transmission, Brembo brakes, a sport suspension, BBS alloy wheels and a center differential control that allows the driver to vary front-to-rear torque-split.Notable Optional Equipment
The only alternative to the manual transmission on the Subaru WRX is the optional four-speed automatic that's available only with the Limited Package. Though it costs an extra $1,000, it includes an upgrade to Subaru's advanced VDC all-wheel-drive system. The Limited adds heated leather seats, a power glass moonroof, heated exterior mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. Other popular stand-alone options include a short-throw shifter, turbo boost gauge, auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded sound system with subwoofer and amplifier and a titanium shift knob.Under the Hood
The 2.5-liter turbo performs best when the tachometer is at or above the 3500 rpm mark. There isn't a whole lot of power below 3000 rpm, forcing the driver to downshift to realize the kind of acceleration needed for quick moves through traffic. The 293-horsepower STI is capable of astounding speeds and the kind of performance that's best demonstrated by skilled drivers on a closed track. The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) allow maximum control over all driving situations.
2.5-liter boxer-4 turbocharged
224 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
226 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (manual), 21/26 (automatic)
2.5-liter boxer-4 turbocharged
293 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
290 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25
The Subaru WRX TR sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $24,620, the WRX stickers for $25,620, the WRX Limited sedan for $28,120, the Limited wagon for $27,620 and the WRX STI for $34,120. Fair Purchase Prices show consumers are paying about $1,000 over dealer invoice for the WRX sedan and wagon. The high-performance WRX STI is selling at or slightly above the MSRP. The WRX is a hot commodity and is expected to retain an above-average five-year resale value just below those of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Audi A4, on par with the Volkswagen GTI and Mazdaspeed3 and better than the Chevrolet Cobalt SS.