2017 Subaru WRX Limited Review

The boy-racer rally car has grown up but not completely

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Acceleration is truly astounding, razor-like steering, amazing levels of traction, great bolstering from the front seats, improved infotainment is easy to use.
Negatives: Overly noisy cabin, gearshift knob requires authoritative arm movements, clutch window is very short, interior quality lags behind competitors.
Bottom Line: The WRX is an enthusiast favorite, but it's far from perfect. Still bone-jarring to drive, abrupt with its inputs, and low rent inside, the WRX has a lot of room for improvement. That being said, it's an absolute hoot to drive.
 View Our 2017 Subaru WRX Overview
We marvel at the fact that hardcore rally cars for the street are still made today given the mainstream appeal of soft crossovers that don't provide any degree of driving satisfaction. All-wheel drive sporty cars are like the Chimera of the car world. You just don't see them that often. But the venerable Subie WRX lives on, and it still has a cult following amongst enthusiasts. In some ways, it's good that they haven't compromised, but that might sound its own death knell in the long (or short) run. After all, the Mitsubishi Evo is now dead, and only Ford's RS and VW Golf R are carrying the banner of all-wheel drive rally goodness along with the WRX and WRX STI. We drove the WRX in Limited trim for a week to see if it can still work its magic. Read on for the full review.

Driving Experience



The WRX almost serves a singular purpose, to be driven hard. It's born of rally racing, and through the generations, it hasn't diluted that purity all that much. It's a bit hard to drive at low speeds with a jumpy throttle and tough clutch, but when you wring it out, it gives back so much.

Ride Quality: The WRX isn't very forgiving and rests heavily on the side of firm when it comes to the ride. You feel every bump and undulation, but there are no rattles.

Acceleration: In a word, ferocious. Turbo lag at the low end feels palpable, but midrange shove is authoritative, getting the WRX to 60 mph in a hair above 5 seconds. The difficult shift knob and fussy clutch feel like they get in the way at times, but the power is impressive.

Braking: Strong Brembo brakes are progressive and powerful with no hint of fade under hard driving. They're not as good as the ones on the Ford Focus RS, but they're still more than enough to scrub off speed quickly.

Steering: The WRX's steering has great feedback and precision. Turn-in is almost immediate and very crisp. It's also on-center, making higher speed drives easier.

Handling: Scant body roll and incredible grip make this car a fantastic handling machine.




Subaru's in-car tech is much better than before, and our tester got the upsized 7-inch Starlink system. There's not much else in the way of interior tech, but this car's about driving, anyway.

Infotainment System: The glossy 7-inch touchscreen works decently with reponsiveness that's about average. Icons and menus are easy to use, but it lacks the polish of the Ford Sync 3.

Controls: Physical audio knobs are helpful, as are the large climate control knobs that make adjustment while driving much easier than just buttons.




The WRX won't win any beauty pageants, but it's a purposeful look that retains the WRX's rallying ethos. We're just happy that there's no giant rear wing on this thing. It's a more muted look the WRX's of old but still aggressive overall.

Front: The functional hood scoop is almost as large as the grille, but nothing's garish on the front end. There is, however, a ton of black plastic on the lower fascia.

Rear: The tail section is simple and attractive. The taillight housings have backup lights that taper toward the trunk, a nice touch. We love the purity of the quad round exhaust tips.

Profile: This is probably our leas favorite view. There's too much squarish-ness behind the front wheel, and the parallel creases behind the rear door handle feels unresolved.

Cabin: It's a sporty cabin with the well-lit gauges and red-trimmed seats, but it still looks on the cheap side. The interior has matured some but lacks the appeal and polish of the VW GTI.




The WRX isn't exactly big inside, and it's not really created for long haul trips largely due to its firmness and noise levels. That being said, you could do worse when it comes to rroad-legal rally cars.

Front Seats: Firm but comfortable Recaro sport seats keep you planted under hard driving. They could use a little more cushioning.

Rear Seats: Short on legroom and a bit on the flat side. They're mostly for shorter adults or children.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The WRX is well built, but it's just a noisy place to be. Engine noise and road noise intrude but not to the point of being unbearable. It's just an expectation of this type of niche car. We witnessed no errant vibrations or creaks.

Visibility: Visibility is good in all directions. Pillars are a manageable size, and the rear parcel shelf isn't overly tall.

Climate: The climate system was decent, but it could use a bit more power when it comes to cooling the cabin in hot weather. There were times when the AC felt weak.




Not only is the WRX really quick, it's also an incredibly safe car with excellent crash safety ratings and an excellent level of optional safety features. There are family sedans that don't manage to score this well.

IIHS Rating: The WRX gets a Top Safety Pick+ score, the highest ranking. It also gets "Superior" when it comes to accident avoidance tech, when properly optioned.

NHTSA Rating: The WRX has not been tested by the NHTSA.

Standard Tech: Our tester came with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System and a rear-vision camera.

Optional Tech: The EyeSight system comes with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and sway warning, pre-collision braking that applies full braking force in emergencies, and pre-collision throttle management that reduces engine power when it senses a potential impact.




Even though the WRX is a four-door sedan, it's not exactly capacious when it comes to hauling stuff. Its hatchback competitors fare better. At least it has decent cubby space in the cabin for smaller items.

Storage Space: The large binnacle at the base of the stack holds plenty of daily gear items, as does the center armrest.

Cargo Room: A scant 12 cubic feet resides in the trunk, dwarfed by the Golf R's 22.8 and the Focus RS's 23.8. At least there's a 60/40 split-folding seat that expands the WRX's capabilities.

Fuel Economy



Though the WRX is rated for a combined 23 mpg, we didn't see anywhere near that. This is a car that begs to be driven hard, despite its lack of smoothness. Its efficiency, as a result, is hampered.

Observed: 17.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 183 miles

Driving Factors: We drove the WRX aggressively on local roads and highways. This thing has only one mode, really, and it's "Sport" all the time.




The WRX limited gets a 9-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system as standard equipment. Though it's pretty good, we weren't blown away by the sound. At least you don't have to pay extra for it.

Final Thoughts

The WRX is not a car for the weak or for the practical. It keeps its rallying DNA intact well, but it's likely to be purchased by younger folks who can put up with its sporting and aggressive tendencies. That being said, it's a thrilling car to drive and whose capabilities are unlikely to be fully exploited on legal roads. We love that this thing is still being made in an age of dull crossovers.

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