The 2014 Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI remain relevant despite being built on an older platform from the previous-generation Impreza. A holdover for 2014, the Impreza WRX is still attractive. Its turbocharged engine, sport suspension, beefy wheels and tires, and comfy sport seats make it more attractive than the newer Impreza -- unless of course you're all about maximum fuel economy and more interior room. For the ultimate thrill ride, the WRX STI brings a more powerful turbo engine, a 6-speed manual transmission and an adjustable center differential that allows the driver to choose front to rear torque distribution.
While we love the WRX's combination of compact practicality and all-out fun, it does have a few detractions. The WRX is offered only with a manual transmission, so automatic fans will have to shop elsewhere. Furthermore, insuring the WRX will cost more than the average 4-cylinder car, especially if there's a 16-year-old boy on your plan. Lastly, normal wear-and-tear items such as brakes and tires will probably cost more and need more attention.
What's New for 2014?
Aha infotainment smartphone integration is made standard on models with the optional navigation radio.
What We Like
All-wheel-drive traction; powerful turbo engine; decent fuel economy; reasonable price
What We Don't
Rubbery shifter on WRX; no automatic transmission offered; cheap plastic on dash and doors; no high-end factory audio
The 2014 Subaru Impreza WRX is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer engine good for 265 horsepower and 244 lb-ft of torque. Hooked to a somewhat rubbery-feeling 5-speed manual, this engine nevertheless is a blast to drive, delivering immediate punch once the turbo spools up and giving right up to the redline. Environmental Protection Agency figures of 19 miles per gallon city/25 mpg hwy are more than respectable, considering the WRX's performance-oriented nature.
The WRX STI has a more powerful turbocharger and intercooler with Dual Active Valve Control, producing 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to a much-improved 6-speed manual that features tight, short throws for better operation. Fuel economy figures of 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy are not far from the base car, but given the temptation to push this STI to its limit, owners should not be surprised if their fuel economy is much lower.
Standard Features & Options
The WRX and WRX STI are offered in two body styles (sedan and hatchback) and five trims: WRX, WRS Premium, WRX Limited, STI and STI Limited.
The WRX sedan and hatchback ($26,790) come standard with power windows, locks and mirrors, sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, 5-speed manual transmission, AM/FM/CD stereo with Bluetooth streaming and iPod/USB integration, rear spoiler (hatchback), dual exhaust, automatic climate control, tilt/telescopic steering wheel and cruise control. Hatchbacks also include a rear wiper/washer.
The WRX Premium sedan and hatchback ($29,290) add heated seats, heated side mirrors and windshield de-icer, fog lights, a power sunroof and a rear spoiler (sedan).
The WRX Limited sedan and hatchback ($30,290) add leather seating and HID headlights.
The WRX STI sedan ($35,290) brings a more powerful engine, 6-speed manual transmission, multimode driver-controlled center differential, Brembo brakes, SI-Drive and adjustable VDC stability and traction control with Track Mode.
The WRX STI hatchback ($37,290) adds BBS wheels and a stiffer suspension.
The WRX STI Limited sedan ($38,640) adds leather seating and a power sunroof.
A 7-speaker navigation radio is optional on the Limited and STI trims.
All WRX and WRX STI models come with front-seat side-impact airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, electronic traction and stability control and Incline Start Assist, which keeps the vehicle from rolling backward when starting off on an incline of more than five degrees. The STI is equipped with Brembo performance brakes for better stopping power.
The Impreza on which the WRX is based excels in both independent and government crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the WRX four out of five stars in both the front- and side-impact crash test, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety chose it as a Top Safety Pick.
Behind the Wheel
Never mind the noisy cockpit and excessive tire noise. Forget about cheap plastic bits that can rattle and squeak on warm days. The Impreza WRX is all about driving. The turbocharged engine loves to run, and nailing the gas pedal to the floor at every stoplight can easily become an addiction. Push the WRX hard into a turn and the car sticks to the pavement with the tenacity of a gummy bear on a theater floor. The all-wheel-drive system helps greatly, as do the revised sport suspension and aggressive wheel-and-tire package.
In the STI, the ability to choose torque distribution and differential settings, coupled with the 305-hp engine, creates a driving experience worthy of the fastest supercar. It's no wonder the WRX has attracted many enthusiasts who will never be able to shell out $75,000 for a Porsche or BMW M but won't let that ruin their good time.
Other Cars to Consider
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution -- The Mitsubishi is the top-end performance rival of the WRX STI. The Evolution's ride is a bit harsher, and it only comes in sedan form, but its interior is better equipped, with such options as Recaro seats and a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.
Volkswagen GTI -- The GTI doesn't offer all-wheel drive, and its turbo engine isn't as powerful as the WRX's, but the GTI's ride is far more civilized -- as is its Audi-like interior -- and it's still a blast to drive.
Audi A3 -- For about the same money as the STI, you can get into a 200-hp turbocharged A3 with quattro all-wheel drive, a premium name and an exterior that doesn't scream "boy racer."
The base Impreza WRX model is the best deal. The STI may offer the best performance, but its $35,000-plus price puts it into used BMW and Porsche territory. The base WRX offers plenty of power, doesn't have a rigidity-weakening sunroof cutting into its roof and comes nicely equipped with the features most drivers want. With a price starting at about $27,000, you can take the extra couple of grand you'd spend for leather seats and a power sunroof (Limited trim) and install a really nice aftermarket audio system.