All-wheel-drive traction; powerful turbo engine; decent fuel economy; reasonable price
Rubbery shifter on WRX; no automatic transmission offered; cheap plastic on dash and doors; no high-end factory audio
Aha infotainment smartphone integration is made standard on models with the optional navigation radio.
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.
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.
|Basic||3 Years/36,000 Miles|
|Drivetrain||5 Years/60,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||5 Years/Unlimited Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||3 Years/36,000 Miles|
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."