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2015 Subaru WRX vs. 2014 Subaru WRX: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2015

The sporty Subaru WRX has long been an object of desire for car shoppers interested in a reliable, practical, high-performance car that won't break the bank. For 2015, the WRX is fully redesigned to begin its third generation since first going on sale in 2002. What's different between the 2015 Subaru WRX and last year's model? We've rounded up all the major changes to show you exactly what's new with the all-new WRX.

Exterior

To many shoppers, the latest WRX and the outgoing model probably look pretty similar from the outside. Indeed, the cars have roughly the same profile and similar dimensions. Subaru fans will notice a lot of key revisions, including the grille (bigger in the new model), updated headlights, revised fog lights, revised front bumper and new taillights. The new design looks nicer than last year's more aggressive shape did: It's a little more fluid, offering a cleaner, more handsome overall look than the outgoing model's design provided.

There is one major exterior difference for 2015: The WRX's hatchback body style is gone. While we're not sure if it'll eventually make a comeback, we're certain that this model year is sedan-only for the WRX.

Interior

Like the exterior, the interior in the all-new WRX is very similar to the cabin in the outgoing model. Sure, the dimensions are about the same, but so is the car's look. The latest WRX still has the same durable plastics, the same simple controls and the same overall layout. Perhaps the biggest difference between the latest WRX and the outgoing model is a more pronounced dual-screen setup, with a center screen that's a little closer to the driver and a larger second screen mounted above the central air conditioning vents. Otherwise, don't expect huge changes from the outgoing model to the new one.

Mechanicals

The outgoing WRX and the all-new model use two completely different engines. In the 2014 WRX, Subaru installed a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder capable of 265 horsepower and 244 lb-ft of torque, which was mated to a standard 5-speed manual transmission. In this year's WRX, there's a 6-speed manual or an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic mated to a new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, and the new car's numbers stand at 268 horses and 256 lb-ft of torque. While performance is roughly the same between the two engines, the latest model's fuel economy figures (21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway) easily trump the outgoing WRX's 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy numbers.

Features & Technology

Both the 2015 WRX and 2014 WRX offer almost the exact same level of features and equipment. For example, both cars include as standard a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels and automatic climate control. Bluetooth and a USB/iPod interface are also standard, while the upscale Premium trim adds the same features as it did last year: fog lights, a power sunroof and heated front seats. In fact, the only major equipment difference between the latest WRX and the outgoing version is a standard 4.3-in screen in the 2015 model.

Driving Experience

We thought the last WRX was the pinnacle of Subaru's engineering prowess, but we were wrong. Don't let close similarities in the above categories fool you: While the latest WRX may be quite similar to the outgoing model on paper, the all-new 2015 WRX is substantially improved on the road. Steering is more responsive, handling is tighter, revised suspension provides for flatter cornering and, most importantly, an updated all-wheel-drive system allows for noticeable balance improvements when you drive fast out of corners. We also appreciate having an extra gear for highway cruising.

Speaking of gears, one of the most talked-about updates to the latest WRX is its optional CVT automatic. Typically relegated to economy cars and family haulers, the CVT has been decried by many WRX enthusiasts, but we like it. Subaru has always done a better-than-average job with its CVT, and this one is no different. It also holds the car's engine in the power band without shifting, making it a little quicker than a traditional automatic. Plus, there's always a stick shift for drivers who would rather change gears themselves.

Safety

Despite major safety advancements by other automakers (and Subaru itself) in recent years, the WRX soldiers on with only the basics. Just like the 2014 model, the 2015 Subaru WRX includes anti-lock brakes, front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags, stability and traction control, a driver-side knee airbag and little else. In other words, don't expect any blind spot assist or forward collision alert here, even though Subaru offers those items on its popular Legacy and Outback models.

Fortunately, the WRX has earned strong safety ratings from the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In crash tests carried out by the organization, Subaru's Impreza, which serves as the basis for the WRX, earned a perfect five stars overall, tying the outgoing model's similarly perfect score. Still, we wouldn't mind a few advanced safety features on a car that starts around $27,000 with shipping.

Conclusions

If you're a performance-car enthusiast, you know that few models can do what the WRX offers, especially for its base price of $27,000 with shipping. The WRX's interior isn't the most advanced, and its safety features aren't quite up to high-tech modern standards. But the latest WRX is a performance-car bargain, and it offers the best variation yet on an already excellent theme initially established by its predecessors.

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Used 2015 Subaru WRX Premium
Used 2015 Subaru WRX
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Used 2015 Subaru WRX STI
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Used 2015 Subaru WRX Limited
Used 2015 Subaru WRX
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Subaru WRX vs. 2014 Subaru WRX: What's the Difference? - Autotrader