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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

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A red 2022 Subaru WRX is shown driving past a river.

Sassy Styling Meets Global Platform: A New Driving Dynamic for the 2022 Subaru WRX

Rugged. Sporty. Nimble. All attributes of the new 2022 Subaru WRX. You may take one look at the black cladding and wonder what Subaru was thinking, but the moment you hit the pavement, you’ll be glad to have it. The hood scoop, the new exterior styling, and the updated platform are all reasons to give the 2022 WRX a test run to feel the way the car handles on winding ribbons of road. Then there’s the standard all-wheel drive. Most people know a Forester or Outback with that famous Subaru all-wheel drive, but what it does for the WRX is introduce a whole new world of traction for all the best reasons.

New Looks for the 2022 WRX

If you put a 2021 WRX next to the 2022 revamp, one of the most obvious changes is to the exterior styling. Last year’s version had the functional hood scoop, but unless you snagged an STI with the wing spoiler, it bore a lot of resemblance to the majority of sedans on the road. Though the appearance of 2022 models may be controversial, the WRX undoubtedly stands out from the more aggressive front grille and slanted headlights to the wider flaring above the wheel wells. Black cladding aside, the design speaks the language of sport in a good way. Some reviews have dinged the appearance of the back end, particularly the taillights, but it’s still more interesting than last year’s model.

Drivers planning to enjoy the speedy nature of the 2022 WRX may be baffled by a one-inch suspension lift, but once again, the WRX is built for more than just pavement joy. When you want to hit a dirt road and scramble on the loose gravel for kicks, this is your car. How many Mazdas or Civics do you expect to see romping in the backcountry? Enjoy the lift that gives you a little more protection from flying debris and trust the heavier bolstering of the new seats to keep you planted. The D-shaped steering wheel remains a staple and sees additional thickness for improved grip. Otherwise, the interior dash is now dominated by a large touchscreen flanked by two slim vents. More on the tech later, but the display that formerly showed performance data has gone to the wayside, a shame for those who liked it.

A blue 2022 Subaru WRX is shown from the rear driving on a race track.

 

Riding Over the Ribbon

First thing you may notice when you take the 2022 WRX out on the road: it’s still a Subaru. If you want fancy refinement, you need to find a different vehicle. Subaru doesn’t do refined. Expect a stiff ride and some road noise because, despite what the literature says about Subaru’s global platform, the automaker is less concerned with insulation than in keeping the wheels on the ground.
What you can expect is a well-sorted chassis that can take on rough roads as easily as it can ride down the highway. The boxer engine rips open the throttle as soon as your foot hits the pedal, delivering instant torque to let the tires take off without any hesitation. Despite the flat-four setup, the WRX makes 271 horsepower with 258 lb-ft of torque, and it’s more than enough to move this sport sedan with gratifying speed.

Visibility around the A-pillar is unimpeded, a factor that will make enthusiastic drivers happy. When you’re rounding a tight curve or cornering in traffic, being able to see where you’re headed shouldn’t be negotiable. Subaru gets this right, especially in comparison to many other sport sedans that force you to lean or move your head to see around a wide A-pillar. Subaru’s former legacy as a rally car winner inspires the design and is also apparent in the black wrapping for the fender flares and rear end. Those plastic covers, along with cuts made into the cladding, calm turbulence induced by the turbo engine. Because of this, the WRX’s rear end remains tidily connected to the pavement.

Being tacked down in a sports car is always a good thing and, aside from the exterior elements assisting the driver, the symmetrical all-wheel drive does its part. The engine’s lower, centered position gives the WRX more stability courtesy of a lower center of gravity. Having the engine weight already holding the vehicle down makes it easier for the all-wheel drive to grab the road’s surface without any loss of forward motion, regardless of how much the road may wind. Traction from each tire picks up where the others leave off, and the result is a superior sense of command when you’re in the driver’s seat, less roll from side to side, and a lot of control through corners.

For what it’s worth, go for the real fun and opt for the standard manual transmission. No sports car made for the road is ever as much fun with an automatic of any kind, but especially when it’s fitted with a CVT. Even if you think you want the new GT trim that only comes with an automatic transmission, save your money. It’s hard to pass up Recaro seats and the adaptive suspension, but if enough people beg for the manual transmission, we might see the needle move. Fortunately, Subaru held onto the physical emergency brake for the manual, a welcome aspect of Subaru ownership that can be satisfying to utilize as a reminder of the grit involved in getting to the present fun we can have while we drive.

Technology Shifts

Beyond the entry-level trim, the dash is almost overwhelmed by the large 11.6-inch touchscreen display and infotainment system. Whether or not you like the look of it will be a matter of personal preference, but it certainly provides an excellent view for backing up or interacting with apps. Subaru is smart enough to continue using physical buttons and knobs for the system, which is a welcome choice since touchscreens can be frustrating at times. Through the Starlink system, Subaru supplies standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for pairing your smartphone to the WRX. It provides a screen orientation that’s more like what you get on a tablet or phone, which makes it easier to use than most touchscreens in the segment.

If you do choose the manual, one thing you will have to do without is driver-assist technology. Subaru pairs the EyeSight suite with the Performance Transmission—AKA, the CVT–so don’t expect to rely on Pre-Collision Braking or Automatic Emergency Steering unless you’re willing to sacrifice the opportunity to engage the clutch. Though most serious drivers won’t completely understand, if you want to cross over to the automatic so that you can enjoy the comforts of Adaptive Cruise Control, that’s entirely fair. As for the rest of the WRX’s technology, it stands to reason that the 2022 model will offer the same voice command functionality, available TomTom navigation, and connected services as the 2021 lineup. Of course, Subaru has already made it clear that the GT will come with the Harmon Kardon audio system that certainly will make time behind the wheel a lot more delicious.

A white 2022 Subaru WRX is shown driving on an empty road.

Trims and Pricing

Four trims are available for the 2022 Subaru WRX. The Base, Premium, and Limited are available with either the Performance Transmission or manual, but with the uppermost GT, only the automatic transmission is an option. An STI version may be coming down the pike in the future, but that’s only speculation until Subaru makes an official announcement. For the time being, the entry-level pricing should remain affordable and will continue to please drivers who want to enjoy less expensive fun. Prices start at $29,105 for the base model, but you can’t order the 2022 model just yet. For now, you can play around with the colorizer and sign up for updates if you want to keep your finger on the pulse of Subaru’s release of the 2022 WRX.

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