But the thing is, I was having way too much fun driving around the suddenly empty streets of Detroit to worry about handling my photo shoot in a timely manner. Folks had been cautioned to stay off the roads ever since the rain first hit. Floods had shut down several of our major freeways, not to mention many surface streets. The threat of more severe weather had put caution in the air, forcing folks to batten down the hatches and settle in for even more horrendously wet weather.
The long-term 2015 Subaru WRX, however, eats this stuff up with a passion. Inclement weather? The turbocharged, all-wheel-drive, endlessly grippy Subaru just wants to play. And after getting to know our WR Blue WRX since its delivery in June and solidifying my belief that it's a total riot, even around town, I was not about to ignore Rex's desires to go play in the rain and make mischief on the deserted streets. Empty on-ramp antics were great fun, and tossing the car around corners in the wet showed no signs of slip. Ever. Wet hair and a damp t-shirt? Worth it.
Prior to this week's flooding, summer in Detroit had been wonderful. Our Polar Vortex Winter had transformed into a mild, delightful warm season, with mostly dry conditions, and weekend after weekend of weather perfect for sitting outside with the barbecue and some friends. The WRX was enjoying every bit of it, offering gobs of fun on dry, sun-drenched roads, and quickly making friends with several members of the Autoblog staff during its honeymoon phase. But not without some hiccups along the way.
"I love the power surge you can summon in second and third gears," editor Greg Migliore notes. "It's great for blasting in and out of traffic." Editor-in-Chief Sharon Carty agrees, adding, "Amazing how much pep it has in it to accelerate even when one is going, theoretically, 80 miles per hour. It's not my fault the car likes to go fast." Right, Sharon.
Indeed, the WRX's power delivery is simply unrelenting, and the ready-and-willing thrust is matched with great steering – "weighty, yet precise," Migliore writes – and a firm yet appropriately tuned suspension.
The WRX's power delivery is simply unrelenting.
On a long drive between Detroit and Chicago, I had no issues with the WRX being too stiff, though wind and road noise is certainly apparent. I found the Subaru to be quite practical on this trip, too, with comfy-enough accommodations and plenty of trunk space. "The seats are supportive and upright, and the cockpit is a great place in general," Migliore agrees. Added bonus: on the highway trek, I saw roughly 30 miles per gallon at times, well above the car's EPA-rated 28 mpg highway claim. Overall, we're averaging about 25 mpg combined – right in line with the 21/28 city/highway figures.
Other good stuff? The optional LED headlamps. In addition to looking cool, they're great for nighttime driving, offering clear, bright sight. The same goes for rainstorms, too – there's never a want for visibility in the WRX, and the cabin offers great sight lines.
But there have been issues, and our first trip to the dealer happened with just 525 miles on the odometer. "The WRX's windows won't roll down" was how associate multimedia producer Chris McGraw chose to greet me upon arriving at the office one morning, and after 25 minutes of trying to diagnose the problem myself by poking around the fuse box, I gave up and took the car over to the friendly folks at Hodges Subaru in Ferndale, MI. A quick inspection revealed that a wiring harness inside the driver's door had come loose, and later that day, the car was ready to roll again. The service technicians said they hadn't seen this problem before, and since that incident, there haven't been any electrical (or mechanical) issues to speak of. "Happy accident," as the late Bob Ross would say.
The rest of the thumbs-down notes have been pretty nit-picky, mostly. I continue to be annoyed by the audio adjustment controls for all touchscreen-equipped Subaru vehicles. Instead of the usual bass, middle, and treble, Subaru gives you the freedom of seven-channel adjustment. To an audiophile with some time on his hands, I could see this being useful, but to the untrained driver (read: me), it's just annoying. That said, the long-termer's optional Harman/Kardon stereo system is one of the better units fitted to a Subaru in recent memory.
The rest of the infotainment system has its faults, too. After using Subaru's new setup that debuted in the 2015 Legacy (and now Outback), the touchscreen interface in our WRX just feels old and laggy. What's more, the navigation system is occasionally off – it commonly had me on the wrong street while driving through Chicago – and it's not super intuitive to use.
Other complaints? Nothing major. Several staffers have noted the WRX's heavier-than-the-rest clutch, a particular sore point in stop-and-go city traffic, but if that's the tradeoff for an excellent powerband and great handling, that's fine by me. Finally, resident seat warmer expert Sharon Carty notes that the bun-warmers installed in our car are "pathetic."
"I like the WRX. A lot." Those final notes from Migliore sum up our general impressions thus far. Will that change? We've got tens of thousands of miles to pile on still. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for on-the-fly impressions, and stay tuned to this space for more updates in the coming months. Here's hoping for dry conditions, and here's to knowing that we're still in for a treat should Mother Nature punish us yet again.
Odometer: 3,913 miles
Observed fuel economy: 24.9 mpg
Days in service: 69
Days out of service: 0.5
Out-of-pocket repair cost: $0