2020 WRX New Car Test Drive
The 2020 Subaru WRX is a proven sports sedan with strong turbo power from either of its two available engines.
The base WRX rides well enough and responds easily enough to be a comfortable daily driver. Its 268-horsepower turbocharged flat-4 engine is relaxed around town. The transmission choice might take some thought, because the WRX is an eminently suitable car for its standard 6-speed manual, but that makes for more work and less relaxation around town. The option is a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which comes standard in 2020 with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. That collision-avoidance technology unfortunately isn't available with the stick shift.
At least Subaru builds a good CVT. Paddle shifters allow drivers to sort through pre-set gear ratios that simulate a real automatic reasonably well.
The WRX STI is a different story. It uses a different engine, a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4 making 310 horsepower, plus a stiffer suspension, bigger brakes, bigger wheels with wide tires, and an adjustable center differential for the all-wheel-drive system. You can spot an STI by its big wing.
The WRX is based on the last-generation Impreza, which is hardly a benchmark for interior refinement. The cabin is roomy but has a dated feel, offset only slightly by user-friendly infotainment software and other controls.
Curiously, the WRX with a manual transmission gets better fuel mileage than with the CVT: 21 mpg city, 27 highway, 23 combined for the manual, versus 18/24/21 mpg for the CVT. The 310-hp WRX STI with a 6-speed is rated by the EPA at 16/22/19 mpg.
The NHTSA has not yet crash tested the 2020 WRX, but the IIHS gives it a Top Safety Pick+ award, when equipped with the CVT's automatic emergency braking and optional LED headlights with automatic high beams.
The WRX comes in Base, Premium, and Limited trim levels.
The Base WRX starts at $28,400 and comes with only the 6-speed manual transmission. Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery, power features, automatic climate control, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The WRX Premium for about $30,700 adds a larger touchscreen, moonroof, and heated front seats. The 6-speed gearbox is standard, but the CVT with automatic emergency braking is optional for $1,900. Another $2,850 gets a Performance Package with Recaro front seats, Brembo brakes, and no moonroof.
The WRX Limited costs $33,000 and adds leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, a power moonroof, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, and LED lighting.
The WRX STI lineup includes base and Limited trims, with a price of $37,900 for the base. Another $2,250 for Recaro seats is appropriate.