2021 Subaru WRX Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
The 2021 Subaru WRX is one of the most entertaining performance cars you can buy for less than $35,000. A four-door design and spacious backseat make the WRX far more practical than a coupe. Meanwhile, standard all-wheel drive ensures excellent traction throughout the year. Many people are also quite fond of the WRX’s “boy racer” exterior styling. Let’s find out if the new WRX is the right choice for you.
What’s New for 2021?
Only a few small changes were made to the 2021 Subaru WRX lineup. The Premium trim now adds keyless entry with push-button start as standard equipment.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Subaru WRX – The Pros
1. Unique Boxer Engine Design
The WRX’s unique boxer engine design helps it to stand out from the competition. It features horizontally opposed cylinders, which create a distinctive sound. Many driving enthusiasts love to hear the aggressive rumble, especially when accelerating. This unique engine design also has some performance advantages. Subaru is able to mount the engine lower to the ground, thus giving the WRX a lower center of gravity. Road handling is then further enhanced.
2. Strong Performance
Subaru offers the WRX with two different turbo four-cylinder engines. A smaller 2.0-liter engine comes standard. It’s rated to pump out a hearty 268 horsepower. Drivers will be able to hit 60 mph in as quickly as 5.8 seconds. Folks who demand a higher level of muscle will want the STI model’s larger 2.5-liter engine. It raises the car’s fun factor with 310 horsepower. The extra power enables the WRX STI to record a swifter 0-60 mph time of around 5.1 seconds.
3. A True Four-Season Sports Car
The 2021 Subaru WRX is one of the few cars in the segment that receives a standard AWD system. Unlike some other AWD systems, Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system operates on a full-time basis. This means drivers will have more grip on dry pavement. Of course, folks living in snow-prone regions especially appreciate the WRX’s excellent wet-weather performance. While some sports cars must be parked during the winter, the AWD-equipped WRX can remain on the street throughout the year.
4. Still Offers a Manual Transmission
Many of modern-day sports cars no longer offer a traditional manual transmission. While today’s newest automatic transmissions are quick, they still aren’t as fun as a manual. Luckily, the 2021 Subaru WRX can still be equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox. According to test drivers, shift quality is excellent. An optional short-throw shifter helps promote maximum performance. Not only do manual transmissions tend to be more engaging, but they are also less expensive to maintain and repair.
5. Agile, Surefooted Handling
The 2021 Subaru WRX is a surefooted sports car. Even when taking corners at a relatively fast speed, this car feels controlled. It sticks to the asphalt like glue. A responsive and well-weighted steering system also helps drivers to stay connected to the road. While a sports-tuned suspension and active torque vectoring come standard, you’ll find more performance goodies on the racy STI models. They feature stiffer suspension tuning, which translates to more aggressive handling on the track.
6. More Practical Than a Traditional Sports Car
Drivers who spend a lot of time traveling with their family and friends will enjoy the WRX’s practicality. A four-door design makes it a lot easier for passenger to step inside. Parents don’t have to struggle when securing child safety seats. Another key benefit is the WRX’s rear legroom. There’s enough space for adults to travel without feeling confined. Although the WRX may not have the largest trunk, most people will be perfectly satisfied with its 12.0 cubic feet of cargo space.
7. Boy Racer Styling Looks Aggressive
Drivers who hate getting lost in the crowd should like the WRX’s racy styling. It looks far more aggressive than most compact cars. One of the car’s most appealing exterior features is its muscular hood scoop, which funnels air into the turbocharged engine. On the rear, quad exhaust finishers give the WRX a more muscular look. A large rear wing and upsized 19-inch alloy wheels are found on the more powerful WRX models.
8. Easy-to-Use Starlink Infotainment System
Although some infotainment systems may offer a larger touchscreen, few are as easy to operate as Subaru’s Starlink Multimedia interface. Drivers will enjoy the system’s simple menus. Convenient knobs and buttons make the system even more rewarding. Starlink supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, thus enabling users to enjoy hands-free smartphone operation. While the standard 6.5-inch touchscreen may be a tad too small for some people, they can step up to a larger 8.0-inch display. Upgraded versions of the system also feature voice-activated navigation.
9. Harman Kardon Premium Sound System
A basic stereo system comes standard on the 2021 Subaru WRX. Some automotive journalists have criticized the system for its tinny sound. Serious music fans should invest in the Harman Kardon premium audio system. This nine-speaker unit is powered by a 440-watt amplifier. Clari-Fi technology helps ensure a clean, distortion-free sound. There’s also a rear-mounted subwoofer for punchy bass.
10. Very Safe Performance Machine
Among the WRX’s greatest attributes is its excellent impact protection. Aside from receiving superior crash scores, the WRX also earned a perfect rating in the NHTSA’s rollover resistance test. Active safety technologies, such as blind-spot warning and forward/reverse automatic braking, help inspire drivers with greater confidence. Nighttime travelers will greatly benefit from Subaru’s LED Steering Responsive Headlights.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Subaru WRX – The Cons
1. Not The Most Dependable Car In the Segment
From a reliability standpoint, the WRX does not have the best track record. It receives a two out of five rating in long-term dependability, which is below average. After Subaru’s original warranty expires, owners will likely encounter a few issues that need to be repaired. Drivers who desire a more bulletproof sports sedan should consider the Lexus IS.
2. Stiff Ride
Many people rave about how well the 2021 Subaru WRX handles. Unfortunately, the car’s aggressive handling does have a drawback. Because of the sedan’s stiff suspension, ride quality suffers. This is especially true for the racy STI models. When driving over battered pavement and potholes, expect to feel a few jolts. This could be a concern for drivers who often travel on rough streets. Longer road trips will also be less pleasing.
3. Fuel Economy Could Be Better
Many competitors rank ahead of the 2021 Subaru WRX in the fuel economy department. When paired to a manual gearbox, the base engine returns up to 20 mpg town/27 mpg freeway. However, opting for an automatic CVT drops efficiency to 18 mpg town/24 mpg freeway. Meanwhile, fuel economy estimates for the race-tuned STI models stand at only 16 mpg town/22 mpg freeway. Keep in mind that premium fuel is a necessity for all trims.
4. Above-Average Amounts Of Wind and Road Noise
The WRX is not a good option for drivers who desire luxury car-like quietness. Passengers can expect to hear a reasonable amount of road and wind noise at interstate speeds.
5. Basic Interior Quality
There are many people who appreciate the WRX’s sturdy, straight-forward interior design. However, its cabin looks and feels a bit cheap in comparison to some other models. You’ll encounter a lot of hard plastic surfaces on the inside.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition
2021 Subaru WRX vs 2021 Volkswagen GTI
The 2021 Volkswagen GTI is a top competitor. This hot hatch gets tops marks in terms of interior quality. It also offers a lot more cargo space. However, all-wheel drive is not available for the GTI. Some drivers may also prefer the WRx’s more upbeat exterior styling.
2021 Subaru WRX vs 2021 Mazda3 2,5 Turbo
In regard to overall driving fun, the new 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo rivals the WRX. However, its interior feels genuinely luxurious. A few exclusive features are also available on the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo, including a head-up display with traffic sign recognition and a surround-view camera. While the new Mazda3 2.5 Turbo is a nice pick, some drivers may prefer the WRX’s more raw performance.
2021 Subaru WRX vs 2021 BMW 3 Series
Many people hold the 2021 BMW 3 Series in high regard. Its remarkably plush interior will appeal to a lot of people. BMW also offers the 3 Series with a more potent engine lineup. On the downside, prices for the new 3 Series are far more expensive. Furthermore, only the WRX offers traditional stick-shift transmission.
The 2021 Subaru WRX is a bundle of fun. For good reason, it has remained the most popular model on the rally racing scene for a long time. Drivers appreciate this AWD-equipped sports sedan’s great traction and agile handling. A practical design makes the WRX more appealing to drivers who have a family. Another big highlight is the WRX's fine crash scores.
While the 2021 Subaru WRX is an entertaining performer, prospective buyers should consider its so-so fuel economy before making a final decision. This car also loses points for its subpar reliability rating.
• Why buy a 2020 Subaru WRX? w/ pros vs cons