2015 Subaru WRX

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$18,060–$27,436 Inventory Prices

Key Specs

of the 2015 Subaru WRX base trim shown

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Comfortable seats
  • Visibility
  • Handling and acceleration
  • Relatively affordable
  • Highway poise

The Bad

  • CVT operation in most situations
  • Road and engine noise
  • Choppy ride on rough pavement
  • Small trunk
  • Sound quality of standard stereo
2015 Subaru WRX exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2015 Subaru WRX

  • Redesigned for 2015
  • Based on fourth-generation Impreza
  • Manual or new CVT automatic
  • Sedan only
  • Turbocharged four-cylinder, all-wheel drive

2015 Subaru WRX Road Test

https://www.cstatic-images.com/stock/64x64/14/-74959434-1425053042814.jpg
Kelsey Mays

The 2015 Subaru WRX remains one of the quickest all-wheel-drive cars you can buy for less than $30,000, but automatic-transmission shoppers will have to settle for a disappointing new CVT.

Redesigned for 2015, the WRX catches up to the fourth-gen Impreza on which it's (finally) based. The current Impreza went on sale in October 2011; its turbocharged sibling remained based on the prior generation for three model years, so a redesign has been a long time coming. The WRX comes in base, Premium and Limited trims, and all-wheel drive is standard. We tested a Limited with the optional continuously variable transmission, an automatic that's new for 2015. The WRX also offers a six-speed manual. We cover the higher-performance WRX STi separately in the Research section.

While the Impreza comes as a sedan or hatchback, both turbocharged siblings are sedan-only. Click here to compare the Impreza, WRX and WRX STi, or here to stack up the prior-generation WRX with this 2015 redesign.

Exterior & Styling
Inside and out, the Impreza's econobox styling factored into its sixth-place overall finish among seven compact sedans we tested in 2013 (click here to read more). Subaru went to great lengths to differentiate the WRX, which is a visual smorgasbord of performance and clutter. The car gets a slew of unique body panels, including the hood, front fenders, doors and bumpers, and the results bear only a passing resemblance to the Impreza. The functional hood scoop integrates n...

The 2015 Subaru WRX remains one of the quickest all-wheel-drive cars you can buy for less than $30,000, but automatic-transmission shoppers will have to settle for a disappointing new CVT.

Redesigned for 2015, the WRX catches up to the fourth-gen Impreza on which it's (finally) based. The current Impreza went on sale in October 2011; its turbocharged sibling remained based on the prior generation for three model years, so a redesign has been a long time coming. The WRX comes in base, Premium and Limited trims, and all-wheel drive is standard. We tested a Limited with the optional continuously variable transmission, an automatic that's new for 2015. The WRX also offers a six-speed manual. We cover the higher-performance WRX STi separately in the Research section.

While the Impreza comes as a sedan or hatchback, both turbocharged siblings are sedan-only. Click here to compare the Impreza, WRX and WRX STi, or here to stack up the prior-generation WRX with this 2015 redesign.

Exterior & Styling
Inside and out, the Impreza's econobox styling factored into its sixth-place overall finish among seven compact sedans we tested in 2013 (click here to read more). Subaru went to great lengths to differentiate the WRX, which is a visual smorgasbord of performance and clutter. The car gets a slew of unique body panels, including the hood, front fenders, doors and bumpers, and the results bear only a passing resemblance to the Impreza. The functional hood scoop integrates nicely into the hood. The headlight accents carve a mean expression, and the deep bumper extensions integrate well with their surroundings. But the oversized bumper portals have a cluttered mix of lighting elements and obviously faux carbon fiber. Around back, a hodgepodge of tailpipes — four! — and off-color diffusers look just plain silly.

Standard 17-inch alloy wheels wear Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT tires. Limited models have LED low-beam headlights.

How It Drives
Performance enthusiasts might set their Subaru effigies ablaze for the automaker's decision to pair the WRX with a CVT. In the 268-horsepower WRX, it's all about hitting a sweet spot around 3,000 to 6,000 rpm. That's when the Subie surges ahead, though it falls short of really hauling ass. The transmission employs driver-selectable modes, and our editors agreed the efficiency-minded Intelligent mode treats the car's power like ABC Family would treat an airing of "Blackhawk Down." Engine revs climb late, and it takes a good prod on the gas before you reach higher rpm. The rubber-band sensation familiar to anyone who's driven a CVT — wait, here it comes — is alive and well in the WRX. SI-Drive's Sport mode hurries up the rev climb, but it still exhibits a soupy nonlinearity that's anathema to driving fun.

Subaru says both modes adhere to six fixed gear ratios like a stepped automatic if you push the accelerator past a given point (40 percent down in Intelligent, 30 percent in Sport). That leads to more conventional-feeling acceleration and highway kickdowns, but it takes a consistent lead foot to bring it about. Around town, get used to the rubber band.

SI-Drive's raciest mode, Sport Sharp, is really the only way to drive the WRX. It holds eight fixed gear ratios all the time, upshifting and downshifting like a responsive eight-speed automatic — with kickdowns free of gear hunting, something that plagues many conventional automatics. It even blips engine revs on downshifts as you decelerate. Sure, it's as contrived as the smiles in a family portrait, but I'll take it — especially because the WRX doesn't default back to the fun-siphoning Intelligent mode when you turn it off. The next time you drive, it's right how you left it.  Still, one editor said Sport Sharp spoils some of the revving fun by sending you well past the engine's power band to a point where things peter off, then upshifting to a point where the revs are still too high.

Subaru's all-wheel drive splits power 50/50 percent (front/rear) in cars with manual transmissions through a simple viscous coupling, and 45/55 percent through a more sophisticated electronic split in cars with the CVT — one benefit to getting the CVT. Both systems can divert full power to one axle or another. We threw our tester around in plenty of late-winter mud, and it handled split-traction surfaces with little excess wheelspin.

On the pavement, the WRX drifts with smile-inducing ease, though the winter tires on our test car ceded grip early. The automatic's rear-biased power split delivers satisfying neutrality: Barrel through a sweeping turn, and the tail swings out nearly in tandem with the nose. It's a controllable, natural process that rarely sneaks up on you — though some enthusiasts may find too much body roll accompanies it all, despite Subaru thickening the WRX's front stabilizer bar compared with that of its predecessor.

The WRX rides firmer than it used to and firmer than the regular Impreza. Subaru says this version has stiffer springs, shocks and bushings than the last WRX, and our car did indeed bounce harshly through ruts and potholes; that minimizes daily-driver potential if you live around rough pavement. Still, cabin isolation at higher speeds shines; the WRX removes the turbulence from undulating pavement that many, and possibly most, compact cars allow through. That's not to say it's quiet: A headache-inducing exhaust howl intrudes on music or conversation, particularly as the tachometer needle descends below 1,500 rpm on your way to a stop. Even those accustomed to blatting exhausts will grow annoyed by this one.

Want to know more about the power story? Gearheads, read on. The new WRX adopts the FA-series turbo four-cylinder from the Forester XT. It's still a horizontally opposed engine, but like in the Forester, displacement falls to 2.0 liters from the 2.5 liters the WRX has displaced since 2006. Still, the turbo 2.0-liter gains direct fuel injection and variable valve timing (cam phasing only, no variable lift) on the intake and exhaust camshafts, versus the phased VVT on the intake valves only for the last, port-injected WRX. It also adopts unique camshafts and higher-rate valve springs versus the Forester XT, which enables a 6,700 rpm redline in stick-shift WRXs — up 700 rpm versus the Forester XT's FA20 engine. Add it all up, and the WRX makes 268 hp. The increased compression ratio (10.6:1 versus 8.4:1 in the last WRX) helps to drive torque to 258 pounds-feet from 2,000 to 5,200 rpm. That roughly matches the last WRX's horsepower (265 hp) and beats its torque (244 pounds-feet at 4,000 rpm) by a meaningful amount — not bad, given that Subaru says the new car weighs just 60 pounds more.

Interior
Our impressions of the Impreza's interior (click here to read them) largely carry over to the WRX, which has excellent visibility and — except for a discount headliner — high-quality materials. Changes versus the Impreza include a flat-bottom steering wheel and larger seat bolsters, particularly at the shoulders. Editors agreed they exhibit good lateral support without sacrificing comfort. Except for a large center floor hump that's endemic of most cars with all-wheel drive, backseat room is decent.

Fabric upholstery with red stitching is standard. So are single-zone automatic climate control and a USB/iPod-compatible stereo with HD radio, Bluetooth phone/audio streaming and steering-wheel controls. Premium models add heated seats, a moonroof, fog lights and illuminated visor mirrors. Atop all that, the WRX Limited adds leather and a power driver's seat. Options include a 6.1-inch navigation system, keyless access with push-button start and a Harman Kardon stereo. Consider the stereo upgrade; editors agreed the base system is a tinny mess.

Dual-zone climate control, something various competitors offer, isn't available until you step up to the WRX STi. All cars have a standard 4.3-inch LCD screen with various displays, including a nifty boost gauge that also shows accelerator position in percent. Still, the screen is distant and can get washed out in sunlight — a problem for the standard backup camera, which displays on it.

Cargo & Storage
The trunk measures 12 cubic feet. That's up from the last WRX's 11.3 cubic feet, but it's still tight for a compact sedan — a Volkswagen Jetta GLI, for example, has 15.5 cubic feet. Note that trunks in the WRX's hatchback competitors aren't directly comparable because of how they're measured (click here to learn more). A 60/40-split folding rear seat is standard.

Safety
The WRX scored top marks in all Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, making it a Top Safety Pick. Seven airbags, an electronic stability system and antilock brakes are standard. Lane-departure, blind-spot and forward-collision warning systems — features increasingly available in other compacts — are unavailable, which prevents Top Safety Pick Plus status. The features are an odd omission on the WRX, given Subaru's EyeSight system (available on the Forester, Outback and Legacy) packages most of them and ranks among the best active-safety systems on the market.

Click here to see a full list of safety features, or here to see our Car Seat Check evaluation of child-safety-seat provisions in the Impreza sedan.

Value in Its Class
The 2015 WRX starts around $27,000 with the destination charge, which is just $300 more than the 2014 WRX. Pile on the options, however, and the car gets pricey. Premium models add $2,200, while the Limited tacks on another $1,500. The automatic runs another $1,200, and it's hard to justify — particularly because it's not, as CVTs often are, the efficient choice. EPA gas mileage, which Subaru says is measured in SI-Drive's Sport mode, is a modest 19/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined, versus 21/28/24 mpg with the manual; Subaru recommends premium gas for best performance.

Still, if you steer clear of the automatic and many other options, the WRX remains a performance bargain. Outgoing editions of the MazdaSpeed3 and Volkswagen GTI ran about $25,000 and $26,000, respectively, in their final years — and both are slower, front-drive cars. The redesigned WRX is a compelling choice, but stick with the stick.

Send Kelsey an email  



2015 WRX Video

While the performance faithful may consider it blasphemy that Subaru put a continuously variable automatic transmission in the 2015 WRX, it isn't without its redeeming qualities.

Latest 2015 WRX Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.2)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Best reliable car to have

by Brandirodriguez from Apple valley. Ca on April 4, 2018

Everything u want in a car. Would definitely recommend this car to all my friends and social media Is you wouldnt mind . would love to advertise for u guys Read full review

(4.0)

Sporty and economical: 28mpg in city traffic

by Ben.atl from Atlanta, GA on March 15, 2018

The wrx has definitely taken a new shape with the 2015+ models but subaru has invested in making their performance offerings more practical and a perfect choice for enthusiasts who want a great daily ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2015 Subaru WRX currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2015 Subaru WRX Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
good
Overall evaluation
good
Retraints and dummy kinematics
good
Structure and safety cage
good

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
acceptable
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
good
Restraints and dummy kinematics
good
Small overlap front
good
Structure and safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Subaru

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance and Carfax vehicle history report

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    Powertrain: 7 years/100,000 miles from original date of first use. Roadside assistance: 1 year from date of purchase
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 85,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 152 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The WRX received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker