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4 Reasons Why New Subaru WRX STI Is The Best Choice Vs Faster Honda Civic Type R

As a daily winter driver, we would pick the 2020 Subaru WRX STI over the Honda Civic Type R. The Type R is no match for the STI when the snow flies.


If you drive a high-performance sports car, there aren’t many that make good winter vehicles you can drive daily. You have to leave it sitting in the garage when the snow flies and it sits. All you can do is warm it up, and pull it out on nice days. But this is not the case with the 2020 Subaru WRX STI performance-tuned sedan.

The STI’s main completion now comes from the 2020 Honda Civic Type R hatchback. It’s a great vehicle, but it only comes in front-driver configuration and it’s not the best in winter conditions. You can put a set of Blizzak winter treads on it, but you’ll have a tough time in deep snow and ice.

2020 Subaru WRX and WRX STI come out to play in the snow

4 Reasons You Should Buy The New Subaru WRX STI Vs Honda Civic Type R

The four reasons are simple. The STI’s 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine sends power to four wheels, not two. The WRX STI comes standard with Subaru’s excellent rally-bred Symmetrical all-wheel-drive hardware. When you put a set of Blizzak winter tires on the STI, you can go anywhere as long as you have the clearance underneath. This is what sets the car apart from the Civic Type R.

We aren’t bashing the Civic Type R. It wouldn’t make sense for Honda to change the Type R to all-wheel-drive when the entire lineup rides on a different platform. “Civic traditionally has always been the front-wheel-drive and this platform is a front-wheel drive,” said Civic senior product planner Rob Keough. “And Type R is about what’s the maximum that we can achieve out of that platform.”

2020 Honda Civic Type R is faster around the "Ring"

Are there disadvantages to having an all-wheel-drive sports car?

The disadvantage of having an all-wheel-drive performance car is the added weight. Adding the extra WRX STI AWD hardware does add weight (3,386 lb.), where the Civic Type R comes in considerably less at 3,117 lb. total curb weight. There’s also the inevitable drivetrain power loss resulting from powering all four wheels as opposed to just two.

“All-wheel drive would’ve added weight to the car, it would’ve changed the character of the car,” Keough said. “Honda’s racing philosophy has always been lightness and balanced performance, and the team felt like (it) could get the most performance out of this car without adding the weight and the cost of all-wheel drive.”

Even though the Honda Civic Type R is faster around the “Ring” in Germany, We would still choose the 2020 Subaru WRX STI for its daily ability to get you home safely in all-weather conditions and its recreation-purposed platform. Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system is what puts the STI clearly ahead of the Honda Civic Type R for winter warriors.

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Denis Flierl has invested nearly 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on FacebookTwitterInstagramSubaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates!

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Photo credit: Subaru of New England, Subaru USA, Honda USA


Tom (not verified)    January 4, 2020 - 3:01PM

I used to be a HUGE Subaru fan. Not any more. I would pick the Honda all day long over the STI. Yes, AWD is good in the snow but you could put really good snow tires on the Honda and do great. Look at product reliability. Subaru has dropped big time.

Dave S (not verified)    January 6, 2020 - 5:30AM

In reply to by Tom (not verified)

Yup. AWD isn’t worth the added weight or mechanical complexity for most of us. Better to wait a few hours & let the plows clear the roads after a major snowfall. I have both a FWD Civic Si & an AWD vehicle. Both great, but difference is minimal. Both a big advantage over RWD.

Mark Day (not verified)    January 5, 2020 - 7:28PM

Five reasons not to buy ANY Subaru:1) Poor reliability 2) Record number of class action lawsuits 3) Record number of recalls 4) Subaru dealers unresponsive to problems 5) Consumer Reports overrates Subaru vehicles

George Yang (not verified)    March 13, 2020 - 12:58PM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

subaru doesn't have poor reliability its the owners and their mind. You pay to play if you mod engine blows up you cry and blame it on subaru. That's the reasons why Mitsubishi stop selling the Evos. If subaru was bad and unreliable why do they still make sell them?

Jason (not verified)    January 6, 2020 - 1:23PM

I'm on my 2nd STI and I'll never go back to FWD again. I put good winter tires on my FWD cars and they just couldn't compare to the STI with good winters on it. The biggest advantages are starting from a stop and going up hills (or both), but since there are hills everywhere where I live, it makes winter driving so much easier. If I lived somewhere that didn't have winter weather, I'd be tempted to get the Civic Type R.

DC (not verified)    January 6, 2020 - 1:37PM

Depending where you live this comparison will carry a different amount of weight. As someone who lives in the Rockies where it snows 4-5 months of the year as much of a difference as AWD can make tires are by far the most important factor. Unless you live in a place where it snows heavy more than half the year or are a skibum with only have one car I don't think the AWD of the STI makes up for the other areas where it lacks over the Type R. I don't know about you guys but I can't say I care too much about my cars 0-60 and 1/4 mile time in the snow.

eric (not verified)    June 24, 2020 - 8:29PM

LOL at this site and their reviews.
Everyone knows that using all wheel drive over front wheel drive will consume more fuel. Maybe you should mention that deterrent in your review. Having driven FWD cars for 20 years in CANADA, I have never gotten stuck in snow or driven like an idiot in snow storms to cause an accident. Don't compare this damn vehicle to the Type-r because it is not even in the same league. What makes the Type R special is its reliability, Hatchback factor, good fuel performance, and amazing FW drive. Any car with outstanding winter tires will perform great and no car will ever stop on black ice. Is AWD that much better, maybe if you live off map and snow can't be removed on the roads.

Omar (not verified)    August 17, 2020 - 2:55PM

I can definitively state that Subaru's awd is seriously impressive here in Northern Utah where we get over 500" of snow at the upper elevations. If you love to ski or snowboard, the Type R wouldn't even be legally allowed up our canyons come winter without chains, which would probably damage its front diff.

Anyone who says fwd with snow tires is sufficient is kidding themselves. Try a Subaru with Blizzaks and you'll have a totally different picture of things — my Legacy 3.0r is unstoppable in the snow. You'd need more than 20" of unplowed snow to stop me and that's going up a 15% grade for 4,000 vertical feet from my house to the resort.

You literally have to do something so stupid to brake grip in these things, it's like they're gluded to the road, even during winter storms. I can drop it into a lower gear and rev it out to 6,000 rpm in a snowstorm with 6" of snow on the ground and just rip. Try that in your Civic and you'll be sideways in a ditch or crashing off the edge of a cliff here in Utah.

Doug Baliko (not verified)    August 21, 2021 - 10:41AM

sadly the STI has not been updated for years. Suburu has been teasing the public for several years now about an update but delivers very little to nothing. All the compeition has evolved except STI. I own a WRX and a BRZ. I am no longer going to wait for an STI.