Consumer Reports rented a next-generation 2022 Subaru WRX performance sedan from Subaru of America and, after extensive testing, says it "barely moves the needle." That's just the beginning of things they don't like about the new performance sedan.
In Consumer Reports (by subscription) testing of the 2022 WRX Limited trim level ($36,990), they trashed the new WRX and said, "Despite the numerous changes, we're hard-pressed to find any areas where the new WRX has made big gains compared with the outgoing model. What's more, the ride is still very stiff, and Subaru's new infotainment system brings with it a high frustration factor."
The WRX gets poor road test scores
CR isn't impressed with the all-new WRX and says in its road-test score the WRX was hurt by its "harsh ride, stiff clutch pedal, clunky manual shifter, and initial lag from the turbocharged engine." They also didn't find its handling as engaging as the previous generation sports car.
What does Consumer Reports like about the new WRX?
CR says they like that the WRX still comes with a 6-speed manual; it has well-bolstered front seats and good outward visibility. Beyond that, CR doesn't haven't much good to say.
Consumer Reports has more things they don't like
CR says the infotainment system is annoying; it has a stiff ride, a super short first gear, loud cabin, mediocre cabin materials, the black fender flares, and EyeSight safety technology isn't available when equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
We haven't driven the next-generation WRX yet because of the limited availability of test vehicles, and new models haven't arrived in the U.S. But after years of owning a Subaru WRX, here's our take.
Our take on the next-generation WRX
The Subaru WRX is a performance sports car, and it's not designed to offer a comfortable ride. Of course, the ride is stiff because it comes with a sport-tuned suspension for performance enthusiasts. In the next-generation model, the new Subaru Global Platform gives improved rigidity and handling dynamics, not a relaxing ride quality.
The 6-speed gearbox in the WRX is geared differently than the Crosstrek subcompact SUV 6-speed manual, for example, because it's designed for a different buyer. The short first gear gets you off the line quickly, and it's not intended to offer a long first gear before you have to shift. That's why you buy a performance car with six gears.
The Subaru WRX is quick because it is lighter than a typical car. Subaru needs to keep the WRX as light as possible, and noise-absorbing material adds additional weight to a vehicle. So yes, there will be more noise in the cabin and more than a 2022 Subaru Outback.
Subaru has never been known for putting quality materials into the cabin of the WRX or STI. Subaru emphasizes performance over luxury. If you want a luxury performance sedan, you'll have to buy a BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
We will agree with Consumer Reports on one thing. We don't like the black fender flares on the new WRX. Subaru says they do serve a purpose. According to Subaru, when engineers tested the textured flares against painted versions in the wind tunnel, the raw plastic was significantly better at keeping air flowing smoothly around the car.
Subaru product manager Michael Redic says, "This surface has a hexagonal aerodynamic shape, kind of like a golf ball. It's functional and designed to help improve airflow. Just changing the structure from paint to the hexagonal texture has a big improvement on the aerodynamics of the vehicle."
Subaru has chosen not to spend the money to make EyeSight safety technology compatible with a manual gearbox. The WRX will still be one of the safest sports cars and will earn a Top Safety Pick crash score for the IIHS when it's tested.
We haven't tested the 2022 WRX infotainment system, so we can't comment.
We think Consumer Reports' evaluation of the new WRX is way off base. The next-generation 2022 Subaru WRX isn't perfect, but it's still the best sports sedan and offers performance buyers excellent value for the money. We don't take what Consumer Reports says and spoon-feed it back to you.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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