Subaru is billing the 2022 WRX as a “ground-up” makeover. At first blush, however, it might seem more evolutionary than revolutionary. The new design is based off the 2017 Viziv concept vehicle — but the overall look doesn’t stray far from the fourth-generation sedan.
Nor does it get any major upgrade when it comes to power, despite some important revisions to its 2.4-liter Boxer engine.
What should really matter is what Subaru did to enhance the rally nature of the new 2022 WRX. Take it out on some winding roads and it really shines. The WRX is what you might call a bit of a Jekyll-and-Hyde. It is a great car for everyday driving, whether you live in snowy or sunny climes. But take it out on some winding roads and get ready to unleash the beast in this sedan.
At a time when millions of motorists have been migrating to SUVs, the Subaru WRX has maintained a loyal following, and fans are about to get rewarded with an update that offers upgrades virtually everywhere that matters.
While the new exterior design is more evolutionary than revolutionary, the new sport sedan is bigger in most dimensions, yet it also is lighter — by as much as 31 pounds, depending upon the trim level. And its center of gravity has been lowered. While the 2022 model gets only the most modest of increases in terms of power, that helps enhance both performance and handling.
While it might seem odd that Subaru offers two sport models, the WRX fills a niche the sleeker BRZ can’t. It’s as much a day-to-day driver as a personal rally car, and that’s why it remains a viable alternative to the Japanese brand’s extensive line-up of crossover-utility vehicles.
Switching to Subaru’s new Global Platform, the 2022 WRX grows 3 inches longer, with a 1-inch bump to its wheelbase. It’s 2 inches wider than the latest-generation Impreza. But its height dips about 0.3 inches.
This generation is, meanwhile, “fully differentiated” from Impreza, stressed Michael Redic, the Subaru planning manager responsible for the 2022 WRX. That covers pody panels including the roof, trunk, hood and so on.
What’s surprising is that, despite all this, you might not notice much difference from the outgoing sport sedan, at least not initially. But, if you look closer, you’ll catch the new, more squinty headlights, the new “solid hex” grille, the more aggressive fenders, among other revisions.
Much of what’s changed has a purpose. Subaru designers put a premium on aerodynamics, both to improve performance and reduce fuel consumption. That includes the new air curtains addressing drag around the front wheels, as well as the revised rear spoiler. The hood scoop feeding additional air into the engine compartment also has been revised.
Until recently, interior design was a weak point for the Subaru brand, the automaker’s “cheap-and-cheerful” cabins loaded up with lots of cheap plastic. That’s no longer the case. Even base models have adopted more refined materials and a more sophisticated look. That’s readily apparent with the 2022 WRX, its new, 11.6-inch, vertically oriented touchscreen being one of the most obvious examples.
A new, flat-bottom steering wheel and metal pedals, meanwhile, give the new sedan a more sporty and aggressive appearance.
The lowered roof doesn’t seem to impinge on interior headroom, though cabin space is down, at least on paper, ever so slightly. The front seats have plenty of travel, which does cut into WRX’s modest rear legroom, however. On the other hand, the trunk has grown enough, Redic noted, to now swallow three sets of golf clubs.
Even in base trim, the new WRX front seats are well bolstered, something desperately needed if you want to push it to the limits of handling. The GT trim package launching next year will add Recaro sport seats, as well as a more expanded line-up of advanced safety technologies.
The good news is that the 2.4-liter Boxer-4 engine in the 2022 Subaru WRX has gone through a number of modifications. They’re the stuff gearheads can spend hours talking about. Suffice it to say this includes changes to the turbo and intake system.
What may disappoint is the fact that the new sedan gets only a three horsepower bump, to 271 hp. Torque remains flat, at 258 pound-feet. That said, the torque curve is clearly improved and the slight weight reduction also helps enhance performance. For those who really “need” more power, hang tight. I expect to see Subaru unveil the next-generation WRX STI sometime during the second half of 2022.
Then there’s the fact that Subaru is carrying over a manual transmission — really no surprise since something like 85% of current owners are opting for the short-throw stick.
There will also be a continuously variable transmission — though it won’t be available at launch. It’s a reasonably good package, Subaru engineers letting it simulate step gears under hard acceleration while also being manually “shifted,” if a driver so prefers. The CVT will be your only option if you go for the GT package. Along with the interior features that includes, the GT model gets 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels shod in summer tires.
Of course, all-wheel drive comes standard — though there are two different options available.
Safety and Technology
The new, 11.6-inch touchscreen, with its Starlink user interface, is the most obvious update to the technology in the 2022 Subaru WRX. The vertical layout allows a motorist to lay out several different functions simultaneously, though I did find the screen could get cluttered.
Subaru has built a solid reputation for its EyeSight suite of advanced driver assistance technologies. Depending upon the package, the new WRX gets the latest features, including active cruise control and automatic emergency steering which helps steer you out of harm’s way at speeds up to 50 mph.
Other standard gear includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The standard audio package can be upgraded to a Harman Kardon 11-speaker system specifically tuned for the WRX. It pushes out 576 watts of power.
I spent a full day of driving some of California’s prettiest and most challenging roads, wending my way through scenic Sonoma County wine country, with a stop at the Point Agenda lighthouse in rural Mendocino County.
In most cars — and almost all SUVs — the route would have proved slow and torturous, with one tight corner after another. And heavy rain the night before had swept mud and gravel across what was already broken pavement during the first half of my drive.
But the 2022 WRX handled things like a personal rally car. Steering was precise, with good on-center feel and a solid connection to the road. Credit a number of changes made just out of sight. The use of structural adhesives, for one thing, and the mounting of the rear stabilizer bar on the body, pay off in terms of much improved body stiffness and reduced body roll.
True, I frequently had to drop down a gear or two to stay in the engine’s sweet spot, but the sedan’s short-throw shifter made easy work of that.
During my occasional highway runs, the new Subaru proved to have the manners of a touring car and, I’d expect, it would be easy to use it as the family’s daily driver.
And you’ll find some surprising differences in how the car rides and handles depending upon whether you have the Driver Mode set to Sport or Comfort.
I’m looking forward to getting into the GT package sometime early in 2022. Among other things, it comes standard with adaptive dampers, a first for the WRX.
In this SUV-crazed environment, some observers expected to see Subaru pare back its passenger car offerings. It’s bucked the trend with two sport models, both the BRZ and WRX going through major makeovers for 2022.
Of the two, the new WRX is clearly going to have the greatest reach. It offers rally car manners when you’re looking for some thrills, but it can serve as a family car, as well, whether running errands or taking an extended trip.
Despite current market trends, I’d be surprised if demand for the little sport sedan doesn’t grow a bit with the launch of the new model.
Look for the 2022 Subaru WRX to reach U.S. showrooms in March — though initially only with a manual gearbox. The CVT option — including the top-line GT package — will follow a month or two later.
Pricing likely won’t be released until mid to late winter. The current Subaru WRX starts at $27,495 before adding in $925 in delivery fees. The top-line Limited trim starts just over $32,000.
2022 Subaru WRX — Frequently Asked Questions
How much will the 2022 Subaru WRX cost?
Pricing won’t be revealed until closer to the March 2022 on-sale date. But expect some sort of bump up from the current $28,720 – which includes $925 in delivery fees.
Is there going to be a 2022 Subaru WRX STI?
Yes, though the automaker isn’t discussing its plans yet. Expect to see it debut sometime during the second half of 2022. It will certainly bring a bump up in power from the more mainstream WRX. And it likely will add features like the adaptive damping only available on the WRX GT Package.
Is the Subaru WRX reliable?
We’ll have to wait for buyers to weigh in on the 2022 makeover. The outgoing WRX scored 77 out of 100 on the J.D. Power reliability scale, which is considered average.