2022 Subaru WRX First Drive Review
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First Drive: 2022 Subaru WRX Review

Subaru’s high-performance sedan enters its next-generation with updated looks, a modest power increase, a new CVT transmission, and redesigned interior. Does the 2022 WRX live up to its legacy? Canada Drives headed to Eastern Ontario and put the 271-hp, all-wheel drive car to the test to learn more.

Key Features:

  • All-weather fun
  • Practical space
  • Performance bargain

Direct Competitors:

  • Honda Civic Si
  • Volkswagen Jetta GLI
  • Hyundai Elantra N

These days, any new car that isn’t an SUV of some sort is a machine to be celebrated by enthusiasts. When that fresh offering is the latest version of one of the most celebrated sport sedans of our generation, our anticipation runs red hot. 

This is the all-new 2022 Subaru WRX; a car that, for the time-being at least, represents the apex of the brand’s performance capabilities. And aside from the liberal (and aesthetically-questionable) use of oversized black plastic body moldings, Subaru’s latest rally-racer-wannabe continues fulfilling the same mandate it’s always had as a fun yet practical, all-weather sporting machine.

New Subaru WRX 2022 pricing starts at close to $30,000

Like fuel consumption, the pricing has also gone up fractionally. The good news is that Subaru still offers a basic WRX that has all the same performance essentials of the costlier models, plus niceties like standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but rings in at $30,995, which is cheaper than its competitors. 

2022 Subaru WRX | Photo: Jeff Wilson

Most expensive: WRX Sport-tech costs around $42,000

The costliest WRX is a Sport-tech with the SPT transmission and latest EyeSight safety suite for $41,895. That top trim car includes a decent amount of luxury including heated seats front and rear with ultra-suede fabric, on-board navigation and an impressive HarmanKardon sound system.

Mid-range: WRX Sport costs around $35,000

At $35,495, the mid-level Sport trim receives 18-inch wheels, a power sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and upgraded infotainment screen, making it the value-leader. With the Civic Si cresting $35,000 and Elantra N topping $37,000, the all-wheel-drive WRX represents a great value. 

2022 WRX pricing for all trims:

Here’s a quick summary of Canadian pricing per trim.




WRX (base)



WRX Sport



WRX Sport with EyeSight



WRX Sport-tech



WRX Sport-tech with Eyesight



Performance & driving impressions 

2022 WRX’s key performance specs (across all trims):

  • Engine: 2.4-litre turbocharged BOXER engine
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual or new automatic 
  • Horsepower: 271 hp @ 5,600 rpm (3 horsepower increase)
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2,000-5,200 rpm (unchanged)

For 2022, this fifth-generation WRX gets Subaru’s Global Platform tailored specifically for this application resulting in the stiffest and strongest Subaru to date. But it also better quells vibrations from reaching the cabin, and when combined with its updated suspension, the new WRX becomes notably more refined than the model it replaces.

Don’t worry, while this more refined WRX won’t be as rowdy as its predecessors, this car still knows how to have a really good time.

2022 Subaru WRX | Photo: Jeff Wilson 

Subaru’s all-wheel drive continues to impress

During our drive event in Eastern Ontario, we were faced with a pretty impressive rain storm that turned parts of the remote gravel roads we travelled into small ponds. Potholes, undulations, rocks, gravel and roots were all surfaces thrown at the WRX, which it devoured without issue, putting its long-travel suspension to excellent use. 

On loose surfaces, Subaru’s legendary all-wheel-drive system apportioned the power exactly where it’s needed, when it’s needed, resulting in a sports sedan that’s happy to play in ways and places that its peers can’t manage. 

Sure, not everyone is going to fling their new WRX wildly through the woods like we did, but be assured, those who do will be rewarded with a car that’s impressively stable, making it very easy to drive quickly. The standard summer tires (18-inch on Sport and Sport-Tech trims, 17’s on base models) offer tremendous grip on pavement, too, and while the steering isn’t as quick or responsive as, say, the 2022 Elantra N’s we reviewed here, the Subaru’s all-wheel drive gives it grip and capability unmatched in the class.

New 2.4-litre engine with modest 3 horsepower increase

The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer from last year’s WRX has been replaced by a turbocharged 2.4 L boxer unit, the basics of which are shared with the Ascent crossover’s mill, although curiously, in this application, peak boost is reduced. Despite a 20% displacement gain, the WRX receives only 3 more horsepower (now at 271 hp) and the same 258 lb-ft of torque as before. 

2022 Subaru WRX | Photo: Jeff Wilson

While those figures are noteworthy, the WRX’s engine doesn’t rev as eagerly as its key competitors’, nor does it sound as exciting. Still, the Subaru is more than capable of delivering impressive acceleration, but it’s most enjoyable when kept between 4,000 and 6,000 rpms, rocketing the car from corner to corner. To slow down for those corners, the brakes offer strong, linear stopping power. 

The six-speed manual carries on as the default transmission (halleluiah!), and it, too, has been refined with ratios better-suited to the engine’s power delivery, and more importantly, to eliminate the rev-hang that afflicted the previous generation. Despite throws that are longer than the Civic Si’s, the shifter-clutch set up rewards enthusiastic driving.

WRX’s new SPT automatic transmission is a CVT

More surprising is the automatic offering, dubbed “Subaru Performance Transmission” (SPT). It’s still a CVT, but unlike any we’ve experienced before. Upshifts are now 30% faster, while downshifts are 50% quicker, and when in manual mode with the Sport# setting activated, the simulated 8-speed ratios do a very convincing impression of a traditional automatic gearbox, even holding onto to revs right to redline until the driver clicks the paddle for the next ratio.

While we prefer the stick-shift (along with more than 75% of WRX buyers), those who must have a two-pedal version are getting a much better performance car than before. 

Unfortunately, the one area the WRX hasn’t improved is fuel efficiency, which has decreased slightly compared to last year’s model. 

2022 Subaru WRX interior

2022 Subaru WRX | Photo: Jeff Wilson

The WRX has grown in width, length and wheelbase, resulting in both a larger trunk, plus fractionally better rear leg- and shoulder room than before. The new car is shorter though, and head room is compromised somewhat. Still, the WRX is competitive with key competitors for interior and cargo space. 

Interior design and materials have improved significantly, with a more high-tech look now. Of note, the Sport and Sport-Tech trims receive Subaru’s latest 11.6 inch touch screen for the central dash infotainment display. It’s a decent system with bright, crisp graphics and easy-to-use menus.

Verdict: does the next-generation WRX live up to its legacy?

Subaru has improved refinement on the WRX with every new generation and this latest version has matured into a comfortable and usable daily driver. While some will lament the passing of the crude and raucous personality from earlier WRX generations, the new car is still every bit as capable – and fun – when asked to perform. That it can fulfill both roles so well makes it worthy of enthusiasts’ praise and buyers’ investment.

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