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2022 Subaru WRX Limited by Pacific Ocean Glenn Sanders

2022 Subaru WRX Performs Like a Champ on Winding Roads

This all-new and significantly improved rally icon raises the bar for sporty responsiveness, drivability and sheer fun.

HEALDSBURG, CA -- There is nothing limited about the 2022 Subaru WRX Limited model that we drove here recently. Subaru redesigned and built an almost entirely new sports car that takes driving to the next level.

Based on the new Subaru Global Platform, the chassis, suspension, engine, transmission, steering, seats and body are new and improved. The platform for this fifth-generation car has higher front lateral rigidity and 30% more torsional rigidity, which allows Subaru to use slightly softer shock absorbers with a longer stroke, providing a smoother ride while maintaining that sporty feel.

Subaru engineers exploited the rigidity of the new platform to tune the suspension and steering, and mount the frame on thicker bushings, which definitely helps reduce vibration and noise from the road.

The end result is a blast to drive, responding eagerly to acceleration, braking and steering commands while providing a sense of being in full control. 

The all-new WRX is at home on the highway or city streets, but really comes alive on winding roads here in wine country. Designed for excitement and style, the WRX is a comfortable daily driver that is expected to be competitively priced (expect pricing info this month).

According to Subaru, the WRX attracts the youngest drivers of all performance cars.  This forms the focus for marketing efforts targeting young male drivers in their 30s who want a versatile sport vehicle.

These drivers are mostly college-educated, enjoy excitement-driven activities and are image-conscious.  They want a car that is stylish, fun and exciting, but can also be used for daily driving, at an affordable price.

Glenn Sanders2022 Subaru WRX perspective by Pacific Ocean

After spending a day with the WRX, I feel they achieved this balance quite well.  The “distinctive, aggressive styling and power” marketing strategy works well.

The WRX design flows from a hexagonal grille to the headlights, past slightly bulging fenders, ending with a swoopy rear window and trunk and stylish rear end with built-in spoiler. 

Compared to the 2021 WRX Limited, the 2022 version is 3.0 ins. (76 mm) longer, with a wheelbase 1.0 in. (2.54 cm) longer, and carries an extra 19 lbs. (8.6 kg), likely due to the larger 2.4L engine.

Glenn Sanders2022 Subaru WRX side view by Pacific Ocean

Interior and HMI

The layout of the WRX interior is attractive while being functional, with few distractions, which is what you want when the focus is on performance and excitement.  The Recaro seat is one of the most comfortable I have ever felt, even after a full day of driving.  You can sit up straight, with shoulders back, not hunched over like most car seats force on you.

The WRX dashboard and touchscreen are built for both looks and functionality.  In addition to the high-tech HMI access to features, the WRX retains physical knobs and buttons for environmental controls, audio and more. 

Cruise and audio settings are also available on the D-shaped steering wheel, which Subaru says is “designed to make it easier to get in and out of the driver’s seat.”

Glenn Sanders2022 Subaru WRX dash with D-shape steering wheel and touch display

The bright and clear instrument cluster shows rpm, speed, oil temperature, tire pressure and gear.  That gear indicator is handy when shifting among the six close-ratio manual speeds. 

The WRX touch display delivers a streamlined experience that takes very little time to learn and use, a welcome change to the tech overload often found in new vehicles.  No wonder Subaru won one of the Wards 10 Best UX Awards in 2020.

Subaru2022 Subaru WRX touch screen

The 11.6-in. (28-cm) HD touchscreen icons and menus are similar to those in a smartphone, making it easy to find the features, settings and commands you need.

The top of the screen shows the time, outside temperature and radio channel.  The screen center provides access to all major commands, and the lower portion of the screen offers access to bilateral climate control features. 

Physical buttons on either side of the screen allow for individual temperature settings.

Handling and Responsiveness That Thrills

Eager.  That’s the word that comes to mind when thinking of how the WRX responds over a wide rpm range.  The DOHC direct-fuel-injected turbocharged 2.4L engine has the same maximum torque as the 2.0L in the 2021 model.  However, the horsepower is slightly higher (3 hp), and that extra displacement feels more responsive over a wider range, including below 2,000 rpm.

Glenn Sanders2022 Subaru WRX engine

Subaru admits that part of the reason for moving to the 2.4L was to align with other 2.4L models in the lineup.  The high torque and relatively low 3,390-lb. (1,538-kg) curb weight, combined with close-ratio gearing, lets you accelerate with alacrity and zoom through the gears even faster now with greatly improved shifting in the updated manual transmission. 

The available automatic transmission has also been enhanced to provide faster and smoother upshifting and downshifting.

Power is transferred to the road through an AWD system to 18 x 8.5-in. tires, with the wheels set at a slightly wider stance in the rear than in the front.  Subaru designed this to help the WRX hold the road better and the lower center of gravity afforded by the stiffer Subaru Global Platform helps reduce roll on sharp curves. 

Steering feels perfect and provides total control, even with aggressive cornering while wending our way through country curves and on Highway 1 on the cliffs next to the Pacific Ocean.

Subaru2022 Subaru WRX on Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean

Driving uphill on twisting roads, the sportscar eagerly accelerates even in the 1,200 to 1,500 rpm range.  And a quick downshift brings the speed up in a couple of seconds for the straightaways.  The WRX did not disappoint in any driving situation.  In fact, it outperforms expectations.

ADAS Features

The model we drove has blindspot detection, lane change assist, lane departure prevention, rear cross traffic alert, emergency braking and advanced adaptive cruise control.

It is based on the enhanced Subaru EyeSight technology with two front-facing cameras and a wider range of available driver assist features.  New features include automatic emergency steering that works in conjunction with pre-collision braking at speeds under 50 mph (80 km/h).

Since 90% of the drive was on twisty country roads, we did not get a chance to try out the ADAS features.  But based on my experience driving the 2022 Forester Outback Wilderness last month in Oregon, I would rank Subaru’s ADAS on par with the best systems I have encountered so far for the type and number of situations it can handle, its reliability and smoothness of control.

Overall, it’s no wonder the Subaru WRX is one of the top-selling compact performance cars. And given the improvements made to the 2022 model, I expect Subaru to grow their market, especially with the automatic transmission version.

Subaru2022 Subaru WRX rear perspective on Highway 1

2022 Subaru WRX Specification Table

View more photos in the 2022 Subaru WRX Gallery.

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