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Our Cars: 2017 Subaru WRX – Time flies, and so do the miles

Ross Ballot January 25, 2017 Featured, Project Cars No Comments

Dates: 9/13-1/17 —– Odometer: 16,000 miles

Time flies and so do the miles when you commute roughly fifty miles to and from work, five days a week. Combine daily driver duty with innumerable weekend trips and it’s no surprise that my WRX crossed 15,000 miles ten days shy of six months of ownership. With the odometer now displaying over sixteen thousand, I’m here to report that the Subaru has been nearly flawless and, aside from a few annoyances, is as great a car to own as it is to drive.

The WRX has turned out to be very well suited to my wants and needs, eating up the miles with aplomb, regularly putting a smile on my face, and doing all the boring stuff with ease. Enough good can’t be said about it as a daily driver, and that it’s withstood my snow drifting shenanigans and handled a few days of autocross so well shows that it was designed for just this kind of use.

Read on to see how my WRX has fared in its first six-ish months.

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I’ve driven the absolute hell out of the WRX already, and it’s taken it all in stride. Whether a weekend blast through the twisting, winding backroads of New England, or a mid-day highway jaunt, the Subaru is the perfect size for its intended purpose and feels so light on its feet that it’s as easy to drive quickly as it is to maneuver in traffic. Sure, there could be more power, but part of the fun is that you can really rip on it without jeopardizing your license on the same level as you would in something more straight-line speed-hungry.

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What can be said of the Subaru’s dynamics? Is it a legitimate sport sedan?

The steering is solid, if not a bit numb on center, with a tiny amount of play from zero outward. Turn-in is well matched, with the car easily capable of darting any way you point it but not so touchy that it feels overly nervous on the highway. It’s the handling that is the WRX’s big payoff and something I truly love about it, especially in autocross and when driving the car hard. And while the OEM tires aren’t great, they’re well-suited to the car in that they don’t out-do the chassis or vice versa. The left front has a shiny new plug, but otherwise the Dunlops should have another 10,000 miles or so of life left.

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This generation of WRX received the new FA motor, and it’s proving to be a good unit in any type of driving. Lifetime fuel efficiency is 28.2 MPG in my commuting-heavy life, and the engine is lively enough to keep me entertained yet not so wild that it regularly induces jail-threatening antics. Real shame it sounds like shit though, with only the turbo noises to redeem itself on this front.

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I’ve noticed a few oddities with the torque band though. When up-shifting from first to second slowly, as you would in casual commuting situations, the car hangs revs when the clutch is depressed; it’s like it’s artificially keeping the RPMs up. Many other owners have experienced the same thing, but with a tune acting as the only true remedy I’m fine leaving it as-is. Another throttle-related issue is one I specifically remember The Smoking Tire‘s Matt Farah pointing out, a peculiarity in which the car requires more throttle input when rev-matching a downshift than it should. Chalk it up to engine programming, once again for which the fix is a tune, but it can easily be dealt with by giving it more of the boot when needed. Small things, these, just asterisks below the merits of an otherwise solid drivetrain.

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Ride quality is proving to be decent for a car of this size, class, and intention, but you never forget that it’s an economy car at heart, and that the suspension is tuned on the side of stiff. On unbroken surfaces it’s smooth, yet the car’s sporting intentions immediately become evident upon driving over potholes and undulations. The chassis does a good job of soaking up bumps, but larger craters and imperfections quickly reveal the suspension’s limits in rebound and harshness, an attribute that can really beat you up in when on rough surfaces. I have a bad back and try to avoid anything that may jar the suspension, and let’s just say that I’ve come to brace myself in preparation for hitting these and still cringe upon impact. The WRX is totally livable though, and the ride quality is just what you’d expect given the price of the car and the driving it’s geared towards.

Going into winter I needed an appropriate set of wheels and tires to help the car tackle not only the snow, but the sub-freezing temperatures as well. As you can see from the photos, I purchased a set of General Altimax Arctic tires and wrapped them around Sparco Terra wheels in Subaru rally-heritage gold. You can read more about the set and how I like it here in my full-length review.

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As far as issues go on a few occasions the WRX took longer to start than it should. There’s numerous stories of owners’ new WRXs refusing to start altogether, so I requested a load test on the battery when at the dealership recently. They claimed it’s fine, so I’ll be paying close attention. Also, the interior has started to rattle. Subarus typically rattle, with mine beginning to do so around 10,000 miles– right around when the weather turned cold– and now it’s rattles like a mofo. Aside from these few issues, I really have to nitpick to come up with anything of substance in terms of concerns or problems.

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Other excitement in the world of WRX: I got rear-ended. It was my first car accident. It happened at about 6:15 AM en route to work and it was a truly unpleasant wake-up call. There was no real damage, just a scuff on the bumper, not even noticeable enough to file an insurance claim.

I also installed Rokblokz mud flaps which were a subtle way to make the car look a whole lot more aggressive, and they are doing an admirable job of keeping road salt and grime off the paint.

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The scene of the crime

When it comes down to really judging just how good a car is, I have a favorite question – would make the same decision again knowing what you know now and given the same circumstances?

When it comes to the WRX, my answer is yes. Assuming my back gets better, that is. For now though, the WRX is the right size, it’s plenty roomy, it’s returning good gas mileage, it’s easy to drive every day, and it’s a ton of fun when provoked.

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Given the complimentary lifetime powertrain warranty included with the purchase of the car, I can see myself keeping this one for a long, long time, if for no other reason than it’s safe and a blast to commute in it and they’ll warranty anything that breaks short of regular wear items. Being that my off-road needs are now met – deliberate teaser here, which isn’t really a teaser if you follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram – the WRX is as good as it’s going to get (for now) for my wants and needs.

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Subaru’s WRX has come a long way as a vehicle, and the jump from the prior generation to the 2015+ body and engine was as big a leap forward as we’ve seen for the rally-inspired, turbocharged compact sedan. In the past I wouldn’t have considered owning one, and now I’m a proud and content WRX owner. It’s crazy how things can change, but in the case of the WRX it’s unquestionably for the better. I really do love this thing.

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Nice and clean

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