The Subaru WRX has established itself as a beloved choice among car enthusiasts seeking a potent blend of performance, versatility, and all-wheel drive capabilities.
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With its rally-bred heritage and turbocharged powertrains, the WRX has become synonymous with thrilling driving experiences. However, like any vehicle, the Subaru WRX has had its ups and downs throughout its various model years.
In this article, we will explore the best and worst years for the Subaru WRX, taking into account reliability statistics, owner feedback, and known issues.
Note that the 1992 – 2014 models are Impreza-based models. More on Subaru Impreza years here.
The Best and Worst Years for Subaru WRX Are:
Owing to fewer issues experienced by owners and better overall reliability, the best years for a Subaru WRX are more recent models, from 2019 – 2023. However, due to a greater amount of reported problems, as well as consumer complaints, models from 2008, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 should be avoided.
What Subaru WRX Years Are the Most Reliable?
When it comes to reliability, certain Subaru WRX model years have garnered positive feedback and are often considered more reliable based on owner experiences and available data.
While individual maintenance and usage play a significant role in a car’s reliability, the following WRX years are commonly regarded as more dependable.
2019 Subaru WRX
The 2019 Subaru WRX is generally considered a reliable choice among sporty sedans.
With its combination of affordability, performance, and safety features, it has gained a strong following among enthusiasts and everyday drivers alike.
Here’s some relevant information about the 2019 WRX’s reliability:
- According to Edmunds, it has a reliability score of 4.7 out of 5.0, indicating above-average reliability.
- Kelley Blue Book also rates it highly with a score of 4.5 out of 5.0.
- JD Power gives it a reliability score of 78 out of 100, reflecting good reliability compared to industry standards.
Powertrain and Performance: The WRX is known for its swift acceleration and responsive handling. The drivetrain and engine performance have generally been reliable in the 2019 model year.
Safety Features: The 2019 WRX comes equipped with a range of standard safety features, including stability control, anti-lock brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and a rearview camera.
Longevity: Many owners report high mileage and trouble-free ownership experiences with their WRX models.
Ownership Costs: Its reasonable pricing on the used market, coupled with its reputed reliability, can help keep ownership costs in check.
Individual experiences may differ, and regular maintenance and care are essential for optimizing the reliability of any vehicle, including the 2019 Subaru WRX.
When considering a used WRX, calling a trustworthy mechanic or undergoing a pre-purchase examination might provide added peace of mind.
2020 – 2023 Subaru WRX
The 2020 WRX has been regarded as a solid choice when it comes to reliability.
Owner feedback has been excellent, with high consumer scores indicating satisfaction with the vehicle’s performance and overall dependability.
While it offers fun handling and solid performance, it’s worth noting that its fuel economy is not the best compared to some other vehicles in its class.
The 2021 WRX marks the final installment of the fourth generation.
It has received solid consumer scores, and complaints have been minimal, being praised for its:
- Overall performance
Considering the WRX received a perfect 5-star overall safety rating from NHTSA, providing reassurance in terms of safety, safety features like the EyeSight Assist Monitor and Lane Keep Assist add to its appeal.
The 2022 WRX is fully redesigned and marks the start of the fifth generation.
While it is a relatively new model year, initial reviews have been positive, highlighting its refined and quieter nature compared to its predecessors.
The WRX’s fun-to-drive manners, all-wheel drive capability, and turbocharged power make it an appealing choice for driving enthusiasts. However, it’s important to note that long-term reliability data may not be available for this recent model year.
As the most current model year available, the 2023 WRX is relatively new and has limited data on its long-term reliability.
That said, it benefits from being a carryover from the well-regarded 2022 model year, which was praised for its performance and driving dynamics.
As with any new model year, it is important to closely monitor initial owner feedback and professional reviews to gauge its long-term reliability.
Overall, while individual experiences can vary, the Subaru WRX has generally been regarded as a reliable choice, especially when proper maintenance and care are provided.
Below is a breakdown of each model year’s reliability stats:
|Kelley Blue Book
|2023 Subaru WRX||4.9 / 5.0||4.3 / 5.0||Not Available|
|2022 Subaru WRX||4.9 / 5.0||4.3 / 5.0||Not Available|
|2021 Subaru WRX||4.7 / 5.0||4.5 / 5.0||Not Available|
|2020 Subaru WRX||4.8 / 5.0||4.5 / 5.0||83 / 100|
|2019 Subaru WRX||4.7 / 5.0||4.5 / 5.0||78 / 100|
What Subaru WRX Years Should You Avoid?
When it comes to purchasing a used vehicle, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of which model years to approach with caution.
While the WRX has gained a reputation for its exhilarating performance and all-weather capability, certain model years have been associated with recurring issues and concerns.
In this section, we look into the Subaru WRX years that are often recommended to be avoided.
2008 Subaru WRX
The 2008 Subaru WRX is considered one of the worst model years for the WRX lineup.
While it’s not an objectively bad car, it deviated from the raw and aggressive nature that enthusiasts loved about previous WRX generations.
One significant change in the 2008 model was the styling, which received mixed reviews.
The 2008 WRX had a more muted and less aggressive appearance, blending in with the rest of the Subaru model range rather than standing out.
The focus of the 2008 WRX shifted towards providing consumer-friendly amenities, such as:
- Improved sound deadening
- A smoother ride
- Increased cabin space
While these changes made the car more comfortable and practical for daily driving, they also resulted in a loss of the rawness and excitement that defined earlier WRX models.
Car and Driver, in their road test of the 2008 WRX, noted that while the car was more usable in everyday driving, it had lost the raw edge that made it exhilarating on back roads.
Overall, the 2008 Subaru WRX is not a bad car in itself, but it lacks the defining characteristics that made other WRX models special and beloved by enthusiasts.
2015 – 2016 Subaru WRX
The 2015 and 2016 Subaru WRX model years have shown some reliability concerns, particularly related to clutch problems.
The 2015 WRX, in particular, has experienced a wide range of problems. Some of the most commonly reported issues include:
- Failures of the clutch plate and flywheel
- Throwout bearing noises
- Engine knocking
- Blown head gaskets
- Burning oil
- Complete engine failure.
Here are a few specific cases reported by 2015 WRX owners:
- A bad clutch plate at just 9,000 miles required an expensive repair costing around $1,600.
- A clutch that completely stopped working at 25,000 miles, necessitating a costly replacement of approximately $1,400.
- Throwout-bearing noises were also reported at around 10,000 miles.
The 2016 WRX has shown a similar pattern of clutch-related issues, along with some engine and electrical problems.
One owner reported having to replace a faulty clutch at 10,000 miles, costing $1,500. Another owner experienced a failed radiator at 43,000 miles, resulting in an $800 repair cost.
While the 2015 WRX appears to be the more problematic of the two years, with a higher number of overall complaints, the 2016 WRX also shares many of the same clutch-related problems.
However, it has received fewer overall complaints compared to the 2015 model.
Here are some reliability statistics for each model year:
2015 Subaru WRX:
- Total complaints on CarComplaints.com: 41
- Total complaints on CarProblemZoo.com: 69
2016 Subaru WRX:
- Total complaints on CarComplaints.com: 13
- Total complaints on CarProblemZoo.com: 32
2017 – 2018 Subaru WRX
Some reported reliability difficulties with the 2017 and 2018 Subaru WRX models have lowered their overall reliability ratings.
Here are some of the most common concerns 2017 Subaru WRX owners experience:
- Premature clutch failure at low mileage, such as 6,000 miles
- The throw-out bearing noise occurs around 9,000 miles
- Squealing noise was reported at 25,000 miles
- Battery draining issues were a common complaint, leading to owners experiencing difficulties starting their vehicles and needing to replace the battery multiple times.
Similarly, here are some of the most typical problems 2018 Subaru WRX owners experience:
- Battery draining problems were also prevalent in the 2018 WRX, similar to the 2017 model, resulting in owners being stranded and needing to replace the battery multiple times.
- Steering issues were reported, including instances where the steering wheel would occasionally lock up while driving, potentially leading to accidents.
- Other problems mentioned include power steering leakage, non-functional radio, and engine knocking.
It is important to note that while these issues have been reported by some owners, they are not universal and do not affect all vehicles of these model years.
Below is a table to help you compare issues experienced by owners throughout each model year:
|Model Year||Common Problems Reported||Total Complaints (CarComplaints.com)||Total Complaints (CarProblemZoo.com)|
|2015||Clutch plate and flywheel failures
Throwout bearing noise
Blown head gasket
Complete engine failure
Premature clutch failure
Power steering leakage
Radio not working
What Are Some Typical Problems With the Subaru WRX Models?
The Subaru WRX has had its fair share of reported faults and regular problems, despite being highly recognized for its performance and all-wheel drive capabilities.
It’s crucial to note that not all WRX models will have these issues, and individual results may vary.
However, based on owner input and identified issues, the following are some common issues with Subaru WRX models:
- Head gaskets might fail and cause engine problems
- Rough running due to faulty oxygen sensors
- Bad camshaft seal threatens engine integrity
- Cooling system problems
- Leaking oil pump seals might mangle the motor
- Torque converter causes wheel hop
- A defective turbocharger might reduce the power
For a more in-depth review, please take a look at our article about common issues with Subaru WRX cars.
Regular maintenance, cautious driving, and swiftly addressing any issues will help mitigate future problems and provide a more enjoyable ownership experience.
Go back to best and worst years across all Subaru models.
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.