By on January 22, 2016

WRXMountain

You may remember my decision three months ago to replace my aging Cadillac STS with a brand-new 2016 Subaru WRX. The “avoid highways” option has been selected on Google Maps ever since, as evidenced by the WRX’s above-average odometer reading. It’s not my fault that the Subie commands a twistier route every time I start it up.

However, this relationship between the WRX and me has not been without its quirks. After making a few payments and driving 5,000 miles, I’ve emerged from the honeymoon period to take a step back and evaluate this new marriage. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the annoying.

The WRX beat out the Ford Focus ST as my daily driver of choice based on the availability of all-wheel drive, better seats, and a some brand loyalty sprinkled in. I dropped off the Caddy and picked up the WRX about an hour away from home on a rainy October night. It was quickly apparent I had given up my sofa on wheels in exchange for an all-access pass to Six Flags. The handling of the WRX was tight and the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT tires cut through the steady stream of water atop the rain-soaked tarmac.

The next few weeks consisted of some local commuting and a trip to Asheville, NC to give the WRX some room to stretch its legs. Four adults and a couple of bags were packed into the WRX as we headed off to the mountains. The first leg of the trip involved some highway driving and a Cracker Barrel stop, after which we fueled up and explored the twisties that lead up to the peak of Mount Mitchell.

We hit the Blue Ridge Parkway and climbed up the mountain with ease. The curvy roads were not a challenge for the chassis and suspension, and the predictable power band of the FA20 flat four provided confidence when passing lesser vehicles. According to the onboard computer, we averaged just a tick over 30 mpg for the highway portion of our drive and dropped down to 26 mpg as we climbed the mountain.

The fuel economy has been generous overall. Highway trips running at 75 mph will return an average of 30 mpg. Spirited drives on the local back roads will bring it down closer to 22 mpg. Commuting around town returns 25 mpg.

WRXdust

Inside, the plastics feel cheap and the surfaces love to pick up dust and other particles. I’m very happy with the driver’s seat, especially now that it’s been fully broken in and proven its worth on 300 mile trips. The backseat is expectedly tighter than the STS, but it can fit two adults comfortably. Adding a third person is possible — but not recommended. The only interior feature I really miss from the Cadillac is the auto-up windows for all four doors. The WRX only allows auto-up on the driver’s window. Flipping that coin, the small quarter windows on the front doors are fantastic in the WRX. They were not something I paid attention to during my car search but I’ve come to appreciate how open they make the cabin feel.

quarterwindowWRX

The biggest pain point of the car: the base-spec Starlink infotainment system. Luckily, I am not much of an audiophile because the system is crap. It’s slow to start up and the selecting one of the soft buttons takes me back to the days of wanting to punch Bill Gates for the disaster that was Windows ME. The Bluetooth interface is buggy and takes anywhere from 30 to 40 seconds to connect to my phone once the car is started. Most of my listening is devoted to podcasts with the occasional song thrown in. The Bluetooth connection often drops in the middle of podcast and fails to reconnect or reconnects with a loss in quality.

Starlink

The volume control starts at 0 things and ends at 40 things (take that, Spinal Tap), but it needs to be turned up to 25 things before you can figure out if its playing anything at all. Passing anything over 34 units of thing will cause the speakers to emit horrendous crackly tones. Adding a new Bluetooth device requires the car to be stopped so make sure all your friends are synced up before heading out on a road trip. The auxiliary and USB connection in the center console are handy but I’ve relegated phone charging duties to the cigarette adapter because the built-in USB port is underpowered and plugging anything into it causes the head unit to freak out if the same device is already connected via Bluetooth. The only shining star of the whole infotainment system is the backup camera: it comes up quickly and shows a clear image, day or night.

The infotainment system stands out as my biggest pet peeve of the car. There are a few other items that could use improvement but they are mostly annoyances. The cable-driven shifter feels sloppy at times and already has me exploring upgrade options that will shifts more crisp and shorten the throws. The clutch pedal is firm and not unlike my Legacy GT. However, over the past few hundred miles, it has developed a grittiness that I plan on bringing up with the service advisor when I take it in for an oil change. I fear that the throwout bearing might be the culprit as I’ve experienced similar symptoms with other Subarus with that particular issue. It also might be as easy as cleaning up some dirt and debris from the pedal assembly and throwing it some grease.

WRXShifter

Once you get past the sloppiness of the shifter, the transmission is quite enjoyable. First gear is short and took a little getting used. The car takes off from a stop quickly and torque comes on smooth as you shift through the first few gears. Some may complain the torque curve is too predictable but I’ve grown to appreciate it, even with its occasional dip in power delivery in the 4,000 to 4,500 rpm range. I am quite happy with the stock power of the WRX but my modifying habits are still alive and well. COBB Tuning is calling my name.

The brakes are a parts bin job and are almost entirely lifted from the previous generation Legacy GT. I found them to be competent in the Legacy and they’ve done a good job in the WRX. They even stayed cool as we dropped 4,000 feet in altitude. I have aspirations to get the WRX on track once it warms up and will be swapping out to grabbier pads for a little insurance per the recommendation of resident racer Jack Baruth.

The WRX puts a smile on my face every time I drive it and I look forward to lots of miles this year. I have plans for more mountain trips and some track visits as schedule allows. The WRX gets a bit more attention on the road than the Cadillac and waves from other Subaru drivers are almost a daily occurrence.

And as far as the horrible infotainment is concerned, there’s a cure: turn it off. The flat four sounds better anyway.

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85 Comments on “2016 Subaru WRX: Five Thousand Miles Later...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Thanks for the update.

    A few teething problems but nothing truly face smacking except that infotainment system. Although it seems to be a common complaint for many “modern” systems.

    • 0 avatar

      Personally, the only thing that really bothers me is the clutch pedal grittiness. I am hoping that it is something minor but my experience tells me otherwise.

      Also, I think I may have pissed off the infotainment system now since the Bluetooth connection decided to hum today instead of connecting to my phone.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I dont get it, my parent’s Taurus has SYNC but no touch screen, and its easy to pair a phone via Bluetooth, and the speakers are just this side of excellent. I realize the Taurus is a more expensive car, but its also a 2012, not a 2016.

      The ONLY annoying part is if my phone’s Bluetooth isnt turned on before the car is started, you must turn off the car, open the driver’s door to cancel Accesory Delay, and crank it back up after the phone’s Bluetooth is on in order for it to work. Then, it recognizes it quickly and Ive never experienced connection problems, nor does it get confused if its both plugged in and paired via Bluetooth. Again, no big screen in this car, just a little display and buttons for functions.

      Newer SYNC systems may have corrected the one complaint I have with the earlier version this Taurus has, or maybe Im doing something wrong? Anyway, if I drive that car, I simply pull out my phone and turn on Bluetooth when I go to get the keys. Its like a habit now, similar to when I put on my seatbelt to drive a car only 15 feet, lol.

      Really makes me want a Bluetooth-capable system in my 1995. And better speakers, it has high quality aftermarket, but theyre old and blown I guess (distorts with ANY bass).

  • avatar
    JMII

    If you take it tracking alone with more aggressive pad a fluid flush and RBF (racing brake fluid) is pretty much a must-do. Brake fade sucks.

    And a throw out bearing going bad at only 5K? That is depressing. As mentioned above sucky infotainment seems to be a standard feature these days. Aftermarket choices get more and more limited due to the complex integration of these systems in modern vehicles, thus there is very little recourse.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, Jack made a recommendation for fluids and pads especially since I will be driving it all winter and doing a little more aggressive driving.

      I’m hoping that the bearing is fine but I have not been able to prove any other theory yet.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    I could see you in a premium AWD in the future. The luxury in the Cadillac combined with the performance level they offer today, along with your keen awareness of pricing you might be back.

    I put Pilot Alpins on the XTS VSport and turning off the electronics is so much fun and easier to drive than rwd and snow tires on the white stuff. BTW, my fuel economy is similar to yours. :)

    • 0 avatar

      Not a huge fan of the XTS but I would like to try out a VSport if given a chance. If I were to go for a bigger car, it would likely be a Chevy SS.

      It started snowing here this morning and the WRX is still on the Summer Dunlops so I took the opportunity to draw a few lines on the parking lot down the street.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the update, Bozi. I was kicking around the idea of sending in an update on my 2015 WRX that Jack drove for his review, but I think yours is spot on.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-ride-review-2015-subaru-wrx/

    The shifter isn’t great, the audio/Bluetooth could use improvement and the interior is pretty basic. The engine and AWD makes up for it. I drive mostly back roads on my commute, so I’m averaging 21 MPG over the last 15k miles.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    I like how people still claim MyFord Touch is “buggy” and “reviled,” when I’ve seen some absolute garbage from pretty much everyone else. Matter of fact I’ve only ever seen Alex Dykes call out other systems, especially Lexus’s “Enform” abortion.

    hell, I had a 2016 Honda Pilot a couple of months ago, and the HMI was *terrible.* Slow, frequently missed taps on the touchscreen, and (this one was comical) after about 25 seconds the radio would simply stop responding to track seek up/down commands from both the touch screen and steering wheel controls.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Even my early build, pre-fix MFT connected my phone via Bluetooth instantaneously. Heck, my 62 year old mother figured out how to connect her phone to the system in mere minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I haven’t used all of them, but the only two systems that I actually think work well are uConnect and GM’s basic setup (not CUE). All the other ones are dogsh*t. Lexus, Cadillac, and Mazda are probably the worst. MFT gets beat on more than it deserves, but I still wouldn’t call it “good”.

      Then again uConnect had a major security flaw, so maybe they are all terrible.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Volvo’s is pretty good, overall.

        (It has minor weirdnesses, but nothing that makes it not-good.)

        Does the Lexus one manage to be even worse than the Toyota one? Because the Toyota one is unacceptably bad at Toyota prices, just like Honda’s.

        (I also have a little experience with the top-end Subaru system, and it seems better than the low-end one in this WRX.

        I also think Mr. Tatarevic would be well served by having his stock speakers replaced with any decent [and this need not mean expensive] aftermarket set.

        I hear there’s also black magic one can do to “fix” Subaru’s default EQ settings and other stupidity.)

        • 0 avatar

          I may end up putting some better speakers in and I have heard of the Konami code to adjust the EQ but have not tried it yet.

          • 0 avatar
            srh

            I had an Impreza a couple years ago. I didn’t test the radio during the testdrive, but the minute I drove it off the lot I was stunned at how bad it was. I’m no audiophile, but it felt quiet and muted, like it was playing inside a shoebox.

            First thing I did when I went home was to google it, and found a fix (I don’t recall it, but required finding a service menu and toggling something). The difference was night and day.

            I cannot for the life of me understand why car manufacturers completely ignore their radios, or put in such absolute garbage. Anymore this is one of my key considerations for buying a new car. I either want something solid, or painfully simple so that I can swap it out. I go on enough long drives that the ability to use my phone or listen to music/podcasts is critical.

            The MFT system in my pickup is unfortunately linked to my heated/cooled seats, so I can’t replace it, or at least haven’t figured out how to.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            If you only hate the sounds, simply piggyback a quality 4 channel amp to the stock infotainment, then swap-in decent speakers plus subs.

            The amp must have the “speaker-level input” option, and you’ll use the stock volume controls as normal. But you want a built-in electronic cross-over too.

            Or bypass the entire infotainment and go straight from your phone/device to the amp.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            95% of equalizing a car’s audio system is correcting for the cabin/installation. just throwing more amplifier power at a crappy sounding system won’t make it sound better, it’ll just be louder crap.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            So you’re talking about factory and aftermarket units sounding crappy, even before the sound goes to the amp?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ


            So you’re talking about factory and aftermarket units sounding crappy, even before the sound goes to the amp?”

            that’s not what I said at all. the radio/amp is rarely at fault for poor sound quality. The problems are when you put crappy speakers into a car door; most OEM speakers are crap, most aftermarket speakers are crap but in a shinier package. The problem comes from multiple places.

            1) the door of a car is a terrible speaker enclosure, so even a good speaker is going to have it’s acoustic response trashed once you install it
            2) the car itself is a closed pressure field and is full of both absorptive and reflective surfaces. Below the Schroder frequency (varies depending on the size of vehicle) I’ve seen 20 dB swings between peaks and valleys of the in-car response.
            3) speakers in different locations in the car are not aligned in time and can “fight” (either cancel or sum their responses) in unpleasant ways.

            This is why I bristle at how much bunk there is in audio. People will get suckered in by the BS sound quality claims of aftermarket head units when everything after the head unit is orders of magnitude worse. No, it doesn’t matter that some Alpine radio claims 1 dB better signal-to-noise ratio when the background noise in the car is 80 dBA.

            and no, those aftermarket head units are NOT more powerful than your factory radio. Those “52 watts x 4” claims are fairy tales. Aftermarket radios use the same 4-channel BTL power amp chips from ST, Toshiba, NXP, etc. that factory radios do. They’re ALL capable of about 14-16 watts x 4 continuous (clean into 4 ohms) from a 12 volt power supply, and cost about $5 in volume. That is all you can get from a bridged, class AB amplifier IC when given a 12 volt DC supply. The only way to actually get more output power is to use a boosted DC power supply; Alpine tried this years ago with their head units using “V-drive” boosted amps, and had to drop it within a year because the radios couldn’t cope with the added heat.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Right. Forget about the power output of head units/decks, factory or aftermarket and go for the standalone amps. Even if your system doesn’t have an input jack, you can go straight to the amp or amps from you phone/device.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Bozi,
            I would go down the speaker replacement path.

            Some suggest buying an additional amplifier, I wouldn’t suggest this.

            The system he describes will induce greater distortion and increased in the signal to noise ratio. Using the existing power amp to amplify is not such a good idea.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Even simpler would be an amplified sub, and run the factory system for just the highs, with the bass tuned out. Most factory sound systems produce impressive highs anyway, even basic work truck stereos.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        BMW’s current iDrive system sets the standard, IMHO. And no f’ing touchscreen! It just flat out works. Took them a long time to make it stop sucking, but they have gotten there. And they are likely going to ruin it by adding a touchscreen.

        Though truth be told, I am perfectly happy with just the two line display system in my ’11 BMW without iDrive. Does everything I want or need a car to do. My only wish is that the voice dialing used the phone’s address book. But I only regularly call about three numbers, so not THAT big a deal.

    • 0 avatar

      My favorite system has to be UConnect from Chrysler but I like the Ford system as well and did not find many issues with it.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Interesting that I have an ’09 pilot with touch infotainment and although I have never been fond of the Honda system, the touch aspect works well.

      I’ve rented multiple Fords and I agree that the system is straightforward. No issues at all. I always found it intuitive. Cadillac always seemed to be the polar opposite of the Ford. Never big on the Chrysler system either.

      Although Porsche has never been known for top end infotainment, I find mine to be great. Responsive touch screen, redundant physical buttons are plenty, and redundant screen display on the instrument cluster.

  • avatar
    jimble

    I haven’t run into the same Bluetooth issues on my Crosstrek. Maybe the upgraded Starlink system is better sorted out. Audio quality is definitely not great but I’m OK with it.

    I agree about the little quarter windows. They open up the cabin and reduce what can be a serious blind spot in most cars.

  • avatar
    Lythandra

    No hatchback, no care.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Thanks for the update.

    I look forward to another update mid to late summer. I had a 02′ WRX Wagon with a 5 MT. Ditched the car after 9k miles. If the outside temperature was above 90 it was a complete dog. I was generally unimpressed overall with it.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Bozi,
    Thanks for this. Real updates from actual owners turn up a lot of traits — good and bad — you would never hear from a review resulting from a quick weekend with a loaner that’s been prepped by the manufacturer.

    I hope you enjoy your WRX for many years (and keep us in the loop!).

  • avatar
    shedkept

    I rarely listen to radio. XM isn’t worth the money.

    IMHO, infotainment systems in a sports car is a waste of money.

    GPS on your phone is far better and updated regularly.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Infotainment is more than nav. His complaint is with the poor Bluetooth connection that prevents his phone from being anything but a handheld GPS unit.

      The speakers apparently make it poor as a simple stereo as well. It’s just this brightly colored screen in the dash that does nothing particularly well.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I hear this often and I’ve never really bought that arguement. I’m far more interested in the interface (radio, car systems, bluetooth, on and on, that an actual built in unit provides.

      I don’t aruge that it is expensive, but I can categorically say that I will never buy a car again that doesn’t have it. If it’s not there, I won’t even consider it.

      To say it is better is nothing more than a subjective comment. In the end though….still personal choice.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “Some may complain the torque curve is too predictable”

    People complain about that? Do they prefer an *un*predictable torque curve?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      It’s crazy. People didn’t trust the feel of CVTs at first – they were too smooth. So carmakers created artificial gaps to make them feel like conventional automatics.

      Next you’ll have people missing turbo lag so much that carmakers will artificially simulate it, alongside the artificial sounds of turbo spooling they’ll pipe in.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Funny you should say that. I much preferred the wait, wait, wait, WHAM power delivery of my ’85 Saab 900T to the much smoother power delivery of my ’92 Saab 900T. The earlier car had more drama, which made it more fun. My M235i just never, ever feels like it has a turbo at all. Just mountains of torque everywhere. Doesn’t matter what gear you are in or what rpm. It could use a little more drama, you have to go too damned fast to feel like you are doing more than just sliding along quietly.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Nice update, Bozi, thanks.

    To me, it seems like cars now are now a conjoined fusion between two entities: the infotainment system and the car that wraps around it. In some reviews they get almost equal treatment now, which makes sense considering how entwined we are with our phones and constant connectivity. What surprises me then is that car manufacturers manage to screw this up so thoroughly a la this WRX.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Glad it’s working out and you don’t have regrets.

    I want to like the WRX, but road noise gets to me. When you said you avoid highways now, I thought that was going to be the reason.

    I’m surprised the radio is that bad. Infotainment isn’t necessarily important to me, but I don’t want it getting in the way either. The behavior of that system sounds like low-quality aftermarket crap that I’ve inherited from previous owners on occasion.

    I recommend a bluetooth>aux adapter. Kinivo BTC450 is one example. $35 and it works perfectly. Syncs immediately and never drops. Wires in the cabin are unfortunate and particularly tragic in a 2015 model, but in that interior, who cares. You are halfway there by charging through the cigarette adapter anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I don’t get the fascination with Bluetooth streaming. It usually sounds like crap, and it uses even more power, which in a modern smartphone can be a problem if you are using it all day. I always plug in if I am using the phone in the car. Better sound, and charges the phone.

      Then again, I have no use for Internet streaming. I own enough music to last 20 lifetimes as it is.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ve got a windshield mount for my phone, put it so it is roughly at eye level and I can glance at it quickly. I have the cord from the mount to the power port (cigarette lighter) to charge it as I drive. My Bluetooth system is aftermarket (low trim level vehicle) but seamless and strong.

        Personally I do because it makes the navigation on my phone simple to use (when I need it) and it lets me iHeartRadio and Pandora when I want.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I dislike clutter. My car has 12v and aux in the glovebox, so I can hide the setup pretty well.I also gain Bluetooth calling.

        I like not having to plugin every single time I’m in the car.

        USB isn’t an option for me anyway – android doesn’t play music over USB. At least I couldn’t get it to work in a ford.

        Finally, as bozi said, most USB connections don’t supply enough power. If you want to use nav, you need more juice to keep up with the screen.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        It shouldn’t sound like crap with modern BT; only the early versions had “bad sound” as part of the design (since it was intended for telephony originally, not music).

        I leave my phone plugged in for power on drives of any length, myself, of course.

        (I’d use the USB audio feature except I find the UI hateful compared to BT.)

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I have yet to stream music via Bluetooth in any mainstream car where it sounded as good as it does plugged into the usb port. In fact, the headphone jack to aux input usually sounds better than BT. Closest is probably my new BMW, but it still sounds slightly better plugged in, plus charges the phone rather than draining it. And using BT I only have a fraction of the control through the car’s interface, just fwd/back track and play/pause.

          In the BMW I can flip back and forth between USB and BT, and there is a noticeable difference. It’s not terrible on BT, but it is better on USB. Most rentals I have tried the sound on BT is awful.

          I rarely have a problem with my Nexus staying charged from the USB port in rental cars while using Google Maps. On those rare occasions, I have a cig lighter USB charger.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        modern Bluetooth profiles have more than enough bandwidth to stream digital audio files without recompressing. if you have a reasonably new car and phone, if BT actually sounds perceptibly worse than something else is going on.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Thanks for the update, hope the stick is a quick fix , if not that is a major mark vs. this car and , it is Jan , get the summer tires off pronto, if you bought AWD it does not make up for summer tires, my snows went on a few weeks ago and only because Dec was so warm in metro NY did I wait that long. Snow is on its way as I type this.

    • 0 avatar

      Fully agree with you. We just had our first and possibly only snowfall of this year and the WRX is going to stay in the garage since it still has summers on. I did try a few circles in a nearby parking lot when it started snowing but now it will be parked until the road is dry. I have considered getting some winter tires but am on the fence since it rarely snows and we only have a couple of months of cold temperatures.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I have similar vent windows on my Golf SportWagen. They definitely make the cabin feel airy compared to the Jetta SportWagen that I had previously. The only downside is that—because they are in the A-pillars and not the doors—I was unable to have them tinted with the rest of the windows; there’s not enough access without removing the dashboard and A-pillar trim.

    • 0 avatar

      I am thinking about putting tint in once it gets warmer but I did not consider how the corner windows would be affected since they are fixed

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Your fixed windows are probably okay, because they’re attached to the doors, so they’re easier to access. Mine are attached to the A-pillars.

        http://g03.a.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1qtFCIXXXXXatXpXXq6xXFXXXl/-font-b-VW-b-font-font-b-Golf-b-font-7-VII-MK7-CARBON-FIBER.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Bozi, before you get you widows tinted…North Carolina does not allow cars with dark front door window tinting to pass annual inspections. The result is that your front windows end up tinted lighter than your rear windows, which looks tacky if you are anal retentive.

        However, the NCDMV does allow darker tinting if you have a medical reason for needing additional sun protection. If you doctor signs the “Application for Tinted Window Wavier” you get a 5 year exemption to our state’s bizarre widow tinting rules. It is up to your doctors discretion, but surely he/she wants to help you prevent skin cancer, right?

        Keep the approved form in your car and you will have no problem at inspection time.

  • avatar
    SavageATL

    Perhaps this is a dumb question, but you went from a Cadillac STS, which has a very compliant ride and low noise levels, to a car which I should think would have a bone jarring ride and very high noise levels. Is that true? Is the ride/noise comfortable for daily driving? On what kind of roads? What’s the longest trip you could imagine taking in this car?
    I’m curious because this is a very intriguing car but I should hate to buy one, enthralled by a short drive, and discover that the ride/noise was not really suitable for daily driving. I personally lean towards Cadillac style ride and noise if that is informative.

    • 0 avatar

      Noise levels are decent around but wind noise is very apparent at highway speeds. The engine and turbocharger can be heard in the cabin when accelerating but I prefer it that way. I have done a few 300 miles trips and did not have any issues with noise. It is a lot louder than the Cadillac but not uncomfortable. I would not have any issues taking the car across the country.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Thanks for review, would love to get long term updates. I considered this car heavily. Curious about how it holds up to a driver who moderately abuses it. Sort of my driving habits. Im not the guy who will drop the clutch at 6000 rpm, but I certainly don’t mind full throttle acceleration whenever the mood strikes.

    -Also curious if on a 300 mile trip as you said, this car’s noise level at 80ish and harsher ride are exhausting.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Pretty sure you can pop a double DIN Kenwood or Alpine into your dash and solve the POS radio problem. Check to see if dash kits are available. You’ll be much happier when you can enjoy your tunes and your Bluetooth works properly. Give Crutchfield a call.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      no you can’t. I’ve worked for companies which make aftermarket car audio hardware, and it’s all garbage. I’m still in automotive, and the three different 2DIN radios (from three different big name companies) I’ve put in my Ranger have been s**t in their own ways. Most aftermarket car audio equipment is junk. It’s just expensive and weighs a lot, so people think it’s worth the asking price. most of these people also get suckered into nonsense like painting the edges of their CDs green.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        That is funny, i had come to the same conclusion. I did the audio system in my WRX and found for sound quality there are like maybe a few good decks that are not ridiculous priced and they are all single DIN. They just don’t make a quality double din. Then you get into amps and i found old used ebay usacoustics zed designed amps were better than any new low end amp…its a strange business with blinky lights and flashy screen ruling the day above all else…

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        What’s your suggestion to fix bad audio? Just get good speakers? I would be interested to hear it, since lots of <$30k cars have bad audio.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          I’ve had the best luck just starting with a good deck. That means the top of the line single din kenwood, or alpine, or the least expensive Pioneer PRS unit. There are always deals you can get them all for around $200.

          Start with that. Then add speakers if need more, or maybe a subwoofer if you don’t have one. Then amps and it is a slippery slope from there heh…

          Whats nice about any audiophile grade single din is you have tons of adjustments. I put the top end Sony single din in my old Lexus and just through time alignment and EQ settings I have it sounding great through the Nakamichi amp and speakers that sounded only passable with the stock deck.

          Of course what car can you swap a deck into these days. Subaru still though i dont know about the latest ones with the display audio.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          rip it all out, try to find speakers which aren’t junk (not easy, listening to them at half a watt on the Car Tunes display board won’t tell you if they’re any good), get one of these:

          https://minidsp.com/products/minidsp-in-a-box/c-dsp-6×8

          and learn how to properly equalize a car audio system.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        His main problems are functional (slow Bluetooth, buggy pairing, weak charging, etc) so a good aftermarket deck would absolutely solve those issues. He should start there, and then upgrade the speakers if they still sound like crap with a better radio.

        Factory radios have improved greatly, but many are still junk, pretty screens or no pretty screens. It doesn’t sound like the WRX has one of the good ones.

        And if you really think the stock system in my Altima sounded a tenth as good as what I replaced it with, pass the crack pipe. I don’t buy “garbage” for my home, portable, or my car.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Sound imaging/processing?

      I don’t know about those. I just recommend piggyback amplifying the stock stereo or infotainment mostly to save lots of time/money and I was blown away with how great a stock system can sound with a simple power upgrade and fine tuning. And nothing gets noticeably modified or cut up. Looks bone stock.

      Maybe it’s nothing to enter into sound-off competitions, but it’s cheap, easy and best of both world. I’m sure most here would be more than satisfied with the results.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        chances are most factory head units have that capability built-in, but the integrator(s) either didn’t use it, or they had their own opinion on how the system should sound.

        I’ve listened to some pretty high-end branded systems in some expensive vehicles, and occasionally I’ve gotten out of it wondering “someone did this on purpose?”

        or, “they had 19 speakers, 800 watts, DSP out the wazoo and this is what they did with it?”

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          What “capability” do you mean? All factory systems have “Speaker-level” output (or speaker wires), that you can specify in an amp/amps or electronic cross-over to accept.

          Or a “mini-jack” conversion cable to “RCA” jacks. to plug a phone/device direct to the amps or X-over (to amps).

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    How’s the insurance on the WRX?

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Bozi, I really like the STI short throw shifter I added to my Legacy GT. Do they have the same thing for the 2016 WRX? At your milage, I really hope the rough feeling is pedal and not bearing. Thanks for the update.

    • 0 avatar

      Unfortunately, the shifter setup on the current gen WRX is not directly connected as it was on previous models and the LGT. It has cables and a counterweight and the STI version of it is only marginally better. I will likely end up getting this kit from Kartboy that replaces a few of the pieces in the shifter assembly. http://www.kartboy.com/x4/product.php?productid=16286&cat=278&bestseller=Y

  • avatar
    tnk479

    Great review. I wonder how much better the upgrade infotainment is.

    I have a 328 xDrive but what I really want is a grown up WRX Limited. The BMW is seriously overpriced for what it is. I would like to buy a WRX Limited that ditches the boy racer styling elements.

    The new 2017 Audi A4 with the sport suspension might do the trick. It’s pricier than a WRX but looks like you can get a nicely equipped car with MSRP of 45k, which means you’ll actually pay less than 40k.

    I drove stick for years but I am interested in the WRX CVT. Add a Cobb Stage 1 and I bet it’s a massively fun car.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      You might think a german car would be equivalent if it has sport suspension and all wheel drive. But the state of “tune” ie spring rates, shock tuning, bushing stiffness etc on a WRX is orders of magnitude beyond the typical german sedan save for a model starting with S or M.

      So if you want that sort of flavor instead of german frosting you have to get the WRX and get over the cheapness and the looks.

      • 0 avatar
        tnk479

        I do not doubt that. I owned a 2011 WRX for three years and it was an exceptionally fun car to drive. I fully concur with the authors assessment in that regard. Also like the author, I had troubles with the Bluetooth streaming, found that the speakers were garbage, and that the shifter had too much play in it. What I find interesting is that none of these seem to have been improved from the last gen model.

        After driving a BMW for the last 18 months I can tell you that rain sensing wipers and selectable drive mode aren’t all that. Also the BMW 8-speed transmission is highly overrated. I gag a little every time I read the glowing reviews of it in auto mags and blogs. It’s a nice car but so are Camcords.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          Yeah interestingly the WRX has been firmed up big time, Subaru is not tuning for normal people any more like they were with the relatively soft previous gen cars. Now it is a great platform for modding of course…i had the bushings and springs and bilsteins which turned it into a real sports car. Its nice Subaru is now giving you that from the factory…

          In some ways the old shifter was better! The OEM short shifter and bushing fixed any problems. But the old 5 speed was a rod shifter. The new shifter is a cable unit. I dont know what the options are to improve this one. Being a subaru i am sure there are 7 different aftermarket options.

          • 0 avatar
            tnk479

            My 2002 Civic Si was cable actuated and it was just okay. Any idea why Subaru switched it on the WRX?

            Even though I love manuals, I live in urban area and thinking about a Limited w/CVT. Reviews of it say it’s good.

            Any recommendations on light mods to increase the power a bit? Cobb perhaps? I’m not looking to do anything extreme.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Great update. This pretty much sums up a WRX. The GTI boys can stroke their soft dash all day long but the WRX is the superior driving car even back when it had soft rally suspension. Now that it is properly firm from the factory it really doesn’t have a direct competitor.

    Those big Legacy brakes are just dumb cast iron sliders. But they are quite massive, the rotor is just shy of the STI by half a pound. I swapped the “LGT” brakes on to my 09 rex and with pads and fluid had no trouble lapping even Poconos in searing july heat all day long. Its really about time they did this from the factory the rex brakes have always been pathetic for track use.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    “The next few weeks consisted of some local commuting and a trip to Asheville, NC to give the WRX some room to stretch its legs. Four adults and a couple of bags were packed into the WRX as we headed off to the mountains. The first leg of the trip involved some highway driving and a Cracker Barrel stop, after which we fueled up and explored the twisties that lead up to the peak of Mount Mitchell.”

    You had me going until you went to Crapper Barrel :p

  • avatar
    Joss

    Seems infotainment & non venting windows are the manufacturers secret path to automonous surrender… The vee-hickle itself a non issue.

    Meanwhile a winter drive car sits garaged on summer rubber.
    Like Auden’s Henry-the-green-engine walled up in a tunnel from the rain with a fresh coat of paint.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Not at all a fan of those black wheels. I have already seen a few late model cars with those wheels and the paint was already starting to flake off in spots revealing the alloy wheel underneath.

  • avatar
    cord100

    Bozi
    Great reading and I couldn’t agree with you more regarding your review of the Starlink system. I just picked up my new WRX two weeks ago and LOVE the car but I absolutely hate Starlink. Went into Bestbuy and was able to plug in my iPhone into a Pioneer Apple CarPlay stereo and instantly all my music and contacts were there. I wish Starlink was that responsive. Thanks for your review.


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