The Truth About Cars » WRX The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 19 Jul 2014 17:00:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » WRX Capsule Review: 2015 Subaru WRX Tue, 08 Jul 2014 15:00:32 +0000 2015-subaru-wrx-010

As the snow swirled in front of my headlamps, the radio crackled with a forecast of 18-22 inches for an early March Nor’Easter. Most people hate this weather. They huddle in their homes, presumably consuming the massive quantities of milk and bread they bought in a panic earlier that day. A public whipped into frenzy by The Weather Channel and local news stations with nothing better to do has been a predictable pattern for decades. Lately, I’ve noticed a new phenomenon.  When it snows, the Subarus come out. My neighborhood was ringing with the thumping song of the flat four.

Scores of bug-eyed WRXs were frolicking in the storm. I was behind the wheel of a 2015 WRX, and I was part of that club.


Mrs. Braithwaite took one look at the new WRX and declared “that looks like a piece of shit.” She’s entitled to her opinion, of course, and it’d be harder to argue if this were just an Impreza. In the past, I might have even agreed, but the 2015 Subaru WRX is really a gem.

Subaru wants you to think of the STI as its performance star with the brightest gleam. That may be true on a track, but the WRX is not only a better deal, it’s a better car. With the 2015 Subaru WRX, you get the latest evolution of the turbocharged flat-four. It’s a whooshing fire-breather of a 2.0 liter, and it’s strong. While the STI has more power, 305 hp, from its older 2.5 liter EJ engine, the WRX isn’t far behind with 268 hp. What’s more, the new 2.0 liter is is flexible and friendly, with good response “under the curve,” where you’d expect a highly-boosted four cylinder with modest displacement to fall on its face.


Look at the torque curve for the full story, and you’ll find it maxing out at 258 lb-ft by 2,000 rpm and sticking around to 5,200 rpm. If you didn’t know it was a 2.0 liter, you’d guess that it’s at least 500 cc larger than it is. Thank the direct injection, beefy 10.6:1 compression ratio and fancy-pants valve control and twin-scroll turbocharger. Those press-release talking points behind us, all you need to keep in mind is that the STI powertrain is less satisfying in contrast to the Johnny-on-the-spot nature of the new WRX generating station.

This time around, the WRX is available with a CVT. It could be worse; it’s just a transmission, and CVTs do well with torquey engines. The last WRX I drove with an automatic had a four-speeder and a tragically-turned-down wick. The CVT erases those compromises. Still, you want the manual. It’s a new six-speed, and it made me happy to be fully engaged in the act of driving for a week. It’s more exercise than I’ve gotten in a while, getting all the extremities involved. Areas where other manuals disappoint, clutch takeup, shifter action and electronic throttle response are all worked out here.


The WRX has always been an eager meager car. The dopamine hit powered by the exciteable engine made the underwhelming structural rigidity, not-good interior and “why’d they bother?” infotainment all completely non-issues, until you had to get your boot out of the power. The interior materials are better, with more soft touch plastics, a harman/kardon nav/stereo unit that’s not like listening to an Emerson transistor radio from the ‘80s, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel that’s supposed to feel racy. Not being overly-fancy does the WRX a favor in the ergonomics department. The controls for the ventilation system are clear, easy to find without looking, and don’t require stabbing your finger at some touchscreen. All cars should be like this, right down to the knobs that are injection molded to look and feel like they’re kurled. There’s even more practicality in the new WRX because the longer wheelbase makes the back seat more accommodating, so your friends will be more comfortable when you say crap like “check this out.”

The WRX handles better now, too, so that phrase doesn’t have to be a precursor to the inevitable. This car is a precision tool in traffic. The chassis is balanced, the feedback is clear enough to let you know when you’re being a true idiot. The highly-enriched engine is the keystone, too, enabling you to basically place the WRX wherever the hell you want it. Key to that is the responsive new engine that removes the planning you used to have to do. So, because the car lets you mainline your aggression, I spent a week being a complete jerk behind the wheel, loving every second. Oh, is that not what the WRX is for? I mean, I occasionally used the quick-on-its-feet powertrain to facilitate effectively quick merges.


The body structure of the WRX is beefed up with more high-strength steel, too, and that’s the most noticeable improvement other than the engine. The stronger structure allows the suspension to be more deftly tuned, and so the 2015 WRX manages to be supple and controlled where in the past it was brash and crashy. Because I was driving in the Polar Vortex, the WRX was wearing winter tires on its 17” wheels. That, plus the 50:50 AWD system makes the 2015 WRX a damn zippy snowmobile. Power-steering is electric, and could use more feedback, but weight, ratio and control are great.

The 2015 Subaru WRX has the driving thing down. This is a car that reminds you of vehicles twice its price. When Subaru says it benchmarked top-handling sports cars and braced the chassis, it’s believable.


And then there’s the looks. Flares and cranky headlights, extra windshield rake, LED headlights and carbon-fiber look trim strike a balance between badass and boy-racer. It works, and there’s always the STI if you want that stupid-ass wing. The most surprising thing to me was the fuel economy I managed to eke out of the 2015 WRX. It was frigid, I drove it like an animal, and yet, it still coughed up 25 mpg.

Welcome to being a grown-up, WRX. I’m glad you made it.


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Capsule Review: 2015 Subaru WRX Premium Thu, 22 May 2014 12:30:50 +0000 2015 subaru wrx (1)

Please welcome Hooniverse editor Kamil Kaluski for his first review for TTAC.

Like much of the Playstation Generation, I spent much of the 90’s ogling over the forbidden fruit from the Land of the Rising Sun: Type Rs, EVOs, WRXs  – fun, reasonably priced, reliable, econobox-based sports cars with great potential. Naturally, I bought a WRX as one as soon they debuted in 2002. Six months later I promptly sold it.

I didn’t hate the original bug-eyed WRX – I was just disappointed by it. The chassis, even with a set of Eibach springs, still rolled and yawed in every direction. The engine had no power below 3500rpm, and then, out of nowhere, burst to life in a boost-filled fury. The gear ratios of the five speed manual transmission made accelerating fun, at the expense of any highway comfort.  The fuel economy would have been poor for a V8 – for an economy car four-cylinder (even a boosted one) it was abysmal.

2015 subaru wrx (5)

If you were to blindfold a past owner and put them behind the wheel of the newest WRX, they’d immediately know what car they were in. Little cues, like the seating position, the shift knob and of course, the unmistakable, off-beat boxer hum, all remind you that underneath the much improved skin, beats the same rambunctious heart. Then again, the window switches seem to be carried over from the year 2002.

Outside of its Corolla-on-steroids looks, the biggest difference in the WRX is the engine. The displacement is back to two thousand cc’s, but there’s now variable valve timing and direct injection. The result is 268hp, which in the days of 300hp+ V6 Mustangs does not sound like much.The real news is the 258lb.-ft. that is available between 2,000-5,200rpm. Now that there’s some torque being made as low as 1000 rpm, daily driving is a lot more pleasant, while cruising on the highway isn’t going to drive you into madness. And it still screams all the way from 3000 rpm up to redline.

2015 subaru wrx (2)

But wait! There is more! For the first time ever, the WRX also manages to get decent gas mileage. With a 6-speed manual transmission, the 2015 WRX  is EPA rated at 21mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway. My real-world heavy-footed trip down the New Jersey Turnpike resulted in a dash-computer calculated average of 27.7mpg, which I would say is pretty darn good. A CVT is a $1200 option, but really, why bother?

With the exception of a ride that is slightly rough over the worst of northeast’s post apocalyptic winter roads, Subaru has removed any objectionable behavior from the WRX that may be encountered during daily operation. Some may find it to be sprung too softly for serious at-the-limit driving, but Subaru really needed something more than a few horsepower and a big wing to justify the existence of the STI. Overall it’s a nice compromise for the enthusiasts and that incidental WRX buyer who just wanted an Impreza with more power.

2015 subaru wrx (4)

While remaining typical Subaru (that is to say, spartan if we’re being polite), the interior also received some updates. The biggest difference is one that you won’t see: road noise. The 2015 version is orders of magnitude quieter than the boomy, gusty examples previously sold here. More than the crappy fuel economy or the wonky gearing, this was my biggest annoyance when it came to driving long distances in my old WRX.

Head and leg room is abundant for all passengers, even on sunroof-equipped vehicles such as this one, and the manual seats are comfortable and supportive. All controls, with the exception of heated seat buttons, are logically located and easy to use. With small inoperable vent windows, door-mounted mirrors, and thinner than average A-pillars, the visibility all around is excellent.

The radio/infotainment system feels dated. The main display consists of segmented characters, and some information displayed on it may be incomplete. All controls are made via a bunch of small buttons and one knob. There are auxiliary controls on the left side of the steering wheel. There is also a secondary screen higher up on the dash which shares duties with the onboard computer, fuel economy gadget, and a boost gauge. Aux and USB inputs are located in the center console. The climate controls consist of three simple knobs – it might be the most efficient setup on the market, yet everyone else insists on more complex controls. It baffles me.

2015 subaru wrx (7)

Those unimpressed by its lack of evolution should be happy to know that Subaru has managed to refine the coarser elements of past examples, without eliminating any of its character or thrills. With a starting price of just $26,295, the WRX is one of the best performance car deals on the market. And if it looks a bit too sedate or Civic-esque for you, there’s always the hotter, sharper-edged STi.

2015 subaru wrx (9)

Subaru provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

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Subaru: No WRX Hatch For U.S. Market Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:00:39 +0000 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Hatchback

For those who want a Subaru WRX or WRX STi, but prefer the utility of the previous hatchback over the current sedan offerings, they should start breathing again, as Subaru will not be bringing such a beast to the United States after all.

Motor Trend reports that last month, WRX project manager Masuo Takatsu informed that Subaru “received strong interest from the US” for a hatchback variant, citing the 50 percent uptake by the U.S. market for the previous hatch. The statement came as a surprise to Subaru of America, who weren’t expecting anything more than the sedans:

We do not know about, nor do we have, any plans for a WRX hatch. Takatsu San is the product general manager of the WRX, but this is not something he has discussed with us.

One exchange between Subaru of America and Subaru of Japan later gave the final word: No WRX hatch will be forthcoming to the U.S. market, citing cost issues against producing both sedan and hatchback models.

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Shifting Becomes Variable For 2015 Subaru WRX Fri, 15 Nov 2013 13:00:02 +0000 2015 Subaru WRX

While those who opt for the upcoming 2015 Subaru WRX STi can still row their own, those who prefer to let the transmission do the work may (or may not) be disappointed to find a CVT in their new WRX.

In a leaked dealer document, customers who opt for either the WRX Premium standard model or the Limited with or without the sat nav/Harmon Kardon audio/keyless access triad can either row their own through a six-speed manual or Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT.

Sending the power through the CVT will be a turbocharged 2-liter flat-four, while the STi will utilize a 2.5-liter turbo flat-four and, for those who choose it, launch control.

More details to come when the WRX makes its debut at the LA Auto Show next week.

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Piston Slap: I just heard…WHAT??? Wed, 03 Apr 2013 11:24:20 +0000

TTAC commentator Robstar writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I bought a new 2005 Subaru WRX STi in March of 2005, it currently has around 51k miles on it. Rotors have been replaced once, brake pads twice. The car still has it’s original clutch! It went from being an occasional commuting car in all city traffic to an every-day 60 mile RT jaunt mostly highway.

With all of that said I don’t think I’m rough on the car as it’s rated EPA 16/22 and over the latest 5300 miles (since I started keeping track) I’m averaging 23.5mpg in mixed driving. Before I present my issue, keep something in mind:

I’m hard of hearing and have lost roughly half my hearing since birth (I was born without normal hearing). I’m also currently demoing NEW hearing aides and I’m hearing new sounds I’ve never heard before. I recently heard my infant sons white noise machine for the first time as well as the doorbell.

On to the issue…..

I noticed yesterday after my drive home and parking in my driveway (faces uphill), after turning the car off that it sounds like “popcorn popping” under the hood! I’m not sure if this sound is normal or has always been there and I never noticed. This is with the CAR OFF/STOPPED/PARKED after a 25 mile highway jaunt at fairly consistent speeds in a straight line. I’ve search NASIOC and could only find people complaining about this with the car ON, so I have no idea what my issue could be. The temp gauge in the car didn’t go off and no smoke or excess heat seemed to be coming from the hood. After opening the hood, and calling my wife outside to listen, she pointed to the sound coming from somewhere around the inter-cooler or “red pipe”.Thanks for any help you can give.

Sajeev answers:

Congrats on your invigorated sense of hearing!  I can’t even imagine the joy you must feel. More to the point, about the Subie’s problem: Pop it like it’s Hot.

I have no idea what I just said.

Which makes sense, as I don’t have a good answer for your Subie’s problem.  Perhaps you have some sort of pre-ignition backfire from a fuel pump/injector that won’t shut off when the key is out of the ignition.  Or perhaps you are just hearing your extra hot, turbocharged exhaust popping as it cools down.  I think the latter is likely.

Either way, if your fuel economy is fine and there are no trouble codes generated by the computer, I wouldn’t worry about this one.  Enjoy the new found sound of your sweet ride.  It’s just poppin…like it’s hawwwwt!


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Subaru UK Kills Off Impreza, WRX, STI Fri, 14 Dec 2012 18:35:05 +0000

If you read British buff books like EVO, it would be easy to think that the hot versions of the Subaru Impreza are fixtures of the UK’s motoring landscape. Not only are they beloved by enthusiasts, but the WRX is even employed as a police car in certain municipalities. But starting in 2013, British car buyers won’t be able to purchase one of the small Scoobies.

A lack of demand has led Subaru UK to kill off the Impreza, and its more sporting variants. AutoExpress reports that

“The new Impreza has been under evaluation in the UK for 12 months, but the decision has been taken not to bring that car to the UK because of insufficient demand…Subaru is concentrating on what it’s really good at – so we’re concentrating on SUVs and the BRZ – we’re hoping to get more [BRZs] next year to satisfy strong demand for that car.”

That means that going foward, the XV, Outback and Forester will be the staples of the lineup, as well as the BRZ. The Legacy may not even survive. Luckily, UK buyers can still import vehicles from Japan as grey market cars.

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Piston Slap: An STI with A “C. diff”??? Wed, 03 Oct 2012 12:33:52 +0000

TTAC Commentator robstar writes:

Hello Sajeev+Piston Slap Audience,

A few weeks ago I saw something strange with my lightly-used-never-abused 2005 Subaru WRX STi — A “R. Diff Temp” started flickering on the dashboard. This particular day it was quite cold and it came on as I reversed out of the garage backward down a sloping driveway. After going one block (in forward, not reverse) with this behavior, I turned the car off and let it sit for a minute. After turning the car back on, this didn’t happen again for about 3 weeks — until after the mechanic changed the oil. I drove the car back to the mechanic who looked under the car & thinks the sensor is going bad (7 year old car, 45k miles, ~ full synthetic oil change 3 times/year). He said he can’t see any sign of an Rear Diff leak so it should be OK to drive home (40 miles). After the first 7 miles or so mostly city the light turned off & was completely off for the last 33 or so miles all the way home. The only prior issue I’ve had with this car was an engine valve spring at 10k that was replaced under warranty.

I’ll admit — I’ve been a bad on the maint side, however this car sees about 80% highway usage typically at 55-65mph. No clutch dumps, no redlining — rev matching when downshifting……I pretty much baby it. So why did I buy this car? For fun in the snow.

I am going to have him actually swap out the R. Diff fluid when he replaces the sensor, but do you guys think it’s simply just a bad sensor or some other problem?

To make things easy, the car has NEVER been modified (Yes, it’s probably the only Stock WRX STi that exists). The only parts different from stock are that I now have winter tires (stock size) on steel rims (stock size) for the winter here in Chicago.

Thanks Sajeev!

Sajeev answers:

Is there a chance that, during the fluid change,  the sensor was (unnecessarily) removed? And over-torqued? And it broke? Oh wait, the “after the mechanic changed the oil” remark was about the engine, not the differential. Right?

Sensors can go bad at any point, that’s the beauty of a somewhat fragile/complex piece of electronics living in a rather brutal environment.  I can’t Google a good reason for why your sensor is out of range, so maybe the control module is at fault. Or maybe the ground is dirty and no longer doing its job.  Or the wiring harness is damaged somewhere. This thread on NASIOC looks pretty comprehensive for your diagnostic needs.

So there you have it. Good luck with all that.

EDIT: A far superior title came to me, thanks to the B&B.  Explanation here.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

]]> 11
Piston Slap: The Re-Stocking Fee? Mon, 20 Aug 2012 11:02:50 +0000

Aaron writes:


I currently own a 2007 WRX Wagon with a little over 100,000 miles on it. I love this car, even enough to overlook getting merely 21mpg. Anyways.
As is true with many import car owners who love too much, I started modifying the car almost as soon as I got it. It currently has a 3″ exhaust, a tune, and some miscellaneous other engine bits, with suspension components on order. The car is my current project, and I plan on keeping it for some time. There’s a slight problem though.
My problem is easy to spell: BRZ. Probably in a year or 18 months, I will give into temptation, and pull the trigger on a BRZ or FR-S (or some other cool thing that exists by then). So here’s my question (I’m getting to it, bear with me): Is it worth returning the car to stock? By the time I sell it, it will be 6 or 7 years old, and probably have north of 140,000 miles on it. The exhaust may be worth a few hundred bucks, the sway bars might be worth something, but very few other things will net any money at all. The real question is about the resale value of the car. I’d expect to get maybe 8k at best for a 140k+ mile Subaru, and that’s probably optimistic. Will the bolt-ons really push it down further?

Thanks in advance,

Sajeev answers:

I hope there’s a good power adder for the BRZ/FR-S at that time, because you are taking a serious hit in performance from your current Subie.  I haven’t had time to rant about the new RWD wonder, but since you opened that door for me…at least I’ll be brief:

  • 2012 Subaru BRZ torque peak = 151 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm
  • 2011 Ford Ranger Duratec I-4 torque peak = 154 lb-ft @3750 rpm
  • BRZ-LSX-FTW:  think about it.

Well then! One way or another, the next owner of your WRX needs those stock parts.  They add value and show that you aren’t a stereotypical WRX hackjob type of person. You know, one of those warranty-voiding, drive line punishing type of owner.  Even if you are! But that’s not the point…

I don’t know which parts are the most valuable on the Subie forums’ classifieds section, but I’ll wager that the swaybars and the exhaust need to go up there.  If you want the next owner to have the opportunity at having them, first offer it for sale with the stock parts in the cargo area.  If that fails, return back to stock and offer the aftermarket parts for another $500-1000…or whatever sounds right to you. If that fails, sell as stock as possible and offer the bits to the forum.

Now if you’re just gonna trade this into a dealership or Carmax, forget everything I said: return it to stock. They always lower the value when they see non-stock stuff.  Perhaps you should just give the aftermarket bits to someone so you can enjoy the better karma…why let the dealership give someone else that pleasure?


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: Seeing the Forester for the Trees? Wed, 07 Mar 2012 12:48:33 +0000


Jim writes:


I hope you are well. I have several questions regarding my 2011 Forester (5 speed):

a) I drive 8 to 10K annually and change the 5w-20 every 6 months.  Is this sufficient?

b) Subaru keeps sending me extended warranty offers.   This tells me that I likely don’t need it.  What do you think?    My favorite moment when purchasing the Forester: The F & I rep mentioning “If people want to drive around without the extended warranty, it is not my problem.”

I have been surprisingly happy with this car.  It handles well, is quick and I’ve been getting 23mpg city and 28 to 30 on the highway. I found this to be a much more enjoyable drive than a CR-V, RAV4 (not great at all) or the old Escape.

Best wishes,


Sajeev answers:

I am well, thank you so much for asking!  If my googling is correct, Subaru has a somewhat complicated service schedule for 2011 models. To wit:

  • 2011 Outback, Legacy, Tribeca, Impreza, (exc turbos): Some owner’s manuals will recommend using synthetic but not require it. Owners manuals printed around March 2011 presumably indicate all Subarus require synthetic oil.
  • All 2011 models use 5w-30 except the Forester X which uses 0w-20

Oops. This leads me to believe you are using the wrong oil (20 weight), and indirectly justy-fies (get it?) the North American Subaru Impreza Owner’s Club’s sub-forum for warranty problems. That said, I think your oil change interval is acceptable, based on your letter and my first hyperlink.  You could extend your oil change intervals to whatever the dashboard may tell you, but I don’t see the utility in it.

On to your warranty question:  most Subies fare quite well if they receive regular maintenance and are NOT owned by the stereotypical clutch-murdering, turbo-overboosting WRX owner. The mere fact that you wrote a nice letter with good detail implies you will take good care of this vehicle and will love it.  As such, no need for the warranty.

And go back and hug that F&I person for “not caring”, reminding them that this level of indifference is precisely what the automotive retailing industry needs to restore its regularly-tarnished image. Or not.

My last point: if you didn’t ask me how I was doing and wrote about owning (not leasing) damn near anything from Europe made in the last decade, well, that would be a different story.


Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

]]> 37 New or Used: Eliminate Debt, Eliminate Subie? Thu, 01 Dec 2011 16:46:41 +0000


Ryan writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

I find myself perplexed by a vehicular conundrum. A year ago I purchased my first new car, a 2010 Subaru WRX STI SE. It is a great car. Previously I daily drove a 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser. Another great car. I drive about 20,000 miles a year, mostly on the highway.

My wife and I both work. We contribute heavily to our 401K’s and IRA’s. About a month after I purchased the car my wife decided to go back to school, for an MBA. No problem. She now has a year left. For the year we will be setting aside just shy of $1000 per month to pay for her schooling. This leaves us saving very little over the next year. We have emergency funds to last a few months should the need arise. I want to eliminate debt as soon as possible (currently 2 car loans and a mortgage, nothing more).

My inner cheapskate has become uncomfortable with the nearly $1100 a month operating costs of my beloved STI. My inner car guy misses the Land Cruiser terribly. I’m without a truck. Replacing the STI with another 80 series Land Cruiser or Land Rover Discovery I do not save much money because of the fuel costs.

I am contemplating selling the STI, and picking up a truck and a commuter. The commuter would need to be somewhere around $10,000 or less. Cash for one vehicle, maybe a loan for the other. The ideal commuter would be more comfortable than the STI, get around 30 MPG, have four doors and possibly be all wheel drive (for ski trips). Cadillac CTS? Lexus something? Nothing soulless, please. I can turn a wrench and can maintain both vehicles no problem.

What say you? Do I keep the STI and buy a truck when I can? Sell the STI, buy the truck and commuter? If so, what kind do you suggest?

See the attached spreadsheet. (Ryan’s Car choices)

Steve Answers:

My assumption is that you can cash out the STI. Because if you can’t there is no need to read beyond this sentence.

Well now… you apparently want a Euro car in an American market. Before we cross the bridge of dread known as ’10 year old European car’ I have to ask you three questions (cue Monty Python bridge scene).

  1. Have you ever spent more than five hours performing a major maintenance or repair… and succeeded?
  2. Are you one of those people who enjoys reading up on enthusiast forums at odd hours?
  3. When someone tells you about ‘electrical issues’ with their ride, is your first gut reaction to flee and/or throw up?

If you have the courage to brave a parts network that arguably lead to the fall of the EU, then by all means have at it. Audi sells the A3, A4 and A6. BMW has the 3-Series and 5-Series. Mercedes has… well, let’s not go there.

If saving money and having a fling is your thing, then ask Sajeev. Or get a Lexus IS300 SportCross.

Sajeev Answers:

Don’t ask me about having flings, but I am a damn good tightwad…maybe that’s the problem?

So what does the lady in your life drive?  I hope it’s a Panther, as that would make my job much easier.  But I still might give the same answer: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Odds are your wife’s ride doesn’t suck down money like the gas/insurance/monthly payment of an STI.  Even if it isn’t a “commuter” car.

Definitely sell the STI. You like trucks, so get one. Take it from me, people are actually excited to go for a ride my stupid little 4cyl/5-spd Ford Ranger. I really don’t get it. For some reason being inside a truck with a stick shift is exciting and different to most folk. Which is a sad (but true) statement about our overweight, over-leveraged, conspicuous consumption society. You can both appreciate a cheap little truck’s charm AND enjoy it, considering your love affair with the Land Cruiser. Not to mention you need the money. So be a tightwad like me, at 33MPG highway in my case you won’t regret it. At least not initially.(cough)

You are in Tacoma land, or Ranger land**.  Neither are soulless, as my experiences have shown. Drive them both and see if the Taco is worth the price premium…buy it with cash and get one loan payment out of the way. Worry about the wife’s car later, that is a separate problem.

**If you are upside down on your loan for the STI, you might very well be in $8000 Ford Ranger territory.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Piston Slap: Flammable Subies Up North, But Tennesseein’ is Believin’! Wed, 24 Mar 2010 17:42:47 +0000

Jon writes:

Hi Sajeev, I own a 2002 Subaru WRX wagon, and live in Tennessee.  Last month, Subaru and the NHTSA issued a recall for certain 02-03 WRXs in northern states.  The recall states that in cold weather, there may be an underhood fuel leak.  Tennessee is not considered a cold-weather state, so my car is not officially part of the recall.  But I’ve noticed that if the temperatures get down to the 20s (not particularly cold, in my book), I can definitely smell raw fuel coming from the engine bay.  I’ve called two dealerships in my area, and neither of them have heard anything about the recall.  I called Subaru directly, and they are insisting that I take my car to a dealer for an inspection.  Naturally, the cost of this inspection will only be refunded if the car is then included in the recall.  I do not at all like this option.  Any ideas on where else to turn?

Sajeev Answers:

Offsetting planned losses via regional recalls makes me sick.  Look, it even snowed in Houston this winter. TWICE. It’s been mighty cold outside, so maybe Subaru should send a letter to “not affected” customers saying they aren’t worth a service tech’s inspection skills?

Because that is the end game: so get the local community involved.  Forget about complaining to Subaru’s customer help line, talk to NHTSA and consumer advocates for advice.  I’d start with those bloodhounds on local TV: this makes for great news. My local CBS affiliate was the first to blow out the Ford Explorer/Firestone problem, so to speak. Point is, this stuff works.

If all else fails, go to the local courthouse and file for arbitration.  That certainly gets Subaru’s attention: legal fees are far more painful than fixing your trivial fuel line. So here’s the cop out from the horses’ mouth:

Recall Number: 09V468000

Dates Manufactured: Sep 2000 to Sep 2002

Number of Vehicles Affected: 5724

Date Owners Notified On: Dec 2009

Defect Description:


Consequence of Defect:


Corrective Action:




(Send your queries to

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: A Wrex’ Progress Edition Tue, 23 Mar 2010 14:14:07 +0000 How can it be that Subaru is simultaneously so easy to love and so easy to hate? Under the sheetmetal, the company sells some of the most capable and characterful automotive technology in a market that’s otherwise flooded with bland homogeneity. But then there’s the damn sheetmetal. Subaru has “upgraded” the 2011 WRX with the swollen, anabolic looks of the STI, which might look decent in hatch form, but as a sedan (and like all Impreza sedans since the first generation) it’s just plain unfortunate. If only Subaru had snagged Peter Schreyer before Kia did… [via Autoblog]

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