By on June 18, 2018

The WRX has racked up some miles since our last update over a year ago. While the car is still as enjoyable as ever, that doesn’t mean a few new annoyances haven’t popped up. The odometer reads just over 55,000 miles as I type this, so we’re well past the mileage limits for the standard warranty, along with just a few thousand miles remaining for the powertrain warranty.

I’ve only made a few changes to the car, though there’ll be more coming as I try to sort out minor annoyances and feed my habit of making modifications. Overall, the car has proven very reliable, but a few issues crept up along the way that required a warranty repair.

We left off our last review talking about tires. At the time, I had just put on some Hankook I*Cept winter rubber, which soon came in handy (we had a bunch of winter storms and snow in the area over the past couple of winters). An incredible bargain at just under $300 after rebates and discounts, I was generally satisfied with how they handled in all situations. Like with most winter tires, noise is a factor, but it was a small trade-off for the increased safety.

Once we were back into the warmer months, I decided to install a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S after hearing many of my friends rave about them. Their retail price is only about $25 more per tire than the OEM Dunlops in my 235/45-17 size, but their performance is a world apart. I ended up paying a little over $600 plus installation for a set after some rebates and negotiating at the tire store. The PS4S tire is the successor to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport, so most reviews will likely talk about the incremental improvement in dry performance on the track or on an autocross course. Where they impress me most is actually in the wet.

Most summer performance tires that I’ve had in the past were excellent in the dry with some falling off as they get hotter, but the PS4S is a great all around tire. The OEM Dunlops were great for daily driving and even lapping around a track, but when it came to colder temperatures or rain they began showing that they were outside their primary focus. Performance suffered. On the other hand, the Michelins are compliant in all conditions and even when we had a cold spell earlier this year, they didn’t get stiff and performed almost as flawlessly as they do in the warmer, dry periods.

Other than the tires, I have not made a whole lot of changes to the car — thought I do have some parts waiting on a shelf to be installed. Since the powertrain warranty is almost up, I’ve decided to start replacing things that annoy me, and one of these is the feel of the shifter. I fixed a bit of the slop by installing a limiter beside the shifter, but I still want it to be a little tighter, with shorter throws. I’ve picked up a short-shift kit from Kartboy that includes a new counter-weight along with a shifter-cable bearing which should hopefully enter service soon.

The other annoyance relates to a transmission that creaked and chirped when trying to shift into gear after the car has been sitting for a while. This doesn’t affect performance, but it gets on one’s nerves after a point. The creaking was resolved by a TSB where the dealer replaced the pedal assembly with one that had a reinforcement on the back; unfortunately, chirping remained. I recently found out there’s another TSB for an updated release bearing for the clutch, which states that the design of the original part may cause chirping when the car sits in a cold or damp environment overnight. The repair requires dropping the transmission to install the updated part.

Unfortunately, since I am out of the standard 36k mile warranty, this is no longer covered, but I am going to see if my dealer will do a goodwill repair since I complained about it in the past. If the dealer nixes the goodwill repair, I’ll likely just leave it be. It doesn’t affect performance, and I’ll just swap it out when the time comes for a new clutch.

The car itself is holding up very well and the seats have gotten progressively more comfortable as they’ve broken in to fit my shape. The interior looks much the same as it did when new and has retained its color and condition through many cleanings.

The only interior issue occurred when temperatures dropped into the single digits last winter. I noticed that when the ambient temperature was below freezing, the A-pillar trim would start to make a creaking noise until the car got warm. That was resolved fairly quickly by finding the impact point and placing a piece of self-adhesive felt on it.

Outside, most of the paint held up well (it’s been treated and polished by my brother a couple of times), but the hood proved a bit troublesome. I’ve mentioned in the past how the paint was torn up in a few spots and even dented from small rocks on the road, and that has not gotten better. While I’ve touched up and repaired the previous pockmarks, new ones show up on a monthly basis, meaning the hood will eventually require a repaint. For now, it looks fairly decent thanks to the occasional touch-up.

Performance remains superb and maintenance has been minimal. Other than an air filter swap, standard oil changes, and brake fluid swaps after a track day, there hasn’t really been anything else that I’ve done to the car. Out of curiosity, I’ve tried out a few different oils including the Subaru factory fill, Valvoline Advanced synthetic, and Motul 8100 synthetic. Oil changes at the dealer run about $70 and requires nothing more than dropping off the car. The others were performed by my brother. The Valvoline runs about $28 for a five-quart jug, plus around $8 for an OEM filter. The Motul runs around $40 for a five-quart jug, but they gave me a free oil change to try as they provide the oil for the race car I crew for.

I sent samples both of the dealer fill and the Motul to Blackstone labs and paid around $40 for an analysis at 38k and 45k miles. The dealer fill was run for around 6,000 miles, while I took the Motul to 7,200 miles, based on recommendations. What I found in the report was that they performed in a similar manner, but staying with the Motul would be worth my while in the future. Both oils showed similar wear for most metals, but iron showed up at level 20 percent higher, even though I ran the Motul for a longer period. Even at 7,200 miles, the oil showed good viscosity and could likely have been pushed longer. The only item which went in the wrong direction was aluminum, which showed an increase with the Motul. Still, it’s not enough to outweigh the other benefits.

The next step for the car is to install the short-shifter upgrade, put some new brake pads on it, and possibly consider a reflash from somebody like Cobb to tune it for a little more power. Other than that, I plan to get the most out of the warmer weather and head to the North Carolina mountains. Hopefully, there’ll be a couple of track days over the summer to wring maximum enjoyment out of the car.

[Images: Bojan Tatarevic/TTAC, Blackstone Labs]

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50 Comments on “2016 Subaru WRX Long-term Test – Passing the 50,000 Mile Mark...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Bozi –

    I’d like to consider one of these for my next car, but I’ve heard the ride quality isn’t great. Any thoughts?

    • 0 avatar

      It rides somewhat rough. The suspension is very sporty but not friendly to potholes. The updated models with the inverted struts seem to be a bit smoother but the comfort level is definitely sporty economy car if that makes sense.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        It does, thanks. I’ll have to check one out, which will just be so awful…

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I’d recommend calling ahead, Subaru dealers in my area seem to have no interest in drop-ins.

        • 0 avatar

          Are the dealers generally bad? I had a pleasant and quick experience when I went here.

          • 0 avatar
            AK

            “are the dealers generally bad”

            I had a fairly ridiculous time when I shopped for a 2016 WRX to replace my Focus ST that was being bought back by Ford.

            Salesman and I talked for a while and when I asked to drive one, I was told we needed to agree on a price before I could test drive one. Salesman then proceeded to tell me that msrp is the price and that’s it. I said thanks and got up to leave and nturally he stopped me and said I could go on a brief test drive. BRIEF because Subaru buyers demand no miles be on their new car… Not even test drive miles. Ok.

            Needless to say it was a very lame test drive. Anytime I went over 3k, I got a look from the salesman, checking my speed.

            I should add that I was 33 and had the means to pay for the car outright. I understand wanting to keep stereotype WRX Bros from thrashing on a new car but I was clearly not that.

            Also worth noting, the car does not sell itself on a neutered test drive. It was hugely unimpressive.

          • 0 avatar

            Now I wonder if that was just a crap dealership all the time, OR if it was because you were after a WRX.

            The guy handed me the keys to the Outback I bought, and told me to have fun. Suggested a route that was a few miles and ended back at the dealership.

          • 0 avatar

            I avoided the local dealers because I knew that they were horrible. Emailed a dealer that was an hour away, negotiated price, sent my information over and finished the sale in about 30 minutes once I arrived.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Mainstream brand dealers are wierd when it comes to enthusiast cars.

            They’ll give you a $60K Sequoia Platinum or Silverado High Country to try out for an entire afternoon, but side-eye you for wanting to test drive an 86 or Camaro.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            One of the benefits of being an old guy, I suppose, is that dealers don’t make much fuss about me wanting to drive something fast.

    • 0 avatar

      Ride quality is like a tin can, as is build quality. Bozi hasn’t had his long enough for the rot to start, but these last ~5 years up where I live (Northeastern USA, where they liberally salt the roads) before they become sub-$5,000 beaters due to pervasive rust.

      • 0 avatar

        Uh oh, now you have to show us examples.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        @Ricky, did your rust out like a Toyota truck ?

      • 0 avatar

        You must point me in the direction of these 2013 WRXs for less than $5,000. I would like to pick one up.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Yeah, it’s hard to find a non-beaten-to-death ’02-’03 WRX for $5k, let alone anything newer. I’ve yet to see a rusty ’08+ Impreza as well. Up through ’07 they do inevitably start getting rear quarter panel rot, especially given the locales where Subarus tend to sell well.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Around here the only WRXes for less than $10,000 are heavily modified and beat to crap. Definitely a car to buy new if you can swing it given the used pricing.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I was gonna say, unless a rusty WRX looks like that Ford GT that was featured last week, it’s not selling for $5,000.

      • 0 avatar
        dividebytube

        Here in Michigan – salt road city – a 4-5 year old WRX will still go for big bucks. To the point where buying new is a better option. These hold their value like mad.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Yep. Used WRXs go for pretty sick money, which makes them a truly silly buy. I see lots of them around here with low mileage, which makes me think that a) the previous owner didn’t count on the thing riding like a sports car, or b) the previous owner was a 23-year-old guy named Jordan who hooned the hell out of it for six months and then couldn’t keep up with the payments.

      • 0 avatar
        bonmax

        I don’t know where you are in the northeast but they hold up quite well here and hold there value better then most cars do. Upstate New York.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    How’s the road noise and ride quality in the WRX as compared to the Mazda 6 parked in the pic? I like the Town Car btw

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I have to say I love the WRX. I consider it the gold standard of performance for the money among new cars with a real back seat. You can get higher performance but it is diminishing returns after the WRX.

    I really have no experience with Subaru at all, but will say it would be easier for me to buy if it were toned down on the exterior just a little. I guess really, on this car its just the hood scoop. Maybe make an adult version with front mounted intercooler? Would also be great if Subaru brought back the hatch, even better if they brought back the Legacy GT. Thinking my wish list will be put directly in the circular file. But, its what we do here, am I right?

    • 0 avatar

      Hah. I see where you’re going. I’ve always liked the scoop but would purchase a Legacy GT over my WRX if one were available with a turbo motor and a manual transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        I was seriously considering the Legacy GT at one point years ago, but ended up with the Mazdaspeed6. Funny that I like the aggressive styling of the Speed6 over the relatively staid styling of the Legacy GT at the time, a bit older now lol. Incredibly quick, fun, great handling cars though, reasonably priced and practical too. A bygone era.

        • 0 avatar

          The MazdaSpped6 was a neat car but the styling never clicked for me so I ended up with an 05 Legacy GT.

          • 0 avatar
            bortlicenseplate

            Hey Bozi, as happens I’m still driving my ’06 Legacy GT 5-sp wagon with about 110k miles (bought used in ’09). I’d be curious to hear how you would compare your current WRX to your old Legacy, WRT refinement and overall driving feel. The current WRX definitely appeals at least on paper, though I am hesitant to give up the hatch/wagon functionality. Cheers, Dan

          • 0 avatar

            bortlicenseplate, the Legacy GT was a bit more comfortable and quieter but unfortunately mine wasn’t stock for long so it is hard to make a direct comparison. Driving feel is somewhat similar but the WRX is a lot lighter on its feet.

          • 0 avatar
            bortlicenseplate

            “bortlicenseplate, the Legacy GT was a bit more comfortable and quieter but unfortunately mine wasn’t stock for long so it is hard to make a direct comparison. Driving feel is somewhat similar but the WRX is a lot lighter on its feet.”

            Ah, gotcha. Sounds like your LGT was a fun ride. Good to know and thanks for the insight!

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Subaru used to offer a standard Impreza with the WRX engine. It was called the Impreza GT. Unfortunately, it came only with an automatic – a four-speed at the time.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    This car is now on the top of my list for my Countryman replacement.

    Stick shift + AWD + good performance + resale value. It’s a hard deal to turn down.

    Negatives? The WRX/STI stereotype – yo fartcan! or the one I see with a poorly repaint job done in a Subaru blue.

  • avatar
    Noble713

    This car is so good overall it almost would make me betray my Evo diehard nature to own one.

    Sadly, they do not come with manual transmissions in Japan, so I’d have to buy one AND tranny swap it……I could see myself doing that just to troll Japanese WRX owners at car meets. “Oh, you bought the AT?” “It only comes with AT.” “Mine has MT. See?”

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    I hardly call 50k miles a long term test for a new modern vehicle. Perhaps if you went 150k you’d get a better taste of the long term prospects of a vehicle – by that time interior pieces will fail and the car becomes subjected to real world actions.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a reason why the title of this doesn’t start with “Final Thoughts.” Cars are subjected to “real world actions” every time they go on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      quot;scareyquot;

      @ Carroll Prescott—Long term compared to the typical weekend thrash. You don’t really expect Bozi to spend his entire career on this one car, do you ? Thrashing it to what, 150,000 or 200,000 miles ? And maybe you wait until he logs 200,000 miles and prints the results before you make up your mind on whether to buy it or not ? No, go spend your $$ and take your chance.

    • 0 avatar

      The long term test title is intended to signify that I own this car am testing it for more than a few days.

    • 0 avatar
      HahnZahn

      Two years, 50k miles, at least two seasonal tire swaps and out of warranty… I’d say that qualifies as long-term. Or should he wait until the headliner glue evaporates and it starts to hang down? ;)

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    “The repair requires dropping the transmission to install the updated part.”
    At what height do you plan to drop the transmission from?

    • 0 avatar

      Depends on whether I can use a lift or not. Sometimes a foot. Sometimes six feet.

      • 0 avatar
        pwrwrench

        Let me know when the 6 foot drop might happen. I don’t want to be under it.
        About 45 years ago, I was working on a VW Beetle Autostick. The job required removing the engine. The Autostick engine is fastened to the transmission with bolts. That’s different from the 4 speed manual which has 2 bolts and 2 studs with nuts.
        What I did not know, and did not suspect as this was a car less than 2 years old, was that someone had removed one of the 4 bolts and had not reinstalled it.
        With everything else disconnected, cables wiring etc, I removed the first 3 bolts and was ready to put an engine jack under the motor, remove the 4th bolt and the engine.
        There were a few clicking noises and the engine fell out to the floor, about 2 feet.
        It made a lot of noise, but did not hurt anything. Could not find any scratches on the parts of the exhaust system that are the lowest part.
        No surprise the other guys in the service department joked about this for a long time. I said that I had better not do it again as the flat rate time for removing the engine would be cut in half.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    The differences in wear metals between your oil reports are nothing more than statistical noise.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Hey Bozi, would you mind taking the intake manifold off and showing us what the back of the intake valves look like at 50K?

    I’m kidding, unless you’ll do it!

    Curious how hard it will be to clean the intake valves on the DI boxer. The WRX version doesn’t have the port and DI combo like the 86/BRZ.

  • avatar
    Jeffrey Degracia

    I’m considering a pre-owned 2016-2017 WRX manual so please continue with these updates. Thank you and keep up the great work!


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