2022 Subaru WRX Review: Rest That Leg

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Fast Facts

2022 Subaru WRX GT

2.4-liter horizontally-opposed turbocharged four (271hp @ 5,600 rpm, 258 lb/ft @ 2,000 rpm)
Continuously-variable transmission, all-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, MPG
19 city / 25 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating)
Fuel Economy, L/100km
12.7 city / 9.4 highway / 11.2 combined. (NRCan Rating)
Base Price
$42,890 US / $45,752 CAN
As Tested
$42,890 US / $45,752 CAN
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2357 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

I’ve said it before, but I’m getting old. Rather than comparing daycare centers, I’m visiting colleges. I’ve actually purchased cars in the past for less than I just spent on a prom dress for my eldest daughter. My wife and barber tell me that my hair is thinning.

And I ache. While any leg pain I attribute to an old football injury really dates to a drunken fall over a coffee table while watching the Super Bowl, my daily intake of ibuprofen is considerable. So I’m finding that when shopping for a new fun-to-drive car, a manual transmission isn’t necessarily a must-have. Might as well start fitting me for a tennis-ball-clad walker and pants hitched up to my nipples.

A CVT, however, has never been atop my list of favorite transmissions. They seem to suck all the enjoyment out of driving. But when this 2022 Subaru WRX appeared sans third pedal, I had to do a double take. I suppose the flat-brim-cap wearing, vaping, skater bros have to grow up, too. Did their car of choice grow up with them?

No, don’t adjust your sundial. It is indeed May of 2023, and yet the car before you is a 2022 model. I drove it earlier this year, but life gets in the way. The car is functionally unchanged between the two model years, so my impressions remain valid.

I’ll confess a tinge of disappointment in the paint color. World Rally Blue remains the hue to which every WRX aspires, whereas red belongs elsewhere. Still, this one looks right. I’d struggle to call any Subaru beautiful, however. Functional and, maybe, handsome, but a WRX is less an art object than a tool. The black plastic cladding hints at this, reminding all that even though it’s a sports sedan, there is the soul of a crossover beneath.

The interior isn’t a bad place to spend some time, though you’ll find reminders that it is still a compact. Leg room in the rear seats is adequate, though the kids did push knees into my back at times. It feels well appointed, however, with good quality materials throughout. The huge portrait-oriented 11.6-inch touchscreen is quick to respond to inputs, and is very clear - though the fonts used throughout are just a bit unusual to someone not used to a Subaru. I’m sure that within a few weeks of driving, it’d be fine.

And the driving is fine, indeed. 271hp from a turbocharged four used to sound like an outrageous number, but as cars have gotten heavier it’s not quite as stunning. Still, the WRX has enough scoot to make every drive enjoyable, with plenty of traction ensuring you’ll get the most out of every pound of boost. The engine sound is distinctly flat-four, with a fun little burble at idle, but it’s not droning or otherwise annoying either in town or on the highway. 

The ride quality is excellent, too - and it’s adjustable. New for 2022, the top-trim GT model gets a Drive Mode Select system which allows for electronic damping setting adjustment. The all-wheel drive torque can be varied front to rear, as well as three selectable modes for engine response. The GT trim can only be ordered with the continuously-variable transmission seen here.

I’ve mentioned it before, but the CVT gets a bad rap due to some less-than-optimal applications in years past. When paired with a turbocharged engine, however, the results can be excellent - as they are here from the WRX. The natural lag from the turbo is smoothed by the easy transitions between transmission ratios, giving instant acceleration no matter the driving condition or throttle position. It’s quick and fun, and absolutely does not detract from the enjoyment one gets from the car. 

And it saves wear on that old battle-scarred left knee. They’ve done something magical here - the 2022 Subaru WRX GT has redeemed the besmirched name of the continuously-variable transmission by making it fun. 

[Images: © 2023 Chris Tonn]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

More by Chris Tonn

Join the conversation
2 of 28 comments
  • Multicam Multicam on May 07, 2023

    It looks decent in profile- but every other exterior angle looks just terrible. Yikes.

  • Drew8MR Drew8MR on Aug 15, 2023

    Eh, it sucks as a WRX, but it doesn't suck as a mid size alternative.

  • Stephen My "mid-level" limited edition Tonino Lambo Ferraccio Junior watch has performed flawlessly with attractive understated style for nearly 20 years. Their cars are not so much to my taste-- my Acura NSX is just fine. Not sure why you have such condescension towards these excellent timepieces. They are attractive without unnecessary flamboyance, keep perfect time and are extremely reliable. They are also very reasonably priced.
  • Dana You don’t need park, you set auto hold (button on the console). Every BMW answers to ‘Hey, BMW’, but you can set your own personal wake word in iDrive. It takes less than 5 minutes to figure that that out, btw. The audio stays on which is handy for Teams meetings. Once your phone is out of range, the audio is stopped on the car. You can always press down on the audio volume wheel which will mute it, if it bothers you. I found all the controls very intuitive.
  • ToolGuy Not sure if I've ever said this, or if you were listening:• Learn to drive, people.Also, learn which vehicles to take home with you and which ones to walk away from. You are an adult now, think for yourself. (Those ads are lying to you. Your friendly neighborhood automotive dealer, also lying to you. Politicians? Lying to you. Oh yeah, learn how to vote lol.)Addendum for the weak-minded who think I am advocating some 'driver training' program: Learning is not something you do in school once for all time. Learning how to drive is not something that someone does for you. It is a continuous process driven by YOU. Learn how to learn how to drive, and learn to drive. Keep on learning how to drive. (You -- over there -- especially you, you kind of suck at driving. LOL.)Example: Do you know where your tires are? When you are 4 hours into a 6 hour interstate journey and change lanes, do you run over the raised center line retroreflective bumpers, or do you steer between them?
  • Mike Bradley Advertising, movies and TV, manufacturing, and car culture have all made speeding and crashing the ultimate tests of manhood. Throw in the political craziness and you've got a perfect soup of destruction and costs.
  • Lou_BC Jay Leno had said that EV's would be good since they could allow the continued existence of ICE cars for enthusiasts. That sentiment makes sense. Many buyers see vehicles as a necessary appliance.