Is A Subaru WRX A Good First Car?

Shopping for your first car is ana big moment for many of us, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. Even though many cars may seem appealing on paper, there are some things to consider other than the horsepower and torque figures in the manufacturer’s brochure.

Some of these other factors to consider can be rather important especially if you are a new driver looking to purchase your new car or if you happen not to know much about cars.

This article will give you some thoughts to ponder when deciding whether the WRX will make a good first car for you.

Is A Subaru WRX A Good First Car?

The WRX can make a good first car. Some of the more powerful trim levels such as the STI may have a little more power than an inexperienced driver may be comfortable with, but fortunately, the WRX comes in trim levels with power options that can work for most drivers.

Cons Of Purchasing A WRX As A First Car

Even though the WRX is a popular car for many drivers both young and old, it may not be the right choice as a first car for everyone. 

The following are some cons of selecting a WRX as a first car:

Power Output

The power output of the car can be an important factor to weigh before making your purchase. To answer the question of whether the WRX is a good first car, you must first consider the trim level of the WRX as this determines the power output of the car.

A first-time car buyer who is also an inexperienced driver may find that some of the more powerful engines are a little more powerful than they desire.  

Model (Trim)HorsepowerTorque (lbs.-ft)
WRX (Base)268258
WRX (Premium)268258
WRX (Limited)268258
WRX (STI)310290
WRX (STI Limited)310290

Smaller Capacity Fuel Tank

Fuel range is a major factor that many of us consider when shopping for a vehicle. The two larger variables which determine a vehicle’s fuel range are (1) fuel tank capacity and (2) fuel economy.

While there are cars that offer less fuel capacity, the WRX only offers a fuel capacity of 15.9 gallons.

Transmission Options

Another important factor to consider when shopping for your first car is the transmission option. The WRX is a vehicle that offers both manual transmissions and automatic transmissions depending on the trim level chosen.

For a new driver who does not know how to drive a manual transmission or for a new driver who may know how to do so but they have not perfected the technique, a brand-new car may not be the best option to learn to perfect the skill.

This is because learning on a new car may damage or cause premature wear of the transmission or clutch.

Below is a summary of the transmission options the WRX has as options:

WRX (Base)6 speed Manual
WRX (Premium)6-Speed Manual or Automatic
WRX (Limited)6-Speed Manual or Automatic
WRX (STI)6 speed Manual
WRX (STI Limited)6 speed Manual

CVT Transmission

Where available in the selected trim level, the automatic transmission offered in the WRX is a specific type of automatic transmission referred to as a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

While some people find automatic transmissions to be easier or more convenient to drive than manual transmissions, this type of automatic transmission is not always ideal for every driver.

Additionally, the CVT in the WRX has been known to have issues handling all of the power that some trim levels of the WRX produce.

Manual Transmission Issues

While most of us who know how to drive a manual transmission can appreciate the increased connection with the car that this type of transmission provides, some drivers may not want the additional responsibility of being responsible for shifting their own gears.

Furthermore, the manual transmission found in the WRX has been a pain point for some owners who complain of premature clutch and throw-out bearing failures.

Engine Issues

Reliability is another factor that is very important when considering which car to buy for your first time.

Some WRX owners have had major issues related to a design defect that enabled oil contaminated with metal debris to be circulated throughout the engine causing expensive damage.

This flaw led to the filing of a class action suit which Subaru later settled by reimbursing affected owners for the repair costs associated with the damage caused by the design flaw.

A significant number of owners have also complained of engine failure due to Ringland failure.

Octane Requirement

All trim levels of the WRX require fuel with a minimum octane rating of 91 and 93 octane is recommended for the WRX STI to achieve maximum performance.

While the octane requirement is understandable given the power that the car produces (especially from a 4 cylinder engine), there are newer vehicles in the marketplace that provide similar power output numbers to some WRX trim levels but use lower octane fuel.

For some drivers, the cost difference between high octane and lower octane fuel is an important expense that must be considered.

Pros Of Buying A WRX As A First Car

The fact that we have listed some factors as cons to owning a WRX as a first car is not a reason to forgo purchasing a WRX as a first car.

The WRX offers many features that are pros and could make it a great first car for you.

All-Wheel Drive

One of Subaru’s biggest competitive advantages is that their vehicles offer full-time AWD as standard features while many competitors do not even offer all-wheel drive as an option.

The WRX is no exception as all of the trim levels of the WRX come standard with all-wheel drive.

As a first-time car buyer with little or no driving experience, all-wheel drive is a great option to have especially if you live in an area that is prone to inclement weather.

All-wheel drive vehicles are known to provide increased traction in these weather conditions as compared to front-wheel or rear-wheel drive vehicles.


Depending on the trim level and options that you choose, the base WRX has an entry-level price of $27,495.

Fuel Economy

While the fuel economy figures for the WRX are not as high as some of Subaru’s other models, the WRX achieves good fuel economy when you take into consideration the amount of power that the engine produces.

This variable can be important to consider since the WRX requires high octane fuel.

ModelFuel Economy (City/Highway)
WRX (Base)20/27
WRX (Limited)21/27
WRX (STI)16/22
WRX (STI Limited)16/22

Standard Features

The various features that are offered standard on all trim levels of the WRX also add to its value as a good first car.

A few standard features are:

  • Front & Rear Disc Brakes
  • All-Wheel Drive
  • Dual Front Airbags
  • Front Seat Side-Impact Airbags
  • Heated Exterior Mirrors
  • Power Side Mirrors
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Intermittent Windshield Wipers

Boxer Engine

The WRX like most other Subaru models comes equipped with a 4-cylinder boxer engine. This is a pro because boxer engines have a lower center of gravity which improves the handling of the car.

The boxer engine also provides a benefit since it reduces inefficiencies as the power is being transferred from the engine to the transmission.  

The boxer engines are also known to produce very distinct exhaust notes that WRX owners rave about.

Safety (Crash Test Rating)

The WRX has a 4-star front driver crash test rating and a 5-star front passenger crash test rating.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing a car is ultimately a personal decision that will heavily depend on the features offered that you find to be the most appealing or the features that you are looking for that the car lacks. These considerations will differ among the various buyers in the market.

The WRX would be a great first car for many people since it offers all-wheel drive, plenty of power, and a hefty list of features that come standard with every WRX.

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