Tag Archives: subaru

New WRX, Same as the Old WRX

Without warning, Subaru suddenly dropped the covers off the 2022 WRX this past Friday. (I was at IMS Outdoors so I’m only getting to this now.) The result is… underwhelming.

Appearance wise, it’s very similar to the current car. I had a 2015 WRX, so I’m quite familiar with it. The main difference is the addition of a lot of ugly unpainted plastic. It’s as though Subaru is trying to turn the WRX into a Crosstrek sedan. Unpainted plastic is supposed to look tough. I think it looks cheap instead. Immediately the internet began comparing pictures of this orange WRX to an orange Pontiac Aztek. The resemblance isn’t perfect, but there is some. Considering that the Aztek is often called the ugliest car ever made, that is not a compliment.

The other disappointment is a horsepower increase from 268 to 271. That’s basically nothing. We expected at least something over 300, particularly since the displacement has increased from 2.0 to 2.4 liters. What gives, Subaru?

The news isn’t all bad, however. The interior gets an update, though there’s a still a lot of “plastic fantastic” motif going on. Most striking is the 11.6-inch Starlink touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. It looks like this controls almost everything, with a very tablet-like display visible in the pictures, yet it’s good to see just a couple of knobs off to either side as well. Sometimes you just need to quickly turn the volume down, and a knob works much better than hunting through menus for it.

Another addition is the GT model, which will presumably be the new mid-grade of the range between the base WRX and the top-of-the-line STI. It has SI-Drive features, which sounds similar to the STI. The GT also gets electronically adjustable shocks, similar to the Volkswagen GTI, as well as standard “Subaru Performance Transmission,” which is automatic. GT is traditionally an acronym for “Grand Touring,” so an automatic is not out of place with that purpose. The old Legacy GT used this designation as well, and was itself quite good.

Subaru makes all kinds of claims like a track-tuned suspension and improved NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) EyeSight is standard on all automatic models. That qualification is necessary because yes, the WRX is still available with a manual transmission, thank goodness. For all of its shortcomings, at least it has that.

To say the WRX enthusiast community is underwhelmed would be an understatement. Subaru’s had seven years to come up with a better WRX. Instead we get this. I’ll have to withhold judgement until I see one in person and can actually drive it, but first impressions count, and they’re not great. Still, it’s one of the few remaining true sport sedans out there, and there’s a lot to be said for that. Though honestly, I’d certainly consider a Crosstrek given the WRX treatment.

The Subaru Forester Wilderness Is a Factory Overland Rig — Or Is It?

People used to turn their Subarus into wanna-be rally cars. Now, it’s wanna-be overland rigs. Good news! Subaru will now do it for you in the Forester Wilderness. The Drive has a good write-up about it. It’s taller, beefier, and can tow more.

My concern, though, is for the transmission. Subaru CVTs have not proven to be all that reliable. Many people I know have had problems with them. The Wilderness package doubles the Forester’s towing capacity from 1,500 pounds to 3,000 pounds. It does get a transmission cooler, which will help. I foresee it being an item that many Forester owners will retrofit to their own cars, as well as any other models it’s compatible with. Maybe that’ll help cure some of these problems.

We’ll have to wait and see whether the Forester Wilderness is a true overlander, or a fauxverlander.

Subaru Teases Their First Electric Vehicle: The Solterra

Subaru’s been slow to hop on the electric bandwagon, but they’re getting there. They just released teaser photos of the Solterra, their first electric model. Naturally, it’s an SUV.

I agree with Elektrek’s take on this. All-wheel-drive is what Subaru is best known for, and they’re doubling down on that. But when it comes to electric vehicles, all that goes out the window, because you can easily have multiple motors powering the wheels. No trick STI center differential can replace the flexibility of two independent electric motors front and rear. So it’s puzzling as to why Subaru has taken this approach.

Only time will tell how an electric Subaru will blow head gaskets.

Subaru WRX Wagon May Return, But Only In Australia

WRX fans have been screaming for a hatchback or wagon version of the car ever since the current (and outgoing) generation car came out for 2015. It seems those screams have been answered — but only if you live in Australia.

CarExpert reports that the current Levorg wagon will complete its transformation into a long-roof version of the WRX starting next year. Unfortunately, Subaru will continue its financially sensible commitment to crossovers and SUVs in North America and not bring it here, much to the dismay of wagon fans like me. I bought my 2015 WRX in spite of it being a sedan and not a hatchback, not because of it.

So what will the next North American WRX look like? Subaru will show us on September 10.

Photo credit: Tokumeigakarinoaoshima via Wikimedia Commons

Octogenarian Loses License for Speeding in a WRX

It’s an all-too familiar story, some guy driving his Subaru WRX like he’s Colin Mcrae getting busted for going nearly twice the speed limit. The driver’s probably some kid wearing a flat-brimmed cap vaping more smoke than Cheech and Chong, right? Nope. This time it’s an 80-year-old driver from South Australia, caught doing 113 mph (182 km/h) in a 62 mph (100 km/h) zone, thus proving that stereotypes are not always accurate. Read all about it at Drive.

As New York Auto Show Reveals Go Online, Where’s the WRX?

After the last-minute cancellation of the New York International Auto Show, manufacturers who had planned to unveil new models there are starting to so it online instead. Lincoln has pulled the covers off the 2022 Navigator, Kia has shown us the 2022 Sorento plug-in hybrid, and Hyundai took the wrapper off the sporty 2022 Elantra N. All of these were supposed to be shown to the public for the first time at NYIAS.

Absent from these online reveals, at least so far, is the 2022 Subaru WRX. We were also supposed to see it in New York, but alas that is not to be.

It would’ve been a brilliant move to instead reveal it at last weekend’s Climb to the Clouds race up Mt. Washington, NH. Subaru is the title sponsor, and Travis Pastrana’s new record-breaking time already had all the media attention. It would’ve been the perfect setting, both logistically and philosophically, to see the new WRX for the first time. The Airslayer STI is arguably the ultimate evolution of the current car, probably the fastest one we’ll ever see. The next logical step is to begin with the next generation car, which could have appeared there as well.

I’m still looking forward to seeing it when it eventually does come out. As the past owner of a 2015 WRX, I want to see how they improved on what I had.

This Subaru Outback Survived a 500-Mile Desert Race

Say what you will about Subaru’s rust issues and disposable head gaskets. They’re also tough. And not just WRX rally cars. John Frana and Ryan Brumund just ran their mildly modified Subaru Outback (the old Legacy-based wagon, not the modern SUV) in the Best of the Desert race — and finished. Dead last, but hey, they finished! Many off-road-built trophy trucks and UTVs can’t make that claim.

Read all about it at The Drive.

Toyota and Subaru Got the new 86 and BRZ Right

I haven’t gotten my hands on one yet, but Jalopnik has, and they’re impressed. The new version of the Toyobaru twins has cured the complaints people had about the original (full disclosure: I had a 2014 model and LOVED it). The new 2.4-liter boxer engine cures the dreaded torque dip of the old 2.0. The interior doesn’t feel like you’re in a Yaris. The gauge cluster and infotainment work much better than in my old car. And, if you choose the correct option package, the standard Michelin Primacy HP “Prius tires” get an upgrade to the Pilot Sport 4S, The old Pilot Super Sports transformed my BRZ from a drift machine into a grippy track car, so it’s great that they now offer this setup from the factory.

I still want to get my hands on one for myself. Toyota or Subaru, call me.

Travis Pastrana Sets New Mount Washington Record

Nothing is ever fast enough for Travis Pastrana. That includes his previous record time up Mt. Washington of 5:44.72, which he set at the 2017 Climb to the Clouds event. After shooting the Gymkhana 2021 viral video with a custom-built, no-holds-barred, 862 horsepower Subaru WRX STI, he knew he could improve on that time with this car. That’s exactly what he did, setting a new record of 5:28.67 on his first official run up the mountain.

Some people claimed that then-teammate and previous record holder David Higgins was the faster driver. Pastrana himself agreed, as well as the data, as Higgins’ split times were faster than Pastrana’s. Some say Pastrana only got the record because Higgins crashed out on the turn at Cragway. This time, Pastrana proved he has what it takes on his own.

Of course, having the Airslayer STI at his disposal helped. This car was built specifically for Gymkhana 2021 to be the most awesome STI ever, and to no racing class rules whatsoever. It sounded like an angry bumblebee streaking up the mountain. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss Pastrana going by.

Absolutely perfect weather conditions all the way up and down Mt. Washington helped, too. While it rained during Saturday practice and clouds enveloped the top (where I was) during the lunch break between runs, it was dry with clear visibility from bottom to top when it mattered.

Pastrana’s second run was actually slower than his first, 5:41.71. Though it still broke his 2017 record, his faster first run was the one that counted. My theory is that since the new record was already in the books, Travis drove a little harder on his second run. From what I saw 1/4 mile from the finish, his first run was smooth and controlled, while he bobbed and weaved a bit more on his second run. That’s certainly more like his regular driving style, but ironically it was emulating the calm and clean Higgins that made him faster. Travis openly credits Higgins for teaching him most of what he knows about rally driving during their time together at what is now Subaru Motorsports USA.

My question is, what now? The massive effort that Pastrana and Subaru Motorsports USA put in broke the record, but only shaved 13 seconds off his previous time. There can’t be much more time he can drop at this point. More power is great for the straightaways, but there’s only so much grip you can get for the nearly constant turns. The Airslayer STI has massive aero enhancements, but even their usefulness is limited in the tighter corners that require slower speeds. We’ll have to wait and see what other tricks Travis and Subaru Motorsports USA have up their sleeves to pull out at the next one.

You Don’t Need a Van To #Vanlife

Some people spend thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars on top notch van builds, skoolies, box truck conversions, and so on. You can do that, but you don’t have to. Here’s a Subaru Forester that’s been turned into a simple home on wheels.

Full disclosure: I’m a Vancity Vanlife fanboi. One of the reasons I like Chrome is that despite having a fancy schmancy van build, he never forgets his roots, and always remembers where he started — in a bare, empty cargo van with plastic bins, a cooler, a basic bed, and little else. He’s been a huge influence in my own van life journey, even though I’ve done some things very differently than him. Both of us agree, though, that you don’t need a fancy built-out like you see all over YouTube to, as Amanda Zito says, “get out there and do the thing.”