2011 Subaru Impreza WRX Review – Just like Christmas morning – you can't wait to open it up!

Expert Reviews Subaru

The 5-speed manual transmission was a snap to get used to, and I only once missed a shift (my own fault – I haven’t driven a stick in over a year, and I was talking.  Whoops.)  The gear ratios were tight and easy to hit all the gears with just a flick of your arm.

I never once feared that I’d find a hill that would bring the WRX to its knees. My lack of stick-driving ability, on the other hand, could have been embarrassing if it wasn’t for the transmission’s “hill assist” feature, but I managed to not make a complete fool of myself driving up and down some steep hills and even parking on a downhill!

My takeaway:  seriously impressive performance for an AWD vehicle!

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX 5-door

If someone thinks of the WRX only as an AWD car – then they haven’t driven one. Yes, it’s AWD, but I’d consider it an AWD SPORTS CAR. The WRX is low to the ground, has a wide-enough wheelbase that it just HUGS the road. I never once felt like I was going to “lose it” coming through a corner too fast.  Even in the rain, I drove it harder than I’d ordinarily drive. It handles *THAT* well.  The turning radius is great, just like you’d expect from a sports car. Even when trying to get the car to slide, I had to work really hard at it, and use a road surface akin to the snow.

The steering is so precise, that the WRX just seems to follow wherever you point it. No fighting you in the corners, it just GLIDES into and out of each corner you point it at. The WRX handles like a dream.

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX 5-door

While I’m not a fan of the bluer-than-blue-in-your-face-blue-BLUE, it really does go with the shape and styling of the car. The car handles so over-the-top, why should the style be a shrinking violet (of course, blending is nice when breaking the law, but I digress.)? The hood-scoop and front grill start the testosterone styling, all the way to the rear spoiler. These help harden up the softness that the eye sees with the smooth, arcing line from the front to the rear with the side view. The wheels just shouted “bad ass”.

Let’s talk a bit more about that hood scoop. Not only does it look good, it’s completely functional and serves to feed cool air into the inter-cooler for the turbo.

Frankly, the WRX is pretty reasonably priced. It had a good array of features (including leather!) for right around $29k.  Of course, our model seemed to be missing the advertised USB port*, which was monumentally disappointing, but I got over it. (*missing from our model, even though the Subaru website AND the owner’s manual said it was in the WRX)

Safety features included:  Subaru advanced frontal airbag system, seat-mounted front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags height-adjustable 3-point front seatbelts, rear child-safety door locks, energy-absorbing collapsible steering column, daytime running lights, 4-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS), brake assist, tire pressure monitoring system, traction control system (TCS), vehicle dynamics control (VDC) and Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD).

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX 5-door

Standard features included:  XM Satellite Radio, USB Audio Interface, 6 speaker audio system, touch-screen GPS navigation system, driver’s 6-way manually adjustable seat, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter handle, power front and rear windows with driver’s side auto up-down, power side mirrors, power-tilt/sliding-glass moonroof, leather upholstery, electronic cruise control, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, dual cup holders in the center console and one in each door panel, cargo-area grocery-bag and tie-down hooks (necessary with the way the WRX drives, so your groceries don’t end up all over the back of the car!), retractable/removable cargo-area cover (easy in, easy out), analog speedometer, sport-design electroluminescent gauges, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, 17″ x 8.0″ 15 spoke aluminum alloy wheels, P235/45 R17 summer performance tires, foglights, LED taillights and various other exterior effects that add to the oomph factor of the look of the WRX, and functionality. Plus, the standard warranties:  3-year or 36k new car limited warranty, 5-year or 60k powertrain limited warranty, 3-year or 36k wear item limited warranty (includes: brake pads, wiper blades, clutch linings and transmitter batteries) and a 5-year unlimited mileage rust perforation limited warranty.

Common-Sense Not Included:
Warning:  if you have an over-abundance of testosterone, and zero willpower, do not buy this car. Buying it can result in many tickets and possibly losing your license!

Now, if you have a shred of willpower, love to drive fun sports cars and don’t have a family of 7 which you need to transport around, then this just might be a great option for you.

If you’re a family of one or two, love to go do fun things, need to transport a bike or two (with both seats folded down and some Tetris-master skills, you could pretty easily fit two bikes in it), and don’t get car-sick easily, you could easily make this your primary (and only) vehicle. It’s way more practical than a 2-seater sports car, and with the AWD (and some willingness to step off the gas) your travel options aren’t as limited as with some cars. Our model definitely had enough features to keep the car interesting and functional, all without totally breaking the bank.

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 5.0 4.5 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.9/A

2009 Subaru Impreza 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX Review
Rating: 4.25 stars
By Peter N.

“For the driving enthusiast, this car delivers more fun per dollar than any other I’ve driven. It almost stands alone in the class of affordable performance.”

2009 Subaru Impreza 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX – First Impressions
Rating: 4.5 stars
By Mary-Ellen

“The Impreza WRX is a playful, sporty car that oozes driving enjoyment. With all its cool features, this is a superbly capable and fun car that just wants to be driven.”

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX | 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX
SubaruOfficial website for Subaru of America – www.subaru.com

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  • Stuart says:

    I’ve got a 2011 sedan in metallic grey with the limited package (leather, sunroof, HID’s, bluetooth.)

    It destroys most everything here in Oregon except for the occasional brand new Audi S4 (older models get worked). I’m including winter in that, as it’s no slower in rain, and with a good set of performance winter tires it absolutely dominates trips the mountain. I feel totally confident passing in snow on the outside on passes, it’s just planted.

    Fit and finish is not BMW, but you’re paying for the drivetrain here, and my god is it alot of drivetrain for $28,000

  • Cory Friedman says:

    I just traded my 2007 Infiniti FX-35 for a 2011 WRX Hatchback yesterday and I was amazed at how this car handles and still gives a better, YES BETTER, ride than my luxury Infinti Crossover Tank that only got 16mpg over-all! I drove to work this morning and reset the trip before I left. I averaged 29.4mpg and none of it was highway! The only complaint I have is the center console armrest is so low that it is completely useless! What were they thinking??? The Infiniti had a Bose soundsystem that sounded great for stock, and this is the only real cheap thing in the WRX. The radio sounds like my old 1970 Dodge Charger’s AM single speaker on top of dash with an inch of dust and 30 years of speaker cone crack… Other than that, LOVE IT!

  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    Loved this car for years never owned one because it’s built for short people .With a size 14 foot I have had to take my shoe off to fit both my feet .Now I think there very dated and have not evolved.I have driven the Focus RS in Europe and think it’s ergonomically better and more modern.I hope to see it in the US soon as 2012 Focus will be very rich line of cars.I don’t believe 4 Wheel drive helps the WRX at all and wish it were just rear wheel drive.I like Subaru but they need to chuck the Impreza line it’s really based on 25 year old architecture and do what VW has done with Jetta and increase it’s size .Then introduce a Sub B model with front wheel drive.

  • Jonbo says:

    I ordered a WRX Oct. 15th. Just picked it up 12/9 with 4 miles on her! SWP Hatchback, short throw shifter and all weather mats. The wait was worth it, I’m a patient person anyways and had my old pick-up so it wasn’t like I did not have a ride. But wow this car can handle the road, amazing! As far as bumpy ride, this car feels great compared to my 93 Nissan pick-up. No complaints here. 5 speed i’m ok with this as well. The only thing so far is my wife complained about the passenger sun shade mirror does not have a light, this does not bother me, haha. Stereo speakers are crap but that’s not what Subaru does.
    No problem here with the gas door release so far. I like the pedals, they have some rubber circles on them that help when wet. So far I think the car rocks, only complaint I have is I have to break her in :)

  • AlienSexGod says:

    Styling top marks?
    Haven’t driven a stick shift in over a year?
    Wow it really shows how out of touch you really are for a car reviewer.
    Pretty much everyone agrees Sub lost the plot with this one…. one of the ugliest things ever to hit the road, mass understeer galore if you give it the hammer which you clearly didn’t or weren’t capable of. That’s why the coming model will look and handle nothing like it. In the meantime drive a Mitsu Evo …. looks decent for a 4 door sports sedan and wastes the Rex in the handling department.

    • Derek says:

      FYI, Holly has a full-time day job and other personal obligations such as volunteering for an education program that helps underprivileged kids. Even with a busy schedule, Holly generously gives her time to provide a woman’s perspective on some of the cars that pass through CarReview’s hands. There aren’t enough car reviews written from the female POV and CarReview is fortunate to have two women contributors that have a different voice from the other members of the team who have a y-chromosome.

  • Derek says:

    I don’t understand code. What is a rex?

    Back to the topic – we had the most fun with the WRX compared to a lot other cars that passed through CarReview hands recently. We even liked the WRX over the 505 hp Corvette Z06 that we tested a couple weeks ago.

  • shredchic says:

    Nice review – to be honest, I’m a gal who has the same giddy reaction to my rex as the guys do. ;) 2004 with 178K miles on it, mostly because it’s such a joy to drive. Why do you need a nice interior when you’re just going to gunk it up with all the mud and dirt from your mountain biking and other outdoor activities anyway? Even if I had the money to waste on a high-end BMW or Audi, I would probably still go for a rex. :p

  • francois says:

    This car is devastatingly fast. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds??? Seriously? It is so fast to 60 that it’s even faster than the Subaru STI and 90% of the sports cars out there. The ride is unbelievable too as it takes wet downhill hairpin corners like no other.

    But it’s not perfect. The interior and electronics are worthy of a $13k econobox. Man, we don’t expect much for this class of car but Subaru aimed very low. The radio made even AM sound awful.

    The 5 speed transmission works but it is a relic too. C’mon. We need 6-speed and a proper auto Dual Clutch tranny wouldn’t hurt either.

    • Derek says:

      Initially, I thought the 5-speed manual was an outdated decision. Why not go with a 6-speed with closer ratios and a huge over-drive gear to improve highway mileage? After driving the WRX for a few days, I have admit that the gear ratios are almost perfect. With its huge torque curve and a lot of power available at low revs, a 6-speed just isn’t necessary and it would probably add to the cost of the car.

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