Best & Worst Subaru WRX Years

We've ranked all Subaru WRX models for every generation so you can avoid picking the worst Subaru WRX years and pick the best one.

In this guide, I’ll break down all Subaru WRX generations, spotlighting the best WRX years to buy and the worst Subaru WRX years to avoid.

Drawing from authoritative sources like NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and consumer reviews, I’ve curated insights to guide your WRX journey, whether you’re a potential buyer or an enthusiast.

Specifically, I’ll go deeper into the best, neutral, and worst years of the Subaru WRX, providing you with the knowledge of its common problems, recalls, and reliability to make informed decisions.

Let’s dive right in!

Related:Best & Worst Subaru Forester YearsBest & Worst Subaru Outback YearsBest & Worst Subaru Impreza Years

Table of ContentsShow

Subaru WRX Generations

NOTE: See “Best & Worst Subaru Impreza Years” for the Impreza-derived WRX models.

The Subaru WRX has roots steeped in rally racing, which demands performance, durability, and precision. The first generation of the Subaru WRX was introduced in 2015, showcasing a vibrant design, turbocharged engines, and advanced all-wheel-drive systems.

Below is a table presenting an overview of the Subaru WRX generations from 2015:

GenerationYears
1st generation (VA)2015-2021
2nd generation (VB)2022-Present

The distinctions between generations can be pivotal for potential buyers, as generational changes like modifications and enhancements might significantly influence their final decision.

Subaru WRX Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

We consider various factors in assessing and categorizing the best and worst Subaru WRX years. Our sources and considerations include:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • Cars.com owner ratings

The upcoming graph illustrates the combined ratings from the above-listed platforms, offering a comprehensive perspective on each year’s performance.

Subaru WRX Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Following that, based on our extensive research, we present a table that categorizes each Subaru WRX model year as the best, neutral, or worst year.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation (VA)2018
2019
2020
2021
20172015
2016
2nd generation (VB)2023N/A2022

By “Neutral Years,” we refer to those model years that didn’t particularly shine but equally didn’t have significant drawbacks, providing a balanced performance without tipping the scale in either direction.

Some of these criteria, like NHTSA recalls, hurt our ranking. The more complaints, recalls, or issues a car year experiences, the more its reliability diminishes.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst Subaru WRX years.

Best & Worst Years for Subaru WRX 1st Generation (2015-2021)

Subaru WRX 1st generation 2015 model
The 2015 Subaru WRX

Unveiled in 2015, the first generation of the Subaru WRX emerged as an exemplar of performance in compact sedans, melding sportiness and practicality in an appealing package.

2015 and 2016 are the Subaru WRX years you should avoid in this generation, while the finest WRX years of the 1st generation are between 2018 and 2021.

The Best Years: 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

Earning the top ratings in numerous authoritative platforms, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 are undeniably the best WRX years of the first generation.

The venerable 2.0L FA20F turbocharged boxer engine powered these models with a 6-speed manual or a Lineartronic CVT transmission.

This setup delivered a commendable fuel efficiency rate, averaging about 21 city / 27 highway mpg.

The trim levels offered included the Base, Premium, and Limited, each progressively richer in features.

Technological advancements became evident with the improved Starlink infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto integrations.

EyeSight Driver Assist Technology stood out on the safety front, incorporating adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking.

Nevertheless, it’s imperative to note that some 2018 and 2019 models faced recalls due to fuel pump issues.

The Neutral Years: 2017

The 2017 WRX, while showing improvements, wasn’t without its challenges.

Sporting the same 2.0L engine and transmission choices as the subsequent years, it also embraced the Starlink system and offered a rearview camera as standard.

However, it fell short of achieving the seamless integration and refinement seen in the later years. Persistent issues like premature clutch wear and battery drain remained a concern.

The Worst Years: 2015, 2016

What are bad years for WRX? Our research shows that the 2015 and 2016 WRX models encountered various problems with the engine and power train.

Main complaints revolved around battery drain, engine head gasket failures, and underwhelming throttle response.

Recalls became a notable concern, with turbocharger intake duct cracks leading to engine stalling.

Inadequacies in the collision mitigation braking system, backup lights, and rearview cameras further tarnished their reliability.

See NHTSA 2015, 2016, 2017 Subaru WRX recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Subaru WRX 2nd Generation (2022-Present)

Subaru WRX 2nd generation 2022 model
The 2022 Subaru WRX

The second generation of the Subaru WRX, designated as the VB chassis, marked a significant leap in design and technology. Subaru strives to elevate its renowned sporty sedan’s performance and everyday usability.

2023 is the best WRX year in the Subaru WRX’s third generation. I highly recommend avoiding the 2022 Subaru WRX due to some manufacturing defects.

The Best Years: 2023

Which year of the WRX is most reliable? 2023 is the best and most reliable Subaru WRX year in its third generation.

The car came equipped with an advanced 2.4L FA24F turbocharged boxer engine, bolstered by Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.

Transmission choices were expanded, allowing drivers to opt between a precision-tuned 6-speed manual or a performance-oriented CVT, delivering respectable fuel efficiency rates in both configurations.

Subaru’s latest Starlink multimedia system was enriched on the tech frontier with a larger display, faster response times, and more intuitive voice recognition.

The trim level selection was more elaborate, catering to a broader range of performance and luxury preferences.

Safety took a front seat with enhancements to the EyeSight suite, now boasting lane-centering functionality and enhanced pre-collision braking.

The Worst Years: 2022

As I mentioned above, 2022 is the poorest WRX year of the second generation, which you should avoid.

The most notable issue was the excessive use of RTV silicone around the oil pan.

Chunks of this silicone could fall into the oil pan, potentially clogging the oil pickup leading to dire consequences for the engine due to oil starvation.

Apart from this significant concern, the 2022 model, while pioneering many advancements, faced the typical challenges of a first-year model in a new generation, requiring subsequent refinement in the following years.

See NHTSA 2022 Subaru WRX recalls and complaints.

Subaru WRX Resale Values

The following graph shows the Subaru WRX’s average resale values across years.

Subaru WRX Average List Price

Conclusion

It’s now clear that the 2018-2021 models stand out as the best Subaru WRX model years for their reliability and features. Notably, the 2015, 2026, and 2022 models are the worst Subaru WRX years to avoid.

Do you have experience with one of our best or worst Subaru WRX years?

Drop a comment below and share your insights with WRX!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.