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2019 subaru WRX

Subaru has always followed roughly the same recipe to create the WRX: Bolt a powerful engine under the hood of an Impreza and install a host of upgraded, race-derived parts inside and out to complement the extra power. The latest WRX follows the same recipe as before but Subaru has slightly altered the ingredients in order to position its iconic sports car further away from the Impreza and closer to the range-topping, 305-horsepower WRX STI.

Recent changes
For the latest model year, the WRX gets a new infotainment system compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Overview
The WRX rides on a stiffened version of the last-generation Impreza's platform but it is only offered as a four-door sedan. Its design stands out with a blacked-out grille, sleek headlights with C-shaped LED running lights that echo the boxer configuration of the engine, a functional air scoop chiseled into an aluminum hood, and a muscular-looking lower bumper.

Punched-out fenders that have characterized the WRX since its launch and side skirts add a touch of sportiness to the overall look while the rear end features an air diffuser integrated into the rear bumper and four chromed exhaust tips. 17-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels finish off the look.

Life aboard
The WRX's interior is essentially standard, last-generation Impreza fare, meaning it boasts a function-over-form cockpit with a touch screen on the center stack, rectangular air vents and a vehicle information display on top of the dashboard. Faux carbon fiber trim, aluminum pedals, cloth-upholstered sport seats and a flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel emphasize the performance-focused nature of the car.

Although undeniably not as practical as its five-door hatchback predecessor, the WRX boasts 12 cubic feet of trunk space with five occupants on board. The rear seats fold down 60/40 in order to free up extra trunk space.

Navigation-equipped WRX models feature the latest generation of Subaru's Starlink infotainment system. It provides access to Aha which offers tens of thousands of stations of Web-based content like Slacker, MOG and Rhapsody. Starlink can also help keep Subaru owners stay connected to social network via Facebook and Twitter news feeds in audio.

Technical specifications
Power comes from an evolution of the Forester's turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter flat-four engine. It produces 268 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm, enough to send the WRX from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds when linked to a six-speed manual transmission.

Subaru offers select WRX models with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for the first time in the nameplate's long history. It boasts three different modes along with paddle shifters that command six or eight (depending on mode) virtual gears.

Strangely, the CVT actually returns worse fuel economy than the manual, carrying a 18 city/24 highway mpg rating compared to the stick's 21/27 mpg. It also has a deleterious effect on acceleration, adding a half second to the sprint from zero to 60.

Two different all-wheel drive configurations are offered: CVT-equipped models get Subaru's Variable Torque Distribution setup with a 45:55 front/rear output split, while manuals get the Continuous AWD system with a 50:50 split.

Standard and optional equipment
The WRX is available in three trim levels: WRX, WRX Premium and WRX Limited.

The WRX comes standard with cruise control, keyless entry, cloth upholstery with red stitching, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a rear-view camera, an AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 compatibility and automatic climate control.

The WRX Premium adds dual-mode heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, fog lights, illuminated vanity mirrors, 18-inch alloys wrapped by summer performance tires, a power moonroof and a discreet spoiler mounted on the trunk lid.

Premium buyers can order a navigation system and the aforementioned CVT transmission at an extra cost.

The WRX Limited gains an eight-way adjustable driver's seat with a front seatback pocket, leather upholstery all around, welcome lighting, LED low beams and halogen high beams.

Limited models equipped with a six-speed manual transmission can be ordered with an option package that bundles a blind spot detection system with rear cross traffic alert, keyless entry and start, navigation, a seven-inch touch screen, a voice recognition function, smartphone integration, a SD card slot, a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity and a 440-watt, nine-speaker harman/kardon premium audio system.

Finally, Limited models fitted with the CVT can be further upgraded with an option package that includes all of the aforementioned features plus Subaru's well-regarded EyeSight technology.

Occupant safety
All WRX models come standard with dual front, side, and curtain airbags as well as a knee airbag for the driver. Whiplash-reducing front seats, a tire pressure monitoring system, electronic traction control and Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control also come standard.

CVT-equipped Premium and Limited models also gain Subaru's EyeSight suite of electronic driving aids. EyeSight includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and throttle management, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.

Key competitors
With Ford's Focus ST out of the picture, the WRX's closest rivals are the Honda Civic Si and the Volkswagen Golf GTI.