Home Reliability Best Subaru WRX Year – Which One Is The Best Subaru WRX?

Best Subaru WRX Year – Which One Is The Best Subaru WRX?

by Kelvin Yates

Are you thinking of purchasing a used Subaru WRX model and you are looking for the Best Subaru WRX year? Well, if this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic where we will share everything you need to know when it comes to purchasing a used Subaru.

Performing proper research before you go out there on the market and purchase a used vehicle is something that you really need. Buying a car is an investment, in most cases, you will lose money on this investment unless you purchase an extremely rare car.

But still, you need to try to lose the least money that you possibly can. You just don’t want to get a car that is depreciating a lot and also a car that breaks down every second day. You want something really good and reliable. And this is why you need to learn the best years of production of any given model in order to avoid problems in the long run. And we are going to help you out when it comes to this.

First, we are going to introduce ourselves to the topic and we will learn what is the WRX and why it is so popular. Then we will dive into each of the generations of the WRX and we will cover the specs, common problems, the best Subaru WRX year, and the years to avoid when it comes to that specific model. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

Subaru WRX

Now let’s learn more about what is the WRX in general. I bet that there are a ton of beginners here who are not into cars and want to learn more about the basics when it comes to these models and the best Subaru WRX year. So, if you are one of those guys follow along. If not, you can jump to a specific generation and learn more about it.

Anyways, let’s begin discussing more on the WRX. So, what is the WRX? Well, the WRX is a special model of the famous Subaru Impreza.

This model precisely has made its name on the dirt tracks around the world with its ability to tackle any terrain possible faster than any other competitor. The WRX is a true legend in the rally world. This model has created a benchmark of what an off-road rally car should be.

Best WRX Year

And this popularity has heightened the demand for this model in the car community. These models are one of the least depreciating Subaru models ever. And not that they only not lose the value but they also gain a ton of value as the years go by.

Especially the early models which were not available to purchase here in the US market. The demand for these cars is crazy high and they cost a whole fortune. But more on this later on in the article.

What is important for you is to understand another thing why these cars are so special. And that is because of their famous boxer engines. Boxer engines are one of the coolest things ever. They sit so low and reduce the center of gravity. One of the prime reasons why the Impreza WRX was so competitive. Now let’s move on to the generations.

WRX Generations

Now let’s discuss the generations of the WRX model. We are going to cover the base specs of each of these models, their common problems, and also the best Subaru WRX year. In addition to this, we will cover the Subaru WRX years to avoid. This means that there are a few of them that are also not that wanted like the other models. We will cover the classic generations of the WRX up to the third generation of this model.

First Generation WRX 1992 –2000

The first generation of the Impreza was released in 1992 and was produced until 2000 when it was replaced with the second generation.

Originally assembled in Gunma, the Japanese factory of Subaru. This is one of the models that is craved by car enthusiasts around the world because this model has created the benchmark of what a WRX should be.

Best WRX Year

The WRX model was only offered in the AWD configuration. But what is good about this generation of WRX is that it came with a few body styles. So, you can get a WRX sedan, a station wagon, and a Subaru WRX hatchback.

The only downside of this generation of the WRX was that it wasn’t offered in the US. So, if you want to get one of these cars, you need to import it from Japan or another country where these cars were originally sold. But what is the best Subaru WRX year? More on this in a bit.

Engines & Transmission

Now before we dive into the best Subaru WRX year, let’s first learn more about the specs of this vehicle.

This model came with the famous EJ20 engine. This engine was a turbocharged 2.0L flat-four engine. The WRX of this generation produces about 224lb-ft of torque. Which is plenty considering the weight of this vehicle is really low when compared to modern cars.

There was also a more powerful engine EJ22. This engine was also turbocharged but it had more displacement. 2.2L to be more precise. This engine was rated between 280hp and 300hp.

In terms of transmission, there was only one transmission available. And that is the 5-speed manual. And this is everything you need if you want to experience the true WRX.

Subaru WRX Reliability

When it comes to the reliability of this model. We can say that it is like every other Subaru. You will have problems with heat on cylinder number 4, also oil consumption, and blown head gaskets. All, the common Subaru things.

So, you need to be well prepared for this. This is why a good inspection of the car is essential when it comes to this model before purchase. But what is the best Subaru WRX year? More on this in a bit.

WRX Years To Avoid

When it comes to the worst years and the years to avoid. We would say to avoid the 1992 and 1993 if you want something reliable, go for a later year model.

Best Subaru WRX Year

When it comes to the best Subaru WRX year I would say that 1995 should be the best. Especially because this year was released the STi model was on the market.

In addition to this, in 1998 the 22B STi was released. This is basically a halo car for Subaru. It comes with the EJ22G producing more than 280hp.

But the most legendary Subaru is the GC8 released in 2000. This car makes more than 300hp. And what is good is that you can import the GC8 model to the US, since it is old enough.

There was also a special edition of the GC8 called S201 and only 300 cars were produced. This is frankly one of the rarest Subarus that you can find.

Second Generation WRX 2001 –2007

Now before we cover the best Subaru WRX year for the GC/GG generation, let’s cover a bit of the specs of this model.

This was a new generation. For this purpose, everything was revamped and the car ditched the boxy 90s look for some more contemporary design language. And frankly, this is the WRX model that most people associate Subaru with.

This is the model of our childhood. The model that we enjoyed driving on Dirt Rally. And frankly, I think that this is one of the best-looking cars ever.

There are in total four WRX & WRX STi models that you need to be aware of when it comes to the second generation. These are the S202, S203, S204, WRX STI S20-SC, and Spec C Type RA-R.

These are the cars that dirt rally drivers like Petter Solberg participated in developing and frankly, a true legend that greatly resembles the one that was raced on the rallies. But what is the best Subaru WRX year? We will get to that in a bit.

Engines & Transmission

Now let’s cover the engine that was used on the WRX from this generation. For this generation, Subaru ditched the EJ20 and the EJ22. And introduced the EJ207.

This is a 2.0L flat-four engine that is turbocharged. The engine for the WRX produces about 315hp for most of the models. What is different is the torque. On the early S202, it produces 282lb-ft of torque. While on the later models the torque is increased up to 319lb-ft. Which is really a lot for this light chassis.

In terms of transmissions, the WRX comes with a 6-speed manual transmission that is perfect for driving on the track (with some refinement in how to drive stick). But what about the best Subaru WRX year? Well, more on that we will cover in a bit.

Subaru WRX Reliability

When it comes to reliability. We can say that the EJ207 is a fairly reliable engine. But still, it has some of the Subaru issues that most of these flat-four engines come with.

These issues include oil leaks, increased oil consumption, blown head gaskets, and engine knocking. More specifically the fourth cylinder runs the hottest. And this increase in heat causes the engine to start knocking. This problem also happens on the EJ20 from the previous generation of the WRX.

In order to increase the reliability of their car, a ton of owners install aftermarket tunes, new intake, new downpipe, and also upgrade the intercooler.

WRX Years To Avoid

When it comes to the years to avoid, there is hardly anything to mention. Most of the models are fairly good in this generation. This generation is regarded as one of the best in this perspective.

Best Subaru WRX Year

Most people regard 2004 as the best year of the WRX. Mainly because this year the looks were refreshed and the model got that signature look that most people associate the WRX with today.

Third Generation WRX 2008 –2014

The third generation of the WRX was introduced in 2007 for the 2008 model year. This generation saw a big departure from the previous generation’s design language and became even slimmer and sleeker.

A ton of people didn’t enjoy this look since they were used to the boxy-shaped Impreza that was present on the market for the last 20 years. But things are changing along with the design language and in order for Subaru to stay in touch with the time, something had to be done.

Nevertheless, this Impreza still looks good and is really fun to drive. At least a lot of car reviewers claimed so. But what is the best Subaru WRX year? More on this in a bit after we cover the engines and transmissions.

Engines & Transmission

When we speak about engines and transmissions we can mention that there were two of them. One was the EJ255, this engine was included in the base WRX and produced about 224hp and 226lb-ft of torque.

The second engine was the EJ257. Just to note that in Japan they got the EJ207. Nevertheless, the EJ257 was a really powerful engine. It created 305hp and 290lb-ft of torque, which was plenty for this car.

In terms of transmission, there were actually a few of them, two manuals, a 5-speed, and a 6-speed. And also a 4-speed automatic.

Subaru WRX Reliability

When it comes to reliability, the EJ257 is not an engine that can be regarded as really reliable. It had a number of issues. The classic oil leaks, blown head gaskets, and overheating are standard.

But what was new was the turbine failures, the engine developing knock because of too much wear on the bearings and these problems are really expensive to fix. In some cases, you will even need a completely new engine. But what is the best Subaru year? More on this in a bit.

WRX Years To Avoid

When it comes to the years to avoid, I would say to avoid the 2008 and the 2009 model years. The first model years are always the worst for any type of car and frankly, when it comes to the WRX, these models have a fair share of problems.

Best Subaru WRX Year

When it comes to the best Subaru WRX year, I would say to go for something that is produced in 2010+. On these models, most of the issues are patched. Even though they have more problems than the previous generation of the WRX in general.

Fourth Generation WRX 2014 –2021

Now let’s cover the last generation before we learn about the best Subaru WRX year, and that is the fourth generation of this magnificent model.

This generation was introduced in 2014 and was in production until recently when it was replaced by the new generation. So, this is not the last generation of this model. But since this generation is only a few months old, there isn’t much to cover when it comes to the best Subaru year. A car needs to be produced for a while to recommend you a year.

Best WRX Year

Nevertheless, the 2014 year model has built upon its predecessor and implemented a more modern approach when it comes to design. Still with a lot of hints on the roots, namely the big spoiler in the rear and the huge hood scoop were present.

And not to mention that this generation was the most technologically advanced when it comes to track use. With many interesting mods to choose from for the track and also off the track.

Also, this is the first generation as a standalone WRX model. Since this generation, Subaru started marketing the WRX separately from the Impreza. So, from 2014, you will never come across the Impreza WRX badge but only the WRX. But what is the best Subaru WRX year? More on that we will cover in a bit.

Engines & Transmission

In terms of engines, it is worth mentioning that there are two of them. The base engine included in the WRX is the FA20F. This is a flat-four engine that is producing about 268hp and 258lb-ft of torque. The second engine is the well-known EJ257. This 2.5L turbocharged engine produces 305hp and 290lb-ft of torque.

In terms of transmissions, there are two of them to choose from. A 6-speed manual, and a CVT automatic transmission. But what is the best Subaru WRX year? More on this we will cover in a bit.

Subaru WRX Reliability

Now before we discuss the best Subaru WRX year let’s discuss more on the reliability. As you probably know, every Subaru has the same issues, oil leaks, oil consumption, oil starvation, overheating, blown head gaskets, bearing failure, and rod knocks.

So, does this generation of the EJ257. This is mainly by engine design. These engines lay flat and are prone to these issues. So, make sure that you find a good one with relatively low miles and decent service history.

Another thing to mention is the FA20 engine which is a fairly new engine design. This engine has most of the classic Subaru issues sorted out. But the downside of this engine is that it implements direct injection, so you can expect carbon deposits on the intake valves.

Also, if you run too much boost on this engine, you could easily break a connecting rod. So, upgrading these components is key before you push the engine above the factory limit.

Also, what is worth noting is a problem with the clutch that was reported. There are a number of reports from owners who said that their clutch has failed or their throwout bearing is making noises on their manual transmission cars.

This problem was present in 2014 and 2015. But what is the best Subaru year? More on this we will cover in a bit.

WRX Years To Avoid

When it comes to the years to avoid, I would say avoid the 2015 model year. It has some issues with the clutch on the manual models. And if you purchase this component probably has been already changed. Since 2016, there are generally low complaints about this model.

Best Subaru WRX Year

When it comes to the best Subaru WRX year for this generation, I would say the 2020 model year. The more recent car with low miles you get, the happier your ownership would be.

Don’t hesitate and spend a bit more money on a good car, than spending a ton of money to fix a basket case. Also, beware that these cars are pushed really hard. These are not cars used for commuting. So, when a car is pushed to the limit you can expect more wear and tear.

Subaru WRX: Best and Worst Model Years – Facts

  • The Subaru WRX is a popular sports car born from the legacy of Subaru’s success in the World Rally Championship scene. It has over six different generations, each with pros and cons.
  • The 2015 Subaru WRX marked a special time in Subaru’s history with the integration of the new 268 hp turbocharged FA-20F engine, which made a more responsive, linear, and efficient power delivery compared to the EJ-25. The 2015 WRX also came standard with a six-speed manual transmission, an improved AWD system, and a stiffer, more agile chassis.
  • The 2018 Subaru WRX still had the same 268 hp 2.0-liter boxer as the previous models but came with a new look and some small but noticeable mechanical upgrades, including improved electric power steering, a revised suspension, and a newly designed synchromesh for the six-speed manual transmission.
  • The 2002-2003 Subaru WRX was the first generation of Subaru WRX sold in the U.S. market, with the inter-cooled 227 hp turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer engine. It came in both sedan and wagon form, making it one of the most practical sports cars of the time.
  • The 2004-2005 Subaru WRX was well-received by the automotive press, including Edmunds, who gave the sports car 4.7 out of five-stars, and the addition of the faster, more powerful WRX STI and its updated styling make this generation of WRX one of the most desirable generations.
  • The 2006-2007 Subaru WRX generation got a brand-new front end, including a new grille and headlights, and was the last generation of Subaru WRX to be available as a wagon. It is a fan favorite for a number of reasons and arguably the most popular alongside the 2004-2005 generation.
  • The 2008 Subaru WRX model year lacks the important characteristics that made other Subaru WRX’s special, with significantly muted styling and sound deadening, better ride, and more cabin space.
  • The most notable reason why so many love the Subaru WRX is the iconic rumble of their boxer engines, but with the 2015’s new engine, that fan-favorite sound is not there anymore.
  • The WRX is fast, affordable, practical, and fun, and there is a model year to fit everyone’s unique budget and needs, whether you prefer the old-school or the new.
  • Overall, the best Subaru WRX model years are the 2015 and 2018, while the worst model year is the 2008.

Conclusion To Best Subaru WRX Year

In this article, we have covered a lot about the Subaru WRX. First, we learned more about the basis of this model and why it is so popular in the car community.

Then we have covered four generations of the WRX. From 1992 till 2021. We learned more about their specs, their problems, reliability, and the best Subaru WRX year as well as the worst years for these specific models.


Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

Where Are Subarus Made

Subaru models are usually made in two factories. One of these factories is in Gunma, Japan. Here are the JDM models produced and some of the US models. The American models are produced in Lafayette, Indiana.

What Does WRX Stand For

WRX stands for World Rally eXperimental. This is basically how Subaru made the Impreza a real benchmark when it comes to off-road racing. They took the standard Impreza and converted it into the WRX.

What Does WRX STi Stand For

WRX stands for World Rally eXperimental. This is the name that Subaru created for their dirt rally cars that they race on the tracks around the world. The STi stands for Subaru Tecnica Internacional. This is the name Subaru used to describe their own racing program.

Did Subaru Stop Making STi

Yes, the STi is not produced anymore. Subaru dropped this badge and for the most recent 2022 model, there will not going to be an STi version available.

Difference Between Impreza and WRX

A standard Impreza is basically a commuter car. But a WRX is a performance model from the same platform. On the WRX everything is beefed up and improved. The WRX in simple words is a racing car for the streets.

What’s A Good First Car

A good first car is the standard Impreza. They are really good value when purchased new and can deliver a good performance. Especially for beginner drivers who are still learning how to drive and want something still fun but something that will fit their skill level.

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