Roadshow: Part weekday commuter, part weekend sports car, the Subaru WRX is a performance car that does it all |

The Subaru WRX has long been the car for drivers who want to have fun with a turbocharger, but still need a reliable all-weather commuter. For 2022, the WRX enters its fifth generation with a complete redesign, but that same philosophy of rallying for the road is alive and well.

The 2022 WRX is about 3 inches longer and 2 inches wider than its predecessor, and despite being based on the standard Impreza, no body panels are shared between the two cars. The rear of the sedan looks great with sleek BRZ taillights, and I dig the bigger grille up front. Also note: Every scoop and vent you see on the WRX is functional for aerodynamics or cooling.

My only real complaint is with the WRX’s fenders. I’m not complaining about the coating – after all, plastic will definitely protect the WRX against gravel and mud. But the texture of these add-ons is just gross, and I don’t like how asymmetrical the arches are. Appearances are subjective, of course, but a plain black coating on a curved surface would look much better here.

Luckily, you don’t have to stare at those arches behind the wheel, and that’s really where the 2022 WRX shines. Its 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-4 engine produces 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and power is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic. I’m sure the CVT is fine, but come on, grab the stick.

The turbo engine has a new wastegate design to reduce turbo lag, which means the 2022 WRX will take off without hesitation. The new car is also stiffer than its predecessor and has a new stabilizer bar, and all of this helps control body roll. The WRX doesn’t have the best steering feel, but it’s still fun.

When twisty roads turn straight, the WRX is a formidable commuter. Its ride is stiffer than before, but the WRX is far from punishing. The seats are comfortable and while the steering is numb, there’s at least a bit of heft that helps instill confidence. Overall, the WRX’s cabin is pretty quiet, but you’ll hear a lot of engine and turbo noise when you’re driving hard.

Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system helps the WRX excel on gravel road. No, it’s not an off-road car — WRX Wilderness, anyone? — but this compact sedan will handle a forest service road like a boss, keeping its traction in loose corners far better than any front-drive rival. It’s easy to see why rallycross drivers start out with the WRX as their donor car.

Unfortunately, all-wheel drive weighs heavily on fuel economy compared to front-wheel-drive performance cars like the Honda Civic Si, Hyundai Elantra N, or Volkswagen Jetta GLI. I’m able to get close to EPA fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined for the manual transmission WRX, averaging 23.6 mpg after one week of trials. Sure, the Civic Si has less horsepower, but it returns 31 mpg combined.

If you choose to go with the CVT, that unlocks a new WRX GT trim, which has adaptive dampers and an individual drive mode where you can adjust steering and powertrain settings. The GT also comes with Recaro seats, and it’s a shame you can’t get any of those on manual-equipped cars.

You also can’t get Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist suite, which includes lane-centering technology, automatic emergency steering and adaptive cruise control, with the manual transmission. Other manual-equipped cars like the Civic Si and Volkswagen Golf GTI get a full suite of tech, so it’s a bummer that Subaru can’t keep up. My tester has at least blind spot monitoring.

The base WRX has two 7-inch touchscreens running Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system, but my Limited tester gets a single 11.6-inch portrait-oriented display with split-screen capabilities. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the board, as are physical temperature and volume controls. With the larger screen, I like being able to see my map and audio controls on one screen, but I wish there were fixed buttons for the heated seats. I shouldn’t have to double tap to get my bread warmers to work.

Charging options are plentiful with two 2.1-amp USB-A ports for front and rear passengers. There are also two 12-volt outlets in the WRX, as well as an Aux port, which is pretty hilarious to see these days.

The 2022 Subaru WRX starts at $30,100 including $995 for destination. The CVT adds between $1,850 and $2,250 depending on trim, while the top GT costs $42,890. The sweet spot here is the Premium version with the manual transmission for $32,600 including destination. Sure, I don’t have blind spot monitoring or a sunroof, but those aren’t deal-breakers for someone like me. Subaru’s built-in navigation system is absent on the Premium, but with the larger screen and smartphone mirroring, you can let Apple or Google handle the maps.

The WRX has always been a great all-rounder, and this 2022 model is no different. It’s playful and fun to ride, but not so harsh that it’s hard to live with on a daily basis. Plus, the added performance of all-wheel drive makes this a car you can really live with in all four seasons. Weird styling aside, the WRX is more appealing than ever.

————

©2022 Tour. Visit at cnet.com/roadshow. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.