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Vehicle Comparison Highlights:

  • The 2022 Honda Civic Si is hot hatch genesis under $30,000
  • A Subaru WRX is still the bargain AWD sports car
  • Which JDM icon is right for you?

People get old. Time marches on, and those of us that experienced the prominence of JDM cars back in the late ’90s and early 2000s have grown up. We’ve got jobs, and with that comes disposable income. Honda knows this, and they’re really capitalizing on it. So does Subaru, though both brands have been making cars like the 2022 Honda Civic Si and the 2021 Subaru WRX for some time. But how does the latest generation of Japanese sports icons stack up?

2022 Honda Civic Si2021 Subaru WRX
Price Range$27,300-$27,500$28,420-$33,020
Engine Options1.5 L DOHC VTEC Turbocharged four-cylinder2.0L DOHC Turbocharged H-4
Horsepower200 hp @ 6,000 rpm268 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque192 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm258 hp @ 2,000 rpm
TransmissionSix-speed manual transmissionCVT automatic, six-speed manual transmisson
MPG Rating (City/HWY/Comb)27/37/3121/27/23
IIHS Safety RatingTop Safety Pick+Top Safety Pick
NHTSA Safety Rating5 Stars5 Stars

2022 Honda Civic Si

An orange 2022 Honda Civic Si shot from the front 3/4 on a back road
The new 2022 Honda Civic Si | Honda
  • Pros: Sub-3,000 lbs, sub-$30,000 backroad bomber
  • Cons: Lackluster warranty, no complimentary maintenance

We’ll start with the Civic Si. Based on the newest Honda Civic, it takes things that are classically Honda and applies them to the modern age. That means a six-speed and a shockingly low curb weight. Just 2,952 lbs. And with 200 hp on tap, that makes the 2022 Honda Civic Si a real weapon. The Civic Si is also a real bargain, with a starting price under $30,000. There’s also an “HPT” pack that adds optional summer tires to the Si, but we’d skip it if you plan on aftermarket wheels.

In short, the Si is typically Honda in all the best ways. The new model builds and refines on the classic low weight/low power formula the brand is famous for. It is, in almost every way, categorically opposed to the WRX. Yet consumers regularly cross-shop these two models. Sure, FWD can be an issue for those with snowy winters, but snow tires can be the cure. If you want a fast daily driver that isn’t a Volkswagen GTI, this is where your money belongs.

2021 Subaru WRX

A white 2021 Subaru WRX shot from the front 3/4 on a race track
The WRX is being updated for 2022 | Subaru
  • Pros: rally legend grop and stability, endless aftermarket support, cheap AWD fun
  • Cons: AWD means more consumables use, ride can be a little too stiff, loud on the highway

Well, unless you want AWD. If that’s the case, you’re left with the 2021 Subaru WRX. It is, by a good margin, one of the cheapest AWD performance cars you can buy. Really, if you want an AWD compact car with some heat under the hood, you’re left with far pricer options like the Golf R or the full-on WRX STI. And, with the 2021 Subaru WRX Premium starting at $30,970, you’re not in for much more money than a Civic Si.

However, AWD also means there’ll be a price to pay in tires, brake pads, and oil. The 2022 Honda Civic Si is almost guaranteed to be a more carefree maintenance experience, but if outright speed is your goal, the WRX is the horse to back. All 268 of those horses mean a driving experience that’ll blow the doors right off that Civic. Plus, for those that prefer it, you can order an automatic transmission (don’t).

Which JDM sports icon is right for you?

A white JDM 2021 Subaru WRX shot from the front 3/4 on a mountain top
The Subaru WRX has become an icon | Subaru

2022 Honda Civic Si Price Revealed

At the end of the day, this is a question about preference in driving style. If wringing a car out for all it’s worth without breaking the speed limit is your goal, pick the 2022 Honda Civic. If you need grip and speed above all else, it’ll be the 2021 Subaru WRX. Both are JDM icons, but we’d rather have the Civic Si. It feels a little more original, less boilerplate if you will. Plus, however meager those savings are, we’d rather spend those extra few thousand dollars on a track day or six.