Is the 2020 Subaru WRX Just a Fast Jeep Wrangler?

Some vehicles’ success has less to do with facts and figures and more to do with how they make us feel. More specifically, how they make us feel about ourselves, these vehicles tend to be more of a lifestyle choice than a practical vehicle. The Jeep Wrangler might be the clearest examples of this sort of thing that I can think of. Jeeps continually rank poorly with Consumer Reports and offer little in the way of practicality. Regardless of how poorly they perform, they are beloved by many and always will be how they make the driver feel. I think the Subaru WRX might like to hang in that camp for a while, too. 

The Jeep Wrangler and the Subaru WRX are basically the same

Ok, sure. One is a race car, while the other is a lumbering brick with doors that come off. But let’s think about this a little bit before we react. Both models are made for off-road. Both are for people who long only to rip them apart and customize the hell out of them. And both are terribly impractical for anything other than fun. 

Obviously, very few people can actually drive on a rally stage. This is not news, but I would wager most people who buy a WRX (and everyone who buys a WRX STi) dreams of flying sideways through a narrow trail someplace in Finland. Of all the folks buying these cars, very few of them actually take their WRX out for a bit of rally, and that’s ok. The point of a car like this is to make you feel like you could whenever you were ready.

The same is true for Jeep Wrangler people. Of Course, people go off-road in Jeeps all the time, but statistics show that most people who buy a new Jeep Wrangler will never really take it four-wheeling. 

The 2020 Subaru WRX

One place where these two cars differ is how much Consumer reports likes them. Where the 2020 Jeep Wrangler scored an abysmal 26, the Subaru WRX landed a solid 61 overall. The WRX is a rally-inspired road car with a trademark all-wheel-drive system. The little racer is fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four making a commanding 268 hp. Like the Wrangler, the Subaru WRX also still comes with a manual as standard equipment. Continuing the theme, the WRX’s clutch pedal and shifting action are heavy and clunky, according to CR. 

The Jeep Wrangler similarities don’t stop there

The 2020 Subaru WRX often attracts the young racer who wants to go fast and live on the edge. Well, you’d have to be young to survive driving the WRX due to its extremely rough and bumpy ride. The heavy clutch pedal doesn’t help either. In city traffic, CR says the WRX will buck and shake violently with any misstep in the clutch work. CR described the ride quality in one word, “awful.” 

Jeep Wrangler 4xe driving on dirt road
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe | Jeep

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When CR tested the 2020 Jeep Wrangler the language used to describe the ride quality was very similar. The driver gets tossed around with any road imperfection or turn of the steering wheel. The purpose-built off-road suspension is great for rock crawling and flex but is nothing but harsh on the roads.

I’m sorry I can’t hear you I’ve been in a WRX all-day

We have come to expect Japanese tuner cars to be loud but the Subaru WRX is loud in the wrong way. CR says that the road noise inside the cabin was a “constant barrage.” This is about the same you can expect from a Wrangler. The lack of seals and real roof make the Wrangler a vortex of wind noise and road hum but what’s the Subaru’s excuse? 

The comparisons can go on for days

For everything negative that a Jeep Wrangler and a Subaru WRX have in common, they both also share the same positives; People who have them love them. The 2020 Subaru WRX  did get a slightly worse score on owner satisfaction but the truth remains; folks buy these for how they could be, not what they are. Both vehicles support an extensive network of aftermarket suppliers, builders, and tinkerers. The potential that these two vehicles carry is immense and keeps people coming back regardless of the headaches and discomfort. The problems don’t matter, only the potential counts.