Is the Subaru WRX STI a Reliable Car?

Subaru has been producing solid, reliable cars for decades now. The Subaru WRX STI doesn’t have quite the same reputation for engine longevity as the Outback or Forester. We know that the WRX has below-average reliability, but what about the WRX STI? How reliable is this sporty sedan? 

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The most reliable Subaru WRX STI models may come after 2018

TorqueNews reported about common complaints with 2012 – 2017 WRX STI models surrounding the 2.5-liter Boxer engine. Owners of these vehicles alleged there was a defect that caused engine failure. So far, the defect hasn’t been reported for the 2018 WRX STI and on.

For context, J.D. Power gave the 2020 Subaru WRX a 77/100 predicted reliability score. This is well within the average range, but it just misses the ”Great” ranking.

This indicates that 2018, 2019, and 2020 WRX STI cars may be more reliable than their earlier counterparts. 2011 and earlier WRX STI models may be more reliable, as well, but that crop of cars is getting old and will likely be harder to maintain.

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Correlation or causation: Do WRX STI drivers put their cars through the wringer?

There’s an important point to be thought about here: if the majority of Subaru’s cars are renowned for their reliability, what’s going on with the WRX STI? Why is it less reliable than other models in the lineup?

It may be the specific, super-powerful 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine under the hood of the WRX STI. It may be that there’s a large overlap between drivers who buy WRX STI cars and drivers who like to push their cars to the edge. This is a relatively affordable sports car that anyone in the country can drive in almost any weather condition. Hard driving means more wear and tear, and more premature breakdowns of mechanical components.

Is the Subaru WRX STI unreliable because of how it’s built? Or because of who’s driving it? That’s something that not even J.D. Power may be able to answer clearly.

Close view of a blue 2021 Subaru WRX STI's front grille
2021 Subaru WRX STI

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Is it worth it to buy a new or used Subaru WRX STI? 

If you’re interested in Subaru’s hottest sedan, you have an average chance of this car being reliable for its lifespan. Buying a used 2018 or 2019 Subaru could be your best bet. New Subaru WRX STI cars are selling out fast, and Subaru won’t be releasing any new models any time soon.

For those looking for a cheap and reliable sports car, there are plenty available for under $30,000.

As with all cars, you can help boost its predicted reliability by keeping up with routine maintenance, keeping an eye on engine health and oil levels, and maybe taking it easy every now and then.

Silver 2020 Subaru WRX STI drifting around a tight corner, throwing up dust and dirt behind its rear wheels
2020 Subaru WRX STI | Subaru

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