Used Subaru WRX Buyer’s Guide: 2014-2021

  • Everything you need to know before buying a used Subaru WRX
  • Subaru WRX known issues and general reliability
  • Pricing for models can vary wildly from around $17,000

You’re here because you want a Subaru. Well, not just some Subaru crossover. You want the Subaru WRX. That’s all well and good, and we commend you for your choice. But, there’s a few things that you should know before buying one of the most iconic performance cars of the modern era. Lucky for you, that’s exactly the purpose of this guide. Here, you’ll learn everything you’ll need to know before buying a WRX.

Is the Subaru WRX a reliable car?

A silver WRX shot from the front 3/4 angle in a parking lot at sunset
Subaru’s current ‘Rex debuted in 2014 | Jim Mahoney via Getty Images

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We’ll start with the biggest question anyone has about buying a car: reliability. Maintenance will be your biggest expense after purchasing a Subaru WRX, head gaskets and all. Thankfully, the 2014-2021 run of WRX models are far and away the most reliable WRX yet. 2018 and up models, like the 2019 Subaru WRX STI are particularly popular for this reason. However, there are a few pitfalls, mainly to do with the boxer layout of the engine. First, these cars will eat oil. Some shops recommend a catch can to help vent excess sludge from your WRX’s crankcase.

Second, both the six-speed and CVT WRX models have a fickle transmission. They’ll eat clutches and throwout bearings quite easily, so go easy on that transmission if you’re new to driving stick. Additionally, the underbody of the Subaru WRX has almost no protection from the elements, so be wary of rust and damage there, and make sure to get a pre-purchase inspection. Finally, that full-time AWD system and its wheel bearings don’t handle high-offset wheels well, and the AWD will also mean increased brake, tire, and fuel consumption.

What’s the best year for the WRX?

A silver Subaru WRX shot in profile at sunset in a parking lot
The VA-gen Subaru WRX is a performance sedan for the ages | Jim Mahoney via Getty Images

Thankfully, that’s really the end of the major mechanical maladies, and most can be solved through religious maintenance. Now, there’s not a whole lot of change in the VA generation Subaru WRX lineup. The car is largely the same from 2014-2018, but 2018+models benefit from minor mechanical updates and some nicer finishes inside. Our pick? Try and get yourself a 2019 Subaru WRX STI, which offers the best mechanical updates in a faster package. However, generally, you ought to buy the newest, lowest mileage model you can find. 2015-2017 models seem to be the sweet spot for miles and pricing.

That said, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a WRX that isn’t modified in some way. Thankfully, unless someone has really gone to town, the platform handles a lot of work before reliability starts to take a nosedive. Once again, be wary of aftermarket wheels due to the papery constitution of Subaru’s wheel bearings. Additionally, expect to pay a premium for the blue ones. Everyone wants to be Colin McRea.

What to pay for a WRX

A silver Subaru WRX shot from the front
The current WRX has become an icon | Jim Mahoney via Getty Images

Speaking of money, pricing can vary greatly here. Obviously, the biggest contributor to price is mileage, and like we said earlier, color. Silver keeps values low, so if you’re really on a budget a high-mile silver CVT Subaru WRX is best. That said, given current market circumstances (thanks a lot, semiconductors), most models under 80,000 miles with a stick can be found with some modifications for right around $20,000 or so. As for our 2019 Subaru WRX STI pick, those can be found with low miles for around $40,000. Happy hunting you rally god, you.

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