2023 Subaru WRX Long-Term Update: Yay, two Christmases!


When I moved to the Midwest from the mid-Atlantic back in 2016, I steadied myself against a reality I’d not grown up with: a real winter. Sure, my former home has seen its share of apocalyptic snowstorms, but such things were newsworthy because they happened infrequently. So mild were our winters that the local D.C. press fleet would frequently loan out cars in January or February that had never been swapped off of their factory summer or high-performance all-season rubber. I recall one “commutageddon” episode during which I had to navigate the back roads of Anne Arundel County behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. It had all-wheel-drive, sure, but useless summer tires. I managed, but just. 

Over the five years since I relocated, winter has been in steady retreat. Gone are the intense polar vortexes and frozen lakes. Any winter precipitation is as likely as not to be rain or only just-frozen slop these days. To get more than one honest-to-goodness snowstorm feels like an absolute win for those of us who grew up envying those who could count on the cold season to preserve the snow forts and sledding hills we only got to dream about. Well, to end a rambling preamble, we’ve now gotten honest-to-goodness accumulating snow twice since the 2023 Subaru WRX joined our long-term fleet. Here’s Road Test Zac Palmer and myself looking outside the window:

 

Our ‘Rex is riding on a set of Bridgestone Blizzak WS90s in the factory 18-inch fitment. I’m not a fan of the way they behave on dry pavement; they’re far too squirmy and uncommunicative for my comfort. Admittedly, I haven’t driven a new WRX on its OEM tires for well over a year, so there may be some rose tinting of my glasses, but these jiggly Blizzaks really make me miss the confidence-inspiring crispness offered by the OEM rubber. 

On snow? Hoo-boy, completely different ballgame. They make the WRX entirely point-and-click. Between the added grip of the snow tires and the tried-and-true all-wheel-drive system, there’s virtually nothing that can stump it short of slick ice. I intentionally went out during the worst of our mid-March accumulation and found myself running circles around the few drivers who ventured out to run errands during their Friday lunch breaks. Many roads hadn’t been (and would never be) plowed and were virtually untouched. I made way for more than one pickup that ended up in an oncoming lane after washing out their front ends trying to make a turn and carved my way around others puttering along 40-mph arterial roads at single-digit speeds. 

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We’re swiftly approaching the point of no return for spring weather, so this will probably be my last driving update before we swap it back over to its summer tires. I’ll be looking forward to that. In the meantime, I plan to break out my CD collection and see what this millennial-spec sport compact can do. 



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