Long-Term Subaru WRX Interior Review: Sporty with a dash of tech

Change tends to happen slowly when it comes to Subaru interiors. It makes sense, as its buyers are and always have been the sort to enjoy the consistent, rugged nature of its products. Our long-term Subaru WRX sips heavily from that same cup of evolution for its new generation. However, there are still a lot of new bits to parse, and spending an elongated period with our orange sedan allowed me to gather some more definitive thoughts.

Slipping into the well-bolstered, super comfy “Ultrasuede” seats of our Limited tester is mighty easy, in some part thanks to the high-for-a-sport-sedan seating position. That’s a real boon for visibility, which is shockingly good for a new car. Thin pillars, a low dash, large windows and a sizable rear window all make for a sedan I’d never complain about seeing out of.

Ergonomically, all of that is a big win. Also positive is the layout of the center console. The pair of cupholders are far enough back that you can put a drink in them and not smash them with your elbow pulling the gear lever back (the door pocket works nicely for drinks, too). I adore that it has a physical handbrake still, though the tiny cutout just to the right of it is useless. 

You’d think that the opening ahead of the shifter and under the infotainment screen would be a good place to put your phone, and it can be, but you’re going to need a small-ish phone for it to work. Any iPhone of the “+” variety is going to be too long and hang over the lip that would keep it at bay. Assuming you drive the WRX how it’s meant to be driven, that ultimately means your phone is going to fly out of the cubby and into your shifting hand on full-throttle acceleration. Not good! To avoid that, I ended up just tossing my phone in the cupholder most of the time. That requires a little snaking of the cord past the shifter, but it’s easy enough to tuck in between the passenger seat and the center console. Wireless CarPlay/Android Auto would be a nice upgrade.

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And on the topic of the unavoidable, massive central touchscreen in the dash, it’s a mix of good and bad. The heated seat controls being touchscreen-only is frustrating when you’re impatiently waiting for the screen to load up to click them on in sub-freezing temperatures. Backup physical controls for the temperature settings, defrost, volume and tuning are all greatly appreciated, though. The only disappointment there is that the screen itself is bordered in piano black trim that gets very dusty after just a short time.

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Subaru kills it in the realm of clicky and easy-to-use buttons throughout the rest of the interior. I love that both volume control and cruise control speed settings can be adjusted via switch toggles on the steering wheel, making them extremely easy to find by feel without searching around. Auto up/down window switches are present for all four(!) windows. The traction control switch is just as easy to activate in the bank of buttons to the left of the wheel, too, which makes sliding around in the snow at a moment’s notice all the more accessible. I just wish there weren’t as many blank button switches on our fully-loaded Limited model as there are.

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Greg already touched on it in his review of our WRX, but the rear seat is middling at best in terms of spaciousness. At the very least, Subaru carried all of its nice suede materials and red stitching through to the back – that’s something a Civic Type R doesn’t do. And even though the interior is an all-black colorway (with no other options), the lighter tones of the suede, faux carbon fiber trim and red stitching elevate the space into something I’m not mad costs nearly $40,000. All the vital bits you touch are pleasing and surprisingly soft, so even if it doesn’t have a lot of visual panache or appeal, what you’re getting is an eminently usable interior. We’ll go over the infotainment tech in a separate deep dive, but I’ll be the first to say the analog gauges feel like the right move for the WRX in a world where every vehicle marches on to digital gauge clusters. Subaru could definitely upgrade the dated-looking screen in between those gauges, but at least there’s a boost pressure view that you can keep tabs on for fun.

Just like the way it drives, the WRX’s interior is sporty and old-school with a dash of modernity thrown in on the side. It doesn’t lead the way in any particular area, but there aren’t any deal breakers either (looking at you, GTI). Subaru made it work, and I already know I’m going to enjoy the next stint I spend inside our orange AWD monster.

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