WRX vs STI: What’s the Difference in These Two Subaru Models?

To make things simple when talking about the WRX and the STI, we have to give you a saying that’s applied to other items in our lives.

Every STI is a WRX, but not every WRX is an STI. If that doesn’t make things clear as mud, we’re not sure what will. Because it’s not instantly understood, we’ll have to go deeper into the discussion to give you a better idea of what you’re going to find when you talk about the different versions of the Subaru WRX.

Loyal Followings for Every Version

If you’re looking for a sedan that looks sporty, aggressive, and gives you some rally car qualities, you’ll be pleased to see what Subaru has to offer. The WRX is built to please you and be right for everyday driving, but if you’re looking for more excitement, you’ll want to look at the WRX STI versions and see what this impressive car has for your ride. Will you become one of the many that follow everything the brand does with this car and how it creates a sporty sedan that you’re going to love to drive?

Make the Drive the Way You Want

No matter which version of this car you drive, you’re going to have AWD; it comes standard on every model. As you look at whether you want a regular WRX or you want to go for the STI versions, you’ll first want to choose the transmission. If you have the six-speed manual, you will enjoy a viscous-coupling center differential that adds more to the performance of your car.

If you instead opt for the CVT, you’ll have a planetary-gear center differential and a hydraulic transfer clutch. The difference between these two layouts could be the difference in the amount of fun you find when you drive.

Let’s Look at Some Trims

We know that the STI models are trims of the WRX, but we should look at how they are presented. The various WRX trims that are not equipped with the performance items of the STI models are:

WRX (base model)

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • AWD
  • Smartphone integration
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Automatic climate controls
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Heated side mirrors
  • 6.5-inch infotainment screen
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Satellite radio
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto

WRX Premium

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Sunroof
  • Heated front seats
  • EyeSight Driver Assist Package
  • Optional Recaro seats
  • Optional Brembo brakes

WRX Limited

  • Leather upholstery
  • 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
  • Navigation system
  • Active driver assistance safety features


  • Highly-tuned suspension
  • Sophisticated AWD system
  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Brembo brakes
  • Steering responsive LED headlights
  • Simulated suede/leather upholstery

WRX STI Limited

  • Rear wing/spoiler
  • Recaro leather seats
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Lane change assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alerts
  • Moonroof

The EyeSight Safety Features are Useful

It’s highly recommended that you make sure the Subaru sedan you drive has the EyeSight package of safety features. This package can be had on most trims, giving you the safety features that will keep you out of trouble. The package includes lane-keeping assistance, active cruise control, and a pre-collision system that applies the brakes to prevent or lessen the impact of an accident. This system is something you should consider including in the car that you want to drive every day.

Excitement Found in Both Version

Regardless of the model of this Subaru performance sedan you choose to drive, you’ll find a comfortable place to have the drive that you desire. You won’t be bothered by traffic but will be more than happy to have the quality interior materials that make you forget about the seats and the tech while you’re carving up the corners and curves of a canyon run.

Looks that Aren’t Deceiving

Nothing about how this Subaru looks is going to give you the feeling of a calm and quiet drive. This car is aggressive and ready to take on the road. The best way to describe it is that this car is similar to a bulldog ready to grab a piece of meat. You’ll see amazing fender flares, the large hold opening to feed air into the engine, and either a trunk-mounted wing or trunklid spoiler for this impressive car. Both models have quad-tip exhaust ports to give you the finishing touch to a sedan that is ready to tackle every road.

The Biggest Differences

We are talking about the differences between the typical WRX models and the STI versions. As you can see from what we’ve discussed so far, the STI version has more performance items to give you an exciting drive.

That excitement would be wasted if it didn’t also come with a powerful engine for you to use during your drive.

The STI models make use of a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat four-cylinder engine that makes 310 horsepower and 290 lb.-ft. of torque. This car is only offered with the six-speed manual transmission, making it a true sports car and one that not every driver can enjoy. If you don’t know how to shift gears, you’ll have to avoid the STI.

The regular WRX models are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged flat four-cylinder engine that makes 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine can be had with either the six-speed manual transmission or a CVT. The transmission you choose will determine how the power is delivered to the wheels, as mentioned above.

Which Version is Right for You?

Head over to your local Subaru dealer and answer the question of which model to drive. No matter which version of the STI you select, you’ll be driving a WRX, but you can have a WRX without selecting the STI packaging. That fact should make a lot more sense to you now that you’ve read through this article. Find the right Subaru sports sedan for your driving experience and know that it will be the one you want to show off to your friends and family who will see you pass by with a big smile on your face.

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning a commission is given should you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. All products shown are researched and tested to give an accurate review for you.

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