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Old 10-06-2009, 04:42 PM   #1
ezod52
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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2009 WRX 5Dr
Black

Default 04 Wrx -> 09 Wrx

My review/comparison, for what it's worth:

My 04 WRX wagon was great, but I was pretty excited to get into an 09 5dr WRX. Personally, I think the 09 5dr is really nice looking even though some say it's the ugliest WRX yet (not a huge fan of the sedan though). With the new looks, more power and some new options I couldn't get in my first WRX, I was ready for the change. For the record, my driving is 50/50 highway/city, with a lot of bumper-to-bumper NJ traffic in the mix. I drive conservatively 75% of the time, only romping on the gas and taking hard corners once in a while. I don't track or autocross.

On the test drive my impression was that the 09 felt more solid with less road noise and was more comfortable overall. My wife immediatley commented that the car was quieter and didn't sound like a tin can as did the 04. I imagine this is due in part to the upgrade from frameless to framed windows. Sunroof and heated seats were nice to see in the premium. The hatch area looks more usable without giant strut towers. I didn't beat on the test car but it definately felt quick. Transmission felt like it shifted well enough, if a little rubbery (although much longer throw than my factory short-throw on the 04). I was expecting interior quality to be much worse having heard much complaining about it... I thought it was fine.

So I traded in my 04 WRX 5dr for an 09 WRX 5dr Premium. I've had the car over a month (i think 1500 miles maybe). I think I can give a useful review at this point and some comparison to the 04 for people considering a similar change.

There are quite a few shortcomings in the 09 WRX - some i was expecting, some i was not.

Interior quality is so-so as I expected. I have occassional rattling in the dash - haven't tried to find/fix it yet. Without a high quality feel, it makes me nervous when they add things like an electric hatch handle. I prefer stuff like that to be mechanical and failsafe. If you want to add electric bells and whistles - how about auto down for *ALL* the windows. Auto-up would be nice too. Sunroof controls are clumbsy compared to other cars I've been in that are more 1-touch style (in the WRX you have to hold the toggle buttons down for a few seconds to open/close/vent).

The radio sound quality is pretty bad even at moderate sound levels. Stock systems rarely sound *great* but this is one of the worst I've heard. Changing out the head unit helps significantly - if you just change the speakers it'll probably still sound like garbage so I wouldn't bother with the speakers unless you change the radio also.

I think the seats are softer than in the 04. At first I was just thinking how it was more comfortable, but having taken some corners at reasonable speed, now I find the seats way under supportive. I imagine they would be unacceptable for someone who races/autocrosses. I heard the STI has the same seats (with different seating surface). If that's true it's a tragedy.

The shifter is pretty long throw and isn't what I'd call 'precise', but it's not too bad. It gets into 1st at low speeds better than my 04 ever did. Something I didn't notice until a week of driving, was that reverse can be a bitch to get into. Very annoying at times, such as when manuevering in a parking lot or parallel parking on a busy street. Others have also noticed the issue with reverse. Also on the topic of shifting, the clutch pedal is really light - too light. I find I have a harder time blending than i did in the last WRX and can't always tell where the pedal is because I don't feel any pedal resistance.

I think the throttle also seems a little touchy maybe? Biggest annoyance with the throttle is a strange 'bug' in the drive-by-wire system that I noticed a few weeks into ownership. The engine revs will rise (or fail to fall) when you're inching forward in traffic and you let off the gas and push the clutch to the floor. It sounds/feels very unnatural when it happens. I've seen posts where WRX drivers say people give them dirty looks because it sometimes sounds like you're revving your engine for no reason while sitting in traffic or at a light. My dealer says there is no listed fix for the issue. There are about a hundred people posting about the problem on NASIOC. I hear this is an issue on the STI also. SOA should really sort this thing out.

There's also this new hill-holder nonsense. I cannot believe it's not defeatable (from what I read it's only defeatable on the STI). If the car senses you're on a hill it keeps the brakes engaged when you let off the clutch to keep you from rolling backwards. The concept is either genius or ridiculous depending on your point of view. I think if you can't start off on a hill without rolling backwards, you need more practice. It's not rocket science, just muscle memory. The problem with the system is that it holds the brakes too long and often prevents you from going forward. It also seems to activate when on what I would consider level ground. Before I knew what was going on, I kept thinking there was a rock or a stick under my wheels when I'd try to get going. I've stalled a few times thanks to this 'innovation' and I could see it causing more dangerous situations than it prevents. Over time I've gotten somewhat more used to it but I still would rather be able to turn it off.

Driving the car at highway speeds and around entrance and exit ramps for the past month, I've decided the suspension is indeed too soft. I heard comments to this effect but initially I thought it was great. Feels much more comfortable around town. Now I feel it's a bit of a liability. At high speeds I feel like the car's too disconnected from the road and maybe a bit unstable (at least compared to my 04). One cloverleaf exit ramp on my drive home has some bumpy patches and if you're going around the ramp at a good clip and hit some bumps, the car totally looses composure. I can't see racing/autoxing this thing without suspension mods. It's annoying that the car is low enough to bottom out the front lip on my driveway entrance but not tight enough to take hard corners? Worst of both worlds.

I've read that the 08+ WRX has open diffs in front and rear, whereas past generations had a viscous LSD in at least one axle? Or something like that. I personally will probably never know the difference given my driving tendancies, but it's kind of sad to hear that something has been 'downgraded' in your new model car.

I recently started noticing dreaded paint issues. Two little patches on my hood look very strange... almost like they're starting to bubble. There have been several chips on my hood since the 2nd week I had the car. While that could certainly happen to any car, it's worth noting that my wife has essentially the same commute as me and her 1yr old Audi has no such rock chips. And she tends to do a lot more speeding than I do.

Rear visibility isn't so great - the rear window is kind of short. I pulled the headrests off the backseats in my 04 to clear the way a bit. Not sure if that will make any difference in the 09 but I might give it a shot. I never have anyone back there anyway and it makes it easier to fold down the seats too.

Of minor note - the buttons on the new 09 remote seem too easy to hit. I accidentally armed/disarmed the alarm several times with the remote in my pocket with random stuff pushing the buttons. Now i get worried when walking away from my car in a parking garage and putting my keys in my pocket... gotta make sure i don't accidentally disarm it before i head off to the office all day.


Before I get pegged a hater, I'll get to the good stuff.

I really enjoy a bunch of the new interior options. Heated seats and sunroof are so common these days that I was upset I didn't have them in the 04. Glad to have them now. The center console has an aux input for the radio and a power plug, which is very convienent. Standard USB input would have been even better but when you upgrade the radio (which I strongly suggest you do) you can get USB/iPod/iPhone input with the new head unit. Steering wheel mounted controls for radio and cruise are more useful than I would have thought... very happy to have them and VERY VERY glad that my Pioneer replacement headunit had an available black box to keep the steering wheel controls working :-) thanks George.

Two MPG meters, one for each trip meter, is very useful. I have one tracking my overall milage and one tracking per-tank. I'm getting ~24MPG in my mixed driving now that I'm out of break-in. I think that's a little better than I ran in the 04 but that's based on estimates using gas tank size and range-per-tank. Auto-climate control is a big improvement over my 04's manual controls, and I read that the A/C gets shut off automatically under hard acceleration. Not sure if that was true on previous years?

Heated windshield wiper rest is pretty freaking sweet. Can't wait to see it in action this winter in the tri-state weather. Why don't I see that on more cars? I heard the side views are also heated but i haven't seen that in print anywhere (haven't looked).

I think there's more room in the cabin - feels like slightly more legroom and more headroom over the 04 (although I haven't checked numbers). I think the back seats might be more useable. Hatch has a better layout with smaller towers intruding with suspension bits, but I don't know if it's any bigger overall. Cargo cover is approximatly as ghetto as previous one. There used to be a sneaky little cut-out under the false floor where you could store the cargo cover in the 04 when you had the seats folded down. It was very useful and I didn't notice anything comparable on the 09... i'll have to do some more looking around.

The car feels very civil with respect to noise and ride comfort. Again, I credit the framed windows in the doors - which may also offer some added security over frameless. Speaking of security, my 09 included a security system with some sort of starter defeat I believe. Not sure if that's a Premium feature.

The little touches like red-stiched "WRX" in the seats and on the steering wheel make it feel just that little bit special. It's noticably faster than the 04 with a more useful powerband, but I guess that goes without saying. Passing that slow SUV or 18-wheeler on the highway is a lot easier. Even with a conservative launch (ie. no clutch dump) the 09 hauls off the line, which is really nice for merging on short entrance ramps and making yourself feel like you got your money's worth :-)

As fas as looks, I think my black WRX looks mean as hell...even without the bellbottoms... umm ... i mean fender flares... of the STI. Just kidding. I love bellbottoms.

Overall, it's a good car at a reasonable price offering speed, AWD, Subaru reliability (minus the paint, anyway) and the versatility of a hatch. Sometimes I miss the raw connected feel of the 04, but for a daily driver I think the 09 is a better car all the way around. Biggest down side has been going from a paid off WRX to a ball-and-chain for 4 years :-(
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Old 10-07-2009, 09:08 PM   #2
Saj5DJ
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I do like this review I have to say.

Love my '09, with most of the same reservations as you. The rev hang annoys my head, I don't really find the seats too soft, but I HATE the surface material.

I never had a problem with the hill start assist, but, like you, I totally fail to see the point. Well, maybe not, I guess this car DOES attract alot of 'first time' standard drivers.

EDIT: Oh, and I think it looks great too! I preferred the sedan tho, each to his own.

I'd really like to ask you two questions though (and be honest!):
  1. More, less, or the same fun to drive factor as the '04? (probably hard to answer while in break in I guess)
  2. Is the 'ball-and-chain' factor worth it?
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Old 10-08-2009, 12:18 PM   #3
ezod52
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Black

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saj5DJ View Post
I do like this review I have to say.

Love my '09, with most of the same reservations as you. The rev hang annoys my head, I don't really find the seats too soft, but I HATE the surface material.

I never had a problem with the hill start assist, but, like you, I totally fail to see the point. Well, maybe not, I guess this car DOES attract alot of 'first time' standard drivers.

EDIT: Oh, and I think it looks great too! I preferred the sedan tho, each to his own.

I'd really like to ask you two questions though (and be honest!):
  1. More, less, or the same fun to drive factor as the '04? (probably hard to answer while in break in I guess)
  2. Is the 'ball-and-chain' factor worth it?
I agree the seat material could be better but didn't think to mention it in my review.

Dealer said the hill-assist was a government required feature - i haven't researched to find out if that's bs or not. Perhaps it does help with teenagers getting used to manuals, as you say. But I see no reason to make it un-defeatable.

1) When I got into the 04 WRX I was coming from an 02 Audi S4. I babied the S4 (until it was stolen) because i couldn't afford any damage or tickets, so i didn't have as much fun as I should have with it. The WRX on the other hand, cost 1/2 as much and had the road feel of a go-cart (in a good way) compared to the S4. I thought it was a blast to drive even though i gave up 99% of my comfort options

The 09 WRX feels kind of like a middle ground between the two. It's more comfortable than the 04 in every way, but feels like less of a 'toy' to have fun with. The [tons of] extra power make driving in a lot of every day situations much more fun - merging and passing are the hilights of my day now. I'd say I miss the raw feel of the 04 at speed and in the corners but love the new power on the striaghts and comfort around town - so I think the fun factor between them is about the same. I think there's a good chance that with a set of springs the 09 will take a strong lead though.

2) I've gone back and forth about the ball-and-chain. I got an insane deal on the 04 WRX and I feel like I should have done better haggling over my tradein value and the 09 price, so that's always in the back of my head. I felt the 04 was 'race ready', even though i didn't plan to race it. After driving the 09 for a while I was a little disappointed it didn't have the same sort of feel. Honestly, EVERY SINGLE REVIEW says the 09s are softer, so I don't know why this took me by surprise. But settling into my 2nd month of ownership, I'm really enjoying the comfort level that comes with the softer setup. For a daily driver, I think the 09 is definetly a step up. If you can get a good price on an 09 it's a great car and worth the loan. I think I got a 'fair' deal, so i'm 50/50 on my particular situation. But things like the paint issues :sob: make me question my previous opinion about the car being an "incredible" value. Manditory body work (i hear these chips rust quickly without attention in a lot of cases?) on a new car is unacceptable.
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Old 10-08-2009, 01:35 PM   #4
UoMDeacon
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The side rear-view mirrors are indeed heated like you, I'm also looking forward to the heated wiper areas this winter in the tri-state. I guess if you think the 09 is soft, the 08 would feel like a sponge to you. I actually enjoy the softness of the 08, as I only use it to commute, but did want a bit more pickup than would have been available with just the base Impreza.
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Old 10-09-2009, 11:33 AM   #5
ezod52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UoMDeacon View Post
The side rear-view mirrors are indeed heated like you, I'm also looking forward to the heated wiper areas this winter in the tri-state. I guess if you think the 09 is soft, the 08 would feel like a sponge to you. I actually enjoy the softness of the 08, as I only use it to commute, but did want a bit more pickup than would have been available with just the base Impreza.
out of curiousity, what car were you coming from and how does your 08's handling compare? i've never driven the 08.

i guess it's not really fair for me to call the 09 'soft' - just feels softer than my 04. the suspension setup can certainly be a benefit for a daily driver and the 08 could be better still depending on your priorities. the 08 disappointed some enthusiasts but it seems subaru had other people in mind with that design. maybe like the kind of people driving through endless potholes to get to work.
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Old 10-09-2009, 01:31 PM   #6
elwray
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Nice write up.

If you're interested in trying something simple -- and reversible -- to get some more support in the seats, look at this:

http://www.iwsti.com/forums/gr-inter...ing-needs.html

I personally haven't done it, but have been reading some good results.
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Old 10-09-2009, 04:39 PM   #7
UoMDeacon
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Came from a Ford 500 (aka Taurus) and a Scion tC. Compared to the Ford, it's obviously better, but it does have even more body roll than the stock tC did, which I found a little surprising. Having been in friends' tuned Evos, I actually enjoy the civility of the 08 WRX; it doesn't hurt my kidneys when going over bumps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezod52 View Post
out of curiousity, what car were you coming from and how does your 08's handling compare? i've never driven the 08.

i guess it's not really fair for me to call the 09 'soft' - just feels softer than my 04. the suspension setup can certainly be a benefit for a daily driver and the 08 could be better still depending on your priorities. the 08 disappointed some enthusiasts but it seems subaru had other people in mind with that design. maybe like the kind of people driving through endless potholes to get to work.
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Old 11-06-2009, 01:22 PM   #8
Omnipotent13
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Nice write-up. I have a couple of things that I would like to address, coming from my own 8500 miles worth of experience on my '09 (I came from an '05 Saabaru Stage 1):

The suspension felt squirrely to me especially while rounding corners on severely rough surfaces for the first couple of thousand miles, but to me that seemed to soften up later and I don't consider it to be a problem now. I'm not sure if it was the suspension settling or if I just modified my driving style. Havv you have noticed any changes in the way the car handles after putting a few more miles on it?

I have also experienced the same sustained revs after letting off of the gas and pressing the clutch quickly in stop-and-go traffic, but I didn't assume it was a bug. On the contrary, I assumed it was a 'feature' that the car company 'included at no extra charge' similarly to the way we have the hill start assist. My dad's Toyota truck does a similar thing, and I think my grandma's Saab 9-5 does it, too. It used to annoy me, but I changed my driving style some and now it happens less frequently. I don't have a large commute through a lot of stop-and-go, though.

I have the same gripes with the seats. I would have liked leather and some more bolstering, since I'm not your average McD's booth-filling American, but I'm not apt to complain too much. Had I bought an STI and then needed to get sportier seats, we might be having a different discussion...

There is one thing I will outright and completely disagree with you about, though, and it is the visibility out the rear of the car. In my opinion, the 5-door has better rearward visibility than the 4-door. And, I had a rental Ford Fusion for a few days before I got the '09 WRX, and that was just abysmal. The rear view was one of the selling points of the hatchback to me. But, this is my opinion, and my '05 was a wagon, so I don't have the sedan experience that you do.

I felt the same way about the sound quality in the car for the first week that I drove it, but then after much mucking around with the radio I finally turned off SRS and BAM! it was only half as crappy as it was before. It's still crappy, but it's tolerable, especially since I listen to talk radio and talk podcasts in the car, and save my music listening for the jambox at home.

My big question: you made reference to a 'black box' for interfacing your steering wheel controls with your Pioneer deck. I have been considering making the move to something like a Pioneer AVH-P4100, and I have seen people talking about using a PAC SWI-PS for interfacing their steering wheel controls with their Pioneers. Is this what you're using, or do you have a different solution. I was reading people complaining about the delay between the time you press the button on the wheel and the time that the HU registers the command. Do you notice this with whatever solution you are using?
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Old 11-06-2009, 02:16 PM   #9
blackmist27
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just want to add that i started to really love my 09 wrx cause of the mods. i mean, once you start to change the tuning, add some suspension stiffing, the 09 really starts to shine. highly recommend it. good write up!
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Old 11-07-2009, 12:06 AM   #10
ezod52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnipotent13 View Post
The suspension felt squirrely to me especially while rounding corners on severely rough surfaces for the first couple of thousand miles, but to me that seemed to soften up later and I don't consider it to be a problem now. I'm not sure if it was the suspension settling or if I just modified my driving style. Havv you have noticed any changes in the way the car handles after putting a few more miles on it?
can't say i've noticed much difference in the suspension yet. i'm nearing 3K. i still feel like any rough road surface around a bend unsettles the car more than it should.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnipotent13 View Post
I have also experienced the same sustained revs after letting off of the gas and pressing the clutch quickly
i see some people claim it's an "assistance feature". i don't know if i buy that. my newest simple fix is to just turn up the radio until i can't hear the mystery revs anymore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnipotent13 View Post
My big question: you made reference to a 'black box' for interfacing your steering wheel controls with your Pioneer deck. I have been considering making the move to something like a Pioneer AVH-P4100, and I have seen people talking about using a PAC SWI-PS for interfacing their steering wheel controls with their Pioneers. Is this what you're using, or do you have a different solution. I was reading people complaining about the delay between the time you press the button on the wheel and the time that the HU registers the command. Do you notice this with whatever solution you are using?
i have a pioneer FH-P8000BT. it's very simple, not flashy at all. i wanted a nav or dvd player but couldn't pass up an insane deal i got on this unit... plus it attracts much less attention from theives. my friend is an installer so he showed up at my house with all the install stuff we needed to put the unit in. note that a double din head unit requires an install kit in the 08+ models because the factory opening is not exactly double din as it was pre 08. why the hell would subaru do that? i happened to save the box for the steering wheel controls converter. it says "axxess integration device : ASWI-PS PID/SNY SW Interface".

funny that you mention people complaining about a delay... i do notice this from time to time. i was playing around this afternoon after i read your post. the volume seems to respond pretty quick but the mode-change button and track buttons are a little slower. i thought it was the head unit being slow but maybe it is the converter - it doesn't really bother me so i hadn't thought much about it. i never thought steeringwheel controls would be so useful. actually, i rarely touch the radio now - just maybe when i first get in to setup a playlist or audiobook from my iphone.
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:00 AM   #11
etothen
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I love the car, the only really significant gripe I have with the it so far is with the dampers. The dampers are maxed out so you cant firm it up with springs and the slow speed damping in the shocks is to low leading to longer weight transitions side to side and front to back giving that washed out feeling at turn in and under initial braking. So, I will get new dampers and be happy knowing all in my subiverse is up to my current requirements.
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:03 AM   #12
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I recently upgraded from my 02 SRP wrx sedan to an 09 and i must say i love it. I loved my 02 and miss it sometimes but the 09 just has so much more power and everything is tighter and newer. My 09 feels like it handles much better because it has lowering springs. Less body roll that my 02. Over all im happy with the upgrade
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Old 03-07-2013, 11:29 AM   #13
ezod52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SSM09WRX View Post
I recently upgraded from my 02 SRP wrx sedan to an 09 and i must say i love it. I loved my 02 and miss it sometimes but the 09 just has so much more power and everything is tighter and newer. My 09 feels like it handles much better because it has lowering springs. Less body roll that my 02. Over all im happy with the upgrade
Wow - i completely forgot i wrote this review way back in '09

Glad you're loving the new car. Believe me, without suspension mods to the 09, your 02 would definitely feel stiffer. Stock 09 suspension was much less aggressive than my 04. I haven't done anything to it because it's more comfortable for my daily driving habits but if i raced or xcrossed, i would have to mod for sure. The power is pretty sweet I still have a blast merging onto the highway or passing someone doing 40 on the highway. After a few years in my 04 my first gear synchros were starting to go. I'm glad to report no sign of that in the 09.

The only thing that drives me crazy to this day is the auto climate control. Works great in the summer at keeping the cabin cool, but in the winter it's a nightmare. I either get HOT or COLD, that's it

Funny that this thread got bumped because this summer my loan will be paid off. Been a while since i had no car payment. Question is - what do i do now?

I still like the car a lot, but my patience is growing thin for driving stick in bumper-to-bumper for an hour+ every night on the way home from work.

Ideally i get a BRZ for fun and an A4 for winter driving and when i'm feeling lazy

Or, keep the paid off WRX and start modding it as a fun car and lease a lux car with automatic for about the same price as the WRX payment.
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Old 03-08-2013, 09:52 AM   #14
SSM09WRX
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How many miles on your 09?? Mine has 99k and doesnt have syncro problems so thats a good sign. But the turbo just went out so thats being rebuilt.... Went out the weekend after i got it... :/
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Old 03-09-2013, 11:27 PM   #15
ezod52
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OH MAN! That's rough luck. Sorry to hear it. Glad the transmission is shifting good for you tho. Being you mentioned suspension mods, make sure you find out everything else that was done to the car too. Don't want to blow your engine next because the car has a bad tune or aftermarket parts and no tune.

I forget my exact mileage... i checked it the other day because i noticed the kelly blue book or yahoo autos site fills in 52 or 54K as a guestimate. I was looking for ballpark sales numbers on my car last week and that seemed higher than the mileage i had floating around in my head. It's slipped my mind at the moment but i think it was 44K or something like that when i checked. Just did an oil change recently but i honestly can't remember what the OD was at.

Good luck with the turbo
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