Husbands Unite! 2011 STi as a Potential Family Car? You Decide!

Car.com consultant Kristin Varela reports on the 2011 STi from her blog “Mother Proof”. If you’ve been considering purchasing one of the new 2011 STi’s, but aren’t sure if it’ll accommodate your family, read the story here!

Driving the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STi transported me to a world that was completely foreign. It’s a world that’s less centered on booster seats and storage cubbiesandmore focused on rally racing heritage, speed and oversized rear spoilers. I tried to make the two worlds coexist harmoniously during my one-week test drive, but the truth is the Impreza WRX STi isn’t exactly a car you’d go out and buy for a growing family. However, if you already have the STi and the family just sort of happens upon you (do we need to have a birth-control discussion?), you can probably make it work for a bit before needing to upgrade.

The STi is aimed at those interested in attending organized track days. STi stands for Subaru Tecnica International, which supplies high-performance versions of Subaru vehicles. I’ve been to a couple of rally racing schools and know just enough about it to realize how much I don’t know. However, I couldn’t resist trying a little corner slide or two as I skipped the highway in favor of the twisty, curvy dirt frontage road. I didn’t have much luck, though. Subaru’s legendary all-wheel-drive system, which is standard, kept this baby bolted safely to the road.

The WRX STi starts at $33,995 for the new base sedan model, which is what I drove during my test drive, and $35,995 for the base hatchback model. The sedan’s Limited trim rings in at $37,345.

The closest competitor to the STi is probably the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, which I drove briefly at a recent Mitsubishi event. The STi’s suspension was definitely softer than the Evo; however, switching into the Sport Sharp mode in the STi took away that added bit of comfort and injected more road feedback. I’m sure it’s great for the hobby rally racer, but since I was transporting little ones all over the place, I opted for comfort.

EXTERIOR
The 2011 STi oozes speed. My test vehicle was the new four-door wide-body sedan with an intimidating-looking rear spoiler intended to amplify the car’s aerodynamics. The spoiler definitely took a little getting used to since it was such a prevalent feature in my rear sightline.

Delivered to our house in a shocking racing red, my kids exclaimed, “Whoa, I didn’t know we get to test racecars!” Nobody dared try to take us in our “racecar” at a stoplight. I tried to give a “wanna-race-me” scowl to the drivers of the cars next to me. Maybe it was the two kids in high-back booster seats in the back or my intimidating 5-foot-3-inch frame, but for some odd reason, I just couldn’t seem to engage any competitors. Wimps. All of them. I bet they wouldn’t take on the challenge of hosting five screaming little girls at a slumber party, either.

The WRX STi has a 305-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with a six-speed manual transmission. That’s definitely more power than I’d ever use or even know what to do with, but I’m not complaining. There is a downside to the STi’s powerful engine: It gets an EPA-estimated 17/23 mpg city/highway and requires premium gas.

The great news about a car this grounded is that the low step-in height makes it easy for little ones to get in and out of the STi independently. I had a little more trouble getting in and out of the slightly bolstered driver’s seat during my test drive since I was recovering from a back strain. I also had a tendency to knock my left knee on the underside of the steering-wheel column, which by the way both tilts and telescopes, every time I got in or out. Those with the seat pulled a little farther back won’t have a problem with it.

SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times

INTERIOR
The first thing I noticed upon entering this car was the sporty-looking black-checkered seat upholstery inset in a black suedelike border with sexy red stitching. It reminded me of this awesome pair of shoes with black patent leather and red corset lacing up the back of the heel. As a mom, the very next thing I noticed was all the little pieces of kid crud – crumbs, scraps of paper, etc. – and dusty footprints that show up so perfectly on the black interior.

The front seats in my test car were heated. However, I didn’t test them since it was approaching 100 degrees the entire time I drove this car, but with seat heat and all-wheel drive, it’s too bad I didn’t get to drive this sexy red beast in the winter.

In the backseat, there’s a center armrest, but it didn’t have cupholders or a storage cubby in it. The rear cupholders are located near the floorboard on the backside of the front center console. Those cupholders are unreachable for little ones in child-safety seats, but that’s not really who this car in intended for. Large bottleholders located in all four doors make up for the backseat’s cupholder location. There are two cupholders in the front row.

Although this is a little sedan, the amount of trunk space is impressive, even for family-sized loads. That’s because of the layout of the car’s double-wishbone rear suspension, which allows for a wide, deep trunk. I had tons of stuff in there while taking my girls to a slumber party, in addition to three small sets of golf clubs. Impressive!

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

SAFETY
Although the STi wasn’t designed as a family car, all of the family-centric safety features on the Impreza sedan are in it. The STi has four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control and six airbags, including front- and side-impact airbags for the front row and side curtains for both rows.

For those with young children, you’ll be excited by the ease of use of both the lower anchors and top tether anchors of the Latch system. The lower anchors in the seat bight, which is the where the seat’s back and bottom cushions meet, are accessible via a flap that pulls down to expose the Latch anchors. The flap closes with Velcro to keep it concealed when not in use. The top tether anchors are easy to reach; they’re just behind the rear head restraints and won’t obstruct the rear view while in use.

Slightly older kiddos in booster seats will appreciate the seat belt buckles. Although they were on flimsy bases rather than stable ones, they were easy for my girls to buckle.

Get more safety information about the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STi here.

Want to read the original story on Cars.com? Click here!

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