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How Well Does A Subaru WRX STI Drive In The Snow? (Answered)

Let’s start by assessing what options one can get besides the Subaru WRX STI on offer in the North American automobile market, and it’s easy to discern the Subaru WRX STI is in a league of its own. With rally DNA inbuilt, the WRX STI handles snow like a piece of cake. The cat-mouse relation between snow and drivers isn’t going to cause much of an issue here.

The Subaru WRX is a great car for driving in snowy conditions. The WRX has a symmetrical all-wheel-drive system that provides great traction during wintertime. Furthermore, the Subaru has many features that help increase its traction such as VDS, TCS, and ABS. One negative is that the WRX has a ground clearance of 4.9 inches which makes it unsuitable for areas that have heavy snowfall.

The winter and snow conditions bring everything but mercy to the dinner table. Car manufacturers constantly try to bend the laws of physics to build a product that can better handle such situations. The Subaru WRX STI is a perfect example of learning from the track and applying it to the road.

Many drivers further magnify the winter prowess of their cars by adding winter tires to the equation. This further cements the Subaru WRX STI’s winter merit adding to an already polar-bear-like level of emotion for winters. It giggles and rolls in the snow like none other. Thanks to the rally learning and immaculate implementation of the data in the real world.

Also read: How Many Miles Can A Subaru WRX Last? (Answered)

Experience Of Subaru WRX STI Owners

Subaru WRX STI has one niche of a fan following. Rally lovers know what the Subaru WRX STI has the potential for and resultantly are more capable drivers than me and you. They know how to play around with the WRX STI moving about its rear end in snow. This is done intentionally since the driver’s feedback about the WRX STI says a lot more than just digits.

This is what a driver says about the Subaru WRX STI about the way it drives in the snow:

“Well it’s a steep incline on my street but with the winter it’s just fine. No problem…… One sucky thing about having a Subaru and winter tires is that your coworkers know you have Subaru and Winter tires and you can’t really b******t when you say you can’t make it to work because of snow.”


Another driver talks about his wife’s 2014 Subaru WRX and goes:

“When we bought my wife’s 2014 WRX, the dealership told me it had all-seasons on it. So a couple of days later it snowed, and I was like “this thing sucks in the snow. everyone told me Subarus are great in the snow”. Then I pulled the window sticker out and read the “high-performance summer tires”. We bought winter tires that weekend, and then it was a tank in the snow.”


Does Subaru WRX STI Have Snow Tires?

The Subaru WRX STI comes preloaded with Summer performance tires. No. There is no spelling error. It is Summer tires. And for a very valid reason. The Subaru WRX STI is designed for rally enthusiasts who love to spin the rear end around quite a bit. This can be achieved only once the tires are made for heat tolerance.

The main issue here is that the Summer tires will harden at a pretty high temperature, and for them to deliver on the Subaru WRX STI’s resume, they need to be warmed up first. The rubber compound on these Summer Tires is meant for better performance when the tires reach above a specific road temperature.

For winter and snow, one needs to have a set of winter tires that will stay soft in winters, thereby allowing for more grip at temperatures kissing the freezing point. The rubber on the winter tires is made with the mindset of keeping the tire surface softer and free from any hardening for extremely low temperatures.

If you want to buy snow tires, we advise you to use Tirerack. They have a great tool that allows you to find the perfect fit for your exact model, so you won’t have to worry about fitment issues. Furthermore, they also offer free shipping on most of their orders. Check out their store here!

What Drive System Does A Subaru WRX STI Have?

The Subaru WRX STI is no exception. Subaru, as a brand, is known for offering an All-Wheel Drive system on their cars. What the AWD system achieves is the power delivered to all wheels in an equal dispersion. This allows for ease of push or pulling of the vehicle’s weight if the car is on an incline.

In case there are sloping hills that simply disallow other cars from making a safe and sound visit up and down, the Subaru WRX STI’s AWD system merely turns the tables around. The vehicle will surf up and down the hills with ease, and an average driver will probably talk to his friends in a tone of pride about his potential for winter driving, whereas it’s the AWD that does the trick.

Also read: The Exact Bolt Pattern Of A Subaru WRX (& STI)

What Electronics System Helps The Subaru WRX STI In The Snow?

Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) with Active Torque Vectoring

The Subaru WRX has the VDC standard across all variants, including the STI. This is a robust and brilliant system that works in conjunction with a web of sensors carefully placed at different vehicle points. Measurements include yaw rate, wheel speed, steering angle, brake force, and lateral-G forces.

This system is designed to intervene and correct the car’s behavior by brake application and torque depletion. This buys more time for the driver to take back control of the vehicle in an event where the car is detected to behave differently from what the driver wants it to do. You can call it a reset button of the vehicle.

Traction Control System (TCS)

A traction control system is a traction monitoring system that gathers data from sensors in the wheels and carefully computes the amount of wheelspin. Unwanted wheelspin is directly proportional to losing traction and grip, a hazard, especially in winters. A Traction Control System can address such a situation.

The TCS, upon detecting traction loss, initiates braking or reduces power delivery in an attempt to bring the rotation of the wheel in synchronization with the remaining wheels of the car. The system works mainly to allow the spinning redeem traction, thus allowing the driver to control the vehicle better.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

The human brain is programmed in a manner that spontaneously responds to hazards and dangers. When the driver detects the threat ahead, he will immediately lift his foot off the gas pedal and apply brakes with maximum leg force. This causes the wheels to lock and result in lost traction and grip.

The ABS constantly senses the wheels. If it measures a wheel-lock scenario, it will intervene in the brake-force applied by the driver to change brake-force delivery from continuous to intermittent. This enables the wheel to continue rotation, and the driver can steer the vehicle away from danger.

Brake Assist

The brake assist is another handy feature that helps a driver in his braking. As soon as the brake assist feature detects the initiation of a substantial brake force, it applies the maximum available brake force in the initial part of the braking process. In other words, it accelerates the brake-force application even before the driver does.

With this system, the vehicle can save crucial milliseconds in the braking process, allowing the car to stop sooner than it would if the brake assist feature was not present.

Also read: Subaru WRX Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Weight Distribution

An ideal weight distribution number is 50:50, with half of the vehicle’s weight on front axles and half of it on the rear ones. This is a sweet spot every manufacturer tries to achieve, but very few succeed. The Subaru WRX STI is a bit farther away from this ideal figure out of pure intention.

Subaru WRX STI stands at 60:40, translating into a heavier front-end. This is typical of drift and rally focussed vehicles since the rear end is used to steer the car better. How it plays out in the snow isn’t very questionable either since the Subaru WRX STI is already a well-planted car with its AWD system and lower ground clearance.

2021 ModelsWeight Distribution F/R
WRX STI60:40
WRX STI Limited60:40

Ground Clearance

The Subaru WRX STI is not a daily driven sedan that one can use for family chores. It is a proper race-bred vehicle that ensures maximum driving pleasure with excellent traction and grip. Part of this can be achieved by keeping the car low-slung. At 4.9 inches of ground clearance, the Subaru WRX STI is among the group of cars that stand closer to the ground.

Not all of this plays against the WRX STI’s winter-worthiness. It can be an issue if one is driving in more than 8 or 9 inches of snow, and let’s remember that. But let us also keep in mind that the Subaru WRX is meant to be driven fast. And lower ground clearance is a prerequisite for this.

To conclude, the lower ground clearance number might raise some eyebrows. Usually, drivers prefer vehicles with higher ground clearance, and the WRX STI is not what you should be looking at if you doubt your driving abilities in the snow. However, the feedback online about the WRX STI is quite good, and once the driver adapts, it just works.


At 104.3 inches of wheelbase, it will be safe to say that Subaru WRX STI is in a league of its own since the car has no direct competitor to compare it to. Most compact sedans fall in the same range as the Subaru WRX STI does. This is something that can show its weakness in a situation where the car is on an incline.

Usually, longer wheelbase cars are the ones that perform well concerning their snow and winter driveability. Shorter wheelbases aren’t always the best choices if one is only gauging a car on its winter merit alone. Although a shorter wheelbase can be a challenge, an AWD with lower ground clearance can help offset its effects on the car.

What Traction Device You Can Use On The Subaru WRX STI?

Since winters and snow are a bit of a trouble to drive in, the drivers try to search for solutions to this problem laid forth by mother nature. Many drivers resort to devices like traction chains and others to counter the effects of winter and snow on the driving dynamics of a car. This is another way of gaining more traction and taking control of the vehicle in case it misbehaves. offers such traction chains for the tire size of the Subaru WRX STI. These help significantly while using winter tires by enhancing traction at the wheels and making the driver take better car control. If you are not sure chains would go with your tires, you can find that out here on the peerlesschain.