I have been eyeing the WRX for a number of years (6 to be exact) and have finally reached a point in my life where I can actually afford one. I am currently driving a 2009 Mazda 3 GT which gets pretty good mileage and is overall quite comfortable to drive. I'm looking for something a little more suited for all-weather for snow and mountainous driving, for both recreation and commute. I am looking at the 2013 WRX Limited 5-door and have a few questions...
1. I try to be a DIYer as much as possible. How easy is it to change the oil, air filters, cabin air filter, spark plugs, etc. and other general maintenance (ie brakes)? The big ones are fluids and plugs IMO. What are the costs associated with this? Is it easy to climb under the car and do the oil change? I used to drive a Suzuki Sidekick and that was a breeze to do oil changes: 20 minutes start to finish with a beer in between. Now that I have a Mazda, it's cheaper and easier for me to bring the car in. How is the WRX? What are the OEM warranty requirements for regularly scheduled maintenance?
2. I've heard mixed stories about whether synthetic or non-synthetic oil is to be used as well as the frequency of an oil change. Can anyone comment? There is a large cost difference associated with synthetic oil changes ($35 vs $70 to have someone do it). I don't know if those costs include an oil filter? Do you follow a 1:1 oil and filter change or 1:2?
3. Around when is the first major maintenance and what are some common "issues" seen with the WRX? Any price estimates?
4. I am tempted to go for the SPT performance exhaust system which is ~$1000. Is there any reason/need to go for this if I keep the rest of the car stock? While I love the sound of the Boxer engine, I don't know if I really care to spend 1000 just to sound good! The main reason why I would add the system in is because the original system is creating a bottleneck and should be replaced to increase flow. The budget is there, but I'd rather spend it on something better that might help improve the performance or efficiency of the car.
5. There is an option to throw in a short throw shifter. I understand that it's not "necessary"...but is it NECESSARY?! Why would someone put it in? I don't really know how to compare the short throw with what is standard because I've never driven with either. My Mazda is nice - nicer than the other halfway sporty cars I've driven. Again, I like my mountain driving and zipping around the twisties, but this is more my fun commuter car so I'm not certain what options to go for and which to leave behind. I have a crotch rocket to really hammer, drag my knees and get tickets on
6. What are the towing capabilities? The dealers have told me, "yeah, you should be able to tow", "I'd guess you could tow around 1800lbs". I want some concrete numbers and answers! Does anyone know for certain what the towing capabilities are? Will towing void any warranties? I wouldn't be towing anything large - probably just my motorcycle (combined trailer + bike weight of 1000 lbs) or maybe one of the smaller UHaul trailers.
Thanks for your help