2013 Subaru BRZ from Palo Alto: The Fast Route
August 10, 2012
Relaxing scenic routes are wonderful, but sometimes you just want to get home. So my return trip from the Lexus LS launch in Palo Alto would primarily be on Interstate 5 after a brief drive south on the 101 and east on the picturesque CA 152 that connects the two different north-south routes.
Ultimately I was glad I took both routes, because I-5 revealed different things about the BRZ. First and foremost, I'd gladly accept a few extra pounds if it meant adding some sound insulation. There is an awful lot of road noise, which was far more noticeable on the 5 given the different pavement and higher speeds. After a few hours, the tire roar and overpowered sound system were getting old.
Speaking of different pavement, the 5 also presented the first instance where I deemed the BRZ's ride unpleasant. However, that was entirely the fault of the craptacular right lane on the 5 that has been patched repeatedly and poorly after decades of being pounded by tractor trailers. As much as I despise those who park themselves in the left lane, the 5 didn't really give me a choice.
I also found myself using the navigation and stereo controls more on the way back. I'll keep this brief since I'll probably cover them in a separate post, but I liked the navigation system functionality save for the "traffic dead ahead!" alert that went off countless times despite only one traffic incident actually existing. The stereo controls border on terrible. The touch buttons are too small and often don't respond to your first touch. If someone asks me "Why would you buy the Scion instead of the Subaru?" This is one possible answer.
Finally, one thing that was the same between the 101 and I-5 was the BRZ's fuel economy. Simply put, the BRZ did better than the EPA estimate of 30 mpg highway. I got 31.2 on the way there and 31.8 on the way back. I certainly wasn't driving in Fuel Sipper Smackdown mode, either; instead driving typically with cruise control at 8 mph over the limit.
So to wrap up, the BRZ is a blast to drive in canyons, makes the morning commute fun, is a good choice for road trips, is surprisingly comfortable and very fuel efficient to boot. It's also easily amongst my Top 5 favorite cars.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,729 miles