Utah Road Trip, Part 2 - 2013 Subaru BRZ Long-Term Road Test
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2013 Subaru BRZ Long Term Road Test

2013 Subaru BRZ: Utah Road Trip, Part 2

July 22, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

You should always take the back roads when you're driving out West and you have the time. Even if you don't have the time, you should do it, especially if you have a car like the 2013 Subaru BRZ that handles well. Every one of these little roads goes through some national park or monument and you don't want to miss that.

The only problem is that Utah has some pretty high elevations. At no point were the BRZ and I below 4,000 feet, and at one point, we were at 9,600 feet on Utah Highway 12 in the Dixie National Forest. The altitude was absolutely an issue when trying to use passing zones, as fearless tourists in rental cars would pretend not to notice the dark gray sports car trying to accelerate past them and hit the gas instead of yielding.

I never lost any of these battles, but completing these passes required a fair amount of determination: It's not the frequent shifting I minded (I love shifting). It was the middling amount of torque in any gear. I was reminded how I've been spoiled in recent years by turbocharged sport compacts like the Mazdaspeed 3, Focus ST and VW GTI. The MS3, in particular, would have been great on this route.

I decided to take a break (from the other motorists) and a photo when we came upon a scenic overlook at that 9,600-foot summit. There's no alpine wonderland up here at this time of year. It's basically a high plateau with grassy meadows.

2013 Subaru BRZ

My favorite part of the drive was the section of Highway 12 that goes through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The topography along this stretch is like nothing you've seen before (well, unless you've been there), and everybody stops to take it all in and go on hikes. As a result, the road opened up, and the BRZ and I got to go through a few turns unimpeded.

2013 Subaru BRZ

I was hoping for tighter, slower corners so that I could enjoy the Subaru's quick steering and firm suspension calibration without having to work too hard. But it turned out this highway is mostly about faster, sweeping turns. But whatever, I still had fun. Just kept the 2.0-liter engine revving hard and tried to avoid momentum-killing activities like slowing down. No question, though, I'd love to make this trip again in our newly supercharged Scion FR-S.

As you'll see in the photos, the closer I got to Zion National Park and the Nevada state line, the hazier the sky got. When I got to the park entrance, I could have sworn I was entering the Angeles National Forest, there was so much smog. Then, I heard a radio report: wildfires, bad air quality all over the state. And that is why these amazing rock formations look so washed out, thereby ruining hundreds of family road trip photos.

2013 Subaru BRZ

2013 Subaru BRZ

2013 Subaru BRZ

Zion also had Southern California-style traffic jams due to an abundance of tourists with cameras (like me) and a very long tunnel on Highway 9 that was limited to a single lane of traffic (east- and westbound motorists take turns) due to a complete lack of lighting within the tunnel. After navigating through all this, it was almost a relief when I got to the turnoff for Interstate 15.

Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 18,953 miles

2013 Subaru BRZ

2013 Subaru BRZ


Comments

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Did any of the tourists in rental cars try to convince you to pass over a double yellow line in the middle of some blind curves, while passing countless paved turn-outs as their brats in the back seat flipped you off? If not, you did alright.

  • Speeding up in a passing zone only to slow back down to a traffic halting pace again when it is gone should be a capital offense. I know some people don't do it consciously but that almost makes it worse. If they are paying so little attention and have so little driving skill that they get to a wider chunk of road and automatically speed up and then get afraid when they only have one lane for their direction and slow down then they shouldn't be on the road.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I know some people have the mentality that whatever their speed, they belong in front. If you start to pass them, its almost like they're trying to tell you "Oh no, you just caught me at a bad moment, really I'm much faster, you'll see" and they speed up to prove they're fast too. On a road trip last year I had a long stretch where I passed an SUV, and soon after it passed me, stayed fast for a while then eventually slowed down and I'd pass it again. This repeated over and over and over.

  • jederino jederino Posts:

    Nice write up! If a yo-yo is speeding up and slowing down, it's probably best to stop for a vista. But please do try this trip again with the supercharger!

  • s197gt s197gt Posts:

    "... I passed an SUV, and soon after it passed me, stayed fast for a while then eventually slowed down and I'd pass it again. This repeated over and over and over." i HATE when that happens. nothing short of gunning it for a mile or two gets rid of those types of people. so frustrating, pick a speed!

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    BR-Z at high elevations: Unfast at any speed

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I have no problem with driving slowly. Drive at whatever speed you want to and feel safe at. But maintain that speed and if someone faster is behind you, let the pass happen, whether that means maintaining (or even temporarily slowing as a courtesy if there is no one else to be held up) speed to allow an opposing lane overtake, or using a turnout if the road is a no-passing zone. We need to invent a Mario Kart-type seeker missile (red shell) to be used against motorist who ignore multiple turnouts. Give them three strikes then they're out.

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