2013 Subaru BRZ Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Subaru BRZ: MotoGP Road Trip, The Wrong Seat

August 13, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

The 2013 Subaru BRZ is a driver's car. So fittingly, I find myself in the passenger seat. As Mark mentioned, we're on our way up to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to drown in the glory that is MotoGP. Mark is driving, which gives me some time to look around for that perfect spot on the Central California coast to build my winery.

It also gives me time to think.

Stuff like, "Why does Mark's iPod have so many songs by Kenny Loggins?"

"Another Roger Waters song?"

"Enya? C'mon Mark."

And, "My butt hurts."

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2013 Subaru BRZ: MotoGP Road Trip, Part One

July 26, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

We were reaching the end of the long-term test of our 2013 Subaru BRZ when photographer Kurt Niebuhr and I received an invitation to attend the MotoGP race weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. What a great way to log another 700 miles or so before we hand the keys back, no?

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Utah Road Trip, Part 3

July 24, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

With all my detours through Utah backcountry, the return trip from Moab had me on the road for 15 hours. This experience drove home the point that the 2013 Subaru BRZ is a truly modern sports car that could legitimately serve as your only car.

By the time I took this photo, as we crossed into the small corner of Arizona traversed by Interstate 15, I'd been driving for many hours but I was not uncomfortable in the driver seat.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Utah Road Trip, Part 1

July 17, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

Last week I drove from Los Angeles to Moab, Utah, in our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ. The outbound trip was about 750 miles and took 11 hours. All but 50 of those miles were on the Interstate, though, so I had to make sure the return route wasn't nearly as direct: I detoured onto Utah Highway 24, then Highway 12, then U.S. 89, then Highway 9, and well, you get the idea. In all, it was about 800 miles, and with frequent stops for photography and summer construction (how do I always forget about this?), I was on the road for about 16 hours.

Of course, I have quite a bit to say after being alone in the BRZ for that long.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Smart Seats

June 28, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

Leather is both a blessing and a curse in a car designed to go quickly around corners. Certainly it looks good. But it's slick. And by slick I mean "hang on to the steering wheel for dear life, slick." There are better materials.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Light Effort

June 14, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

One thing that makes our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ so enjoyable for me is the proximity of all the controls.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Is a Child Seat Practical?

May 30, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

Will the kid fit? That's the question. The answer is yes. Is it practical? Not really, but it can be done. There's enough room to fold the Subaru BRZ front seat back and install a small adult up there. And by "small adult" I mean my wife, who's 5'4". Beyond that, it probably doesn't make sense.

I do have a friend, however, who hauls two kids around in his Scion FR-S, but he's dedicated. And that's what's required if you plan on doing this with any frequency.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Perfect for the City

May 13, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

The last time I called a long-term car a "great all-rounder" it was our Mazda 3. And I'm finding our 2013 Subaru BRZ to be another such jack of all trades, at least for a single, city dweller such as myself. Here's why I like it so much:

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Interior Advantage

February 12, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

The 2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S may be the same car, but they're not the same car. If I were buying something to autocross, to turn into a T4 SCCA racer, it'd be the Scion all the way due to its lower price and slightly briefer equipment list.

But the Subaru BRZ would my choice for a daily driver. Appearance-wise, I like the wider-at-the-top front grille styling. Most of all I prefer the interior.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Old School But Annoying

January 7, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

I know these snapping seat belt loops are meant to help get the belts out of the way, thus aiding ingress/egress to and from the back seat. If you regularly put adult friends back there, however, you'll likely be looking for a new group of friends.

I know these loops are also meant to evoke some sort of classic sports car vibe, and I think they do. Sorta. They're cool, but seem more like an affectation. In the end, you're usually still yanking a handful of nylon webbing over your head as you contort into the back seat, or else trying to avoid snagging your ankle in the hanging material near the floorboard. Such are the perils of keeping yourself on the right side of the windshield.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 9,500 miles

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2013 Subaru BRZ: No Matter What Anyone Says, These Are the Best Times

December 20, 2012

2013 Subaru BRZ

Sometimes it's easy to find fault with the cars you can buy in 2012, as "features" like computer-controlled throttles, electric power steering and increasingly less defeatable stability control systems override more and more of the driver's authority from the cockpit. And that is why you are required to feel at least a little bit happy about a car like the 2013 Subaru BRZ.

Even in its stock, pre-turbocharged, no-quicker-that-a-Mini-Cooper-S form, the BRZ is a fun car to drive to work. It has quick steering with good feel, a really nice brake pedal feel with immediate bite, and a superbly tuned chassis that permits very little body roll around corners but doesn't slam the door on compliance. So, traffic permitting, left turns and curvy entrance ramps can be taken with gusto, but the suspension calibration's not so stiff you'll be unhappy once you're on the freeway. It's not that loud, either. ("The BRZ's quieter than your WRX," I tell my spouse, "mainly because it doesn't have all that driveline noise." Someday we'll settle this with a sound meter.)

Honestly, cars that toe the control-comfort balance this deftly don't come around every day. There's the Miata, I suppose, but I've never driven a Miata with this much room in its cockpit. My old 240SX (S14 and totally stock) offered a similar package, but its ride was harsher, its steering less precise and its seating position much farther from optimal.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Brace Yourself

December 07, 2012

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Things that don't mix: Tiny, hard-to-use-while-stopped touchscreens with tiny buttons and cars with too-firm suspension. It's even worse when a terrible song comes on the radio and you've got to change things QUICKLY. The only solution is to form a triangle (triangles make things strong) out of your thumb, middle and pinky fingers to build a strong enough base so that your index finger may, hopefully, possibly, hit the right button. o
I found a short video that represents this well after the jump. 
Oh, but I shouldn't complain about the radio on a performance car? Please. The engine sounds terrible and this is 2012, if a car can't have a working radio it deserves zero passes. This interface is a case of trying to do far, far too much with far too few resources. 
Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 8,100 miles 

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Slightly Different

November 22, 2012

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The main dynamic differences between the 2013 Subaru BRZ and the FR-S lie in their ride and handling. I prefer the BRZ's ride and the FR-S' handling. The FR-S is sprung slightly softer in the front and stiffer in the rear. It rides a little busily in the rear as a result, a slight bobble, like it's a shade underdamped. Or something. It's not as settled or resolved as the BRZ's ride, which has a more familiar gait. Subaru's ride tuning is better.

But the FR-S' more tail-lively handling better suits the car, especially at stock power. Also, its softer front end gives the steering a more natural feel than the BRZ. It's a difference you can notice when you've got one car of each flavor readily at hand, as we do.

Really though, these differences are nuance-y, and I always look forward to driving either one. Pragmatic aspects like feature content, price, availability and dealer access are more likely to sway a decision toward one car or the other. That, and brand loyalty.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2013 Subaru BRZ Limited: No Fun for Feet

October 16, 2012

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We've seen that child safety seats and bikes will fit in the back of our BRZ.  I can now tell you that this 5-foot, 3.5-inch editor fits in the back seat. Having occasionally curled myself into the rear of Porsche 911s and other bitty-backseat cars, I had to try the BRZ out.

The discomfort, oddly enough, wasn't from inadequate leg room. With the front passenger seat in a quasi-normal position, my knees barely brushed its back. The backseat itself is nicely bucketed and has good lumbar support. The problem is that the low-slung front seat has no clearance. It felt like I was pushing my feet into a nicely padded, but really constricting ski boot. I could only make my feet fit completely under the seat by going pigeon-toed. That would be hard on the knees after a while.

No one is trying to sell the BRZ as a family car. But if any BRZ-loving buyer tries to con his or her co-signer into thinking that it would be a fine car for three or four people in a pinch, I can report that pinch is indeed the operative word.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @5,914 miles

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2013 Subaru BRZ Limited: BRRRRRZ

October 15, 2012

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By the calendar, it's mid-October. By the thermometer, it's August: 85 degrees in these environs today.

Being a black car with a black interior, the BRZ was more than a little toasty when I got into it this afternoon. But after just a few minutes on the "Full Auto" setting, it was a proper little ice chest. Powerful blowers and small cabin is a good combination.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @5,887 miles

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2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S: Pain in the Neck

October 08, 2012

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On most counts the driving position in the 2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S is just about perfect for 6-foot 2-inch tall me. The one glaring exception is the seat belt, specifically the non-adjustable upper anchor.

As you can see the webbing wants to ride up my neck, and I find myself constantly pushing it back down to keep it at bay. If I could move the anchor down a notch or two I imagine the belt would naturally settle into a more comfortable path across my shoulder.

The little leatherette loop that's provided for the purpose on top of the seat is of little use -- it lives below the level of my shoulder and its weak snap catch can't deal.

I guess I need to figure on wearing a collared shirt when I drive these machines.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 5,550 miles (BRZ)

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Side Effect of the Seats

October 02, 2012

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I've gone on record as saying the simulated suede and leather seats in our 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited are a smidge comfier than the all-simulated-suede seats in our 2013 Scion FR-S.

However, in autumn temperatures at or near the century mark (welcome to Southern California), I have to retract from that a bit. You see, those genuine leather bolsters get quite hot and don't seem like such a good idea after all. Should've parked in the garage.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Can You Give Me a Lift?

September 28, 2012

BRZ padded sill.jpg

The BRZ is low to the ground. So am I. But I'm not as young/agile as I used to be, so getting in and out of low-slung sports cars like this ain't as easy as it used to be either. Thankfully, the BRZ features a soft, grippy surface on the sill (the portion after the seam) where I can place my hand to help push me up and out. The slightly tacky surface feels similar to that of a golf club grip, which helps prevent one's hand from slipping off.

Yes, even if it was just a standard plain plastic door sill (as seen before the seam) I could still use the same egress method. But the fact that the designers considered that people would be using the sill in this fashion and made the extra effort gets the little road ripper some extra points. 

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2013 Subaru BRZ: I Like the Limited Seats

September 14, 2012

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It could totally be me, but the simulated suede/leather driver seat in our 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited feels just a little bit cushier than its all-suederette counterpart in our Scion FR-S. It's as if there's another 1/8-inch layer of cushioning in the Subaru. And I found it quite to my liking on the drive home last night.

Since I would buy a Toyobaru with the intention of driving it every day and leaving it pretty much stock, I would end up with a BRZ Limited exactly like this one.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Fine For Me On The Highway

September 06, 2012

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Captain Obvious here, but if you're looking to buying a BRZ, long-distance comfort shouldn't be high on your priority list. Like James wrote last month, the BRZ is kind of noisy, has the frustrating audio interface, lacks a proper center arm rest and is kind of stingy on interior storage. But having driven our BRZ for a couple four-hour highway drives, I'll say it's still perfectly adequate for trips of this duration. The seat and ride quality are still comfortable enough, and it's not that noisy (I think our old Nissan 370Z was worse). The fuel range isn't all that great either, but you can still easily get more than 300 highway miles out of a tank.

If I owned a BRZ, I'd have no problem doing 300-mile drives. Say, to a race track for a track day, for instance.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Rear Seating Comes In Handy

August 31, 2012

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Yesterday I unexpectedly had to take my five-year-old daughter to school while also bringing along my 16-month-old son. The only vehicle I had at my disposal was the BRZ. It's not normally something I'd plan to use for kid duty, but at least it has rear seats.

As you can see, both the Recaro booster seat and Britax convertible fit. But the devil's in the details.

The main issue for installing the Britax is that the contoured shape of seat cushion isn't conducive for easy seat installation. (Quote that came to mind at the time: "I don't think they had Wookies in mind when they designed her, Chewy.") Flat is best for safety seats, and the BRZ's rear seat is definitely not flat. If I were doing this on a regular basis, I might consider adding a folded up towel (or two) to try and even things out so that the safety seat wasn't squishing the cushion so much when belted in. But hey, it worked. Well, front-facing, anyway.

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2013 Subaru BRZ & Scion FR-S: Interior Padding

August 10, 2012

BRZ Door Padding.jpg 

This strip of padding covered in soft (presumably) fake leather is a great touch in the interiors of both the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S. I often find myself on road trips wanting to rest my arm up there, so not only is the padding and pleather appreciated, so is the significant ledge it covers. A nice, unique touch to be sure. So too is the nicely padded regular armrest lower on the door.

Unfortunately, I wish the Toyabaru consortium would've paid similar attention to the center console.

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2013 Subaru BRZ from Palo Alto: The Fast Route

August 10, 2012

Subaru BRZ at the Grapevine.jpg 

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.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Subaru BRZ in VA is:

$132 per month*
* Explanation
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