2013 Subaru BRZ Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Subaru BRZ: MotoGP Road Trip, Part Three

August 9, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

It was race day at the 2013 U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. As we had the previous two days, Kurt and I left our Cannery Row hotel in the morning, but this time we were all packed to head home after the race.

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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: 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 Limited: Makes Driving More Exciting

May 29, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ Limited

I flew back into the office after a redeye flight from Hawaii, and all I wanted to do was collapse. I asked Edmunds' car czar, Mike Schmidt, if anything was available for a quick trip home and he said "the BRZ."

Perfect. Seriously. After five days spent in a rental car which shall remain nameless (Nissan Sentra, with a CVT that sounded like it wanted to fry itself), it was refreshing to get back into a real car. In this case, a real sports car.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Proper Floor Mat Retention

May 23, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

This is what floor mat retention done right looks like: Two solidly engaging locking mechanisms at the rear of the mat. And that's exactly what the BRZ has.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Controls Are In Close Proximity

April 30, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

The 2013 Subaru BRZ is meant to be an elemental sport coupe, one that goes back to the basics of driving. Much of that comes from the way the car steers and handles, but the interior design contributes as well.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Flamed

April 3, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

Everybody bagged on Chris Bangle and what came to be called flame-surfacing when his first designs hit the road. A decade later, flame surfacing, 3D creases and compound curves show up in everyone's designs, from Hyundai to Ford. And here they are in the BRZ's dash, in the metal mesh grilles for the mids and tweeters.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Detent-less Climate Control Knobs

April 1, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

In truth the 2013 Subaru BRZ's climate control knobs aren't completely detent-less. But they're darn close.

And apparently I'm a texture and detent kinda guy. So it bugs me when I try to turn the Subie's central fan speed knob up just one click, and it instead goes up two or three because there's almost no resistance.

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2013 Subaru BRZ Limited: Approach Lighting

March 26, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ Limited

You'll forgive me the dark and grainy photo, but it wasn't until this dark morning that I realized our 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited had an automatic approach-light feature.

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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: Kinda Needs an Armrest But I Don't Want to Give Up the Storage

January 30, 2013

2013 Subaru BRZ

I haven't taken our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ on a long trip yet, but sometimes, after a couple of hours in it, I think there should be a center armrest, something James mentioned right after we got the car. Neither Subaru nor Scion sells one as an accessory in the U.S., though at least one aftermarket vendor makes one.

Problem is that retrofitting this armrest (or any official accessory that Subaru eventually brings to market) will eat up a lot of the storage in the center console. Mind you, the cupholder unit in the console is a flimsy thing, but I like that you can remove and reposition it further back so that my elbow never bumps my metal water bottle.

Also during a recent drive on some back roads, I had my water bottle, my phone, my garage door open, my keys and two cans of macadamias stowed in the console's various slots. It all remained secure through tighter turns. So maybe I don't want an armrest after all.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 10,514 miles

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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 Limited: BRZ on GMR

December 31, 2012

2013 Subaru BRZ Limited

I took our 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited to Glendora Mountain Road over the long holiday weekend. Of course, the one morning I had free for a strafing run on this fabulously twisty piece of tarmac, the surface was wet from the previous night's rain.

No matter, if anything it just made it more exciting.

Unfortunately, there were some thick blankets of fog to slow me down, but in general the BRZ and I had the road to ourselves. Rain keeps the cyclists and other motorists away.

I was thoroughly impressed with the precision and sports-car competence of the BRZ, as I kinda figured I would be. In the wet-to-drying conditions, the tires provided excellent and very consistent grip levels. You could really dive the car into corners hard, and the front would hang on pretty well before it would start to push.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: No Coat Hook

November 30, 2012

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Every year I seem to drive incredibly impractical cars to the LA Auto Show. Impractical, at least, for wearing a suit and needing a place to hang my jacket. Last year? The NSX. Two years ago? My BMW Z3. Three years ago? How the hell should I remember, but I'm sure it wasn't great.

This year, I selected the BRZ. Moron. No coat hook, either. To make matters worse, I even made a trip to the dry cleaners the night before the show. On the upside, unlike the NSX and Z3, it was at least easier to drape my jacket over the passenger seat. I also suppose I could've put it across the back seat as well.

Still, no coat hook. That's the moral of the blog.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 7,958 miles

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Another Use for the Rear Seats

November 26, 2012

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There is no legroom behind the 2013 Subaru BRZ's driver seat when I'm sitting in it. For optimum comfort, I put it all the way back on its track. If I'd been in Brent's car seat situation, I might have had to call for a cab.

Thing is, those small bucket seats do give you some possibilities for secure storage that you wouldn't get with a large open hatch. For example, on Thursday, they transported a couple pumpkin pies for a distance of 30 miles with no damage to the deliciously flaky crusts.

However, I also had a 20-pound roasted turkey in tow, and since I couldn't trust it not to distribute its juices throughout the carpeted trunk, that left me with one alternative.

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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 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 2012 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: Insider Bluetooth Tip

October 01, 2012

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Warning: This blog entry will not be relevant to you unless (1) you buy a 2013 Subaru BRZ and (2) you and your significant other have more than five smartphones or tablets between you.

As you might imagine, it doesn't take long for our staff to max out the number of allowable paired Bluetooth devices in most of our test vehicles. Five is a typical limit, and that's what it is in our BRZ.

So I needed to delete a device before I could pair my phone, but it's not immediately obvious how you're to do that in the BRZ.

First, you need to find your way to the Bluetooth menu and the paired device list.

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2013 Subaru BRZ: Can You Give Me a Lift?

September 28, 2012

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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: Excellent Visibility Out The Windshield

September 05, 2012

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Among the many things I like about the BRZ is its low hood and the subsequent view out the windshield. Thanks to the low profile of the flat-4 engine, the BRZ provides a more expansive and engaging view of the road than what's typical for a sport coupe. The raised fenders are also cool as they help you place the car when cornering. Among the car's many other qualities, it just furthers my impressions that this is truly a driver's car.

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: Not Feeling the Interior

August 22, 2012

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Call me crazy, but I'm not loving the interior of our BRZ. This only strikes me as odd because I was expecting to like it a touch more than the cabin of the FR-S. Sure, they're essentially the same, but I was hoping the Subaru would feel a tad more refined since it was supposed to be the more "loaded" vehicle of the two.

I'm not even sure what it is about the BRZ that leaves me cold. The odd placement of the starter button is no big deal, but the switches just above it are a little to "Mini" in my mind. The gauges on the BRZ look a little too bland, too. On the FR-S they get metallic faces that make them stand out a little more.

Again, it sounds like so much nit picking and it largely is, but so far I like the FR-S cabin better. That is all.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2013 Subaru BRZ & Scion FR-S: Interior Padding

August 10, 2012

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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

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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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2013 Subaru BRZ Limited: Phone Pocket

August 06, 2012

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This small bin in the BRZ's dash is one of the few physical differences that actually matter between the BRZ and FR-S interiors. The Subaru's start button eats some space but still allows enough room for a narrow bin. With the exception of the USB/auxiliary inputs, the Scion has a full-width bin.

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2013 Subaru BRZ Limited: Where It Belongs

August 03, 2012

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Subaru put the BRz's tachometer in the middle, which is exactly where it belongs on any car that will be driven hard. I appreciate this.

I also find the redundant digital and analog speedometer useful.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2013 Subaru BRZ: My Subaru Touch

August 01, 2012

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Remember when I ripped on our Scion FR-S for not having steering wheel audio controls and clumsy head unit buttons. I take it back (except for the missing wheel controls). Not because I think they're good, no, because the BRZ's is so much worse.

First off, the virtual buttons are small. I don't have sausage-like fatty fingers, either. Secondly, the buttons are seldom responsive. It takes a couple of tries to get a track to skip forward. Perhaps they should have taken a look to the Hyundai/Kia interfaces for inspiration?
At least the sound quality is decent.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 1,800 miles

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

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