2013 Subaru BRZ Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2013 Subaru BRZ Long-Term Road Test

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  • Pricing & Specs
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Read the introduction of the 2013 Subaru BRZ to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2013 Subaru BRZ long-term updates.

What We Got
The 2013 Subaru BRZ was one of the most anticipated cars of 2012. It was a rear-wheel-drive coupe in a category that had few of them and it was built in collaboration with Toyota. And as if that wasn't enough incentive, we also bought its Toyota counterpart for a side-by-side test just to see how the two cars would stack up.

When it came to selecting a BRZ, there weren't many options. It was either the Premium or Limited trim and a choice of six-speed transmissions. Naturally, we got the manual. That's about it. The MSRP was $28,265.

With 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque going to the rear wheels, it promised huge fun for a pretty reasonable amount of money. We did all we could to extract the most fun out of the car, along with the mundane chores of daily driver duty. Here's how it turned out.

Our Impressions

  • "Pretty much everything related to the actual driving of the BRZ is to my liking. The firm ride and tight steering which tell you it's serious about handling. Positive shifter. Perfectly spaced pedals for heel-and-toeing. Seats that hold you in place during hard cornering. It's the kind of car that gets you excited about the act of driving, even though it isn't big on power." — Mike Monticello

  • 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-than-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.... Honestly, cars that toe the control-comfort balance this deftly don't come around every day." — Erin Riches

  • "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'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 under-damped (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'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." — Jason Kavanagh

  • "This is the point with the Subaru BRZ. You look for excuses to take it for a spin, drive it a little farther than you need to, because it's such an entertaining piece.... While big horsepower is surely big fun, the BRZ defines what sports car driving is all about. It's small, low and lightweight, which along with its perfectly tuned suspension, delivers fantastically precise steering and handling. It makes driving a fun experience all the time. Not just when you're hammering on a back road." — Mike Monticello

  • "These are supportive seats, but they're obviously not as aggressively bolstered, or as expensive, as a full-on set of Recaros, and that keeps them from feeling confining on a long trip. But their goodness on this trip went beyond that. The cushioning in the middle of the seat supported me well enough, that I never got to the point where I was shifting around, trying to find a position that didn't hurt. They were just comfortable. In addition, the simulated suede upholstery breathes well, so even when it was over 100 degrees outside, I didn't get sweaty. Of course, to really know how well a seat breathes, you need to drive the car across Texas." — Erin Riches

  • 2013 Subaru BRZ

  • "'My butt hurts'.... You see, as a photographer I'm used to riding shotgun. The BRZ, however, is the only car in four to five years, or well over 200 cars, that became a really uncomfortable place to sit. I've driven the BRZ, and the FR-S, and I've never found a fault with the driver's seat. I'll chalk the discomfort up to the slight difference in seating position one adopts when they're not pushing pedals and the general flatness of the seat cushion. Neither of these things would ever bother the driver, though, and now, for more than one reason, the driver's seat is the best seat in the BRZ." — Kurt Niebuhr

  • "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 backseat. 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 legroom. 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." — Carroll Lachnit

  • "Possibly you've heard about the BRZ's tires. You know, the 215/45R7 Michelin Primacy HP rubber it shares with the JDM Toyota Prius Sport package? These rock-hard pizza cutters keep the Subaru BRZ's limits low and its fun factor fairly high. They also squeal, a lot. Without provocation the tires are constantly letting loose with some kind of squeak or squeal. Paint on the road only amplifies the noise. It gives away any fun you might be having. And it's obnoxious. But at least you're never actually going that fast." — Josh Jacquot

  • "I don't know how I managed it, but my 24-inch, must-be-checked-to-your-final-destination roll-aboard bag was even fatter when I returned from the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Our long-term BRZ was my assigned vehicle for the night, and I inadvertently found the limit of its trunk space, at least when it comes to trunk height. The bag just cleared the opening of the BRZ's trunk. And with some twisting, it just fit into the trunk with half an inch at most to spare in the height department." — Erin Riches

  • "The BRZ's touchscreen interface is pretty awful. Not MyFord Touch awful, but still pretty bad. Small icons placed haphazardly around the screen make navigating the audio system particularly perilous in traffic. At this stage in the evolution of in-car electronics, the manufacturers would do well to standardize some of this stuff.... But here's a pleasant surprise. The also-crummy audio system is decidedly less crummy with the discovery of this seven-band graphic equalizer. You can dial in some decent bass with some definition and just enough top end to bring out guitars, cymbals and vocals without getting too crispy.... The multiband graphic EQ is just another quaint artifact from the days when people valued good sound in their car and desired some level of control over it.... Granted, the touchscreen virtual sliders are kinda dumb, nothing like actual knobs or faders. But in these fast-forward times, we take what we get." — Dan Frio

2013 Subaru BRZ

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
The 2013 Subaru BRZ requests routine service at 7,500-mile intervals, with another at 3,250 miles for those following the severe maintenance guidelines. We had good experiences with both the 7,500- and 15,000-mile visits. Minimal wait time and a courteous staff at South Coast Subaru played a large role in that. The two-year/24,000-mile Subaru free maintenance plan made the experience that much more positive.

Service Campaigns:
We had a problem with condensation inside the taillamps of our BRZ. It required very little digging to locate the TSB addressing this issue. The repair itself was similarly stress-free. We asked the dealer to order the parts ahead of time and scheduled an appointment so we could wait while the lamps were replaced. That was our only issue beyond the routine.

2013 Subaru BRZ

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA estimates for the 2013 Subaru BRZ were 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway). We averaged above the norm, at 27 mpg. Our best single tank of 91 octane garnered 34 mpg and covered a respectable 381 miles.

Resale and Depreciation:
The total MSRP of our 2013 Subaru BRZ Limited was $28,265. After 19,716 miles, Edmunds' TMV® Calculator still valued the Subaru at $23,757 based on a private-party sale. This marks a very strong 16 percent depreciation.

Summing Up

Pros: Fun-to-drive whether on the track or in the city, excellent driver seat comfort, rear seats work in a pinch, simple interior controls, free scheduled maintenance, strong resale value.

Cons: Average power for a sports car, front passenger seat not always comfortable for all body types, tires squeal too easily, trunk fills up quickly, radio controls are more complicated than they should be.

Bottom Line: Even with its modest power, the 2013 Subaru BRZ is a car that gets you excited about driving. It is tuned to be fun on back roads, yet perfectly capable of daily driver duty with minimal hassle. An easy sports car to live with.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $0 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Both taillamp assemblies replaced
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 34.5 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 18.6 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 27.1 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $23,757 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $4,508 (16% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 19,716 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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