2018 Subaru BRZ Review
2018 Subaru BRZ Review
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
Used BRZ for saleAppraise This Car
See Edmunds pricing data
Has Your Car's Value Changed?
Used car values are constantly changing. Edmunds lets you track your vehicle's value over time so you can decide when to sell or trade in.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Edmunds ContributorJames Riswick is an automotive journalist at Edmunds.
- Balanced and forgiving handling make for an easy and fun drive
- Excellent steering feel and response
- Comfortable and supportive front seats
- Better tech than what's offered by its Toyota twin
- Modest acceleration with no engine upgrade
- Significant highway noise
The Limited and new tS trim levels get a welcome infotainment upgrade for 2018, with a new 7-inch touchscreen that features improved functionality, integrated navigation, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Speaking of the new tS, it is limited to 500 units and features special tuning by Subaru's STI performance arm. The suspension has been enhanced, the structure strengthened, and the brakes upgraded. There are also several exclusive design elements.
It doesn't seem that long ago that we were cooing at the arrival of the Toyota-Subaru twins, a pair of almost identical rear-wheel-drive sport coupes that were lightweight, beautifully balanced, easy to drive, and quite simply a whole heap of fun. Well, it's been five years, and we're still huge fans of the 2018 Subaru BRZ. And after two consecutive years of upgrades, it's now easy to say that it's the more appealing of the twins.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Subaru BRZ Premium 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.93 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$200/mo for BRZ Premium
Avg. Compact Car
If you're only considering the cheapest base versions of the twins, they're practically identical. But if you're looking for extra equipment and extra performance, the Subaru is the way to go. In terms of creature comforts, the BRZ Limited adds dual-zone climate control, push-button start, heated seats and, for 2018, a new 7-inch touchscreen complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get access to the Performance package, which adds upgraded Sachs dampers and Brembo high-performance brakes for superior driving dynamics the 86 just can't match.
And then there's the new BRZ tS also introduced for 2018. Limited to 500 units, it adds a variety of chassis-stiffening components, a further-tuned suspension, and special exterior and interior design elements. Plus, since it was tuned by Subaru's STI group, a carbon-fiber pedestal wing is thrown in for good measure.
So, even if the BRZ is the better choice between the Toyota-Subaru twins, there are still flaws and competitors to consider. The engine is the main point of contention. Acceleration is fine on paper, but there's little midrange punch and you have to keep the rpm high to get the most out of it. That means listening to a lot of unrefined racket from the four-cylinder boxer. Competitors are better in terms of power, refinement, noise and even fuel economy. There's also something to be said for interior space and quality, plus some missing safety features. Be sure to look around a bit.
What's it like to live with?
Learn about day-to-day Subaru BRZ ownership from our editorial experts' long-term test of a 2013 Limited. We know it is fun and relatively affordable. How comfortable was the ride? How was the fuel economy? Was the cargo room big enough for everyday use? Learn this and more from our test. Note that the 2018 BRZ differs slightly from the 2013 model we tested — it was updated in 2017 with more power for the manual-transmission version — but our coverage is otherwise applicable.
Edmunds' Expert Rating7.4 / 10
The 2018 Subaru BRZ remains blessed by rear-wheel drive, superb steering, balanced handling and an easy-to-drive nature. It also stands above its Toyota 86 twin with better tech and available chassis upgrades. However, its growly, underpowered and relatively inefficient engine still holds it back.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2013 Subaru BRZ (2.0L flat-4 | 6-speed manual | RWD). NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current BRZ has received significant updates last year, including revised suspension tuning and transmission gearing, a slight power upgrade, and the availability of such extra features. It belongs to the same generation, though, so our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's BRZ.
|Overall||7.4 / 10|
The BRZ has sports-car handling but an engine that struggles to get rolling. We love the way it drives through turns thanks to its classic rear-wheel-drive balance and effortless steering. A more powerful and refined engine would take better advantage of its dynamic capabilities.
The BRZ's four-cylinder is responsive, but it's not the easiest car to launch aggressively. Midrange power is noticeably lacking, and the top-end bump isn't enough to make up for it. Look for a 0-60 mph time of about 6.7 seconds, which is OK, but other coupes are noticeably quicker.
Initial brake impressions are very good. It's a firm but easy-to-modulate pedal, though when driven aggressively, the pedal feel becomes a bit wooden. The optional Brembo performance brakes may improve this aspect.
The quick and precise steering rewards smooth driving, and well-damped feedback from the wheel communicates how much grip you have at the front wheels. It's the kind of steering you'd hope to get from a back-to-basics car like this.
The BRZ's suspension tuning is more buttoned-down than that of its Toyota sibling, the 86. This refinement is enhanced further by the Performance package and the somewhat stiffer BRZ tS. In any event, the BRZ is lightweight and balanced. It's both easy and tremendously rewarding to drive.
The clutch engagement zone is narrow, so it takes practice to shift smoothly. At midrange rpm, the engine falls short when you need it most. Longer highway inclines can't be pulled in sixth gear. Listening to the motor moan and thrash takes a lot of the enjoyment away from revving it out.
To the casual enthusiast, the BRZ could be considered noisy and stiff, with a distinct lack of refinement and comfort-enhancing features (no power seats available). It won't be for everyone, but it's still far friendlier than past sport compact cars.
The front seats wrap around your body like a glove without being too confining like some other sport seats. We found them quite comfortable on longer road trips. They do, however, lack the option of power controls or extra adjustments such as lumbar or thigh support.
The BRZ's ride isn't punishing like a WRX STI's, and if measured against such sport compact cars, it could almost be deemed plush. When compared to other, less sport-oriented coupes, however, it is indeed on the firm side of things.
Noise & vibration6.0
It's not that the engine is noisy — that can be a benefit in sport coupes — it's that it doesn't sound very good. There's also a ton of road noise, especially on the highway. Driving the BRZ long distances can get old.
The BRZ can be equipped with dual-zone automatic climate control, a feature not available on the Toyota 86.
Most controls are located exactly where you'd expect them to be, visibility is excellent, and the driving position likely spot-on. But don't expect to fit people comfortably in the rear, and materials quality is pretty spartan.
Ease of use6.0
There are no hidden features, no secret Easter eggs, no hidden menus. Everything about the BRZ is clearly visible from the moment you get in.
Getting in/getting out7.5
It's low, but the wide door opening and unobtrusive seat cushion make it easy to drop into the BRZ. Use the rear seats for bags and cargo since the aperture to get in or out of them is too narrow for most people to manage.
Some drivers may struggle to find an ideal position (seat bottom tilt, please), but the vast majority should find the BRZ terrific. You sit low with a surprisingly upright position. The near-horizontal steering column is placed perfectly, though more telescoping range would be nice.
There's ample room for even tall front passengers. Only small dogs and some grocery bags can fit in the back, so if you're looking for an expansive back seat, this probably isn't your type of car. If you're just looking for more than a Miata, though, you're in business.
With a tall and wide windshield and a low hood, forward visibility is pretty good. The view out the back is a bit compromised, but the rear-quarter windows do help when changing lanes. A fairly high-resolution backup camera aids in the tightest quarters, but we wish the displayed image was larger.
There were no squeaks or rattles after a year of testing a BRZ, which is a good thing. So, too, is the faux suede on the dash and most trims' seats. But with a sea of black plastic, there's a dated vibe to the BRZ's cabin that could be a turnoff for some.
With a folding rear seat and trunk designed to hold a full set of wheels and tires and a small tool set, the BRZ doesn't have to be reserved just for weekend duty.
Small, hard plastic door pockets and a center console tray with removable cupholders are all you get. The center console isn't covered by an armrest. A small bin forward of the shifter is too small to hold smartphones, and when push-button start is specified, it shrinks even further.
The trunk opening isn't gigantic, but it can hold a decent amount of shorter-size items. The narrow backseat aperture can make it difficult to slide wider items through. Lowering the rear seatback is only possible from the trunk, by pulling two lanyards simultaneously. It's not easy.
The two touchscreen options could be the main reason to choose a BRZ over the Toyota 86. Even the standard 6.3-inch screen is easier to use (especially its adjacent menu buttons). But the new 7-inch screen really steps things up with improved functionality, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Audio & navigation5.0
The base touchscreen is fairly simple to use and doesn't frustrate as past BRZ touchscreens did. But upgrading to the 7-inch screen is recommended for its improved graphics, enhanced functionality and the presence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. TomTom navigation software is also included.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come on the Limited and tS trim levels. All BRZs get Bluetooth, a variety of streaming audio apps and one USB port, with a second one added on the top two trims.
No advanced driver and safety aids are available on the BRZ beyond a rearview camera.
Which BRZ does Edmunds recommend?
We don't think you'd feel shortchanged by the base model, but the BRZ Limited is the more appealing choice thanks to its new-for-2018 7-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These aren't available at all on the BRZ's twin, the Toyota 86. Its extra creature comforts are also welcome. We'd also consider the Limited's Performance package, another BRZ exclusive, which further sharpens this rear-wheel-drive Subaru. Finally, we'd recommend the manual transmission. If you're into driver's cars, it's the way to go.
2018 Subaru BRZ models
The 2018 Subaru BRZ is a two-door sport coupe available in three trim levels: Premium, Limited and low-production tS. All of them come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive. With the standard six-speed manual, the engine produces 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. Those figures dip to 200 hp and 151 lb-ft with the optional six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment on the BRZ Premium includes 17-inch wheels, summer performance tires, LED headlights, a trunk spoiler, heated mirrors, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a folding rear seatback, a 6.2-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, a variety of smartphone-streaming audio apps, a USB port, and an eight-speaker sound system with a media player interface, an auxiliary audio jack, a CD player and satellite radio.
Stepping up to the BRZ Limited nets you LED foglights, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, simulated-suede upholstery with outer seat portions in black leather, heated front seats, an enhanced trip computer display, a second USB port, and a 7-inch touchscreen that brings with it integrated TomTom navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Only the Limited can be fitted with the optional automatic transmission. Its optional Performance package adds Sachs performance dampers, Brembo high-performance brakes and gray-painted alloy wheels.
The limited-edition BRZ tS adds various body-stiffening elements, different STI-tuned Sachs dampers, black 18-inch STI wheels, the Brembo high-performance brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, a pedestal-style carbon-fiber trunk spoiler, underbody spoilers, special black finishings on various exterior components, special Cherry Blossom Red accents exterior accents, and matching red leather on those seat portions that are black in the Limited. It does not have the Limited's LED foglights.
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
The Perfect Sports Car - For the Price
2016 Subaru BRZ Series.HyperBlue 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
Keeping in mind that you can get the BRZ for less than $30,000 it is, in my opinion, the best sports car of the modern era. The driving position, steering feel, and ability for an amateur driver to push the BRZ to the limit is the reason that it makes every driver smile. The point of the BRZ (or the FR-S, or GT 86 since they are all essentially the same car) is to make a grown-up feel … like a child again. The car makes me giggle, and flatters my abilities to the point where I never feel unsafe. I was in a unique situation where I was able to purchase one of the 500 Hyper Blue BRZ's and as long as I never wreck it, I expect it to be a future classic. So whenever I get the chance, I take it for a blast through the hills, or if I can leave a little early, I take the long way to work and arrive with a smile plastered across my face. In a world where most of us drive grayscale people carrying boxes, the BRZ feels extra special. It's a reminder of how much fun driving can be, and without putting in too much money, it has the comforts, look and finish of a far more expensive car. The interior has Hyper Blue stitching to match the paint, and with black accents, the BRZ feels just right. The controls are where you expect them to be, and the large, centrally mounted tachometer runs happily up above 7000rpm before a light flashes at you to shift up before you ping it off the limiter. As driving experiences go, it is hard to get more smiles per gallon for my money. UPDATE: after 10,0000 miles the BRZ has become an extension of me and I am happy to say I still love it. UPDATE 2: after 16,000 miles it’s still perfect for me.
4 out of 5 stars
A fun daily driver - but with a cost
2016 Subaru BRZ Limited 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
The big thing to know about this car is that Subaru/Toyota wanted a cheap performance car that would make drivers smile. They succeeded, but the cheapness can come back to bite long-term owners. I have daily-driven the car for a year and 14,000 miles, so I have had the proper seat time to write a review. The two companies decided to put the whole budget into the drivetrain. My car in … this respect has been solid. I replaced the transmission, differential, and engine oils myself, and the engineers really put a lot of thought into how to do that easily. On the flip side, most nuts and bolts on this car are made out of very weak metal, leading to all the wheel studs being stripped in just a few changes. The interior rattles like crazy, the speakers buzz at higher volumes, which are needed because of loud road noise. I had two sets of tail lights leak, and my headlight ballasts went out and needed replacement. The list goes on. The car will continue to drive and handle beautifully, but the non-essentials will entropy around you. The maintenance bill won't be in the thousands, but I have constantly had $100 here and there to replace the cheap parts. I am 6'2" and 190 pounds and am triangle-shaped. Think broad shoulders and small waist. This car's seats are the most comfortable I have ever sat in. I want these for my office, house, and every car afterward. That being said, if I was an inch taller or 20 pounds heavier, I would hate them. All of my 'larger' friends hate riding in the car. My wife is tall and thin, and she hates hunching over to get in/out of the passenger side. Holding on to the steering wheel makes the driver's side easy. People like to say this car is slow. For muscle-car owners who love straight line speed, this car is not for you. I don't want any more power out of it, because I get to floor it during daily driving, and I don't get speeding tickets. It's exhilarating without being too dangerous. Countless journalists have raved about the balance and steering - all I know is that the car feels super secure going 30+ mph over suggested speed limits on turns. If I was looking at a BRZ and similar cars today, I personally would just save my money and buy a Mazda Miata RF. That being said, I still roll the windows down on a warm day and just go for a drive to relax. This car does this at a great price, and I would recommend it to a friend - if they are willing to deal with the mentioned issues.
5 out of 5 stars
Race car experience
2018 Subaru BRZ Premium 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
Sure, for the same money, you can get a more practical car that's roomier, quieter, more comfortable, has a nicer interior, has more advanced technology, and it might even be faster. Boring! Why not get something special instead: a BRZ. From the moment you awkwardly slide into the ultra-low racing seats, you know you're in for a unique experience. The engine is loud (admittedly some of … the sound is piped in through the passenger footwell), almost no effort has been made to dampen road noise, you can hear and feel parts in the transmission moving around when you shift gears, the huge tachometer is right in the middle of the dashboard, and the clock looks like it's from the 80s. The car was clearly designed for use on a racetrack, even though it's comfortable enough and has all the amenities for daily driving. You'll never take the short route home, your friends and family will constantly ask for rides, and people who don't know very much about cars will assume that your fancy sports car cost twice as much as it actually did. What's not to love??
4 out of 5 stars
Enter every road curve with joy in my heart
2014 Subaru BRZ Limited 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
This is a car to increase your quality of life. I love it for where I live in the San Diego foothills with no deer. However, if I lived back in the Hill Country of Central Texas, I'd have sold this car within 6 months. The headlights are set ridiculously low so literally heaven help you if there are deer on the road ahead. You won't see them until they're through your windshield. The … dealership's Service Dept told me I can't get them raised up because they're high density headlights. I think the headlights are a huge safety risk in areas with large-sized wildlife. Other than that, I adore this car for the thrill of driving it. Kudos to the excellent engineers! Update: Have had the car for a while and we still love it. We have no intention of trading it in for anything else. My only gripe of note continues to be the low position of the headlights, but the freeways, canyon and foothill roads we drive don't make this a big issue for us in SoCal. No elk bounding across a Wyoming plain. Just rabbits and the coyotes are too savvy to get hit. We have found you can't always reliably shift from 4th to 6th. Seems to insist on a pit stop at 5th. Again, not a deal breaker. We've had no issues needing repairs. Everything still seems tight. This car is all about the Curves and we love it for that. Update 11/13/17: Still no repairs have been needed. I still LOVE this car! Everything I wrote above is still true. But so is my complaint about headlights. I went to Subaru twice and was told no upward adjustment possible. Didn't look at replacing them though. Not a problem in heavily populated Southern California and if you know the roads. I wish I could easily replace the speakers. They buzz on certain octaves. I don't blast them but I do play them loudly sometimes. You kinda have to because the car is a typical sporty car with some noise inside. I hate the display though. No steering wheel controls so you have to use the display for music. This is the worst point of the car. The internal temp controls and clock are perfect but music and maps is a major pain to manipulate. It's easy to read the maps on the display though. My husband and I are still very happy with this car purchase. As soon as a take a sharp curve, I fall in love with this car all over again. Like being a kid in a go cart. Update 5/14/2020: The car's still performing great. Driving is just as fun. We've followed all recommended maintenance and have had no mechanical or any other problems. It's our play car so our mileage is low, about 28K at this point. My gripes are the same as on the first day. Headlights aren't good for rural areas where wildlife leaps out at you although they're perfectly fine in populated areas. The speakers should be replaced and the entertainment panel. Happily we checked into an aftermarket Android Auto install plus better speakers and it's easy to have done. We just procrastinated since we drive our other vehicles more and they have it. I feel comfortable to recommend this as a reliable Used Car, made in Japan, if the previous owner wasn't an idiot driver and that you calculate in an Android Auto panel plus speakers upgrade. My car is a manual so automatics might be different.
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2018 Subaru BRZ, so we've included reviews for other years of the BRZ since its last redesign.
2018 BRZ Highlights
|Combined MPG||24 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$200/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||rear wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
Our experts like the BRZ models:
- Side Curtain Airbags
- Automatically deploy when the car has been struck from the side. Covers the windows of both rows and protects occupants' heads.
- Vehicle Stability Control
- Uses the brakes and reduces power to prevent accidents. A Track mode reins in this intervention to allow some sliding.
- Brake Assist
- Automatically applies full braking force when the car detects the driver is initiating a panic strop.
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriverNot RatedPassengerNot Rated
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover5 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover7.1%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestAcceptable
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood