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1212 2013 Subaru Brz December Update
four seasons long-term tests

2013 Subaru BRZ - Reality Sets In

Miles to date: 9,525

Glenn Paulina
WINTER
2013 Subaru BRZ reviews to date
There's no good daily driver that's also a perfect driver's car.

After living with a 2013 Subaru BRZ Premium for five months, we've noticed a few problems with the car. The day after our last monthly update, we had to order a replacement right taillight because ours filled with condensation. A simple fix, right? Sure, if you can find the part, which is currently back-ordered until January. A minor problem, but our new car no longer looks so new.

There have also been sporadic problems with the navigation system. At first we spent all of our time running our favorite roads in the new BRZ to enjoy its stellar chassis and predictable handling. Lately we've been venturing a bit farther afield and discovered how poorly the navigation system performs. Everyone who tried to use navigation has reported multiple instances of the unit losing the GPS signal. A visit to the dealer was in order.

We learned the BRZ has a technical service bulletin for the GPS antenna mount as well as an SD card exchange program for the navigation software. Another simple fix, right? Again, it would be only if the parts are on hand. We're told the new mounting bracket and SD card will be available in a week or two. Such is life with a brand-new car before the bins at the factory parts depots are full. In any case, don't expect to see our new Subaru BRZ on a long road trip for a while.

While we spent our first few months enjoying the Subie as driver's car and fair weather toy, the experience of daily driving is finally putting us in touch with reality. We expected the stereo to sound much better with our new driver's door speaker installed, but the speakers still serve up "a constant stream of distortion," according to senior editor Eric Tingwall. The touchscreen interface's tiny buttons have yet to find a fan and Tingwall has gone so far as to suggest an aftermarket Sony head unit for the car. We aren't quite ready to give up on the factory unit until we test the revised navigation software, but the universal loathing for the stereo controls is difficult to ignore.

Two hatchback-owning associate Web editors find the BRZ difficult to live with on a daily basis. Over a weekend with car, Jake Holmes disliked the "middling rear visibility, thrashy engine, notchy gearbox, somewhat stiff and buzzy highway ride, and a real lack of back seat room." Donny Nordlicht took issue with the "hard, cheap plastic everywhere, the black-black-fake silver color scheme, the unusable center console (I didn't dare try to get Starbucks with this car), or the infuriating infotainment system with too-small controls (both hard buttons and on the screen) and Bluetooth system that refuses to stay connected."

On the other hand, deputy editor Joe DeMatio found the BRZ Premium to be surprisingly practical for a run to Costco with two kids in tow, ages 13 and 11: "I was a little worried about packing it all in, but I needn't have been concerned. Anna fit nicely in the front passenger's seat, Logan was nestled in behind her, and I was able to pack a cart full of stuff into the trunk, including two 40-lb bags of dog food, a case of La Croix water, 6 gallons of apple juice and assorted other grocery items."

Another staffer put the daily driving complaints into perspective: "This is a fantastic driver's car. It's not at all surprising that it's compromised as a daily driver. There's no good daily driver that's also a perfect driver's car, so far as I know. The two missions will always be at odds with each other. But something like a Volkswagen GTI would be a better compromise daily driver than the Subaru BRZ."

Although the 2013 Subaru BRZ Premium isn't the perfect daily driver, we're not going to park it for the winter. A set of 215/45R-17 Bridgestone Blizzak LM60 performance winter tires just arrived from the Tire Rack, our official wheel and tire supplier, and we mounted them on the stock wheels. We didn't want to give up the steering feel or precision we've come to expect from our BRZ, so we opted for a little less ultimate handling capability in the snow and a bit more responsiveness on dry pavement.

There's a chance these tires won't get us through a huge snowstorm, but we're willing to park the car for a night or two if winter turns out to be especially white this year. So far we find the BRZ's steering with the Bridgestone Blizzaks to be almost as good as it has been with the stock summer tires, though we haven't yet had an opportunity to assess performance in slippery conditions. Check back next month to see if we get the White Christmas of our dreams.

2013 Subaru BRZ Specs
  • Overview
  • powertrain
  • chassis
  • measurements
  • equipment
  • options
Body style 2-door coupe
Accommodation 4 passenger
Construction Steel unibody
Base price (with dest.)$26,265
Price As tested $26,265
Steering Electrically assisted
Lock-to-Lock 35.4 ft
Turning circle 35.4 ft
Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
Suspension, Rear Control arm, coil springs
Brakes F/R Vented disc
Wheels 17-in aluminum
Tires Michelin Primacy HP
Tire size 215/45WR-17
Engine 16-valve DOHC flat-four
Displacement 2.0 liters (122 cu in)
Power 200 hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque 151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Drive Rear-wheel
EPA Fuel Economy 22/30/25 (city/hwy/combined)
Headroom F/R 40.3/39.7 in
Legroom F/R 41.9/29.9 in
Shoulder room F/R 53.1/45.3 in
Wheelbase 101.2 in
Track F/R 59.8/60.6 in
L x W x H 166.7 x 69.9 x 50.6 in
Passenger capacity 76.5 cu ft
Cargo capacity 6.9 cu ft
Weight 2762 lb
Weight dist. F/R xx/xx%
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal
Est. fuel range 330 miles
Fuel grade 93 octane (premium unleaded)
Standard Equipment
  • Bluetooth
  • Air conditioning
  • Variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Cruise control
  • Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
  • Power windows, locks, and exterior mirrors
  • Sport front seats
  • Height-adjustable driver's seat
  • SiriusXM satellite radio w/trial subscription
  • HID headlights
  • USB port
  • Navigation
  • Sport-tuned suspension
  • Limited-slip differential
  • Stability control
Packages & Options
  • None
Jeff Berg
Bought this car in September 2012.  Not satifsfied; AC sucks when sitting in traffic, engine makes weird noises or backfires slightly, engine is too small I have trouble with turning on heat, ac, rear defogger.  Bottom line for a new car this is a piece of garbage.  Trading this in as soon as I can.  BRZ = GARBAGE.  No power needs 100 hp and torque.  If you have a bad back getting in and out of this car is a pain in the butt.  The nav unit was garbage before I got the fix.  The stereo is horrible.
Two Dollar Cuts
I think the head unit is pure trash for the most part, but I was never one for touch screens.  In the Accord that I used to drive I could access things like the channel or disc and then also access the treble/bass controls without having to take my eyes off of the road.  I don't think the stick shift is excessively notchy so I can't completely agree with the reviewer there.  I'm a bit surprised at the quality of interior complaints.  I'm not sure what the reviewer was expecting.  Is the Miata that much nicer looking inside?  Is the FR-S better?
Chris Wilkinson
I drive a 2013 FR-S and love the car. I haven't had any issues yet and have no clue why the editors don't like the engine, it sounds awesome! To each his own I guess.  Also, seriously, you're complaining about rear seat room in a car that's hardly larger than a Miata? The authors seem pretty critical, although I can't comment on the Subaru head unit because the Scion one ROCKS (except you need an Iphone to be able to use navigation which sucks).  I'm not exactly sure how the Subaru head unit works, but on the Scion system if you don't have the right "car setting" on it either sounds like crap or overboosted. 
maxtenet
I've had mine since June (BRZ Limited 5 speed). I really like the car and my navigation system works fine. It even has back roads that my Tom Tom doesn't show. The bluetooth works flawlessly! My only real complaints are lack of rear three quarter vision and the damn horn sounds like it came from a 1960's Honda 90 motorcycle. Yeah, the Sound system is hard to work when driving so I just listen to CD's. Overall, I like it better than my Audi TT and hope that it costs a lot less in the long run. Really fun to throw the rear end out!Max
Craig McNeil
I agree with the complaints about the rear visibility -- especially while backing up from a parking space in my office parking garage.  I have to expose myself to a bit of danger before I can see whether I'm going to get clobbered.  The same goes in the forward gear while entering into a street at any sort of a slant.  The buttons are too small (and what, exactly, is a DIVX player?) and the GPS works really, really well.  One time in ten.  I have the new software on order and I am pretty sure that my dealership is unaware of the problem with its antenna.  Perhaps I will send them the link to this article....Still, I love my BRZ Limited.  Driving a stick in rush hour stop and go traffic is a form of punishment, but I still love how this car works.  The interior materials are good, not fancy, and well built.  Except of course for the GPS....
Chad Cummings
@Craig McNeilDivX is computer file compatability (.avi, .mpg, .mpeg, ect.)

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