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2018 Subaru BRZ

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Overview (Final Score: B+)

The Subaru BRZ is the driver's sports car in the Subaru lineup and is the only vehicle the company sells that doesn't come with all-wheel drive. This rear-wheel drive sports car has a lot of panache and fun, but it's not everything to everyone. There are some limits to this little car, but enthusiasts will quickly point out its exceptional potential; which is really the point of the little BRZ.

The Subaru BRZ is very similar to the Toyota 86 model, the two being the "Toyobaru twins" designed in conjunction with one another. These cars have Toyota's body design and many interior elements and carry Subaru's engine, transmission, and drivetrain. The greatest differences between them are in the upper trims and special editions, in which the Subaru BRZ is often superior in terms of refinement and gadgetry while the Toyotas are generally lower priced.

The 2018 Subaru BRZ adds only a few updates from the previous year, including a new 7-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard in the Limited and special edition tS trims. The BRZ tS is a limited offering of just 500 units, but adds special tuning by Subaru's STI performance arm to improve the suspension, structure, and brakes while adding a carbon fiber aero wing and cosmetic changes.

The 2018 Subaru BRZ otherwise stays the same it's been since introduction, offering a fun drive dynamic, snappy looks, and an affordable price. The 2018 BRZ is a 2+2 sport coupe that comes in two trim levels plus the special tS model.

What We Love About the 2018 Subaru BRZ:

  • Excellent value for the driving enthusiast

  • No-nonsense sport car look with a lot of appeal

  • Beautiful drive dynamics with no frills or gimmicks

What We Don't Love About the 2018 Subaru BRZ:

  • Engine power delivery wanes through the gears

  • Not the most versatile of sport coupes

  • Useless back seats


Exterior View (10/10)

The Subaru BRZ is a great-looking sport coupe right out of the box. It's classic half-and-half design is appealing, offering a balanced look that emphasizes the low hood, bulging GT-car-like front fenders, and heavy rear haunches. Small lines emanating from the Subaru logo up front edge back into the hood like contrails in the wind and the roof's GT-like wind tunnel continues them back through the fastback. A small built-in aero bulge to the rear deck finishes the forward-moving design.

On certain models, a small aero wing stands up from the rear hatch and on the new tS trim model, a large, carbon fiber wing sits atop structural aluminum V-shaped stands. Small body points along the sides, emphasized by light bone lines underneath, give the body a smooth, supple shaping and small vent-like edges ahead of the side mirrors, just behind and above the front wheel wells, add character.

The 2018 Subaru BRZ is a sleek, fast-paced sports car that promises fun and speed when behind the wheel. Cosmetic packages change the wheels, some exterior details such as striping around the lower intake cowl, etc. In terms of style, the BRZ is tops.

Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (8/10)

The 2018 Subaru BRZ sees little interior change compared to the 2017 model year, which upgraded a few things while keeping the BRZ's focus on its driving purpose. A rearview parking camera and navigation became standard equipment in 2017 and are now augmented by a bigger screen and more connectivity in the Limited and tS trims for 2018. Upgraded instrument cluster gauges are also found in the new 2018 model's Limited and tS trims.

Seating in the 2018 BRZ is well-done and comfortable, emphasizing sport-centric bolstering and cupped control. Larger folks will have to squeeze a bit to get into the BRZ, but not horribly so as the front two seats are a good fit. Headroom is premium for taller folks, but could be worse.

typera-interior4In the back, seats are mostly for show as even child safety seats are a squeeze to get into this Suby. Kids large enough to do without boosters, though, will love the cradling rear seating despite its near total lack of legroom. The family dog will love the back seat, but spirited driving could result in some messes as Fido's windows don't roll down.

Visibility for the driver in the 2018 Subaru BRZ is good looking forward to to the sides, but often obstructed to the rear, especially with the large aero wing installed.

Technology (9/10)

The technology in the 2018 Subaru BRZ is pretty good for the class and price point. The standard infotainment is based on a small 6.2-inch touchscreen that offers Bluetooth, some smartphone streaming audio apps, a USB port, and a good eight-speaker sound system. Upgrading that through the Limited or tS trims gets a 7-inch touchscreen that adds on another USB port and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Navigation is from TomTom, making it a pretty good setup.

The tech interface for the BRZ is simple, easy to understand, and it responds quickly.

Fuel Economy (9/10)

The 2018 BRZ is rated by the EPA at 25 mpg combined, with 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway for the manual transmission models. The automatic transmission ups those numbers to 27 mpg combined (24 city, 33 highway). The BRZ tS model (manual only) is EPA-rated at 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. In the real world, our experience with the BRZ showed that those numbers are realistic.

Our week in a manual transmission Performance model last year showed 24 mpg as an average and this year in the tS model, we achieved nearly 24 mpg overall. Despite some spirited performance driving.


Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (8/10)

Reliability in the 2018 Subaru BRZ is largely based upon Suby's reputation for quality. The J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study rates the 2018 BRZ as "About Average," which has been the case for most years since the BRZ was introduced.

Safety (9/10)

The 2018 BRZ has been crash tested by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The NHTSA has given the BRZ four stars for frontal crash results and five stars for rollover results and has not, as of this writing, otherwise published crash test results for the car. The IIHS gives a more complete picture with a full suite of crash results that netted the 2018 BRZ top scores of "Good" in all but one test, the small overlap front driver-side test. The BRZ does not have any advanced safety options available.

Performance (9/10)

When the point of this car is taken into consideration, its performance metrics are phenomenal given its price point. The 2018 Subaru BRZ utilizes a 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer-style (opposed piston) engine that outputs 205 horsepower through its manual transmission and 200 horses to its automatic. This runs to the rear wheels as the only Subaru to not have all-wheel drive.

The tuning on the little boxer engine nets the car its full 156 pound-feet of torque relatively early in the RPM band, which means keeping power strong is somewhat easier in this car than it would be otherwise. Horsepower comes a bit later, but requires more finesse to keep ramped, marking the car's weakest point in terms of performance.

Where the BRZ shines, though, is in its excellent handling, wonderful drive dynamic, and drive engagement. The 2018 BRZ is just fun to drive. All of the time. Even in traffic. Most drivers can expect to beat 7 second 0-60 mph times without much learning curve and to beat 6.5 seconds (in the tS model) once things are more well understood.

One glance at enthusiast forums for the BRZ show that its ability to be upgraded relatively easily is another huge boon for the car. Adding turbocharging, better exhaust, improved intake systems, and more are favorite pastimes of BRZ owners and speak to the car's great possibilities for those who want a low-cost entry-level sports coupe they can tinker with down the line.

Pricing and Value (10/10)

The 2018 Subaru BRZ follows on the previous model years for the coupe, with its low price of entry and its excellent return in terms of fun. As a daily drive, it's not the best, but it's not bad either and more than one person will find their daily commute becoming a lot more interesting thanks to this car's effusive nature.

Resale on the BRZ is very high, thanks to the enthusiast market that pays top dollar for used models in order to upgrade them for racing and amateur fun. The BRZ and its Toyota twins have made names for themselves as rally runners and rear-drive drift machines. The cars are remarkably well-suited to both endeavors when tuned properly.

Most buyers can get a new 2018 Subaru BRZ that's very well-equipped for under $27,000 with many finding themselves closer to the $25,000 mark in their purchase.


Total Score and Competitive Comparison (71/80, 89%)

The 2018 Subaru BRZ has no real direct competitors except its twin from Toyota, the 86. The Toyota has less interior refinement and fewer amenities, but sells for a little less as well. Comparables otherwise are the Volkswagen Golf GTI hatchback and the Fiat 124. Both of those offer turbocharging off the bat while the Fiat is a convertible with more style and less spirit. Neither the VW nor the Fiat have upgrades as their purpose and only the 124 is truly a driver's car, as-is.

Lacking direct competition, the 2018 BRZ stands alone as a great niche vehicle. It is a true enthusiast's sport coupe that's fun to drive and very malleable in the right hands. This year's tS model is a dream for its improved dynamics and excellence.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Coupe - RWD
Premium Premium Manual 4 Cylinder RWD 25595
Limited Limited Manual 4 Cylinder RWD 28445
Limited Limited Auto 4 Cylinder RWD 29545
tS tS Manual 4 Cylinder RWD 33495

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