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2017 Subaru BRZ: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader January 2017

As the only rear-wheel-drive vehicle in the company's lineup, the 2017 Subaru BRZ is a bit of an odd man out. While it lacks the turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive setup of the more popular WRX, the 2017 BRZ appeals to a more nuanced driver, one who can appreciate the car's high-reving engine and neutral balance in the curves. Under the BRZ's hood resides a normally aspirated 200-horsepower 2.0-liter engine (205 when teamed with the 6-speed manual transmission). Designed in conjunction with Toyota, it has many similarities to the Toyota 86.

The BRZ isn't for everyone, however. Although it has a small back seat, the BRZ's cabin is really only fit for two passengers. Technophiles probably won't be impressed with the touchscreen audio and infotainment system, though the long overdue addition of steering-wheel audio controls is appreciated. But if you're looking for a fun sport coupe with great road manners, a wonderful 6-speed manual transmission and sleek good looks, the 2017 Subaru BRZ deserves at least a couple of test drives.

What's New for 2017?

For 2017, the BRZ gains a 5-hp bump in manual models, as well as new front-end styling and an upgraded interior featuring a 4.2-inch LCD display in Limited trims. New 10-spoke, 17-in alloy wheels join revised spring and shock settings, a larger rear stabilizer bar and a track mode for the stability control system. Limited trims with the manual transmission offer a new Performance Package that adds larger brake rotors, Brembo brakes, SACHS performance shock absorbers and 17-in black aluminum alloy wheels. Steering-wheel audio controls are added this year, as are some new apps. A limited-edition Series.Yellow includes most of the features from the Performance Package plus bright yellow paint, black leather and Alcantara upholstery, and yellow stitching on the seats, steering wheel, door panels and shift boot.

What We Like

Balanced chassis; communicative steering; comfy front seats; seductive styling; reasonably well-equipped for the price

What We Don't

Engine could use more power; lack of high-output audio system; cramped rear seat

How Much?

$26,315-$31,000

Fuel Economy

The Subaru BRZ is powered by a 2.0-liter boxer engine, meaning its pistons lie on their sides in a horizontally opposing configuration. The normally aspirated 4-cylinder generates 200 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque with the 6-speed automatic transmission and 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the 6-speed manual. With the manual, the BRZ earns an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. With the 6-speed automatic, fuel economy jumps to 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

Subaru offers the 2017 BRZ in two well-equipped trims: the Premium and Limited. There's also a limited-edition Series.Yellow model with only 500 units being produced. All three trims come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed automatic with manual shift control is offered on the Limited for an additional $1,100.

The BRZ Premium ($26,315) brings air conditioning, cruise control, power mirrors, 1-touch up/down power windows, power door locks with a remote fob, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls, a 65/35 split-folding rear seat, a limited-slip rear differential, HID headlights, LED headlights, a rear spoiler, 17-in alloy wheels, and a 6.2-in high-resolution single-gesture touchscreen audio system with Subaru STARLINK, SiriusXM radio, a single-CD player, eight speakers, USB/iPod control, Bluetooth streaming audio and phone connectivity.

The BRZ Limited ($28,465) adds LED fog lights, Alcantara and leather seat inserts, push-button start, illuminated sun-visor vanity mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control and the Cold Weather package, which adds heated front seats and heated side mirrors. A 6-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is optional.

The BRZ Series. Yellow ($30,515) adds bright yellow paint, 17-in black-painted wheels, a frameless day/night rearview mirror, and yellow stitching on the seats, shift-lever boot and parking-brake cover.

Stand-alone options include a powered subwoofer, an interior illumination kit, a rear-bumper diffuser and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The BRZ offers a modest trunk that measures 6.9 cu ft. and can be expanded by folding down the rear seat backs.

Safety

Every BRZ comes standard with anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, and six airbags, including front, front-side and side-curtain. In government crash tests, the BRZ scored four out of five stars in the frontal crash test and five stars in the side-impact and roof-strength tests.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the BRZ top marks in every test except the front small-overlap crash test, in which earned it an Acceptable rating.

Behind the Wheel

With only 156 lb-ft of torque, the BRZ isn't going to deliver the same neck-snapping acceleration as its WRX or WRX STI brothers. Thanks to its lightweight chassis, though, if you're willing to get the revs up over 5,000 rpm and really work the 6-speed manual, the BRZ will bring a smile to your face every time you take it for a spin. Driving the BRZ reminds us of another old favorite, the Mazda RX-8. Wonderfully neutral in the curves, with precise steering, great brakes and tenacious traction, the BRZ is the kind of car you want to push through winding mountain roads for hours on end.

Best of all, for everyday drivers, the BRZ is easy to live with. Its ride isn't too harsh or jarring, the gas mileage is pretty good and its maintenance schedule is no more expensive than that of the average family sedan.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Ford Mustang V6 -- The V6-equipped Mustang can't match the BRZ's handling, but it does offer more power and features and a muscular appearance. You can also opt for a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro V6 -- Like the Mustang, the Camaro offers more power and a more masculine look than the BRZ, but it's also noticeably heavier, offers poor outward visibility and is less agile when turning. The 2017 Camaro also offers a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine option.

2017 Toyota 86 -- Nearly identical the BRZ, the Toyota 86 offers a few more options, brighter colors and a larger dealer network.

Used Nissan 370Z -- A 2012-2015 Nissan 370Z is a sleek, 2-seat rear-drive sports car that offers better performance, a more powerful engine and the option of a convertible model.

Autotrader's Advice

Unless you absolutely can't live without heated seats and side mirrors (and a few other amenities), go with the base Premium trim over the Limited. It has everything you need to enjoy what the BRZ is all about, plus you can use some of the $2,000 savings to replace the underwhelming audio with a nice aftermarket system. If you can't drive a stick, however, you'll have to move up to the Limited, as the Premium doesn't offer an automatic transmission.

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Used 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Subaru BRZ: New Car Review - Autotrader