Selling Our 2013 Subaru BRZ Wasn't Easy

We imagined unloading our mostly beloved 2013 Subaru BRZ long-term tester would be a breeze. Not only was the tester a loaded Limited trim level with heated seats, high-intensity discharge headlights, navigation, Alcantara and leather interior, and more, but the grin-inducing coupe had a Crystal Black Silica exterior with metallic flake paint and six-speed manual transmission that, in our eyes, is the only way to buy a BRZ.

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Purchased for $31,826 out the door, owning the BRZ for 11 months sucked another $3,739.13 from our pockets in ownership costs on fuel, maintenance and repairing a cracked windshield. In the end, we sold the BRZ for $21,000.

Like our Nissan Leaf, selling the BRZ was challenging. Demand for the lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe wasn't as strong as we imagined; or at least not in Chicago, in November, with winter approaching even though we were including winter tires and heavy-duty floor mats in the asking price.


An initial asking price of $24,900 for our 13,995-mile BRZ went up on's Sell It Yourself section without mentioning our ties. The BRZ was priced about average among similar BRZs that didn't include winter tires or floor mats, and was spot-on with Kelley Blue Book's suggested private party value. A professional detailer did his handy work before selling to clean up light paint scratches while giving the black exterior a deep shine. Unfortunately, bird droppings damaged the paint and wasn't correctable without going to a separate paint correction specialist.

Prepped, pretty and ready to sell, the car sat for two weeks without a test drive or even a tire kicker.


We dropped the price to $23,900 after the first week, then shortly after to $22,900. Most of the interest came from a national Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S forum where the car was also posted. None of the offers were local, or lucrative, enough to deal with the hassle of shipping and selling out of state. Interesting trade offers included a 400-plus horsepower 2003 Mitsubishi Evolution and a turbocharged Honda S2000. I would have loved to introduce the rest of our staff to our new turbocharged Honda S2000 long-term tester, but had to pass.

I took the BRZ to a local CarMax to see how much it would buy the BRZ for, which was $21,000. The offer was only slightly less than what we wanted from a private buyer ($22,000), so at that point we lowered the asking price to $21,900 for a final few days to try and eke out an extra $900. Like before, we experienced radio silence with no offer that would be as easy as or put much more cash in our pocket than selling to CarMax. So that's what we did.


Winter may not have been the only issue with selling our BRZ. Our CarMax salesman noted an individual buyer could struggle securing a competitive private party loan because our car was so new, and cash buyers may be scarce. We fondly waved goodbye to our BRZ at the dealership, and gave a different "salute" to its irksome navigation/multimedia system one last time. CarMax didn't want the winter tires or floor mats, so we sold them for $385 to a local member of the BRZ/FR-S forum who showed interest when we posted the car for sale.

Below is a summary of our observed gas mileage after 11 months and 14,352 miles, which was the odometer reading on the dealership floor as we parted ways.


Follow Our Long-Term Fleet
2013 Subaru BRZ Review
Tracking the Fuel Economy of's 2013 Honda Civic, 2013 Subaru BRZ



Wow, that is some brutal depreciation right there. In the last 5 years or so I've been leaning towards the idea that buying new isn't such a bad idea as it seems many cars are holding their value better than ever before. While the BRZ can't be seen as representative of the whole market, this story does give me pause.


wish you posted that on your blog before carmax. I'm sure you would've generated a ton of interest.

Danny Ulster

Yikes....and worst of all, Carmax is trying to collect $25K on it!

I say never buy new because of the huge deprecation but this seemed like a smart decision until it was time to sell. Thats a huge loss in one year.


Just a guess but it might have generated more interest if it was the Scion version, which was higher rated by consumer reports and might have drawn a hipper, younger group of potential buyers. I would have included scion frs in the online ad somewhere so the car would pop up in those searches too. Very sharp car in black with the nice alloys.


Bad time to sell a car like that. Could have put it in storage for 3-4 months and advertised again after the tax refund season. CarMax got a steal...which they usually do


$21K? I would've bought it.

No one is in business to lose money I guess.

It might just speak to the power of private sellers still being a solid choice for used buyers as long as they are careful about the purchase.

Clearly selling a new car after one year is not a smart financial move for a private owner. We have a one-year program for our long-term test cars in place that makes sense for a number of reasons. Resale value isn't the main focus obviously.

Trading in on a new vehicle would also make more sense financially.


trading most likely never works for the benefit of the consumer. Some dealerships pay a commission to the salesperson and sales manager that negotiated a trade in (that gives them an incentive to screw you even more), on top of that the store must make a profit on the sale of that car. So if your're not a savvy consumer (strong negotiator) you're better off selling your car to a private party for market value. (remember the house never loses)

Danny Ulster also seems as if I'm hearing "Don't list your car with, it wont sell. Just take it to Carmax." Probably not the best story to share. Just saying!


Should have put it on craigslist and ebay and autotrader. All bad words on but private selling on is not good.



People seem to expect dealers to lose money on every deal, I'm not in the auto business but it's no different than any other business. If you work your company sells a product or service for more than it costs to produce (you get a salary right?). I would hate to be in the car business. Can you imagine everyday you came to work someone was hassling you about working for less money each day. Besides, the lion share of the profit on a car is made from the manufacturer anyway. Carmax is a business , what are they to do? Offer you top dollar an lose money on each car? Ever figure what the utilities, insurance, property, state and fed taxes, business equipment and supplies cost? Carmax has a huge nut every month, much less than than the one you carry from your driveway. So guess what? You can sell the car for more.


The BRZ, more than it's FR-S cousin, will be one of those "I can't believe I didn't pick one up when I had the chance" cars we remember, like the Ford GT or the Acura NSX. Eventually, Subaru's contract with Toyota will run out and they will stop slapping their badge on these. Scion will probably keep up with this chassis but Subaru is really a company about selling 4WD tank-like snow commuters and the BRZ is none of this. My advice, as someone about to buy a BRZ, is to grab one up and hold onto it for a while. The current depreciation isn't based on anything but people believing it's currently over-valued. Why should I buy a BRZ when I can get an FR-S for $3k less? Pro-tip: join the IMBA and get a discount on buying a new Subaru, including the BRZ, of about $1800-3000 which should offset any disadvantage.


The IMBA promo is only 2% off. Not sure how you came up with $1800 min.

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