Would We Buy a 2013 Subaru BRZ Again?

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Cars.com's 2013 Subaru BRZ long-term tester marked the first time we purchased the winner of our most prestigious annual award. Cars.com editors named the BRZ and Scion FR-S twins the Best of 2013 as leaders in value, innovation and quality for the 2013 model year. What better way to put our recommendation to the test than buy one and drive the wheels off of it year-round?

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The 14,352 miles and 11 months of ownership of the BRZ Limited with a manual transmission was a blast, but not uneventful. Our BRZ needed snow tires to survive winter, patience to survive the touch-screen multimedia system and damaged ears to survive the faulty fuel pump's loud chirping. After all those tribulations, we polled the voting editors to see if the BRZ is still a deserving winner.

By Joe Bruzek | December 23, 2013 | Comments (9)

Selling Our 2013 Subaru BRZ Wasn't Easy

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We imagined unloading our mostly beloved 2013 Subaru BRZ long-term tester would be a breeze. Not only was the Cars.com 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.

By Joe Bruzek | December 10, 2013 | Comments (14)

Consumer Reports Survey Shakes Up Rankings

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The annual car reliability survey conducted by Consumer Reports is one of the most watched in the nation. This year, the approximately 1 million participants had a lot to say, and it shook up the established order of a few brands. This reshuffle for some was based on the strength — or weakness — of just one model.

Subaru fell five spots from fifth to 10th place due to one model — the BRZ — performing so poorly. You can read about issues we’ve had with our long-term BRZ here.

Our friends at USA Today have the full story about the Consumer Reports survey here.

By David Thomas | October 28, 2013 | Comments (2)

Long-Term 2013 Subaru BRZ Gets New Fuel Pump, Runs Better

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It's been awhile since we first noticed strange sounds coming from our long-term Subaru BRZ, but we finally had the issue addressed at our local dealership with the installation of a new high-pressure fuel pump, which is under warranty. We knew we needed to get the repair completed, but it hadn't been a big priority since the car seemed to be running fine. We were wrong about that.

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We dropped the car at the dealer the night before the appointment and also asked them to check a few additional issues that had cropped up in the intervening months. Our BRZ had started erratically idling with or without the air conditioning running, and it had developed a new noise: a clicking sound every time we pressed the clutch pedal.

By Mike Hanley | October 28, 2013 | Comments (2)

Tracking the Fuel Economy of Cars.com's 2013 Honda Civic, 2013 Subaru BRZ

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Despite having the keys to our 2013 Subaru BRZ three months before we picked up a 2013 Honda Civic long-term tester, the Civic's odometer is quickly catching that of the BRZ. Summer road trips in the Civic helped rack up 12,217 miles in seven months, while the BRZ sits at 13,061 miles after 10 months of ownership.

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The Civic is delivering great gas mileage on long highway drives: We've recorded a best tank of 42.83 mpg, exceeding its 39 mpg highway rating. The BRZ is also able to exceed its highway mileage estimates but hasn't had a chance to stretch its legs on the highway much during the last month; its best tank rating remains 35.94 mpg.

By Joe Bruzek | October 9, 2013 | Comments (2)

Cool Compared: Subaru BRZ Versus Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

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Untrained eyes could easily overlook the Mitsubishi Evolution sports sedan. Its front-mounted intercooler for the turbocharged engine, large wing of GSR models and wide fenders are the type of cool features performance nerds appreciate. The turbocharged, all-wheel drive Evo was in its prime at one point, but now in its seventh model year — relatively unchanged — it is slowly losing pizazz each year the capable sedan goes untouched by Mitsubishi.

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There's a new import turning heads on the streets among sub-$40,000 performance cars, and Cars.com owns one: the 2013 Subaru BRZ. The rear-wheel-drive, lightweight BRZ and Scion FR-S are no match for the Evo on the track or the dyno, but the rear-wheel-drive twins exude an unheard of dry-ice cool factor. The Evolution GSR we recently tested provided a good opportunity to drive these affordable performance cars back-to-back.

By Joe Bruzek | October 4, 2013 | Comments (5)

Half-Year Ownership Cost of Cars.com's 2013 Honda Civic

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The six months of ownership and healthy 10,513 miles traveled in our long-term 2013 Honda Civic have been uneventful. Unlike our other long-term tester, a 2013 Subaru BRZ, the Civic hasn't developed any under-hood noises, needed winter tires or been assaulted by a rock traveling at Mach 3. The lack of excitement has equaled low operating costs except for one unscheduled, and much needed, interior shampooing.

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The 6,500-mile mark saw the Civic's Maintenance Minder system alert us it was time for an A1 service. We used it as a reason to throw a few steaks on the grill smothered in A1 steak sauce, and then opened the owner's manual to decode A1 as an oil change and tire rotation. This also seemed an appropriate time to address a foul stench inside the car similar to what I would imagine a wet towel soaked in pond water would smell like after being left in a plastic bag for six months.

By Joe Bruzek | September 18, 2013 | Comments (1)

Subaru BRZ's Windshield Replacement Proves Rocky

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Cars.com's 2013 Subaru BRZ long-term tester picked up a serious windshield rock chip on the highway. The rogue rock penetrated a good portion of the glass, and its bull's-eye mark quickly grew to half-dollar-coin size.

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Our chances of a cheap repair quickly faded after consulting a few glass repair companies. Many installers don't recommend repairing the windshield if the chip is larger than the diameter of a quarter or if the damage is deep; we were zero for two. We were also worried that a replacement windshield would be hard to find or expensive since the BRZ is relatively new.

By Joe Bruzek | September 10, 2013 | Comments (1)

Tracking the Fuel Economy of Cars.com's 2013 Honda Civic, 2013 Subaru BRZ

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Last month, our 2013 Honda Civic LX proved it's capable of exceeding the EPA's 39 mpg highway rating by a few mpgs after we calculated a 42.2 mpg fill-up during a highway cruising road trip. This month, the Civic again backed up its excellent highway mileage on a trek from Chicago to Detroit. The sedan returned the highest-recorded fuel-economy yet: 42.8 mpg.

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The 42.8 mpg tank helps bump our Civic's average recorded mileage to 31.93 mpg, which is up .8 mpg compared to last month. Our staffers scorched the roads this month in the Civic — maybe lightly charred is more appropriate given the Civic's 140-horsepower — racking up 2,712 miles in August.

By Joe Bruzek | September 3, 2013 | Comments (4)

2013 Subaru BRZ: Road-Trip Report

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Our long-term 2013 Subaru BRZ routinely slogs through Chicago's epic bumper-to-bumper traffic, so we're thrilled whenever the chance arises to leave the city, pop the shifter into 6th and set the cruise control to highway speeds.

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The BRZ's appearance gives little indication it would succeed on road trips. There's no way the sports coupe should be comfortable with its low-profile tires, a low ride height, short wheelbase and cramped-looking interior. None of those problems prevented our editors from taking the BRZ on road trips, but did their spines return intact?

By Joe Bruzek | August 27, 2013 | Comments (1)

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