2017 Subaru BRZ

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2017 Subaru BRZ. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Improved handling and performance
  • Near-perfect steering weight and feel
  • Exterior styling still attractive
  • Incline start assist now standard
  • Fun performance screens
  • Excellent manual transmission

The Bad

  • Power gains unnoticeable
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • Backseat not really usable
  • Navigation not offered
  • No forward collision warning or auto braking
  • Lack of cabin storage space

Notable Features of the 2017 Subaru BRZ

  • Updated styling for 2017
  • Suspension changes
  • More horsepower and torque (manual transmission)
  • Standard LED headlights/daytime running lights
  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine
  • Only rear-wheel-drive Subaru
  • Standard rear spoiler

2017 Subaru BRZ Road Test

Brian Wong
The Verdict:

Changes to the BRZ's suspension make it sharper and composed at the limit, but the engine doesn’t live up to the promise of the rest of the package and the car lacks the convenience and safety features expected in new cars.

Versus The Competition:

Compared with its twin, the Toyota 86, the BRZ is now the sharper of the two and offers a more spirited drive.

The 2017 Subaru BRZ is still an outlier in Subaru's otherwise all-wheel-drive lineup, but I'm glad; the market for affordable rear-wheel-drive performance cars is already too thin.

For the new model year, the BRZ gets a long list of updates both styling and mechanical in nature. It's the biggest set of changes for the BRZ since its inception in 2014. To compare the new BRZ with the 2016 version, click here. It's sold in two trim levels, Premium and Limited.

The Subaru BRZ was developed alongside the Scion FR-S, which is now sold as the Toyota 86 (the Scion brand has been discontinued). The two had a lot in common, sharing the same engine and wheelbase, and for 2017 the "Toyobaru" twins continue to move in lockstep. Though their styling updates are different, both cars get similar mechanical updates. The only difference under the skin is the final suspension and steering tuning, which each company does on its own.

If you're looking for an affordable rear-wheel-drive sports car, the market is thin. The BRZ competes against the 86 (of course), the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat's 124 Spider. Those can be compared here.

I tested a 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited in multiple environments, from the congested highways of Los Angeles to steep canyon roads. I even drove it on a racetrack.

Exterior & Styling

The BRZ keeps its same basic shape, so it's still instantly recognizable despite styling updates all around. It's like a friend who got a ...

The 2017 Subaru BRZ is still an outlier in Subaru's otherwise all-wheel-drive lineup, but I'm glad; the market for affordable rear-wheel-drive performance cars is already too thin.

For the new model year, the BRZ gets a long list of updates both styling and mechanical in nature. It's the biggest set of changes for the BRZ since its inception in 2014. To compare the new BRZ with the 2016 version, click here. It's sold in two trim levels, Premium and Limited.

The Subaru BRZ was developed alongside the Scion FR-S, which is now sold as the Toyota 86 (the Scion brand has been discontinued). The two had a lot in common, sharing the same engine and wheelbase, and for 2017 the "Toyobaru" twins continue to move in lockstep. Though their styling updates are different, both cars get similar mechanical updates. The only difference under the skin is the final suspension and steering tuning, which each company does on its own.

If you're looking for an affordable rear-wheel-drive sports car, the market is thin. The BRZ competes against the 86 (of course), the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat's 124 Spider. Those can be compared here.

I tested a 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited in multiple environments, from the congested highways of Los Angeles to steep canyon roads. I even drove it on a racetrack.

Exterior & Styling

The BRZ keeps its same basic shape, so it's still instantly recognizable despite styling updates all around. It's like a friend who got a makeover on a reality TV show; you can still tell it's them, but everything has gotten a bit sharper.

Starting from the ground up, the Subaru BRZ's standard 17-inch alloy wheels have a new 10-spoke design with black design elements that are very attractive. The front bumper has also been updated, and there are two new standard exterior features for 2017: a rear spoiler and redesigned headlight clusters with LED headlights and daytime running lights. The Limited trim adds standard LED foglights.

How It Drives

Both the 86 and the BRZ got a series of mechanical updates for 2017, including a slight power boost for manual models: The 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine now makes 205 horsepower and 156 pounds-feet of torque when paired with the six-speed manual transmission. In BRZs with the six-speed automatic (which is optional only on the Limited), output remains the same, at 200 hp and 151 pounds-feet of torque.

Manual models also get a new incline start assist system that holds the Subaru BRZ in position on an incline, to prevent rollback, until the driver gives it enough power to move forward. Its final drive ratio has also been lowered in the name of improved acceleration, Subaru says.

There are also updates to the suspension, including a thicker rear stabilizer bar, updated coil springs, updated shock absorbers and added reinforcement to several points on the chassis, for more rigidity. Subaru also says the BRZ's stability control thresholds have been raised while in Track mode to allow for more dynamic driving.

Coming in the winter of 2017 is a Performance Package for manual Limited models that adds Brembo brake calipers and larger rotors; Sachs shock absorbers; and 17-inch, black aluminum-alloy wheels.

The 86 (then called the FR-S) used to be the unrulier of these coupe twins, with a stiffer suspension and a propensity to rotate its back end around at a moment's notice. The BRZ was the more pliant and comfortable one — a better daily driver. Now, though, after driving the BRZ and 86 within a few weeks of each other, it's clear the new 86 has been tamed in its retuning, while the BRZ has gone the other direction. It's now the sharper instrument.

This year's changes are the first big updates to the BRZ's underpinnings since its debut, and they've given the new BRZ a noticeable edge. It feels both sharper and more planted, with quicker turn-in and even better balance. Even though it still has those skinny tires, the suspension and chassis updates make it feel like it has more grip. The six-speed manual that came in my test vehicle was still a delight, with tight throws and a well-weighted clutch pedal.

The Subaru BRZ does, however, still have an Achilles heel: that engine. Everything surrounding it has improved so much that it's highlighted the fact that there isn't enough power (especially torque) for the more spirited driving the car wants to push you toward. Its shorter final ratio doesn't change the fact that when you accelerate you still want more — and it feels like the car could handle more with no problem.

I drove the BRZ on surface streets, in canyons and around the big track at Willow Springs. It was consistently excellent half the time; if all hills pointed down, the BRZ would be nearly perfect. But what goes down...

EPA fuel economy ratings are 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined with the manual and 24/33/27 mpg with the automatic. Premium fuel is required.

Interior

Inside, the changes are subtler. There's a new leather-wrapped steering wheel with updated controls in both trim levels, but other than that, things are much the same inside. Visibility isn't great over either shoulder, the rear side windows are small and the large C-pillar creates a sizeable blind spot on either side. It's also a bit noisier than, say, a commuter car, partly as a function of its firm ride but also because there's less sound deadening to keep its weight down.

Though the Subaru BRZ continues to be listed as a four-seat automobile, it is in most circumstances a two-seater. I can barely climb in the backseat, let alone fit there behind anyone who needs the seat moved back at all.

Premium models have a standard cloth trim while Limited models get Alcantara (faux suede) and leather-trimmed seats that have a very nice feel to them. The seats have plenty of bolstering for more vigorous driving. Limited models add dual-zone automatic climate control.

Overall, though, the interior design trends spartan; this is a car focused on driving, and its interior reflects that.

Ergonomics & Electronics

There's not much available in the way of electronics; both BRZ trim levels feature a 6.2-inch touchscreen with Subaru's Starlink multimedia system. Smartphone integration is minimal; there's no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay available, but there is internet radio (Pandora or Stitcher) and a few other apps. The navigation system option was dropped last year, so if you want navigation, I'd suggest buying a smartphone mount.

Limited models add a 4.2-inch LCD next to the tachometer in the instrument panel that can be customized to show different performance-related gauges, including lateral g-force, steering angle, a stopwatch for recording lap times and even a chart that shows engine power and torque curves.

Cargo & Storage

Rear cargo space is small, at 6.9 cubic feet. At best, a few small bags or a set of golf clubs can fit back there. The backseat folds in a single piece to open up more room. There isn't much cabin storage space, either; the shifter and handbrake take up most of the area between the seats, and the glove box is small.

Safety

The BRZ received a score of good (out of a possible good, acceptable, marginal and poor) in each of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash tests, except the small overlap front test, where it's rated acceptable.

The Subaru BRZ is sparse when it comes to safety features. A backup camera is standard, but there are no advanced safety features to speak of. Forward collision warning and blind spot warning are nowhere to be found.

Though the backseat is very small, there are two sets of lower Latch anchors and two top tethers, as well — but good luck fitting a child-safety seat (let alone a child) through that door opening.

Value in Its Class

There aren't many competitors to consider, but against the few there are, the Subaru BRZ is competitively priced. The BRZ Premium starts at $26,315 (including destination charge), and jumping to the Limited bumps the price up to $28,465. This falls in line with the 86 (which starts at $27,120), MX-5 Miata ($25,750) and 124 Spider ($25,990).

The updated 2017 Subaru BRZ is unquestionably improved; it's sharper looking, drives better at the limit and represents one of the best values for a rear-wheel-drive performance car to be found. When it was time to hand the keys back over, I was sad to see it go. But all of these improvements just make it scream out for an engine that can keep up with the rest of the package.


Latest 2017 BRZ Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Amazing Driving Experience

by BRZJOY on July 16, 2018

The BRZ is absolute pure joy to drive. The naturally aspirated engine sounds great with no artificial engine sound presented in many turbo cars of today. The manual shifter is short and precise and ... Read full review

(5.0)

Fun driving car

by Big Al from Clearwater Fl. on June 29, 2018

Great car. It comes with thr performance package. A good upgrade for the price. You get keyless entry. You just place you hand in the handle and it unlocks even on the passenger side. Auto climate ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Subaru BRZ currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2017 Subaru BRZ has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Subaru
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 years/80,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    Coverage available for purchase

  • Powertrain warranty

    7 years/100,000

  • Dealer Certification Required

    152-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The BRZ received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker