KBB Logo Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

Thanks to its lightweight constructions, rear-drive layout and brilliant suspension, the 2019 Subaru BRZ is a driving enthusiast’s dream come true. With 205 horsepower, a slick 6-speed manual and a playful attitude, the BRZ may not be the fastest car in its class, but it’s certainly one of the most fun you can own for under $30,000.

You'll Like The 2019 Subaru BRZ If...

If you’re looking for small, highly stylized coupe that loves to run through curves like a greyhound on track day, the 2019 Subaru BRZ deserves a test drive. With only 205 horsepower on tap, the lightweight BRZ isn’t muscle-car fast, but it is quick.

You May Not Like The 2019 Subaru BRZ If...

Those looking for a top-down driving experience should look to the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Ford Mustang or Nissan 370Z. The Mustang, 370Z and Camaro offer a lot more muscle, although they also cost more. If you’re big fan of refinement and a usable rear seat, check out the VW GTI.

What's New

For 2019, the Subaru BRZ coupe gains an updated Starlink navigation system with over-the-air updates. Also new is a limited-production (250 cars) special-edition Series.Gray BRZ that wears unique Gray Khaki paint, black wheels and special trim and badging.

Interior Features

You sit low in the 2019 Subaru BRZ in a well-bolstered bucket seat. The 3-spoke steering wheel, shifter and pedals are perfectly placed for performance driving. Even the tachometer is where it should be, directly in front of the driver, just as it is in a Porsche 911, so you can keep tabs on the coupe’s high-revving engine. There are seats for four, but the back seat is too small to be truly useful; the good news is that it folds flat to expand the trunk and the BRZ’s cargo capacity. Ergonomics overall is strong, but the Subaru’s infotainment system, despite improvements, seems a bit dated.

Exterior Features

At just 166.7 inches long, the 2019 Subaru BRZ is about 10 inches shorter than a Chevy Corvette. Still it’s over 10 inches longer than Mazda’s miniscule MX-5 Miata, and it looks substantial with its wide stance and long hood. Although almost indistinguishable from the Toyota 86 and built in the same assembly plant, the BRZ gets its own bumpers and wheel designs. Standard twin tailpipes and an aluminum spoiler finish the tail end, and LED headlights are standard. The limited-run Series.Gray gets 17-inch black alloy wheels, Cool Gray Khaki paint, Crystal Black Silica mirror caps and black “BRZ” and “Subaru” badges.

Driving Impressions

Those seeking the thrill of neck-snapping straight-line acceleration won’t find it in the 2019 Subaru BRZ, but that’s not what this little coupe is all about. With a 0-60-mph time just over six seconds, the BRZ is far from slow. But the real joy in driving such a car is the skill it takes to milk every ounce of power from the engine, getting off perfectly timed shifts via the 6-speed manual and pushing both the car and driver to their limits. Approach a winding road and the BRZ is in its element, hugging corners and accelerating out of curves. The playful rear end steps out just enough to suggest the potential for drifting before the electronic stability control intervenes to bring the car back from the brink. The BRZ’s steering is spot-on, its brakes are tenacious, and its engine willingly revs right up to the 7,000-rpm redline. For those who can’t or don’t enjoy a manual, Subaru does offer a 6-speed automatic compete with manual shift mode, but we just don’t think it’s as engaging as the less expensive manual counterpart.

Pricing Notes

When you include the destination charge, the new 2019 Subaru BRZ has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $26,680 for a base Premium model. The higher-trim Limited BRZ starts near $28,500. If you want an automatic-transmission Subaru BRZ, you're looking at about $29,530, while the Performance Package for manual models is an extra $1,195. Aside from its Toyota twin the 86 that starts at about $28,100, direct competitors to the new BRZ are few. For comparison, though, the Chevy Camaro and Nissan 370Z start higher than the BRZ, while the Ford Mustang and Mazda MX-5 Miata are slightly lower. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their BRZ. Subarus have a reputation for strong resale value, and while it trails other Subaru models, the BRZ is expected to hold its value well in its relatively small segment.

Notable Equipment

The 2019 Subaru BRZ remains available in two main trims: Premium and Limited. Premium models -- yes, that's the base form -- include Subaru's Starlink 6.2-inch touch-screen multimedia display with 8-speaker AM/FM/CD system with Bluetooth connectivity and USB/auxiliary ports, rearview camera, manual driver's seat with height adjustment, Torsen limited-slip differential, 17-inch wheels, cruise control, and leather-wrapped shift handle and tilt/telescoping steering wheel. BRZ Limited models add an Alcantara-and-leather interior with heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, LED fog lights, security system, 7-inch touch-screen navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM, push-button ignition, a 4.2-inch color instrument display, and red interior accents.

Notable Options

The 2019 BRZ's option list is relatively short. If you want an automatic-transmission BRZ, you'll have to get the more expensive Limited trim and option it. Other add-ons include the Performance Package available on the manual-transmission BRZ Limited that bundles black alloy wheels, Brembo brakes and Sachs front and rear shock absorbers. The BRZ's options are nice, but in reality, even a base Premium model is recommendable as this coupe's dynamic performance is its biggest draw. Safety systems like dynamic cruise control, a blind-spot monitor and autonomous braking are not available.

Favorite Features

LCD MULTIFUNCTION DISPLAY

Available on the Limited and Series.Gray models, this ingenious addition sits just to the right of the center-mounted tachometer and can display oil and water temps, brake force and steering angle, lateral g-force and even act as a stopwatch to record track lap times.

PERFORMANCE PACKAGE

This optional upgrade is a must for die-hard enthusiasts. It adds Brembo 4-piston calipers and rotors up front and dual-piston calipers and rotors at the rear. Also in the package are Sachs performance shocks and unique 17-inch alloy wheels.

Under the Hood

The 2019 Subaru BRZ derives 205 horsepower from a 2.0-liter boxer engine. The horizontally opposed boxer layout places the engine lower in the cradle, thus reducing the center of gravity while improving handling and cornering. Power is routed to the rear wheels via either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Models with manual transmissions use different valves, camshaft, cylinder heads and intake/exhaust manifolds to produce slightly more horsepower and torque than engines paired to the 6-speed automatic. Along with its lower price, better engagement but lower fuel economy, the manual-transmission models also come with a nifty red intake manifold.

2.0-liter flat-4

200 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm (205 horsepower w/manual transmission)

151 lb-ft of torque @ 6,400 rpm (156 lb-ft w/manual transmission)

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 mpg (manual), 24/33 mpg (automatic)

Editors' Notes

Thanks to its lightweight constructions, rear-drive layout and brilliant suspension, the 2019 Subaru BRZ 2-door coupe offers driving enthusiasts of all ages a chance to experience a car once commonplace on the road, but that today is almost extinct. Fun, affordable and very cool, the 2019 BRZ shares most of itself with the Toyota 86. Subaru’s donation to the joint venture is a 2.0-liter flat-4 engine that helps lower the car’s center of gravity and improve handling. The long hood, short deck and tiny back seat are all hallmarks of the genre, which includes cars like the larger Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang. You can also toss the 2-seat Mazda MX-5 Miata into the competitor set.

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