2022 Subaru BRZ Review
Introduction - Find the best Subaru deals!
In a vehicle marketplace dominated by sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickups, it's ironic that one of the few small sporty cars still produced today can be found at a Subaru store. Subaru, of course, is known for its sturdy and mostly sober all-wheel-drive (AWD) sedans, wagons, and crossover SUVs. Except for the rally-inspired, rough-and-tumble WRX and WRX STI AWD sedans, Subaru's performance is mainly of an over-the-river-and-through-the-woods-to-grandma's-house variety.
Yet, stashed in the Subaru showroom alongside granola-powered Outbacks and Foresters is the natty and slightly naughty BRZ. The affordable (under $30K) rear-wheel-drive (RWD) 2+2 coupe embodying simple driving fun was first sold here in 2013. The 2022 model year brings an all-new second-generation BRZ.
The BRZ likely wouldn't have happened at all if Akio Toyoda, Toyota's president and avid motorsports fan bent on reprising Toyota's reputation for building sleepy, somnolent senior-citizen sedans, had not been looking for a corporate partner to share development and production costs for a small, sporty rear-drive coupe. Aside from the BRZ, the fruits of that partnership were the Scion FR-S from 2013 to 2016 and, with the demise of the Scion sub-brand, the rebadged Toyota 86 (now GR 86) since 2017.
Even more remarkable is that Subaru is offering an all-new rendition of the 2+2 BRZ coupe for 2022. It's not some six-digit, large-margin exotic for the rich that can turn a profit on a small number of sales. BRZ sales barely nudged past 2,000 units in 2020, and the 2+2 coupe starts at just $27,995. The company sells more Outbacks in a week than the BRZ does in an entire year. The shapely RWD coupe is available in just two trim levels: Premium and Limited.
Now entering its second generation, the all-new BRZ sits more than a half-inch lower than the previous version last sold in 2020. It's also just over an inch longer nose-to-tail than the 2020 version. A low, wide grille highlights its low-slung stance, and functional air intakes are framed by LED headlamps and substantially arched fender bulges, each filled with meaty rubber. The side glass tapers into a narrowed greenhouse capped off by a double-bubble-shaped roof that pays homage to classic race cars. Functional side vents on the front fenders help reduce aerodynamic drag by exhausting air pressure from under the front end and engine compartment. At the rear, a ducktail spoiler atop the deck lid further aids with the BRZ's movement through the air.
The big news, however, is under the hood, where the new BRZ gets a new engine with more power and torque. This isn't the turbo boxer engine from the WRX enthusiasts were clamoring for but rather a larger-displacement naturally aspirated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder in the engine bay.
What Owners Say About the Compact Sporty Car Segment - Find the best Subaru deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
The Subaru BRZ competes in the Compact Sporty Car market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 57 percent of new Compact Sporty Car buyers are male (vs. 61 percent for the industry as a whole). The median age of a new Compact Sporty Car buyer is 58 years (vs. 57).
As part of the APEAL Study, Compact Sporty Car owners rated their vehicles in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:
- Exterior styling
- Driving feel
- Setting up and starting
- Interior design
- Feeling of safety
- Infotainment system
- Driving comfort
- Fuel economy
- Getting in and out
What Our Independent Expert Says About the Subaru BRZ - Find the best Subaru deals!
In the following sections, our independent expert analyzes a 2022 BRZ Premium equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The price of the test vehicle came to $30,555, including the $960 destination charge.
Getting In and Getting Comfortable
Photo: Ron Sessions
The Subaru BRZ is a classic 2+2, which means comfortable seating for two up front and tiny jump seats in the rear best suited for pets and packages. The lucky driver and front passenger can settle into low-mounted, body-hugging front bucket seats featuring substantial thigh and lower-torso bolstering. Cloth-covered in Premium and leather-and-suede appointed in Limited trim, the manually adjustable front buckets keep their occupants planted on twisty roads while conveying plenty of comfort on long trips. Standard is a grippy, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with manual adjustments, as is dual-zone automatic temperature control. Limited trim adds front seat heaters.
Front and center in the BRZ's driver-focused interior is a configurable 7-inch digital gauge display with a large and prominent tachometer that frames a digital speedometer readout. Gauge display configurations include coolant temperature, acceleration, braking, and lateral handling g-forces, charging system output, and more. In Track mode, the tachometer becomes a linear graph for quick reads by the driver. Amenities include a dash-mounted pushbutton start button and aluminum-trimmed foot pedals.
Interior storage space is in short supply due to the high transmission tunnel. What little space there is in the center console must fight for real estate with the leather-wrapped shifter, handbrake, and drive-mode controls. There's a cupholder ahead of the center armrest on automatic transmission models. Manual-transmission versions make do with cupholders inside a storage bin under the center armrest, also home to USB ports for charging and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto data connectivity. Driver access to the console storage bin under the center armrest is awkward because of the odd angle one has to bend one's arm and is especially difficult while driving. The good news is there are bins and bottle holders to stash stuff in the doors.
The BRZ's back seats are largely inhabitable for adults. Still, Subaru does include a pair of LATCH child-seat lower safety anchors and tethers for carrying a future BRZ enthusiast or two.
2022 Subaru BRZ Starlink Multimedia Plus Infotainment System Review
Photo: Ron Sessions
The infotainment system in the 2022 Subaru BRZ isn't as advanced as others but is in keeping with the car's low price point and performance-driving mission. Standard elements of the Starlink Multimedia Plus system include:
- 8-inch high-definition color touchscreen (upgraded from 7 inches in the 2020 version)
- Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone-mirroring capability
- Bluetooth hands-free phone access and audio streaming
- 8-speaker AM/FM audio system
- 3-month trial of SiriusXM satellite radio
- Starlink telematics for remote phone-to-car connectivity for such functions as locking and unlocking (Limited trim only)
Embedded navigation is not included. For maps and directions, drivers will use Apple or Google maps via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The system is dirt simple to use and makes use of a pair of large, analog knobs for volume and tuning at the top, plus hard shortcut buttons for accessing such functions as home, phone, third-party apps, radio, and search. The on-screen tiles are large with a suitable size type for tapping on selections with a high degree of accuracy, a good thing in a sporty car with a suspension that closely follows the road, bumps and all.
Overall, the system is user-friendly and allows quick on-the-fly adjustments while keeping eyes on the road. My only issue was frequently brushing against the FM audio source tile on the screen when rotating the volume knob on a bumpy road. Drivers are better served in this case using the steering wheel volume buttons.
The 8-speaker stereo has good fidelity and separation, something that's appreciated in a vehicle with a fair amount of background tire sizzle noise at highway speeds. The speakers are also a vessel for an engine sound enhancement feature that pipes in appropriately enthusiastic engine sounds when the driver presses harder on the accelerator.
What It's Like to Drive the 2022 Subaru BRZ
Photo: Ron Sessions
The biggest gripe with the previous (2013-2020) version of the BRZ was an engine too weak to exercise the fun-to-drive chassis properly. That's been addressed for the new-generation 2022 model that features a new horizontally opposed 2.4-liter boxer engine pumping 228 horsepower, up 22 from the previous 206-hp 2.0-liter, and 184 pound-feet of torque, up 15 percent from the 2020 model. It's not the turbocharged 2.0-liter from the WRX that blasts 268 hp and 258 pound-feet, but it's enough to make the BRZ enjoyable to drive. It's available with a standard 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic transmission, the latter equipped with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual control.
The automatic-equipped 2022 BRZ can accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in the mid-6-second range. The shorter-geared 6-speed manual version can drop that elapsed time to about 6 seconds flat. Both shave about a second off the acceleration times of the previous version.
A pair of generously sized exhaust outlets trumpets sufficient sound to signal the BRZ is a performance car, with a natty bark when accelerating at two-thirds to full throttle above 5,000 rpm. But the sound does drone on and gets tiring after a couple of hours on the road. The exhaust sound is also enhanced with what Subaru considers "performance sounds" via the BRZ's audio speakers.
Models equipped with the automatic transmission feature a driver-selectable Sport mode, accessible via a console-mounted switch. When in Sport mode, the BRZ brings quicker downshifts with rev-matching throttle blips, and when cornering aggressively, keeps the transmission downshifted to a lower gear. Also selectable is Snow mode or Track mode that turns off the car's stability control system for tail-out, non-public-road, or closed-course driving.
The BRZ's standard 6-speed manual gearbox is a rarity these days. Although the test car had an automatic transmission, I did recently get some time in a mechanically identical Toyota GR 86 with the 6-speed manual. The manual transmission is the perfect companion for the analog BRZ, offering a shifter with good precision, nice weighting, and relatively short throws teamed with a medium-effort clutch pedal with silken takeup and smooth engagement. Sure, it's more "work," but it gives the driver a wonderful sense of engagement with the machine when done right.
Contributing to the BRZ's driving pleasure is a low center of gravity and a low curb weight of just over 2,800 pounds that's aided by lightweight aluminum front fenders, roof, and hood. Subaru says the new BRZ's body is 50-percent stiffer than the preceding version. That helps the BRZ respond more quickly to driver inputs, allowing its precise, fast-ratio steering to feel intuitive and connected to the road.
There are two tire options: Limited trim with 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy all-season tires and Premium trim with more aggressive and stickier summer performance 215/40R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4s at the corners. A standard Torsen limited-slip rear differential keeps rear-wheel tire spin in check, although the BRZ won't be drag-racing Dodge Challenger Hellcats for pink slips any time soon.
Engineers prioritized responsiveness and handling over cabin isolation when developing the lightweight BRZ. As a result, there's a fair amount of highway tire noise and a hollow suspension "ping" sound over road imperfections and highway pavement dividers. At which point, the driver can simply turn up the volume on the excellent 8-speaker stereo system.
Subaru Eyesight Review
Photo: Ron Sessions
For 2022, the Subaru BRZ comes standard with dual front airbags, side airbags, overhead airbags, and, new this year, a driver's knee airbag. A reversing camera with trajectory lines is also standard.
Subaru's Eyesight advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) is limited to automatic-transmission models and is not available with the BRZ equipped with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. Eyesight content includes:
- Pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking
- Lane-departure warning
- Adaptive cruise control
- Automatic high-beam headlight control
Selecting the top-of-the-line BRZ Limited trim adds:
- Blind-spot warning
- Rear cross-traffic alert
Over five days of driving in the automatic transmission-equipped BRZ Premium, the adaptive cruise control worked as advertised, maintaining the maximum set speed and minimum following distances from the vehicles ahead. Also helpful were the automatic high beams that kept the BRZ from dazzling oncoming night traffic on winding two-lane rural roads.
The lane-departure warning system got a good workout sounding alerts and buzzing the haptic steering wheel as the BRZ's tires kissed lane markings while driving with enthusiasm on those same, mostly empty, winding two-lane rural roads. It does not have corrective steering torque as found in most Subaru products. But that's entirely in keeping with the BRZ's analog driving experience and would only interfere with the driver getting good feedback from the steering wheel and mask what's going on at the road/tire interface.
As the test vehicle was the base Premium version, it wasn't equipped with blind-spot warning or rear cross-traffic alert. In a fast, sporty car, the driver is seldom worried about fast-approaching traffic from the rear. However, both blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring should be standard or at least available on all trims in a sporty coupe such as the BRZ, with restricted rearward visibility. If nothing else, it's a big help when backing out of a parking space boxed-in between two towering, lifted 4-wheel-drive pickup trucks or super-sized SUVs.
2022 Subaru BRZ FAQ - Find the best Subaru deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
How much cargo space does the 2022 Subaru BRZ have?
The BRZ is a small, sporty coupe with enough trunk space for a couple of airport roller bags and a computer bag or two. Subaru doesn't publish BRZ cargo space capacity figures, but the mechanically identical Toyota GR 86 has 6.26 cubic feet of it. While that's just a bit more than is available in the Mazda MX-5 Miata's 4.6 cubic-foot trunk, the BRZ's back seat, which is pretty useless for carrying adults, folds down, opening up a sizable amount of cargo space for long items like skis, a small step ladder, or even a set of golf clubs—or several more pieces of luggage. There's also some hidden storage space under the cargo floor for items an owner might want to keep out of sight, such as a purse, tablet, or camera. The BRZ doesn't have a spare tire and instead comes with a tire inflator/repair kit.
Does the 2022 Subaru BRZ get good gas mileage?
The new BRZ is EPA-rated at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/21 mpg combined with the 6-speed manual transmission and 20/30/24 mpg on versions with the optional 6-speed automatic transmission. Over five days and 175 miles of mixed rural two-lane and interstate driving in the automatic-transmission test vehicle, the observed average fuel economy in the car's trip computer was 26.2 mpg. With the BRZ's 13.2-gallon fuel tank, that would result in a cruising range of more than 340 miles.
Is the 2022 Subaru BRZ safe?
As of the posting of this review, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has rated the crashworthiness of the 2022 Subaru BRZ.
How much is the 2022 Subaru BRZ?
Subaru offers two rear-drive versions of the 2022 BRZ: a well-equipped Premium priced at $27,995 and a range-topping Limited with an MSRP of $30,495. The destination charge is $960. Automatic transmission is a $1,600 upcharge.
What are the 2022 Subaru BRZ competitors?
Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Subaru deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
Offering affordable rear-drive motoring for the discerning enthusiast, the Subaru BRZ returns for 2022 with more power, upgraded infotainment, and safety tech, plus a rare mix of analog driving enjoyment that's become nearly extinct in a world of avocado-shaped crossover SUVs.
Think of the BRZ as a Mazda MX-5 Miata without the drop top, but with a slightly roomier trunk and cabin, and you won't be far off. Like the Miata, the BRZ doesn't need scorched-earth acceleration and nosebleed handling limits to be enjoyable, instead offering an organic, responsive powertrain and chassis that can make every mile a memory.
Ron Sessions is a seasoned vehicle evaluator with more than three decades of experience. He has penned hundreds of road tests for automotive and consumer websites, enthusiast magazines, newsletters, technical journals, and newspapers.
The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.
No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power