2017 Subaru BRZ Limited

Subaru and Toyota joined forces on a joint effort to build a rear-wheel-drive sports coupe during the previous decade, and in 2012  Subaru’s version hit the showrooms as a 2013 model and was named the BRZ.  Subaru handled the lion’s share of engineering of the sports car and installed their vaunted “boxer” engine in the vehicle.  The BRZ moniker denotes the boxer engine, rear-wheel-drive, and Zenith.  Zenith stands not for an old television, but for “above”.

I found a 2017 BRZ Limited in my driveway for testing recently, with keys slipped through the mail slot in my home.  I didn’t have to insert the keys in the BRZ because the Subaru has “keyless access and start”, allowing you to enter and drive with the keys in your pocket.  This BRZ was equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, and I was able to handle the transmission rather easily.

The BRZ is powered by a 2.0 liter, four cylinder boxer aluminum engine that provides 205 horsepower and 156 lb.-ft. of torque.  The punch-counterpunch action of the boxer pistons in the Subaru cancel each other out and provide a smooth delivery of power.  Also, the horizontally opposed engine results in a lower center of gravity in the vehicle (18”), aiding the handling and cornering characteristics.  Porsche and Subaru are pretty much it when it comes to boxer automobile engines, and the design is found in some BMW and Honda motorcycles.  The motor was patented by Germany’s Karl Benz in 1896.  Fuel economy ratings on the BRZ are 21-city, 29-highway, the car burns premium unleaded gasoline, and the tank holds 13.2 gallons.

I took a spin over to Loveland in the BRZ and took a detour north on the “Jackrabbit Trail” for some winding road driving.  I’ve found that recently most folks around Greeley don’t use that name for Highway 257, but when I arrived in this area in 1979, that was what the road was called.  I think it came from an early name for the Mad Russian over near Milliken.

On the drive the BRZ exhibited its nature as a true sports car with 4-wheel independent suspension, and 4-wheel disc (11.5”) brakes.  Reportedly the 2,800 lb. car travels from zero to 60 in 6.4 seconds.   Inside, the Limited has black leather seating trim with Alcantara (suede-like) inserts to keep the occupants from sliding around, and Subaru has installed a 6.2” touch-screen navigation/infotainment system in the BRZ.  Also on hand are dual-zone air conditioning, Bluetooth capability, satellite radio, and USB/Ipod connection.

Ruth and I took the BRZ to the factory outlet stores and I noticed that the shoppers  were taking a good look at the Blue Pearl Metallic BRZ in the parking lot, admiring the ten-spoke dark gray alloy wheels with 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP summer radials, dual exhaust tips, and trunk spoiler (it’s atop a 7 cubic ft. compartment).

M.S.R.P. for the Subaru was based at $27,645.00.  Freight and a performance package brought the total to $29,660.00.  Shoppers looking for an under-$30,000,  2 + 2 sports car with terrific styling and performance would be well-advised to look at the 2017 Subaru BRZ.

2015 Subaru BRZ Series.Blue RWD

SAM_4073Subaru and Toyota joined forces a few years ago to produce a rear-wheel drive sports car and in 2013 they introduced what Subaru named the BRZ.  Subaru provided the engine for the unit and even landed the job of producing the car for both companies.  The Subaru name (BRZ) denotes boxer engine (B), rear-wheel drive (R), and Zenith (Z), which means a point in time when something is most powerful and successful.  Toyota put out their sports car with a Scion nameplate and named it the FR-S.

I found a 2015 BRZ Series.Blue in my driveway last week courtesy of Rocky Mountain Redline, and the driver came to the door with the keys.  Actually, I didn’t need the keys in my hand when I left the neighborhood because the Subaru has “keyless access and start”, allowing you to enter and drive with the keys in your pocket.  This BRZ had the big red “STI” starter button because of its designation as a Series.Blue, a limited production model (limit, 1,000), with a lot of other special equipment on hand, as well.SAM_4065

Subaru has built 500 of these WR Blue Pearl metallic BRZ’s (they are done), and 500 Crystal White Pearl ones.  All of them have as upgrades the following items:      black STI front, side, and side-rear under spoilers for keeping the BRZ well-grounded at high speeds, red-finish brake calipers that can be seen between the spokes of the wheels, special 15-spoke black painted STI wheels, and the special red illuminated engine start/stop button.  Also, the car sports leather and Alcantara upholstery featuring blue leather seat bolsters and head restraints. The unique color continues with Blue stitching accents on the seats and the blue and black leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as the shift lever boot and leather-wrapped parking brake handle.

Interior appointments of the Subaru included audio/navigation system, cruise control, heated front seats and mirrors, power windows, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and AM/FM/XM/CD radio.  Ruth and I drove to Denver and back in the car and the seats did not annoy, the guidance on the highway was great, and road noise was suitable for such a car.SAM_4064

The BRZ, trimmed-out as nicely as it was, still shines brightest on the road.  It is powered by a 2.0 liter, four cylinder boxer aluminum engine that provides 200 horsepower (@ 7,000 rpm) and 151 lb.-ft. of torque (@ 6,400 rpm).  The punch-counterpunch action of the boxer pistons in the Subaru cancel each other out and provide a smooth delivery of power.  Also, the horizontally opposed engine results in a lower center of gravity in the vehicle (18”), aiding the handling and cornering characteristics.  Porsche and Subaru are pretty much it when it comes to boxer automobile engines, and the design is found in some BMW and Honda motorcycles.  The motor was patented by Germany’s Karl Benz in 1896.  Fuel economy ratings on the BRZ are 22-city, 30-highway, and 25-combined miles per gallon.  The car burns premium unleaded gasoline, and the tank holds 13.2 gallons.SAM_4078

My test BRZ had a six-speed manual transmission, and what a pleasure it was to operate with a snick-snick short-throw shifter/linkage setup.  A sport-tuned suspension is installed along with a Torsen limited-slip rear differential and 4-wheel disc (11.5″) brakes.  Reportedly, the 2,800 lb. BRZ travels from zero to 60 in SAM_40636.4 seconds.  The black wheels are 17″ in diameter and are fitted with P215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP summer radials.

M.S.R.P. for the Subaru was based at $27,695.00.  Freight and the Series.Blue package ($1,795.00) brought the total to $30,285.00.  Shoppers looking for a 2 + 2 sports car for around $30,000 with terrific styling and performance would be well-advised to look at the 2015 Subaru BRZ Series.Blue, if they can find one.

 

2014 Subaru Crosstrek XV AWD Hybrid

2014 Subaru CrossTrek XVLast week my wife and I drove a Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid to Vail, picking up our daughters in Denver on the way through.  In the past I have tested several Subarus, none with as stunning a paint job as the Touring edition that was brought to the house prior to the trip.  The color was called Plasma Green Pearl metallic, and I became pretty fond of it during the week that I tested the car.

Subaru unveiled the XV Crosstrek Hybrid at last year’s New York Auto Show, and the car was rolled out from behind screen prints of trees to quite a bit of fanfare in front of the automotive press.  It is Subaru’s first foray into the green car world, mating Subaru’s outdoor reputation with a reduced carbon footprint.  All the world can see that the Subaru is a hybrid with the distinctive badging on each front door.

The Subaru Crosstrek XV Hybrid has 8.7” of ground clearance, the same dimension as the Crosstrek 2.0i, the company’s non-hybrid offering.  The wheelbase of the XV Hybrid is 103.7”, overall length is 175.2”, and the car weighs 3,484 lbs.  Symmetrical all-wheel drive is included in this model, which carries a base price of $29,295.00.  My test car had no additional equipment with it, so with freight of $825.00, total M.S.R.P. was $30,120.00.Subaru CrossTrek Cargo Area

The Subaru I tested was the Touring model, which is top-of-the-line.  With this model, the owner gets leather upholstery, power moon roof, GPS navigation setup with 6.1” screen, XM radio, rear-vision camera, and keyless proximity access with pushbutton starter.  Also included is a 6-speaker stereo, heated buckets, power windows/locks/mirrors, tilt/telescope, and a 60/40 fold-down rear seat.  Cargo capacity behind the second row of seats is 21.5 cubic feet – that number increases to 50.2 with the back seats folded flat.  I thought the black Subaru interior was tasteful, and it is evident that the company added sound-deadening materials to the Hybrid – it was quiet and had a solid feel.SAM_3361

The styling of Subaru’s Crosstrek XV Hybrid is eye-catching, and matches that of the non-hybrid car.  Chrome-trimmed door handles are attached and the 17” five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels are aerodynamic and fitted with 225/55R17 Yokohama Geolandar G91 all-season, low-rolling-resistance tires.

Power for the Subaru is supplied by a “boxer” horizontally-opposed four cylinder, 2.0 liter gas engine with a 13.4 horsepower electric motor integrated into the drive train.  Total system power is 160 horsepower (6,000 rpm) with 163 lb. ft. of torque (2,000 rpm).  Transmission is a Lineartronic continuously variable unit with manual-mode paddle shifters.  Some shuddering occurs at a standstill when the gas engine is starting, as needed.  This is typical, and an EV mode (all-electric) is available up to 25 mph, resulting in zero emissions and zero fuel consumption.  Economy ratings are 33-highway, 29-city, and 31-combined.  The city rating is the one that stands out for the hybrid, at about 20% improvement over the conventional 2.0i Crosstrek.  Zero to 60 mph acceleration is reportedly in the 8 second range.  In the mountains, the Subaru did an excellent job through the use of the 6-speed manual mode setup in the transmission and the paddle shifters.Subaru CrossTrek Grill

Overall, driving the very appealing XV Crosstrek Hybrid was fine, with good guidance and ride (plus that quiet interior), and handling was suitable.  If I were more of an outdoorsman, perhaps I would be shopping for such a car at trade time.2014 Subaru CrossTrek Wheel

2014 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Review

_DSC3231    The 2014 Subaru Impreza Sport 2.0i Sport Premium is the topic of this week’s review.  I recently got to test out a Deep Sea blue pearl 5-door hatchback model with ivory cloth buckets and a “boxer” four cylinder power plant.  It was supplied by Greeley Subaru.  The punch-counterpunch action of the boxer pistons in the Subaru cancel each other out and provide a smooth delivery of power.  Also, the low profile, horizontally opposed engine results in a lower center of gravity in the vehicle, aiding the handling and cornering characteristics.  Porsche and Subaru are pretty much it when it comes to boxer automobile engines, and the design is found in some BMW and Honda motorcycles.  It is a design patented by Germany’s Karl Benz in 1896.

The little Impreza was pretty good looking and some of the things I liked included all the windows to look out of (five down each side of the car), the attractive striped cloth upholstery, the solid feel, and the functional hatchback arrangement.  Horsepower is 148 @ 6,200 rpm with resultant torque of 145 lb. ft.  Fuel economy ratings are 27/city and 36/highway, 30 miles per gallon combined.  The transmission is a continuously variable (CVT) Lineartronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters on this model, and of course the car sports a “symmetrical all-wheel drive” configuration.  This Subaru is the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive car in America.  Wheelbase is 104.1” and length/width/height is 173.8”, 68.5”, and 59.5”.  Weight of this automatic transmission model comes in at 2,998 lbs.SAM_3177

I mentioned the striped ivory buckets earlier, but did not mention the heated feature.  Inside, the Sport also has 60/40 flat folding rear seat, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free setup, steering wheel audio controls, tilt/telescope, center console with lots of storage and an emergency brake handle, hands-free phone connectivity, 6-speaker stereo, keyless entry, and antitheft security system.  The materials in the Subaru are nice, the ride is suitable, and noise is at a minimum.  These Subarus are designed for brainy people that live in a cold climate.  Like residents of Colorado.

My wife and I took a ride to Loveland in the 2.0i, and I think the people on U.S. 34 were enjoying the view of our car.  It has kind of a dark gray set of 17”, ten-spoke alloy wheels fitted with  205/50 R17 Yokohama Avid S34 all-season radials and the Deep Sea blue pearl paint is a great color.  Big six-star blue emblems are fitted on the front and the rear, and some husky looking roof rails are installed on top.

Total M.S.R.P. of the Impreza was $22,734.00, including a base price of $20,795.00, freight ($795.00), all weather floor mats ($72.00), cargo tray ($72.00), and the automatic transmission ($1,000.00).  I think it is pretty reasonable price and this five-door Subaru represents a prudent purchase._DSC3226

 

2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited Review

OutbackThis last week I received a Subaru to test, a 2014 Outback with the four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT). It was the 2.5i “Limited” model in Satin White Pearl with Warm Ivory white leather interior. This car is made by Fuji Heavy Industries, a Japanese firm, with final assembly taking place in Lafayette, Indiana. It is sold by Greeley Subaru, a division of Weld County Garage. The Limited is the top-line Outback, out of four models offered in both four-, and six-cylinder configurations. This one had an option package that included power moon roof, 440-watt, 9-speaker harman/kardon stereo with XM satellite radio, Bluetooth phone, backup camera (4.3” display), and Ipod/USB connections. This $2,041.00 package, plus $244.00 for “puddle lights”, and $438.00 for remote starter, brought the total M.S.R.P. to $32,770.00, including freight. I really enjoyed the puddle lights that shine beneath each of the four doors on the vehicle, after dark.

The Outback is a derivative of the Subaru Legacy wagon, introduced in 1994. It was originally called the “Legacy Outback”, and the Legacy name was dropped in 2003. Subaru in the 1990’s did not want to spend the money for a new design for its “crossover SUV” to be produced, so simply modified an existing offering. They added side body cladding, raised the ground clearance, and added a rugged-looking rack on the top. In 2009, the second generation Outback was introduced, and sales since then have been brisk – over 118,000 in 2013. Crossover SUV’s are quite popular nowadays, and a large part it is the result of the Subaru Outback.

Power for the Outback is supplied by a 2.5 liter, “boxer” four-cylinder, DOHC, all-aluminum engine with 173 horsepower and 174 lb. ft. of torque. The boxer designation refers to its horizontally-opposed configuration, like a Corvair or Porsche. Think of a boxer, throwing punches. The weight of the engine, although modest, is kept at a lower center-of-gravity with this design. Ground clearance, however, is a category-best 8.7 inches. The transmission is a Lineartronic continuously variable automatic with Hill Holder feature and six-speed manual mode – paddle shifters are behind the steering wheel. Symmetrical all-wheel drive, is, of course, standard equipment. Fuel economy is rated at 24-city and 30-highway for the car, and the fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of regular gasoline. Acceleration from zero to sixty is reportedly 8.8 seconds.   Wheelbase/length/weight are 107.9”, 189”, and 3,538 lbs., respectively, and the turning circle is 36.8’.Outback Interior

The front leather buckets in the Outback are nice, and the three-passenger rear seat is split and reclines somewhat. Cargo space is 34 cubic feet with the back seats up and 71 cubic feet with the back seats dropped down. The center passenger in the rear has a shoulder belt, adding to the Outback safety reputation. Both of the front seats are power-adjustable, and the driver ergonomics are fine.

I don’t think the Outback styling is its calling card, but I happen to like it, and Colorado residents do, as well. Subaru is the third-best selling automobile in the state, with about a 10% market share.

The six-spoke 17” alloy wheels on the Limited are attractive, and they are surrounded by 225/60R17 Continental ProContact Gx all-season radials. The metallic white paint was offset with the dark cladding and bumpers, and the black roof rack gave the car an off-road look. I did not go off-road, but took some bumpy dirt roads with satisfactory results. I like the hefty, solid feel of the car both in town and out on the highway.

A few days with the Subaru Outback, and this reviewer can see the reason that these Outbacks are so popular, particularly in our home state. Crossover shoppers would be well-advised to consider one at purchase time.Outback puddle lights

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0 XT Turbo AWD Touring Crossover

Forester XTThe Beatles 1967 hit, “Getting Better” was one of the last songs created from scratch by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and was included on the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Its production on March 23rd, 1967, had been delayed two days when Lennon mistakenly ingested LSD instead of an intended upper – something he typically did to get the recording work completed. Provenance of the song goes back to 1964 when session drummer Jimmy Nicol subbed for an ailing Ringo Starr on tour and when asked about his extreme case of nerves would reply that he was “getting better’. He made that response so often that it became a joke phrase amongst members of the biggest band in the world.

The song’s lyrics include the line “I have to admit it’s getting better”, and relative to the Subaru Forester, I do. In the spring of 2011, I tested the then-current Forester, so therefore had a point of reference for analyzing this 2014 model. And I’ll have to admit, well, that this new Venetian Red Pearl Forester was impressive. Greeley Subaru, a division of Weld County Garage, loaned me such a car to test recently. It had an M.S.R.P. of $34,949.00, somewhat north of thirty thousand dollars just like the Subaru that I drove three years ago. This 2014 Forester had a base of $32,995.00 with mirror and protection packages for $1,129.00 and freight charges of $825.00. Standard on the Touring Forester was dual zone climate control, GPS navigation (6.1” screen), satellite radio, Harman/kardon 440 watt stereo, Bluetooth technology, 10-way power driver bucket, heated front seats, power windows/locks/mirrors/tailgate, power moon roof, tilt/telescope, and black leather upholstery.Forester XT interior

Subaru sedans and SUV’s all have “boxer”, horizontally opposed engines, and this one was a four cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged model with 250 horsepower and 258 lb. ft. of torque. The all-wheel drive power train obtained its motion through a Lineartronic CVT transmission – another superb one with manual eight-speed operation like other Subarus have. X-Mode is included on the XT, enhancing engine, transmission, and traction control functions. Fuel economy ratings for the Subaru are 23 and 28, with a combined rating of 25. Zero to sixty acceleration of this vehicle is reportedly 7 seconds with a top speed of 120 mph. Handling and guidance of the Forester was an improvement over the 2011 model.

Styling of the 2014 Forester was slightly updated and aerodynamics are improved as is cargo space inside the five passenger vehicle. Wheels are 18” ten-spoke alloys fitted with Bridgestone 225/55R18 Dueler H/L 400 all season radials. Weight comes in at 3,651 lbs., length is 180.9”, width is 70.7”, height is 68.4”, and ground clearance is 8.7”.

I enjoyed testing the new 2014 Forester and feel the company has managed to improve a top seller (123,592 in 2013). Regarding the 2011/2012 model, it’s a good thing that Subaru didn’t “Let it Be”.

Forester XT with walkers