2013 Scion FR-S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Scion FR-S: Yellow?

January 24, 2014

2013 Scion FR-S

Yes, this car has been sold. But I have one more observation for you.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Fixed

January 23, 2014

2013 Scion FR-S

Let's call it a knob cap.

Whatever it is, I fixed it. Before we sold it to Carmax. And yeah, some, if not all, of the tools pictured above were used in its repair. I'll let you ponder which of them I actually made use of, but suffice it to say they worked like a charm.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Sold to Carmax

January 16, 2014

2013 Scion FR-S

We kept our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S seven months and 5,000 miles longer than we normally do. It was a fun car to have around and as the 25,000 miles on its odometer showed, it wasn't often left to collect dust in our garage. But it's a new year, and we need some money back in our car-buying budget. This meant it was time to pay a visit to CarMax for appraisal.

"Do you have a figure in mind?" said Hamal, the appraiser. He recognized me and remembered the last car I brought in, our long-term Ford Focus ST.

"I have a number, but I'm keeping my cards close to the vest," I said. I was thinking about the saying, "He who speaks first loses."

Hamal told me that someone had recently traded in a red FR-S with about 10,000 miles. It sold in three days. I was originally expecting an offer of $17,000, taking into consideration the high miles on our FR-S. I thought they would impact its value. But when I heard that the other FR-S sold so quickly, I upped my guess to $18,000. For reference, we paid $24,930 (before tax and title) when we bought the car last year. Edmunds trade-in TMV is $18,831.

Before you hit the jump, take a guess on the offer.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Fuel Economy Update for December

January 6, 2014

2013 Scion FR-S

With the Innovate Motorsports supercharger stripped off, as well as the other fun bits, our 2013 Scion FR-S was a little unwanted through the month of December. I'll blame our editors' finicky obsession with power and their secret love of aftermarket exhaust for their lack of interest.

That being said, it still covered a little less than a thousand miles. Click through to see how it did in December.

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2013 Scion FR-S: What I Won't Miss

December 11, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

As a follow-up to my list of things I'll miss when we sell our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S, here are some items I will not miss.

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2013 Scion FR-S: What I'll Miss

December 10, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Our 2013 Scion FR-S's days are numbered in the long-term lot. It has served us well and I will miss it. I contend that it's the most fun you can have in the $25k range, and fun would be a priority for me if I were car shopping for myself. Click on through to see what about the FR-S I'll remember fondly.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Does the Gearbox Fit?

November 14, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Not to worry, no Scion FR-Ss were harmed in the making of this post. I needed to measure the bellhousing features of this transaxle for a LeMons car I'm working on, which entailed schlepping it to a machine shop. I happened to have our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S at the time, so...does the gearbox fit?

Clearly, yes. I put down some thick cardboard and eased that sucker into the seat. It seemed happy. Then I threw some more between the bellhousing and the seatback, broke out a ratcheting tie-down strap and headed into the backseat.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Hidden Fuel Filler Arrow

November 12, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Notice anything missing from this photo of the 2013 Scion FR-S?

If you guessed "the arrow that points to the side of the car the fuel filler is on," you're right.

It's being perfectly hidden by the fuel gauge needle.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Intercooled Innovate Motorsports Supercharger Kit

November 7, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

"Want to drive it?"

Hook, swallowed. I was already halfway buckled into Innovate Motorsports' shop car before the company's Sean Crawford could finish getting the sentence out. Their FR-S shop car is equipped with the same twin-screw supercharger kit that's on our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S, but with a twist: The shop car's kit is intercooled.

In fact, the very car you see above was recently used to complete the CARB certification testing for both intercooled and non-intercooled kits at Automotive Research Center (the same place we ran our Raptor vs. leaf blower test). It passed with flying colors. Sean tells me that once CARB sends them the finalized paperwork in the coming months (thanks, bureaucracy!), they'll have an exemption order (EO) number for the kits. Pretty cool. Heh.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Fuel Economy Update for October

November 5, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

For the month of October we covered 1,144 miles in our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S with an mpg average for the month of 22.0 using 91-octane fuel.

That's below our lifetime average of 23.6, but there was an extenuating circumstance in the name of one Markus von Takahashi.

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2013 Scion FR-S: BF Goodrich G-Force Rival Impressions

October 23, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

There's no doubt that the new G-Force Rivals we slapped onto our 2013 Scion FR-S are a huge improvement to the car's handling performance, and I do love cornering forces. But I'm finding myself torn between my penchant for railing through curves and whipping the tail around.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Stability Control No Longer a Must

October 8, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

At the end of August I drove our 2013 Scion FR-S home on dead Yokohamas and was quickly convinced that its stability control was a genuine ally.

Now, with the new BFGs, that's no longer the case.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Fuel Economy Update for September

October 3, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

In the month of September, our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S spun an additional 1,067 miles onto its odometer and consumed 47.8 gallons of 91-octane fuel. That equates to 22.3 miles per gallon for the month, which is less than its lifetime average.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Supercharger Is Subtle but Effective

October 1, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

I've driven our 2013 Scion FR-S a handful of times since Jay Kavanagh installed the supercharger. You've read Mike Monticello's report on the car's heightened entertainment value on Angeles Forest Highway (one of our great roads in Southern California), and you've seen Jay put numbers behind the improvement in real-world acceleration.

And I'm here to tell you that, based on my own commuting experience, the difference is huge on the freeway. But the first time I drove our supercharged FR-S I actually managed to forget it had a blower. Allow me to explain. (The Sprinter passenger van is not part of the story. I just happened to drive both vehicles last weekend. What a difference in footprint, huh?)

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2013 Scion FR-S: Does It Need a Spoiler?

September 25, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

The first order of business when it comes to making our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S look better is a drop. I don't want it sitting on the ground, but a functionally useful loss of wheel gap and increase in stiffness would only make the FR-S better in my mind.

However, when I look at the rear of the Scion FR-S it seems naked.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Multi-Purpose Sports Car

September 24, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

I needed to be at a group bicycle ride on the UCI campus at 6:15 this morning. Luckily I had our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S.

Lucky for two reasons:

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2013 Scion FR-S: Supercharger Whine (Video)

September 16, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

When we supercharged our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S, it did more than just change the driving dynamics. The car sounds different, too. There's a fun supercharger whine at wide-open-throttle, and the Greddy exhaust finally sounds like it should. Click through for a video.

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2013 Scion FR-S: BFGoodrich G-Force Rival Tires Installed

September 12, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

The old Yokohamas on our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S were heat-cycled to oblivion. They're being replaced by BFGoodrich g-Force Rivals, a relative newcomer in the category of high-performance summer tires. I've had previous experience with Rivals on another car and reckon they're a good fit for our Project FR-S, which is focused on being an effective dual-purpose street/track car.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Fuel Economy Update for August

September 6, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Thirty days and over 1,200 miles later, it's time for another fuel economy update on our 2013 Scion FR-S. Now with more lolz, courtesy of the Innovate Motorsports supercharger, our Scion is being driven harder than ever. How did the fuel economy fare/suffer?

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2013 Scion FR-S: Photo Shoot

September 2, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

When my friend and Edmunds.com coworker Don Swertfeger asked if I could check out a second-hand cafe-style motorcycle with him, I happily obliged. I lent my moral support and helped him do a bit of price haggling, too.

After inspecting the bike, I looked around at the drab, muted, urban landscape of Downtown L.A. and saw a perfect contrast for our hot lava red 2013 Scion FR-S. Here are some of the shots.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Driveability With Supercharger

August 29, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

I had to get to Streets of Willow in Rosamond, California from Orange County last week for our Corvette C7 versus the world test. I had the 2013 Scion FR-S, with supercharger, at my disposal to get there.

So, of course, I took Angeles Crest to Angeles Forest to get to Highway 14 North. Any other route would've been boring.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Stability Control Now a Must

August 27, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

As our acceleration testing indicated, the Advan Neova rubber on our 2013 Scion FR-S is sufficiently heat cycled to have lost much of its grip. Let me clarify: Those tires are fried. The tread isn't gone, but a little fingernail investigation reveals that they're rock hard, which doesn't make for good grip. In addition to slowing straight-line acceleration, lateral grip is compromised.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Saturday Morning

August 26, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

I don't usually get out of bed before 10:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings, at least not on purpose. I like recovering from the week, letting the sun leak in through the blinds and generally getting a soft start to the weekend. But last Saturday I was up early and devouring all the caffeine in sight. I had our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S and plans for a drive through the local canyons.

Typically, I'll take my personal car out with a group of Acura Integra owners (you'll recall that I'm an Integra owner, too). We'll meet up at a gas station, talk, grab a snack, check our oil levels and head out for 100 miles of back-road shenanigans. Of course, the FR-S was also built for exactly this activity.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Painful Shifter

August 21, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

I have no idea how Magrath managed to break the top off our Scion FR-S's shifter with only one finger, but now there's a big gap between the top cap and the rest of the shifter. No amount of pounding will make the top cap sit flush with the rest of the knob, either. It might not seem like much, but that little gap between the leather and the plastic hurts.

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2013 Scion FR-S: 86fest

August 14, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Half the fun of owning a car like our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S is taking it to car shows. This past weekend was the second annual 86fest in Fontana, California. Our FR-S was displayed with several other supercharged cars, all boosted by Innovate Motorsports and it was a great opportunity to meet some fellow gearheads and talk shop.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Real-World Acceleration

August 8, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Recently, we tested the acceleration of our Innovate Motorsports supercharger-equipped long-term 2013 Scion FR-S. A handful of commenters seemed perplexed by the fact the 0-60 time didn't see an even-larger improvement compared to the baseline non-supercharged run.

As explained in the original Track Tested piece, traction was an issue. And when it comes to 0-60 times, traction is king.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Appropriate Power

August 8, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Anyone following our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S will know that I was a fan of its overall performance from day one. Yes, I realize the engine was unimpressive from a numbers standpoint, but it was balanced with the rest of the car.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Innovate Motorsports Supercharger Kit Acceleration

August 7, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

After we dyno-tested the Innovate Motorsports supercharger kit now installed on Project FR-S, we made another visit to the test track to run acceleration numbers.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Fuel Economy Update for July

August 5, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

In July we installed a supercharger kit on our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S project car.

Since then, we've added 1,246 miles to its odometer using 66 gallons of 91-octane fuel. We retested it, re-dyno'd it and passed the 20,000-mile point.

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2013 Scion FR-S: FR-S on GMR. With Supercharger

July 31, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Our 2013 Scion FR-S has a supercharger.

I already liked this corner-carving machine before. It's superbly-balanced with spot-on steering and plenty of grip thanks to our long-termer's wider, stickier tires.

Now that it has honest power, everywhere on the tach, I like it even more.

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2013 Scion FR-S: 20,000-Mile Milestone

July 30, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Even though we've reached the 20,000-mile mark with our 2013 Scion FR-S, it's almost like a new beginning. Why? Because, as JayKav recently wrote about, the little rear-drive canyon carver now has a supercharger, thanks to Innovate Motorsports.

As far as how the car itself is holding up, it's doing well.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Broken Shift Knob

July 29, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

I guess this is what I get for short-shifting the Scion from 1st to 2nd with only my index finger. The corner of my finger interacted with a raised section of this stupid little button that used to be on top of our shift knob and sent it flying.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Needs Brake Cooling

July 25, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

After I returned home from my weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S, I swapped its tracky brake pads back for the stock ones. If you use track pads on the street, they'll eat your rotors alive. This is because aggressive pads never warm up to operating temperature on the street, and when cold they are very abrasive.

In the process of swapping in the stock pads, I noticed signs of what I experienced while on track, that the brakes got rather hot. Above is the melted driver side front caliper dust boot. See others below. Keep in mind that this happened with stock power and street tires, though it is true that Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a track that's hard on brakes. More power and/or stickier tires like R-compounds (never mind dedicated track tires) would exacerbate the brake heat situation considerably.

There's not a lick of air that makes it way to the FR-S's brakes. There are no vents in the wheelwell liner, and the little spat that deflects air away from the front tires also deflect air from the brakes.

It's also got pillar-vane style rotors which have generally poor airflow pumping characteristics (manufacturers use them because they are not directional so the same part can be used on both sides, and they have good NVH characteristics).

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2013 Scion FR-S: Innovate Motorsports Supercharger Kit Dyno-Tested

July 24, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Everyone wants "apples to apples" or at least they should. It's the only way to go.

The day before the Innovate Motorsports supercharger kit was installed on Project FR-S, our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S, I visited Church Automotive Testing in Wilmington, California. The boss man there, Shawn Church, performed several pulls and established a baseline on our car, stock save for its Apexi catback exhaust.

Immediately after the supercharger kit was installed the next day, I again rolled straight to Church Automotive Testing. Several pulls were performed and the car's stabilized, supercharged output obtained.

Same car, same dyno, same dyno operator, same methodology, same weather, even the same 91 octane fuel in the tank. Identical apples all around.

Here's what we found.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Innovate Motorsports Supercharger Kit Installed

July 18, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Back in May 2012, when I first drove a pre-production example of the 2013 Scion FR-S, Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada described to me in some detail the protracted genesis of its flat-four FA20 power plant. That they wanted 100 hp/liter. That Subaru's FB-series wasn't going to cut it in its then-current form. That Toyota handed the next generation of their D-4S direct injection technology to Subaru, their competitor, in order to make it happen. That it had a big ol' torque hole right smack in the middle of the rev range.

Actually, Tada-san never mentioned that last bit. I discovered it for myself the first time I touched the FR-S's throttle to the carpet. Such a terrific chassis and little punch to really exploit it.

We've been angling to remedy that for some time in Project FR-S, our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S. The other day the stars aligned, and Innovate Motorsports got busy installing their twin screw supercharger kit onto it. This is a bolt-on, belt-driven positive displacement supercharger kit that promises a bump in peak power, sure, but more importantly a slug of Tabasco in the midrange. You know, where the FR-S actually needs it.

The company originally told us installation would take four hours. It took less than three hours. Bolting this much power onto a highly-tuned normally aspirated engine has never been this easy.

[Update: installation time-lapse video added at the end of this entry.]

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2013 Scion FR-S: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Track Weekend

July 17, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

The right way to set up a car is with a tire pyrometer, an open track and lots and lots of time. We would do precisely none of those things for this trip. This can only mean total failure! Right?

Nah. Turns out the Scion FR-S's handling is better than ever, both on the road and track. The alignment in its current state (front: -1.9 degrees camber, zero toe; rear: -1.7 degrees camber, 1/16" total toe in), even if not dialed to said max optimum-ness, has yielded more communication, grip (as measured by my buttometer) and progression than it had last time it was here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

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2013 Scion FR-S: En Route To Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

July 16, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

With new suspension bits installed (here and here), a fresh alignment and a Friday morning yawning before us, I pointed our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S northwards. Bitter Dan (you might recall his orange Lotus Exige) and I would once again take fun roads on our way to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for another track weekend. Unlike last time, today the skies were clear and the day young.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Hancha Adjustable Rear Lower Control Arms

July 5, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

With the front end camber needs of Project FR-S, our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S, handled, we turned to the rear suspension. It's a multi-link layout back there, so its camber loss with roll is less precipitous than in the front. As such, the rear won't need as much additional negative camber as does the front. But like the front suspension, there's no factory provision to dial in camber in the rear.

To right this wrong, Hancha developed a proprietary adjustable rear lower control arm (LCA) that's made right here in the US.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Hanchey Vehicle Technologies Camber Plates

July 4, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Zero degrees of camber. That's the factory spec on our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S. And being that its front end is underpinned by MacPherson struts, we see fruit, and it is hanging low. This is because in roll, struts inherently tend to gain positive camber more quickly than do, say, double wishbones. To offset this effect and to "stand the tire up" more in hard cornering, you want to increase the suspension's static negative camber.

No problem, I'll just crawl underneath and dial in some more negative camber by adjusting the FR-S's factory eccentric bol- [record screeeetches]- not so fast, there, zippy. Toyota/Subaru, for reasons that will baffle mankind for eternity, decided not to include provisions for adjusting camber on their rear-drive sports car that will likely become one of the most common sights at track days and autocrosses for years to come.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Fuel Economy Update for June

July 3, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Our 2013 Scion FR-S's time with us is drawing to a close. That's sad news, given that this fun-loving little car has managed to put a smile on the face of pretty much everyone who's had the good fortune to take it out for a spin.

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2013 Scion FRS: Track: Yes. Road Trip: No.

July 1, 2013

2013 Scion FRS

A year later, I'm still enamored by our long-term Scion FRS. As a track car and, to a lesser degree, a commuter, I'd definitely consider this as a purchase. But that's because I don't take a lot of road trips.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Forced Induction

June 28, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

You think you're frustrated about the lack of forced induction on our Project FR-S? Believe me, you're not alone. I won't get into the excruciating nitty gritty specifics as to why it's taking so long, but I'd like to address some of the "but there are so many kits available!" refrains.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Adding Camber

June 26, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S recently hit Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca again to exercise a few new bits that were installed recently (previous track trip:Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3 and Pt 4). Which bits, you ask? If you recall, the FR-S has no factory provision to adjust camber, which is sort of a mystery considering this car's mission.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Fifty-Fifty

June 24, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

What would make the 2013 Scion FR-S better? Fifty more horsepower and 50 more pound-feet of torque, that's what. And if forced to choose, I'd take the torque. Just like Daft Punk's new record shows us that disco never went away (it just hid out in other subgenres for 30 years), torque never goes out of style.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Stellar Handling

June 21, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

I continue to be impressed with the handling of our 2013 Scion FR-S.

There's the sharp and perfectly intuitive steering fed to you via a wheel that feels so right in your hands. And the precision with which the suspension works as you attack corners.

In short, the FR-S is simply a blast to point through turns.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Unprocessed, Please

June 19, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

The Scion FR-S audio system features three sound-processing modes: Hear, Feel and Natural. Unfortunately, it doesn't feature OFF. This drives me a little nuts. Inevitably, Hear becomes the default and sounds most transparent when dialing in bass and treble settings. Feel amplifies bass and low-mids, while Natural applies some sort of compression and basically sucks the life out of your music.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Aftermarket Exhaust Looks Loud but Isn't

June 18, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

For awhile, I was of a mind that the aftermarket muffler on our 2013 Scion FR-S made no difference in noise over the stock setup. Mostly what you hear in this car is engine.

Then I drove our 2013 Subaru BRZ and the FR-S on back-to-back nights and realized, yes, the big-honkus outlets do make a difference, small as it may be.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Noisy Tires

June 17, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

The Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 tires on our 2013 Scion FR-S are getting noisier. They're exhibiting a more constant hum, particularly at elevated speeds on the highway. And the "thunk" over Botts' dots and expansion joints is up a notch or two, as well.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Unexpected Features

June 12, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

The Scion FR-S's dual auto windows are a nice touch. Scion could've cheaped out and offered neither or just one window with auto up/down. You start to notice these seemingly minor features (or their absence) where you least expect them when you're in and out of different cars all the time.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Fuel Economy Update for May

June 3, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

In the month of May, our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S spun an additional 905 miles onto its odometer and consumed 36.3 gallons of 91-octane fuel. That equates to 24.9 miles per gallon for the month, which is slightly higher than its lifetime average.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Transporting Hazardous Cargo

May 30, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Undoubtedly, this is not the safest way to transport canisters full of propane, but at least when this photo was shot, they were empty. With Memorial Day approaching, I was determined to beat the rush to get these crucial outdoor grilling necessities refilled ahead of the crowd or before supplies ran out.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Caption This

May 29, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

We've all heard the urban myth of the Chevrolet Nova selling poorly in Spanish-speaking countries because "No va" would roughly translate to "No go." I wonder how much market research was done before bringing the Bimbo brand to the States.

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2013 Scion FR-S: 15,000-Mile Service

May 20, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Our 2013 Scion FR-S was due for its 15,000-mile service, so we stopped off at the dealer for maintenance. The oil and filter change was a quick job. Toyota of Santa Monica took care of it while we waited. According to the invoice, it should have cost us $130. But since the FR-S still falls under the free maintenance program offered on new Toyotas, this didn't cost us a dime.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Not a Brick

May 9, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

While the kid was on spring break, we took a trip to the California Science Center, located next to the fantastically decrepit Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Spirit of Troy was with us that day as the weather was perfect, Rush and Public Enemy were later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony just up the road, and I even exchanged brief Lakers and Dodgers misery with local sports radio icon Vic The Brick Jacobs while walking around Little Tokyo. Feelin' Blue, indeed.

Sorry, that's likely a string of non-sequiturs for most readers. More to the point, we went to the Science Center to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour installation. Fantastic display. If you're in L.A., go see it. It's one thing to see it on TV, or even watch a lift-off or landing in person. Quite another to stand under it, stare at thousands of those thermal tiles and consider the miles THAT thing has seen.

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2013 Scion FR-S: Scifosi

May 7, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

Sometime in the next decade, Ferrari will build something about this size, in similar shape, profile and color. Maybe it will be mid-engine, like the short-run Alfa Competizione 8C. It will cost $150,000-$200,000, will pick up where the BMW Z8 left off and will make the California a distant memory.

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Scion FR-S in VA is:

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