Read the 2013 Scion FR-S's introduction to our long-term fleet.
See all of the 2013 Scion FR-S's long-term updates.
What We Got
A 2013 Scion FR-S was an obvious choice for our long-term test car garage. It was an all-new car in an all-new category for Scion. The fact that we already had its Subaru cousin in the form of the BRZ meant we also had some leeway to do something different. With that in mind we decided to do some aftermarket upgrades to the FR-S to see how much unlocked potential there was in this two-door sport coupe.
The process of shopping for an FR-S was simplified in that, aside from an automatic transmission, the available options were minimal. So we didn't get any. We found a Firestorm Red 2013 Scion FR-S with a manual transmission and paid sticker, $24,930. This price got us the standard interior appointments, 17-inch wheels, a Torsen limited-slip differential and the 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder. With that, our test was under way.
- "I continue to be impressed with the handling of our 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...the FR-S is simply a blast to point through turns. Another part of the FR-S's back-road goodness is its forgiving nature. It telegraphs exactly what it's doing. You feel it through the steering wheel and the seat, so it's easy to understand what the car is up to as you shoot for those apexes. And yeah, the FR-S doesn't have a lot of power.... But that's OK. The FR-S's speed isn't just handed to you. You have to work for it by keeping your momentum up through corners. There's nothing wrong with having to work for something." — Mike Monticello
- "This car is the real deal. Up until this past weekend, I'd only driven an FR-S for a few hours in Vegas, on track and in town for our Full Test. It'd made a strong impression, but there's no replacement for driving on familiar roads on your own time. This past weekend I had our long-term FR-S in my care and, unlike few real-world, attainable cars in recent memory, I didn't want to stop driving it. After a somewhat leisurely drive up Angeles Crest on Saturday with some friends, I made a more vigorous repeat trip on Sunday. It just works. The driving position, the terrific seats, the perfect pedal placement, the flat cornering, the quick steering.... It all comes together cohesively. Quite simply, there is nothing like this car anywhere near its price. I am smitten by a $25,000 Scion." — Jason Kavanagh
- "What I will miss about the FR-S...Pedal Placement: The gas and brake pedals are close enough for easy heel-toe downshifts. Much how I judge a Mexican restaurant by its carnitas, I judge sports cars by pedal placement. Handbrake: It's one of the few cars that will actually lock up the rear wheels with a pull on the lever. It's important to me, OK? I'm told chicks dig it. Seats: I logged a lot of time in those seats without going numb or becoming mean. Even more impressive is the amount of lateral support they provide without impeding entry. Gauges: In particular, I like the tach/digital speedo arrangement. Both are instantly legible with a quick glance." — Mark Takahashi
- "...the Advan Neova rubber on our FR-S is sufficiently heat cycled to have lost much of its grip. Let me clarify: Those tires are fried.... In addition to slowing straight-line acceleration, lateral grip is compromised. Combine the reduced lateral grip with a torque-abundant power delivery and the FR-S can be a little exciting in the most normal of situations. I find stability control to be a faithful partner now." — Josh Jacquot
- "I drove our 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. The grip of the new tires has given the FR-S its manners back. No longer do I find myself activating the stability control at the slightest provocation. In fact, there's striking grip from a standing start. I suspect we will now fully realize the acceleration that was missing in our first test of our supercharged FR-S." — Josh Jacquot
- "The extra power from the Innovate Motorsports supercharger made the drive up Angeles Crest much more interesting than it would've been in stock form. Uphill on mountain roads was never the car's strong suit and that has largely been rectified. But the supercharger install has brought on some low-speed drivability issues. The kind of issues that when you're at full song, you never, ever notice. It's mostly just at takeoff from a stop. There's some occasional jerkiness to the throttle delivery as you get going, and it can make the FR-S hard to drive smoothly. I imagine with a little work this can be tuned out. Plus, it's not enough of a nuisance to make me want to stop driving this car." — Mike Monticello
- "I returned home from my weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with our FR-S and swapped its tracky brake pads back for the stock ones.... I noticed signs of what I experienced while on track, that the brakes got rather hot. See the melted driver side front caliper dust boot.... 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 would exacerbate the brake heat situation considerably. There's not a lick of air that makes its 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 deflects air from the brakes. It's also got pillar-vane-style rotors, which have generally poor airflow pumping characteristics." — Jason Kavanagh
- "A year later, I'm still enamored by our long-term FR-S. 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.... The Scion makes quite a racket. The engine is loud and not at all refined, road noise permeates every recess of your skull and the wind noise is like listening to radio static. While I wouldn't characterize the ride quality as harsh, the suspension does contribute to some fatigue. Of course, none of that matters if you have a helmet on and you're fighting for a good lap." — Mark Takahashi
- "Don't plan on sitting behind me when I'm driving the FR-S. The front seatback touches the rear-seat cushion. I could slide my seat up a notch or three for you, but there's no point. That's not enough to do anyone any good. To me it looks like the driver would have to stand well under 6 feet tall before an attempt to carry someone in the seat behind would stand the slightest chance of success.... For me the FR-S is a two-seater, plain and simple." — Dan Edmunds
- "After a 12-year absence, I've decided to take up golf again.... I figured the FR-S could hold my ridiculously large bag, and it did, but just barely. I bought a new set of Callaway irons and a 3 wood a few weeks ago. I did not buy a driver because they're evil and should be destroyed. As it turns out, it's a good thing I didn't get one, because it would not have fit in the trunk of the Scion." — Mark Takahashi
Maintenance & Repairs
The Scion requested routine service at 7,500-mile intervals. The excellent reliability of our FR-S meant that we saw the dealer only three times during 25,000 miles of testing. Thanks to the two-year or 25,000-mile complimentary maintenance program, we paid nothing for these visits.
A broken shifter cap was the only mar on an otherwise spotless record for the FR-S. And even that was a simple DIY fix.
Just one service campaign, for an ECM reflash, was issued during our test. This was a minor adjustment to meet California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards, and we had it performed during the 15,000-mile service.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA estimations for the manual transmission FR-S were 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway). Over the first 19,000 miles we averaged 24 mpg overall. Our best single tank garnered 30 mpg and covered 335 miles.
The final 5,600 miles of our test were supercharged. We averaged 22 mpg during this stretch, with a best tank of 28 mpg. The farthest we reached on a single tank of gas was 282 miles.
Resale and Depreciation:
Our 2013 Scion FR-S cost us $24,930 18 months ago. According to Edmunds' TMV® Calculator, it was now worth $20,173 based on a private-party sale. The Scion wore a "For Sale" sign for a stint before we ventured to CarMax. They offered us $19,000. This was ultimately a good deal for us. We signed it over and noted the 24 percent depreciation in our log books. For reference, our long-term BRZ depreciated 16 percent.
Pros: Lots of fun on a track and nearly as fun on the streets; great driver seat; free scheduled maintenance; chassis and engine welcomed performance upgrades.
Cons: In stock form it has average power for a sports car; stock tires offer minimal grip; small trunk; loud interior; radio controls are very basic.
Bottom Line: The 2013 Scion FR-S makes driving fun, even in stock form. It handles the needs of daily use, though it is most comfortable on canyon roads or on a track. Performance mods offer a glimpse of its true potential.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||None|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||None (over 18 months)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||None|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||3|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||None|
|Days Out of Service:||None for normal maintenance|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||None|
|Best Fuel Economy NA:||30.0 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy NA:||16.9 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy NA:||24.0 mpg|
|Best Fuel Economy S/C:||28.4 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy S/C:||14.4 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy S/C:||22.3 mpg|
|True Market Value at service end:||$20,173 (private party sale)|
|What It Sold for:||$19,000|
|Depreciation:||$5,930 (24% of paid price or original MSRP)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||25,175 miles|
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.