2013 Scion FR-S Review
2013 Scion FR-S Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Light and well-balanced chassis
- excellent steering
- high fuel economy
- comfortable and spacious front seat
- abundant standard features
- distinctive styling.
- Small backseat and trunk
- lack of navigation and other luxury options
- relatively modest acceleration.
The 2013 Scion FR-S is an all-new, rear-wheel-drive sport coupe co-developed by Toyota and Subaru.
The FR-S is not your friend's boxy Scion. Thanks to sleek styling, rear-wheel drive and sharp handling, the FR-S is one of the most appealing performance cars of 2013.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2013 Scion FR-S 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $4.07 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Avg. Compact Car
When the Scion brand debuted in 2002, its mission was to appeal to young buyers with stylish cars boasting affordable pricing, abundant customization options and the promise of reliability backed up by the reputation of Toyota, its parent company. Largely missing from that mix, however, has been performance. Now, a decade later, all the right elements have been combined for the all-new 2013 Scion FR-S.
Co-developed with Subaru (which makes the twin of the FR-S, the Subaru BRZ), the FR-S ups the performance ante considerably above the Scion tC, the next sportiest car in the Scion family. The FR-S is powered by a 2.0-liter flat-4 ("boxer") engine that sends 200 horsepower to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. That's not a lot of power for a sporty car nowadays, and suitably, acceleration is merely acceptable. Yet, the FR-S's light weight, compact dimensions, low center of gravity, sublime steering and beautifully balanced chassis add up to enough fun that you won't mind when a Mustang V6 pulls away from you at a traffic light.
The FR-S cockpit is all business. Frivolous gee-whiz features -- such as Scion's typical flashy instrument displays and adjustable mood lighting -- are nowhere to be found. Instead, the driver faces an array of instruments dominated by a large tachometer, while both front occupants are held fast by aggressively bolstered sport seats. Of course, don't expect a large measure of multipurpose practicality from the compact coupe, as the rear seat and trunk are diminutive.
In terms of competition, the 2013 Scion FR-S has no direct rivals other than its Subaru twin. After all, affordable rear-wheel-drive sport coupes are few and far between. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is the closest in character to the FR-S, but if you prefer a rear-wheel-drive coupe, you'll have to step up to the more expensive Ford Mustang or Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Yet given its desirable qualities -- light weight and a responsive nature -- the 2013 Scion FR-S should be a thrill for driving enthusiasts looking for big kicks for small bucks.
Performance & mpg
Under the FR-S's sleek hood is a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed "boxer" four-cylinder engine that makes 200 hp and 151 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters and rev-matched downshifts. A traction-enhancing mechanical limited-slip differential is standard and rather rare in this segment.
At the test track, a manual-equipped FR-S sprinted to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.5 seconds: fairly quick, if not as speedy as more powerful but heavier sport coupes. Testing of an automatic-equipped BRZ yielded a slower time of 7.9 seconds.
Fuel economy estimates are quite good and stand at 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined for the manual and 25/34/28 for the automatic.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes (with brake assist), traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.
In Edmunds brake testing, the 2013 Scion FR-S came to a stop from 60 mph in 117 feet -- a short distance, though it's lower than average for a car with summer tires.
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety the FR-S received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
If you're the sort of driver whose car must be able to hammer down freeway on-ramps with its tires ablaze, the 2013 Scion FR-S is not for you. Its power is sufficient and nothing more. Instead, the FR-S is for those who get a thrill from going around corners and feeling all the nuances and inputs that go along with a car that offers phenomenal communication and impeccable control.
Its limits are approachable and easily controlled, which makes for a wonderfully engaging sports car. The brakes don't fade, the manual gearbox is a pleasure to shift and the chassis remains composed even when the road surface doesn't. The steering imparts the front tires' grip status precisely to the driver's hands, and even the available automatic transmission is programmed for enthusiastic driving.
Away from twisty roads and used for more mundane moments -- say, on the way to work or on a road trip -- this Scion is still rewarding. It's surprisingly easy to drive and the ride is sufficiently well damped. However, there is a fair amount of road noise that is especially evident on concrete-surfaced freeways.
Scion has made few concessions to style for the FR-S's simple, businesslike cabin that blends Toyota and Subaru switchgear and materials. It's an environment that puts an emphasis on driving. Frankly, it will feel a bit spartan compared to some other sporty cars in its price range like the VW GTI, but then this is supposed to be a back-to-basics sort of driver's car.
In true Scion form, the base audio system is anything but basic, however, as it comes with a full assortment of media types and controls. It's also much easier to use than the frustrating touchscreen unit found in its Subaru BRZ twin, although Scion does not offer the Subie's navigation system and some other features.
The FR-S's front seats are supportive enough for hard driving, yet still comfortable for long-distance trips as well. People of just about any size should find the driving position to be quite agreeable, and thanks to the low-profile hood, there's an expansive view of the road ahead.
There's a backseat, too, but few humans are likely to want to sit back there. Legroom is next to nil, your head will be perilously close to the rear glass (or entirely pressed against it) and the center tunnel impedes hiproom. Trunk space is also rather small at 6.9 cubic feet, but folding down that mostly useless backseat expands cargo-carrying abilities considerably.
2013 Scion FR-S models
The 2013 Scion FR-S comes in two trim levels: base and 10 Series. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth (with streaming audio) and a Pioneer eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, RCA output jacks, an auxiliary audio jack and USB/iPod integration.
The 10 Series further adds xenon headlights, front LED running lights, illuminated exterior badges, dual-zone automatic climate control, a frameless rearview mirror, an electroluminescent dashboard (it lights up with the word "Scion" when a door is opened), a 6.1-inch touchscreen sound system display and a solar-powered illuminated shift knob (automatic transmission only).
In keeping with Scion's marketing philosophy, in lieu of factory options there are a number of dealer-installed accessories that include foglights, a premium BeSpoke sound system (with touchscreen display and smartphone app integration) and various suspension and engine performance parts.
Read what other owners think about the Used 2013 Scion FR-S.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Trending topics in reviews
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.63 out of 5 stars
The most smiles per mile
2013 Scion FR-S 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
Purchased my Asphalt Grey FR-S 6-speed manual in June of 2012. Traded up from a 2002 WRx (original owner), and while I miss the all-wheel drive and turbo rush, my FR-S just makes me smile every time I'm behind the wheel. Mine is primarily used as a weekend fun car, and I argue that there is nothing out on the road today that is even close in price that makes you feel as connected to the … pure, visceral driving experience as this $24K gem. The steering is easily controlled, the shifter is perfect and the engine grumble is nice (I'm a sucker for boxster engines). I would not use this as a daily driver, but as a second car, it is just perfect.
4.75 out of 5 stars
So Far Great
2013 Scion FR-S 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
I had for a very long time an old porsche 928 s4. It was a amazing car, and I thrashed the crap out of it. It died a terrible death... The new Scion replaced it. The Sion is not nearly as fast, nor as flashy. But it is WAAAAY more fun. At every red light the little 4 gives it a mighty big BRAAAPPPP and off we go. The shift points are just pure joy. This is not a car that will set a … new land speed record, or corner at speeds that make your brains turn to mush. BUT----It is a very fun car that is amazingly responsive. It puts a smile on your face driving in city traffic as its sure is a little street fighter. Its great on the highway and its MPG is amazing. The car has a real soul.
4.63 out of 5 stars
Best Driver's Car
2013 Scion FR-S 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
Don't listen to everybody who berates this car. Those are the people who don't understand its purpose. After 10,000 miles through 6 states and Canada, I can tell you this car is great in every single circumstance. City, highway, straight road, twisty road, road course, etc. I can get 34mpg on the highway, and average 31mpg even with some autocrosses and track days sprinkled in. You can … fit a 6' person in the back as long as the front passenger is willing to give up some leg room. I honestly test drove every single new car with a manual transmission under $25k and this was by far my favorite.
4.75 out of 5 stars
Amazing Car For the Money
2013 Scion FR-S 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
Lucky for us, Toyota put this under the Scion brand so dealers cannot mark it up. I live in the Los Angeles area and cars still disappear from some dealers lots in a matter of a day or two. I did accept the fact that the dealer installed Lojack. Got mine in Asphalt Black (dark grey metallic, really) with the rear wing and TRD exhaust installed from the factory. I had test driven a car … with the stock exhaust. While the TRD exhaust has a beautiful note, it makes it difficult to have a conversation with a passenger. Still, I would take the exhaust over stock. Seats are supportive and instrument gauges are perfect (very much like Porsche). Car reminds me of a Lotus - light, small, minimalist.
2013 FR-S Highlights
|Combined MPG||25 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$199/month|
|Drivetrain||rear wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestNot Tested
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
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More about the 2013 Scion FR-S
More About This Model
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, making a sports car like the 2013 Scion FR-S apparently requires an arduous collaboration between two automakers, a stubborn chief engineer and a whole lot of waiting.
This might be the sixteen-thousandth time you've seen the 2013 Scion FR-S show up on Inside Line. Endless spy photos and auto show teases have finally led to this, our first proper test of the Toyota's highly anticipated rear-wheel-drive coupe.
The birth of the 2013 Scion FR-S and 2013 Subaru BRZ twins may be overdue, but the end result is worth the wait.
A New Sports Car
Skip ahead to our test numbers if you must, but know this: the FR-S is more than the sum of its performance results. The tactility and control afforded by this chassis belies its modest sub-$25,000 price tag.
For the 12 readers unfamiliar, the FR-S is the product of a collaboration between Subaru and Toyota to produce an affordable, back-to-basics 2+2 sports car for each of them. The true division of responsibility is a bit fuzzy, but it went something like this — Toyota provided much of the direction, handled the styling and assisted with powertrain hardware, while Subaru performed the engineering and development work and manufactures the car in its own plant.
Its body shell is entirely new, the idea being to create a stiff, lightweight sports car that has a center of gravity somewhere below the earth's crust. A new six-speed manual gearbox was developed for the car, as was a heavily reworked version of Subaru's FB-series flat-4. About the only carryover parts are suspension components from Subaru's parts bin.
Approach the 2013 Scion FR-S in person and the first thing you notice is its size. Rather, the lack of it — at 166.7 inches long, it's a half-inch shorter than a two-seat Nissan 370Z and nearly 16 inches shorter than a Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Sitting 50.6 inches high, it's lower than either of them. The FR-S's compact form is the first clue that this car is unusual.
Get Busy With It
To access the car's personality, press and hold the "VSC Off" button for about 3 seconds. This removes all nannies. Forget the VSC Sport setting. It's simply unnecessary in a car as communicative and predictable as this one. Indeed, the car's limits are ultimately capped not by its chassis but by its relatively skinny, plucked-from-Toyota's-shelf 215/45 Michelin Primacy HP low rolling resistance summer tires. In our testing the FR-S generated 0.88g on the skid pad and turned out a 67.3-mph slalom performance; results that trail those produced by the BRZ we tested. The reason is balance — the FR-S's slightly more tail-happy character makes the numbers less big.
It's exactly this character combined with the control this chassis lavishes upon the driver that makes the FR-S so much fun to drive. In steady state cornering the FR-S is neutral tending to mild understeer, but by working the weight transfer — and getting rowdy with the steering and throttle — it can be provoked into easily catchable powerslides. Though its ultimate cornering ability won't yank the wax from your ear canals, the breakaway is so progressive that you can use every iota of grip. It's a rare car that won't bite neophyte drivers, yet encourages and rewards those drivers who are willing to manipulate its cornering attitude.
But you don't have to fling the FR-S to enjoy it. The chassis is pinprick-precise, every steering input from the quick rack is rewarded by immediate, slack-free response. You think it; it does it. You won't find this kind of immediacy in a Hyundai Genesis Coupe or Ford Mustang. Meanwhile, there's enough compliance in the suspension to suit daily use. It's appropriately sporting-firm without jiggling every appendage.
In our testing the 2013 Scion FR-S halted from 60 mph in 117 feet, again a tire-limited exercise. The pedal has minimal idle stroke and a solid feel that softens just a bit when you give the brakes a good thrashing.
Between The Turns
The modest grunt from the 2.0-liter boxer four power plant relegates the countersteering hooliganism to low-speed corners. It's an engine that needs to be revved to deliver the goods — its urge flags a bit in the midrange and then pulls with relative enthusiasm to the 7,400-rpm fuel cut. The factory rating is 200 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft at 6,600 rpm.
This engine's 4-2-1 exhaust manifold eliminates the characteristic chuffling warble we've come to expect from Subaru boxer engines, so the engine note is something of an amalgam of a flat- and an inline-4. It's not particularly thrilling-sounding, despite the inclusion of a honkus that pipes induction noise to the cabin. But the FA20 is smoother than previous Subaru boxer engines and thrives on high revs, which is where it needs to be to get the most of the engine.
Sixty miles per hour is reached in 6.6 seconds (6.3 seconds with one foot of rollout like on a drag strip), and the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 93.8 mph. Yes, this result is notably quicker and faster than the BRZ, which did those deeds in 7.3, 7.0, and 15.3 seconds at 92.1, respectively. What's going on?
The data reveals that the BRZ actually accelerated quicker initially, but at 19 mph the Subaru laid over a bit and the Scion powered ahead and never looked back. The explanation is equal parts launch technique and gearchange speed. The Scion's tire-spinning launch allowed it power through the 4000-rpm torque hole we observed in our dyno testing where the Subaru bogged down briefly. Plus, our BRZ tester was plagued with a finicky 1-2 gearchange which ate up precious time en route to 60 mph.
So is the 2013 Scion FR-S fast enough? Yes and no. It isn't slow, but it's so capable and communicative that it could easily exploit more power.
Function Over Form
When you drop into the driver seat it immediately feels well positioned deep into the chassis. There's enough room in the pedal box for easy heel-toe movements with size 11 shoes, the wheel is tidily sized and the gearchange lever moves through its gates fluidly. Crucially, there's enough headroom for your 6-foot, 1-inch all-torso author to don a helmet without it touching the headliner.
Few concessions to style adorn the simple and businesslike cabin. Manually adjusted grippy cloth seats provide ample support in full-attack maneuvers without compromising comfort for daily use. The steering wheel is devoid of buttons, the tachometer is granted a prominent central placement, and there's a basic three-knob climate control interface. While nothing about it screams "cheap," the interior is where the FR-S's price point is most apparent.
The backseat is perfect for people you don't like. It's cramped back there. Toyota says the car's 2+2 layout was the result not of a desire to increase its marketability but to provide just enough space to package a set of track tires and tools when you fold the backseat down.
According to the EPA, the FR-S delivers 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. We netted 22.6 mpg in a few days of mixed driving that included a photo shoot. Such jackassery isn't representative of normal driving, so don't put too much stock in our result.
Notes From the Chief Engineer
We also chatted with Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada at an FR-S preview at Spring Mountain Raceway outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. In his personal stable is an AE86 rally car that he exercises in anger on a semi-regular basis. Yeah, he's the right guy to head this project.
Ease of modification played into the decision to adopt the rather expensive port- and direct-injection D-4S fuel system. Tada-san was insistent that the car produce 100 hp/liter from its 2.0-liter engine, and direct injection was required to achieve this goal. However, the chief engineer also wants the FR-S/BRZ to be a blank slate for the tuning community. Making a direct-injection system bend to tuners' will is difficult, but port injection is easy.
The suspension calibration of each car reflects the sensibilities of the two manufacturers: Subaru's customers are accustomed to AWD cars with a lot of stability, and so the BRZ is tuned accordingly. The FR-S's rear suspension is slightly stiffer for less understeer, while the front has a bit less spring rate and revised damper valving to improve steering feel. The remaining suspension components — stabilizer bars, bushing durometers, tires — are identical between the two cars.
Tetsuya defends the FR-S's front weight bias (55.4 percent of the FR-S's 2,745 pounds sits at the front axle according to our scales) as suiting the power level of the car better than a 50/50 weight distribution. If the car had 300 horsepower instead of 200, he says, then he'd prefer a less nose-heavy weight bias to facilitate traction.
Looking under the hood, the engine sits low but there's a curiously large gap between the rear plane of the engine and the firewall. This car doesn't need to package axles to the front wheels (there will never be an all-wheel-drive variant), so why not shove the engine to within a millimeter of the bulkhead, thereby reducing the car's polar moment of inertia to an absolute minimum?
Tada-san's explanation boils down to this: They had to make room for the steering rack. A front-mount rack location à la Mazda MX-5 was not an option since the boxer engine layout is inherently wide and blocks the way for a steering shaft. To accommodate a front-mounted rack the engine would have to be located where the pedal box currently resides. As such they instead employed a rear-mount rack location that places the rack between the engine and firewall, in the process pushing the engine forward somewhat.
Oh, and according to Tada-san, the twins will undergo continual updates on an annual basis, similar to the approach Nissan takes with the GT-R.
The Wait Is Almost Over
Pricing is very straightforward, as the 2013 Scion FR-S starts at $24,930 with destination when equipped with a six-speed manual. Heretics who insist on the six-speed autobox will have to cough up an additional $1,100.
Other accessories will be available à la carte in usual Scion fashion, the most substantial of which is the 340-watt Pioneer BeSpoke premium audio that features a novel app-based multimedia interface. This system will debut with iPhone capability only, with other device compatibility to follow in the coming months. Pricing for this isn't finalized yet, but it's expected to cost less than $900.
Scion says the FR-S will reach dealership floors on June 1st. That's not too long to wait for the most gratifying sports car to come along in years.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Used 2013 Scion FR-S Overview
The Used 2013 Scion FR-S is offered in the following submodels: FR-S Coupe. Available styles include 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6A), 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M), Scion 10 Series 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M), and Scion 10 Series 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6A). Pre-owned Scion FR-S models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 200 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2013 Scion FR-S comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic, 6-speed manual.
What's a good price on a Used 2013 Scion FR-S?
Price comparisons for Used 2013 Scion FR-S trim styles:
- The Used 2013 Scion FR-S Base is priced between $17,990 and$23,590 with odometer readings between 11561 and76162 miles.
- The Used 2013 Scion FR-S Scion 10 Series is priced between $20,590 and$20,590 with odometer readings between 61483 and61483 miles.
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Which used 2013 Scion FR-SS are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2013 Scion FR-S for sale near. There are currently 5 used and CPO 2013 FR-SS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $17,990 and mileage as low as 11561 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2013 Scion FR-S.
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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Scion FR-S?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.
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