2013 Scion FR-S MPG Review

MPG-o-Matic 2013 Scion FR-S Review Summary: With a starting MSRP of $24,930, the 2013 Scion FR-S has received a warm welcome from a market hungry for affordable rear-wheel-drive (RWD) sports coupes. The FR-S’ biggest surprise is its startling level of fuel efficiency, enabled by superior aerodynamics and – in the case of the automatic – optimized gearing. The FR-S and its cousin, the slightly more expensive (and more fully outfitted) Subaru BRZ, were co-developed by Toyota and Subaru. While much has been written about the RWD twins, often in glowing terms, we take a closer look at how the Boxer’s RPMs effect its MPGs.

The 2013 Scion FR-S is powered by a direct and sequential multi-port fuel injected DOHC 2.0-liter Boxer (horizontally opposed) four-cylinder engine – co-developed by Toyota and Subaru – that produces 200 horsepower (HP) and 151 foot pounds of torque. The RWD FR-S is available with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

The official fuel economy estimates for the 2013 Scion FR-S are 22 city / 30 highway miles per gallon for the manual and a significantly higher 25 / 34 for the automatic.

With just a long weekend to test our automatic-equipped Ultramarine FRS review unit, we managed to travel more 300 miles and blew past the official mileage estimates, scoring an average of 41.6 MPG on the Interstate highway and 34.1 MPG combined with temperatures ranging from the seventies through the nineties.

Note for the Purists: We lucked into testing the automatic version when we did and weren’t about to turn it down. We hope to have the chance to test a manual-equipped FR-S or BRZ not too far down the road.

2013 Scion FR-S - wide shot

The automatic is noticeably slower than the manual in the sprint to sixty, as the manual provides drivers with the ability to launch at a much higher RPM. We were only able to get our automatic test car into the high sevens (with all traction controls off), while other media sources dropped their manual-equipped cars into the low sixes with hard launches. The tachometer’s rev indicator is programmable for those so inclined.

Interstate Mileage Testing:

  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C on, windows up: 40.5 MPG
  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows down: 41.2 MPG
  • Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows down: 43.2 MPG

Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the high eighties through low nineties, with 68 MPH steady state cruising at just over 2200 RPM. Our test vehicle was equipped with the standard 17 x 7.0-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, clad with low rolling resistance 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP summer tires, and was delivered with under 1000 miles on the odometer.

Both the manual and automatic are equipped with a 4.10 ratio Torsen Limited-Slip Differential, but the automatic is optimally geared for fuel economy. The difference in gear ratios pays off at the gas pump for automatic owners.


Highway driving range is very good. The 2013 Scion FR-S is fitted with a 13.2 gallon fuel tank and is designed to run on premium unleaded gasoline. With an extremely slippery 0.27 Coefficient of Drag, the FR-S is a highway MPG champ.

The four-wheel-disc ABS brake system uses 11.6-inch vented rotors on the front and 11.4-inch vented rotors at the rear. The FR-S weighs in at 2,758 pounds for the manual and 2,806 pounds for the automatic.

A monochrome digital display at the base of the speedometer provides average and instant fuel economy data, along with two trip meters and an ambient thermometer.

Handling characteristics are superb. If you want to make the tail wag, just turn off the nannies.

The six-speed automatic uses Dynamic Rev Management and delivers fast shifts. Gears can be changed manually with either the slapstick or steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel does not include integrated controls. Aluminum pedals and scuff plates make this little sport coupe’s intent clear. Fabric covered deeply bolstered bucket seats complete the look.

The driver’s seat provides six-way manual adjustment, while the passenger seat provides four-way adjustment. Adjustable lumbar support and heated seats are not offered.

The standard eight-speaker 300-watt audio system includes full iPod support. Hands-free Bluetooth standard, complete with streaming audio. A 12-volt outlet is located in the open center console, while the auxiliary audio and USB inputs are at the base of the dash. A BeSpoke Premium Audio System with an LCD touch screen, voice recognition and Pandora integration is optional. GPS and Satellite Radio are not offered.

As with most smaller sports coupes, rear seat room is an issue. The FR-S’ deeply sculpted rear seat can accommodate two smaller folks, with 35 inches of headroom and 29.9 inches of legroom. There are no rear seat headrests.

Trunk space is tight with just 6.9 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seat up. Folding the one-piece rear seat down allows for longer items. Even so, the FRS is probably not the vehicle you want to take for that semi-monthly trip to Costco. The race track, yes. Costco, no.

All-in-all, the 2013 Scion FR-S delivers an intriguing mix of sporting manners and a surprising level of fuel efficiency. The FR-S is a pure driver’s car, unfettered with a number of conveniences and luxuries that many take for granted. The lack of leather upholstery, seat heaters, GPS, and satellite radio will send many folks to the Subaru dealer for the more slightly more expensive and fully-outfitted BRZ.

Warranty Information:
Basic – 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain – 5 years/60,000 miles
Rust Perforation – 5 years/unlimited miles

– by

2013 Scion FR-S 2-Door Coupe

Daniel Gray

3 thoughts on “2013 Scion FR-S MPG Review”

  1. Thanks for the review. I can’t wait to see how the 6-speed manual measures up. I looked at one recently. Once I climbed in, it felt like I was wearing the car. The seats hugged your sides and you sit very close to the ground. Rear seat legroom was non-existent. I doubt even a child could fit comfortably unless the front seats were moved very far forward. Totally impractical car for me and yet I would cast practicality to the wind for the driving experience.

  2. That gearing always kills me. Ugh. 6th in the manual is even shorter than 5th in the auto. With no one racing in 6th and likely not 5th either, why not at least match the top 2 with the auto. Oh well.

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