frs1Susan Frissell, PhD

Having spent a week in the Scion FR-S sport coupe, we were reminded of the original Celica of days past. A very popular little sport coupe, Celica’s demise was mourned by many. A stablemate to the Subaru BRZ, the FR-S has several good points; and a few not-so-good.

For 2016, Scion has given the FR-S its first meaningful update. Introduced in 2012,, the FR-s has had moderate success, in a category that is quickly disappearing. Minor changes include some visual tweaks and new trim for the cabin, two new exterior colors (Ablaze Red, Oceanic Blue), a new standard audio system, and new standard rearview camera.

The Scion FR-S raises pricing about t $400, bringing the MSRP to $26405 for the automatic, and manual $25,305. Not inexpensive, particularly for the Scion brand, the FR-S can be considered an “affordable” sports coupe.

The FR-S is for the most part, a fun coupe to drive. The ride is hard, but the seats are firm and supportive. The car is nimble and solid, offers high tech features for the young set, and of course, excels at safety equipment packages. We would have enjoyed driving it on some twisty roads rather than around town. Not just sure this writer would welcome it as a daily driver. But then, It’s not aimed at my demographic.

Sporty in looks, the FR-S has an aerodynamic look and feel, is well-built and economical. We found the center console cupholder feature annoying. The two-cup holder moves back/forth in the console but is in the way of the driver’s elbow. I spilled my coffee more than once.

We found that driving in Sport mode was more comfortable (less bumpy, more smooth) than standard mode. Getting the gearshift to move into gear proved more difficult than it needed to be. New features for 2016 on the FR-S include a 7-inch audio screen, featuring more resolution, a revised Nav system, connect Bluetooth (Aha lite, iTunes, tagging included on non-Nav model); standard backup camera, interior feature color changes (changed steering wheel bezel, door grips and center console side ornament to high brightness silver color).

The FR-S is powered by a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine, with 200 horsepower. At 151 lb-ft, it’s not exactly a pocket rocket.. The engine is a variation of a Subaru design, with the addition of Toyota’s direct- and port-injection system.

Steering may not have the anticipated precision of a sports car, but it’s tight and performance-oriented. Brakes worked well, effective and not jerky. Tires are 17-inch, hold the road well and give the car a heavier feel

Sitting in the FR-S gives one the feel of a sports car, but getting in and out of it aren’t so pleasurable. The cabin is for the most part, quiet even with a small growl. It is a sporty vehicle, after all.

Head and leg room in the FR-S is more plentiful than expected. The small back seat space is hardly worth it, but could hold packages (or a 5-year-old), and the like. Some reviewers believe an adult passenger can fit in the rear seats; we’re not so sure.

Cargo space is what would be expected for a two-plus-two coupe. Not as much as a Corvette, for instance, but enough for a couple of suitcases and gear. Also helpful are the fold flat rear seats, opening up additional horizontal space.

Scion says the FR-S was designed to hold four wheels and tires, a toolbox, a helmet, and a driver–all you need for a basic day at the track. I suppose that could work. Our silver exterior color wouldn’t have been our choice for a sport coupe: Rather, the blue or yellow, maybe even red would be a better fit.

Standard features on the 2016 Scion FR-S are generous which makes up for a lack of many options. Consumers can choose most of the options and upgrades on their own rather than in the usual packages. We wish more manufacturers would operate this way.

Optional equipment available on the FR-S includes carpeted trunk and cabin floor mats, an ashtray kit, mud guards, wheel locks, suspension kits and larger wheels. Not on the option list is navigation. This seems strange as it is available on the Subaru BRZ.

Standard equipment includes manually adjustable six-way driver and four-way passenger front seats; fold-flat rear seats; a first-aid kit; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; an eight-speaker audio system; USB/Bluetooth/auxiliary inputs; and more.

Competition for the Scion FR-S includes Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, Nissan 370Z and Miata MX5. Some pretty hefty choices.


MSRP: $26,405; total vehicle price $27,175; destinaiton $770

Engine: 2.0-liter H-4, 4-cylinder Boxer DOHC, 16-valve, 200 hp., 151 lb. ft. torque

Transmission: six-speed sequential automatic w/paddle shifters, Dynamic Rev Management

Wheelbase: 101.2 in.

Length: 166.7 in.

Height: 50.6 in.

Width: 69.9 in.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal.

Tires: 215/45R17 all-season

Wheels: 17-inch alloy