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    2013 Scion FR-S


    By William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    February 1, 2013

    October 2009 was a monumental month for Toyota. It was at the Tokyo Motor Show where the company revealed a very interesting concept called the FT-86; a small, lightweight two-door coupe that was jointly worked on by Toyota and Subaru. This sent shockwaves across the automotive landscape. Had Toyota rediscovered its sporty side it once had during the eighties and nineties? Or was it fluke? When the company announced that a production model would be coming along with a Subaru version, it seemed the answer was yes, they have discovered their sporty side once more.

    Speculation, rumors, and a number of concepts from Toyota, Scion, and Subaru would come out over the next couple years before the official introductions in late 2011 and early 2012. There would be the Toyota GT86 which was a callback to the mid-eighties RWD Corolla AE86. Next was the Subaru BRZ which differed from the rest of the Subaru lineup by being a RWD model, not AWD. Finally for North America was the Scion FR-S, providing a unique product for Toyota’s youth brand.

    gallery_10485_563_485652.png

    Its been a long wait for these coupes, but was it worth it? To answer this question, I got a 2013 Scion FR-S for the holidays.

    The Look

    The FR-S’ exterior design is what you expect out of a sporting car; a small, low slung body mounted on top of a short wheelbase. Key design cues to take note are the embellished front and rear fenders, a distinct character line running along the door, rear diffuser with reverse lights, and on the front fenders, a little 86 badge paying homage to the mid-eighties Corolla AE86.

    gallery_10485_563_916520.png

    Inside the FR-S, its a simple and clean layout. Materials are hard plastics of varying quality which will annoy some people. I had no problems with it since the money was wisely spent elsewhere in the vehicle. The controls are logically laid out and easy to reach. Scion fitted a set of sport seats for the driver and front passenger. The seats provide good bolstering and support when you’re driving aggressively. However I couldn’t fit into the seats comfortably due to my shoulders being a bit too wide for the seats. I know I happen to be an odd case on this, but its worth noting if you’re looking into this. The back seat area is only really usable for storing stuff or putting small kids.

    All Part of a Balanced Diet

    Underneath the Scion FR-S’ skin is a recipe for balance. Power comes from 2.0L Subaru Boxer-four that’s fitted with Toyota's D-4S direct injection system. Horsepower is rated at 200 (@ 7,000 RPM) and torque is at 151 lb-ft (@ 5,100 RPM). The reason for going with the boxer engine is due to how low the engine can be set in a vehicle. The lower the engine, the lower center of gravity a vehicle has. For transmissions, you have the choice of either a six-speed manual or my test FR-S’ six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. With the automatic, you choice of three different drive modes (Normal, Sport and Snow) that changes the behavior of the transmission. The FR-S also features a limited-slip differential as standard equipment. Suspension duties are taken care by a set up MacPherson struts up front and a double-wishbone in the rear. A set of 17-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in Michelin Primacy HP summer tires.

    gallery_10485_563_1103870.png

    Driving the FR-S down a nice twisty backroad is a very rewarding experience. The engine does have to be worked to reach its sweet spot, but the reward is a nice growl from the exhaust and the knowledge that the engine doesn't mind being pushed. The six-speed automatic is surprisingly quick and smooth, especially when you put the vehicle into sport mode as the transmission holds onto the gears through the corners and blips the throttle. You can also do the shifting yourself via the paddle shifters whether the transmission is in Drive or in the manual mode. While its fun to play with paddles, I found leaving the vehicle in Drive with the Sport mode on did a better job than me. I also found myself wishing the paddles were on the steering column than the wheel, so I wouldn't be playing the game of ‘where are the paddles now?’

    gallery_10485_563_301756.png

    The suspension does an excellent job of keeping FR-S level and balanced when going from corner to corner. Steering is very quick and precise, and provides a very good amount of a road feel. A bit surprising when you find out the FR-S steering is a electric power system, not hydraulic. Also surprising was a VSC Sport button which dials back the stability control up to a point to allow you to explore the limits of the FR-S.

    It’s A Double Edge Sword

    Now all those things I have listed above really do make the FR-S a great back road car, but it doesn’t make it a great daily driver for a good amount of people. For starters, I wished the engine had a bit more power, especially in the mid-range. Trying to make a pass or merge with traffic meant I had essentially step on it to perform. Also the suspension which is great in the corners is horrid on Metro Detroit roads. The suspension doesn’t have enough give whenever you drive over potholes or road imperfections and you will feel it very clearly.

    gallery_10485_563_303010.png

    One thing I wasn't complaining about the FR-S was fuel economy. The EPA rates the FR-S at 25 City/34 Highway/28 Combined. During the week, I averaged 30.4 MPG. On the freeway I saw 34.2 MPG.

    The Time Has Come

    The Scion FR-S is a very special and impressive coupe. From the very unique looks to the way it drives, Scion has a alternative to the sport compacts and sports cars in the price bracket. The base price of $24,500 for a six-speed manual and $25,300 for a six-speed automatic makes it a steal.

    Its not for everyone though. The rough ride brought on by firm suspension, spartan interior, and engine not having enough power will scare some people away. But for those who can put up with these faults will bask in knowledge of having one of best driving vehicles on sale today.

    gallery_10485_563_513274.png

    Disclaimer: Scion provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.

    2013 Scion FR S 10
    Album: 2013 Scion FR-S
    16 images
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    Year - 2013

    Make – Scion

    Model – FR-S

    Trim – N/A

    Engine – 2.0L Direct and Port-Injected Boxer-Four

    Driveline – Rear-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM – 200 HP (@ 7,000 RPM)

    Torque @ RPM – 151 lb-ft (@ 5,400 RPM)

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/34/28

    Curb Weight – 2,806 lbs

    Location of Manufacture - Ōta, Gunma, Japan

    Base Price - $25,300.00

    As Tested Price - $26,099.00* (Includes $730.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Rear Bumper Applique - $69.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    I am not particularly enthused by the formula of the FR-S / BRZ (aka Toyota 86). Yes, the AE86 had it's day. But the 80s was a long time ago. The formula is partly right -- a 2,800 lbs car that is rear drive. But the insistence on 100 bhp/liter high revving low displacement engine is a mistake. This car really should have a forced induced engine in the 250~300 hp class. But even for a base model shunning the cost of forced induction, a 2.5 liter NA four delivering 200hp will be better than a 2.0 liter doing so. The torque curve will be much more accessible than in a high revving 2.0. Even if the partnership with Subaru is retained, it is not like Subaru does not have a 2.5 liter block.

    For humor sake, I;ll much rather have the 202 hp 2.5 liter GM I4 than the 200 hp 2.0 liter boxer. When are they ever going to get it that specific output is completely irrelevant to the performance or desirability of a vehicle?

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    Nice for a cheap toyota. Very sad that you see the plastic wheel wells in the engine bay. Also, Marketing has got to wake up that Horsepower alone will not win the war. Without Torque you cannot move the mass and that engine is starved for Torque in comparison to HP.

    I agree with dwightlooi that the GM I4 is superior over this engine any day.

    Over all Mud your getting really good at writing these reviews. Nice Job. Being home sick all week with the crud, I might be missing something, but over all it looks really good. :)

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    Look at it this way... 200 hp @ 7,000 rpm / 151 lb-ft @ 5400 rpm is not that bad. It would have been a terrific engine for the original AE86. The problem is that the AE86 was a 2,100 lbs car. This is 2,800 lbs. Realistically speaking the Toyota 2AR-FE 2.5 liter Camry motor (180 bhp / 173 lb-ft @ 4100) would move this car along better than the high reving 2.0 boxer. Timed performance will be about the same, but 173 lb-ft peaking at 4100 rpm will be more pleasurable in city traffic.

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    On factor you must consider now is the global market. Not only are the platforms going to be shared but the engines will be in most makets.

    With that being said many MFG will be using 1 liter, 1.6 Liter and guess what 2.0 LItet engines because of taxation in many countries. Displacment and weight will effect what engine size is and what it will be fitted in. The Turbocharger adds nothing to the tax or how it is based on.

    While we may not have that here yet in many other countries it is in effect and will be effecting what we buy and drive.

    It is not just by chance many companies are all making engines the same size.

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    I am not particularly enthused by the formula of the FR-S / BRZ (aka Toyota 86). Yes, the AE86 had it's day. But the 80s was a long time ago. The formula is partly right -- a 2,800 lbs car that is rear drive. But the insistence on 100 bhp/liter high revving low displacement engine is a mistake. This car really should have a forced induced engine in the 250~300 hp class. But even for a base model shunning the cost of forced induction, a 2.5 liter NA four delivering 200hp will be better than a 2.0 liter doing so. The torque curve will be much more accessible than in a high revving 2.0. Even if the partnership with Subaru is retained, it is not like Subaru does not have a 2.5 liter block.

    For humor sake, I;ll much rather have the 202 hp 2.5 liter GM I4 than the 200 hp 2.0 liter boxer. When are they ever going to get it that specific output is completely irrelevant to the performance or desirability of a vehicle?

    I wonder if fitting a 2.4 in the car would have been a problem... but I during my time with it, I never felt that torque was insufficient for the base model at all.

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    i know lots like this car, but it does very little for me. cheap interior, why bother back seats.....dull styling

    You know the kinds of cars I like... and I was pricing them out after driving one.

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    i certainly am not saying it's not good at what it's main focus is. Even if this is the best small cheap RWD coupe out there, I still see the Toyota badge and all the rest that usually comes with the aura of a Toyota that I am not jiggy with.

    I'd probably pop for a base camaro or a 3 year old 1 series if this was what i was looking at.

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    i certainly am not saying it's not good at what it's main focus is. Even if this is the best small cheap RWD coupe out there, I still see the Toyota badge and all the rest that usually comes with the aura of a Toyota that I am not jiggy with.

    I'd probably pop for a base camaro or a 3 year old 1 series if this was what i was looking at.

    Completely different feel. This is more Miata with a back seat for the 3 year old. The Camaro V6 feels huge by comparison... driving the FR-S/BR-Z after the Camaro is refreshing and carefree. The ZL-1 is waaaay faster than the Toyopet and Fuji Heavy Industry, but it still feels like it is the worlds best handling 747.

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    Not a big fan here either but they will sell a ton of them.

    Not really, at least not yet...

    They are moving about 500~800 a month and a tad under 7000 per year (2012). That is about on par with how many Camaros GM moves in the worst month in 2012. This is a sports coupe so demand tends to fall off after the first two years.

    The bright side is that they set a pretty modest target of 6000 cars so they are not saddling themselves with over capacity. Already Subaru is giving $400~600 in incentives to move their (more expensive) BRZ against the FRS -- not an auspicious thing for a 1st year coupe.

    The thing I don't get is that the market for sports coupes is modest enough as it is. Why they want to split the pie -- and the marketing -- between Fuji and Toyota is baffling. This should have been just a Subaru or just a Toyota.

    I would have preferred that it be a Toyota using a hypothetical "1AR-GE" engine. Basically the same 2.7 liter 1AR-FE Inline-4 in the RAV4, but with hotter cams and drinking premium to deliver about 220hp / 200 lb-ft. For a higher performance version, forget laggy turbos and simply the use a roots compressor on the 1AR engine. A "1AR-GZE" will be good for about 270 hp / 270 lb-ft with zero lag. The latter would be interesting.

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    It's an interesting car, and I wouldn't mind owning one, but in the real word its day to day faults outweigh some of the benefits.

    Very happy with the Cooper S and Miata in the driveway, this car doesn't move me enough to trade one in and take on a payment.

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    Not a big fan here either but they will sell a ton of them.

    Not really, at least not yet...

    They are moving about 500~800 a month and a tad under 7000 per year (2012). That is about on par with how many Camaros GM moves in the worst month in 2012. This is a sports coupe so demand tends to fall off after the first two years.

    The bright side is that they set a pretty modest target of 6000 cars so they are not saddling themselves with over capacity. Already Subaru is giving $400~600 in incentives to move their (more expensive) BRZ against the FRS -- not an auspicious thing for a 1st year coupe.

    The thing I don't get is that the market for sports coupes is modest enough as it is. Why they want to split the pie -- and the marketing -- between Fuji and Toyota is baffling. This should have been just a Subaru or just a Toyota.

    I would have preferred that it be a Toyota using a hypothetical "1AR-GE" engine. Basically the same 2.7 liter 1AR-FE Inline-4 in the RAV4, but with hotter cams and drinking premium to deliver about 220hp / 200 lb-ft. For a higher performance version, forget laggy turbos and simply the use a roots compressor on the 1AR engine. A "1AR-GZE" will be good for about 270 hp / 270 lb-ft with zero lag. The latter would be interesting.

    Again you need to think global! Cars like this and even the Miata live on a global scale and thrive.

    If you just take Miata, Prelude and Mini sale base just on NA they make little sense but on a global scale they have some very impressive numbers and profits.

    Even if GM does a small RWD coupe they will have to base it on a global package as the sales just in NA will be ok but they need larger numbers.

    Second you can not compare the Camaro or Mustang on this yet as they are in a class of their own and many who would buy them would never consider this car. This is why GM is looking into the sub Alpha car. Two different markets and two different customers. .

    As for Turbo engines there again you must look to the customers and what they want. Also lag is not what it once was like in the GN and Turbo T bird.

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    Not a big fan here either but they will sell a ton of them.

    Not really, at least not yet...

    They are moving about 500~800 a month and a tad under 7000 per year (2012). That is about on par with how many Camaros GM moves in the worst month in 2012. This is a sports coupe so demand tends to fall off after the first two years.

    The bright side is that they set a pretty modest target of 6000 cars so they are not saddling themselves with over capacity. Already Subaru is giving $400~600 in incentives to move their (more expensive) BRZ against the FRS -- not an auspicious thing for a 1st year coupe.

    The thing I don't get is that the market for sports coupes is modest enough as it is. Why they want to split the pie -- and the marketing -- between Fuji and Toyota is baffling. This should have been just a Subaru or just a Toyota.

    I would have preferred that it be a Toyota using a hypothetical "1AR-GE" engine. Basically the same 2.7 liter 1AR-FE Inline-4 in the RAV4, but with hotter cams and drinking premium to deliver about 220hp / 200 lb-ft. For a higher performance version, forget laggy turbos and simply the use a roots compressor on the 1AR engine. A "1AR-GZE" will be good for about 270 hp / 270 lb-ft with zero lag. The latter would be interesting.

    I think the only way to make the car work as-is is with a flat-four engine. They're worried about deck height restrictions now with adding a turbo, so I don't think any inline four will work standing up.

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    Not a big fan here either but they will sell a ton of them.

    Not really, at least not yet...

    They are moving about 500~800 a month and a tad under 7000 per year (2012). That is about on par with how many Camaros GM moves in the worst month in 2012. This is a sports coupe so demand tends to fall off after the first two years.

    The bright side is that they set a pretty modest target of 6000 cars so they are not saddling themselves with over capacity. Already Subaru is giving $400~600 in incentives to move their (more expensive) BRZ against the FRS -- not an auspicious thing for a 1st year coupe.

    The thing I don't get is that the market for sports coupes is modest enough as it is. Why they want to split the pie -- and the marketing -- between Fuji and Toyota is baffling. This should have been just a Subaru or just a Toyota.

    I would have preferred that it be a Toyota using a hypothetical "1AR-GE" engine. Basically the same 2.7 liter 1AR-FE Inline-4 in the RAV4, but with hotter cams and drinking premium to deliver about 220hp / 200 lb-ft. For a higher performance version, forget laggy turbos and simply the use a roots compressor on the 1AR engine. A "1AR-GZE" will be good for about 270 hp / 270 lb-ft with zero lag. The latter would be interesting.

    Again you need to think global! Cars like this and even the Miata live on a global scale and thrive.

    If you just take Miata, Prelude and Mini sale base just on NA they make little sense but on a global scale they have some very impressive numbers and profits.

    Even if GM does a small RWD coupe they will have to base it on a global package as the sales just in NA will be ok but they need larger numbers.

    Second you can not compare the Camaro or Mustang on this yet as they are in a class of their own and many who would buy them would never consider this car. This is why GM is looking into the sub Alpha car. Two different markets and two different customers. .

    As for Turbo engines there again you must look to the customers and what they want. Also lag is not what it once was like in the GN and Turbo T bird.

    Well, your assumptions are that the world wants turbos and not superchargers. That has has never been shown to be true. Your assumption that the world generally prefers high specific output, low displacement engines also not shown to be the case. Nobody is buying Cruzes because it has a 1.4T whereas the Civic has a 1.8 and the Focus has a 2.0. When they buy a Cruze, the size of the engine and presence of a turbocharger does not factor into the decision the overwhelming majority of the time and when it does it is not always a positive factor.

    Also, lag is ALWAYS present in turbocharged engines. It is a matter of degree. For North America, which is the car's largest market, they should have an engine that best meets the regulatory and consumption habits of North American buyers. American's don't care about displacement (one way or the other) -- you might, but Americans in general do not. America does not have a displacement tax either so small displacements have very little intrinsic value (neither does China -- the other uber sized market). The FR-S's MPG numbers -- 25/34 mpg will be easily met with a 2.5 ~2.7 liter four (the Malibu which is a much larger car that is 750 lbs heavier is already @ 22/34 mpg.

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    I think the only way to make the car work as-is is with a flat-four engine. They're worried about deck height restrictions now with adding a turbo, so I don't think any inline four will work standing up.

    They'll just have the contour the hood a little differently I guess. Perhaps with a central hump very much like the 5M-GE powered 1st Gen Supras.

    What I am saying is that Toyota can do a 2800 lbs, RWD, sports coupe at $25,000 using a derivative of the RAV4's 2.7 liter I4 engine.

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    The whole point of the FR-S is how it feels on the road: the steering feel, the chassis setup, the gearbox, and yes, revving the hell out of that engine. A RAV4 engine would completely change the character of this pocket-sized sports car.

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    The whole point of the FR-S is how it feels on the road: the steering feel, the chassis setup, the gearbox, and yes, revving the hell out of that engine. A RAV4 engine would completely change the character of this pocket-sized sports car.

    Agreed...some people get sport compacts, some people don't. Some people get the idea of full size luxury, some don't. Some people think all 1950's American cars are ugly pigs....to each his own.

    Personally, I like the FRS/BRZ, but feel it has its limitations.

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    The whole point of the FR-S is how it feels on the road: the steering feel, the chassis setup, the gearbox, and yes, revving the hell out of that engine. A RAV4 engine would completely change the character of this pocket-sized sports car.

    The steering and chassis feel can be basically the same. The engine character... good torque from 3000 rpm and power accessible by revving to just 6000 rpm changes the character for the better!

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    Not a big fan here either but they will sell a ton of them.

    Not really, at least not yet...

    They are moving about 500~800 a month and a tad under 7000 per year (2012). That is about on par with how many Camaros GM moves in the worst month in 2012. This is a sports coupe so demand tends to fall off after the first two years.

    The bright side is that they set a pretty modest target of 6000 cars so they are not saddling themselves with over capacity. Already Subaru is giving $400~600 in incentives to move their (more expensive) BRZ against the FRS -- not an auspicious thing for a 1st year coupe.

    The thing I don't get is that the market for sports coupes is modest enough as it is. Why they want to split the pie -- and the marketing -- between Fuji and Toyota is baffling. This should have been just a Subaru or just a Toyota.

    I would have preferred that it be a Toyota using a hypothetical "1AR-GE" engine. Basically the same 2.7 liter 1AR-FE Inline-4 in the RAV4, but with hotter cams and drinking premium to deliver about 220hp / 200 lb-ft. For a higher performance version, forget laggy turbos and simply the use a roots compressor on the 1AR engine. A "1AR-GZE" will be good for about 270 hp / 270 lb-ft with zero lag. The latter would be interesting.

    Again you need to think global! Cars like this and even the Miata live on a global scale and thrive.

    If you just take Miata, Prelude and Mini sale base just on NA they make little sense but on a global scale they have some very impressive numbers and profits.

    Even if GM does a small RWD coupe they will have to base it on a global package as the sales just in NA will be ok but they need larger numbers.

    Second you can not compare the Camaro or Mustang on this yet as they are in a class of their own and many who would buy them would never consider this car. This is why GM is looking into the sub Alpha car. Two different markets and two different customers. .

    As for Turbo engines there again you must look to the customers and what they want. Also lag is not what it once was like in the GN and Turbo T bird.

    Well, your assumptions are that the world wants turbos and not superchargers. That has has never been shown to be true. Your assumption that the world generally prefers high specific output, low displacement engines also not shown to be the case. Nobody is buying Cruzes because it has a 1.4T whereas the Civic has a 1.8 and the Focus has a 2.0. When they buy a Cruze, the size of the engine and presence of a turbocharger does not factor into the decision the overwhelming majority of the time and when it does it is not always a positive factor.

    Also, lag is ALWAYS present in turbocharged engines. It is a matter of degree. For North America, which is the car's largest market, they should have an engine that best meets the regulatory and consumption habits of North American buyers. American's don't care about displacement (one way or the other) -- you might, but Americans in general do not. America does not have a displacement tax either so small displacements have very little intrinsic value (neither does China -- the other uber sized market). The FR-S's MPG numbers -- 25/34 mpg will be easily met with a 2.5 ~2.7 liter four (the Malibu which is a much larger car that is 750 lbs heavier is already @ 22/34 mpg.

    You comments on engines are normally based on a bunch of number that in themselves do not take into consideration all the parameters that an automaker faces or what the real world drivability really is.

    Again you fail to take in the other factors such as government taxation in many markets. Yes America does not have the tax here but in a global market the number of engines globally will decrease and become more the same in all markets tax or not. It is a major stipulation of becoming more profitable. You also fail to take in to account that superchargers are decreasing in most markets. In the worlds largest auto market you will not in the other thread I posted the added cost of tax on engine size and in engines over 2.0 it can max out to over almost $900 per car. This may not sound like much but in a county that make much less per person than the United States it is a lot for many that struggle to buy the smallest car.

    As for turbo lag you tend to conveniently the fact that most of todays small turbo engines true strength is the availability very low end torque that is available at very low RPM. This eliminates the issues of much of the lag and masks much of the issues with it. In my own personal daily driver I have no issue with it as if anything If the boost hit any faster it would be difficult to drive the vehicle in many non dry weather conditions. The car as it is will spin the tires at a moments notice. If anything our Silverado 5.3 has more issue with lag from a slow kick down in the tranny that I feel is due to the cylinder drop system. I have never felt the same thing in the Vette but the lag has been in all Chevy and GMC trucks.

    I will never declare the Turbo as the savior of ever car or model but in your own example the Malibu the only one so far that has gotten good reviews is the Turbo Bu. The other models were ok but never really set the world on fire or stood out from the crowd. The Turbo engine by no means is a sports car but is just a better set up for drivability and feel.

    The key to all this is to make the car to drive and feel like it has power. If you can do that the people are happy. If you can do it with the engine sizes that most markets require you save money vs offering other engines in sizes you can only sell in a couple markets. By going global not only on platforms but engines too this will increase profits and decrease spending.

    I know you like to think you are fully correct and all the automakers not in line with you as misguided but they have to use all parameters unlike what you do here. Time to step up and include all factors into your presentation and just see where this all falls out. I could see one company being wrong but as Drew pointed out in the Cruze thread can they all be misguided? I think not.

    As for the people they no longer count cylinders or engine size but they do count dollars in tax, they count MPG and they expect performance to the point that the car feels good and comfortable to drive. They want an engine that will return great MPG but will not make them wonder if they will get up to speed on the freeway on ramp.

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    To me, 150 lb ft of torque even in what is meant to be a high revver......is sort of not at all sporty....no matter how it drives.

    Have you driven it yet?

    No desire to. I don't much care for impractical (for me) cars.

    I'd even dig a Genesis coupe over this.

    Edited by regfootball
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    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A
    • By William Maley
      Most luxury SUVs will never go fully off-road. The closest they’ll ever get is driving down a gravel road. But that doesn’t mean some automakers aren’t filling them with the latest off-road for that one person who decides to. Case in point is the LX 570. Lexus’ variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser has been updated inside and out to try and draw buyers away from the usual suspects in the class.
      For 2016, Lexus has softened the LX’s boxy-shape with some rounded edges and more imposing fenders. The front grille has grown in size to match other Lexus vehicles, though to our eyes it looks more like the head from a Cylon in the 1980’s Battlestar Galactica tv show. The rear features new taillights and a reshaped tailgate. The interior has somehow become more opulent since the last LX we drove. A new dash design features real wood trim and more soft-touch materials. Our tester featured leather upholstery that can be described as red-orange. At first, I thought it was a bit much. But over the week I grew to like the color as it adds some personality. Sitting in either the front or second-row seats of the LX is a pleasant experience. There is plenty of head and legroom for both rows, along with heat. Front seats also get ventilation as standard. The third-row seat is a bit of joke. Getting back there in the first place is quite difficult due to the small gap when you move the second-row forward. Once back there, you find legroom is almost negligible. Finally, the way the third row folds up by side walls and not into the floor hampers cargo space - only offering 41 cubic feet. Lexus’ Remote Touch interface has arrived in the LX this year with a gargantuan 12.3-inch screen sitting on top of the dash. On the plus side, the screen is vibrant and easy to read. The negative is the remote touch controller as you’ll find yourself choosing the wrong function because the controller is very sensitive to inputs. Power comes from 5.7L V8 with 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive system. On paper, the V8 should move the LX 570 with no issue. But a curb weight of 6,000 pounds negates this. Performance can be described as ho-hum as it takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed. At least the eight-speed automatic transmission is a smooth operator and quick to respond when you stab the throttle. The LX 570 is chock full of clever off-road tech such as crawl control, hill start assist, 360-degree camera system, and multi-terrain select system that optimizes various parts of the powertrain and four-wheel drive system. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to put any of these to the test. No matter the condition of the road, the LX 570 provides a smooth and relaxing ride. Impressive when you consider the LX is riding on a set of 21-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Lexus added a set of adaptive dampers for the 2016 LX and you can adjust the firmness via a knob in the center console - Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The dampers do help reduce body roll in corners, giving you a little bit more confidence. Steering is what you would expect in an SUV, light and numb. This makes the LX a bit cumbersome to move in certain places such as a parking lot. Compared to the last LX 570 we drove, the 2016 model has gone up in price. Base price now stands at $88,880 and our as-tested price comes in at $96,905. This one feels a bit a more worth of price tag that Lexus is asking for, but I still think a Cadillac Escalade or Range Rover are slightly better in terms of value. If you’re planning a trip to Death Valley or the Rocky Mountains and want something that can you there and back, along with providing all of the luxuries, look no further than the LX. Otherwise, there are a number of other luxury SUVs that make more sense if you’re planning to stay on the pavement. Year: 2016
      Make: Lexus
      Model: LX 570
      Trim: N/A
      Engine: 5.7L 32-Valve, DOHC Dual VVT-i V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 383 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 403 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/18/15
      Curb Weight: 6,000 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japn
      Base Price: $88,880
      As Tested Price: $96,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,150.00
      Dual-Screen DVD Rear-Seat Entertainment System - $2,005.00
      Luxury Package - $1,190.00
      Heads-Up Display - $900.00
      Cargo Mat, Net, Wheel Locks, & Key Glove - $250.00
      All-Weather Floor Mats - $165.00
      Heated Black Shimamoku Steering Wheel - $150.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Most luxury SUVs will never go fully off-road. The closest they’ll ever get is driving down a gravel road. But that doesn’t mean some automakers aren’t filling them with the latest off-road for that one person who decides to. Case in point is the LX 570. Lexus’ variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser has been updated inside and out to try and draw buyers away from the usual suspects in the class.
      For 2016, Lexus has softened the LX’s boxy-shape with some rounded edges and more imposing fenders. The front grille has grown in size to match other Lexus vehicles, though to our eyes it looks more like the head from a Cylon in the 1980’s Battlestar Galactica tv show. The rear features new taillights and a reshaped tailgate. The interior has somehow become more opulent since the last LX we drove. A new dash design features real wood trim and more soft-touch materials. Our tester featured leather upholstery that can be described as red-orange. At first, I thought it was a bit much. But over the week I grew to like the color as it adds some personality. Sitting in either the front or second-row seats of the LX is a pleasant experience. There is plenty of head and legroom for both rows, along with heat. Front seats also get ventilation as standard. The third-row seat is a bit of joke. Getting back there in the first place is quite difficult due to the small gap when you move the second-row forward. Once back there, you find legroom is almost negligible. Finally, the way the third row folds up by side walls and not into the floor hampers cargo space - only offering 41 cubic feet. Lexus’ Remote Touch interface has arrived in the LX this year with a gargantuan 12.3-inch screen sitting on top of the dash. On the plus side, the screen is vibrant and easy to read. The negative is the remote touch controller as you’ll find yourself choosing the wrong function because the controller is very sensitive to inputs. Power comes from 5.7L V8 with 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive system. On paper, the V8 should move the LX 570 with no issue. But a curb weight of 6,000 pounds negates this. Performance can be described as ho-hum as it takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed. At least the eight-speed automatic transmission is a smooth operator and quick to respond when you stab the throttle. The LX 570 is chock full of clever off-road tech such as crawl control, hill start assist, 360-degree camera system, and multi-terrain select system that optimizes various parts of the powertrain and four-wheel drive system. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to put any of these to the test. No matter the condition of the road, the LX 570 provides a smooth and relaxing ride. Impressive when you consider the LX is riding on a set of 21-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Lexus added a set of adaptive dampers for the 2016 LX and you can adjust the firmness via a knob in the center console - Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The dampers do help reduce body roll in corners, giving you a little bit more confidence. Steering is what you would expect in an SUV, light and numb. This makes the LX a bit cumbersome to move in certain places such as a parking lot. Compared to the last LX 570 we drove, the 2016 model has gone up in price. Base price now stands at $88,880 and our as-tested price comes in at $96,905. This one feels a bit a more worth of price tag that Lexus is asking for, but I still think a Cadillac Escalade or Range Rover are slightly better in terms of value. If you’re planning a trip to Death Valley or the Rocky Mountains and want something that can you there and back, along with providing all of the luxuries, look no further than the LX. Otherwise, there are a number of other luxury SUVs that make more sense if you’re planning to stay on the pavement. Year: 2016
      Make: Lexus
      Model: LX 570
      Trim: N/A
      Engine: 5.7L 32-Valve, DOHC Dual VVT-i V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 383 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 403 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/18/15
      Curb Weight: 6,000 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japn
      Base Price: $88,880
      As Tested Price: $96,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,150.00
      Dual-Screen DVD Rear-Seat Entertainment System - $2,005.00
      Luxury Package - $1,190.00
      Heads-Up Display - $900.00
      Cargo Mat, Net, Wheel Locks, & Key Glove - $250.00
      All-Weather Floor Mats - $165.00
      Heated Black Shimamoku Steering Wheel - $150.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00
    • By William Maley
      It has been a couple of years since we last checked out the Toyota 4Runner. Since that time, the crossover marketplace has grown even further and becoming the clear choice for many consumers. But there are still some who want/need the capability of an SUV like the 4Runner. Who should consider it?
      Toyota hasn’t changed the 4Runner’s exterior since we last checked it out. This isn’t a bad thing since one of the things I liked about it was the styling. The front end still looks like it is wearing a muzzle with a large surround for the grille and chunky front bumper. Other design details to take in are a set of flared out wheel arches, hood scoop, and rear tailgate with a window that can be raised or lowered. The interior follows the exterior with no real changes. Many materials are of the hard plastic variety which is ok considering the off-road character of the 4Runner. Having materials that can stand up to rough and tumble of off-road conditions isn’t a bad thing. The chunky knobs and simple layout of the dashboard are still here, making it easy to find certain controls when on the move. It would be nice if Toyota could swap the 6.1-inch touchscreen for something a little bit larger. It isn’t as easy to read at a glance and more often than not, you’ll be hitting the wrong touchscreen button. At least the Entune infotainment system is simple to understand. Space is plentiful for passengers in both rows with an abundance of head and legroom. There is the option of a third row, but it would be wise to skip it since it isn’t comfortable for most people to due to the minuscule amount of legroom. The powertrain remains a 4.0L V6 with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, and a five-speed automatic transmission. Most trims will have the choice of either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The TRD Pro and Trail (the model seen here) only come with four-wheel drive. The power figures may make you believe that the 4Runner has enough grunt for the daily grind, but it falters once you take it out on the road. Around town, the V6 provides a decent amount of grunt. But where the engine falters is trying to make a pass or merging onto a freeway. It seems to make more noise than actual power in these situations. The automatic transmission provides smooth gear changes. But adding an extra gear would not be a bad thing since would drop engine rpm on the expressway and improve overall fuel economy. I got an average of 19 mpg for the week - EPA fuel economy figures stand at 17 City/21 Highway/18 Combined for 4WD models. SUVs have made progress in terms of ride and handling, but you wouldn’t know that if you were driving a Toyota 4Runner. Take for example the ride quality. At low speeds, the 4Runner’s suspension does a good job with smoothing over bumpers. At higher speeds such as driving on a freeway, the ride becomes very bouncy. Going around a corner isn’t a pleasant experience as there is a fair amount of body lean. Steering is on the heavy and makes certain tasks such as pulling into a parking space a bit of a chore. But the 4Runner does redeem itself when it comes to off-road driving. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to take this 4Runner off-road which is quite a shame because the Trail adds some goodies to help when it comes to going off the beaten path. There is a locking rear differential, Crawl Control which is a low-speed cruise control system to allow the SUV go through a rocky trail, Multi-Terrain Select that alters throttle and traction control settings for various conditions, and the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that adjusts the suspension to allow for more wheel travel. The Toyota 4Runner is an old-school SUV wrapped up in modern clothing. It makes no apologies for what it is and that is something I respect. This is a model that should be considered by those who want to go to special place in the woods or out in the desert on a regular basis. If you’re not planning to go off-road on a regular basis, then the 4Runner is a poor choice. Stick with a crossover or something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee.  
      Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the 4Runner, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Toyota
      Model: 4Runner
      Trim: Trail Premium
      Engine: 4.0L DOHC Dual VVT-i 24-Valve V6
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, 4WD
      Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 278 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/21/18
      Curb Weight: 4,750 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $39,095
      As Tested Price: $40,148 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge and $750.00 'Keep it Wild' savings)
      Options:
      Remote Engine Start - $499.00
      All Weather Mats/Cargo Tray - $200.00
      Cargo Cover - $155.00
      Cargo Net - $49.00

      View full article
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