So, dads, maybe you're looking for a weekend car — something with an anti-minivan vibe and affordable sticker price to spice up the garage. Perhaps you're thinking M-I-A-T-A spells fun, but let's be truthful: It might have to work the family shift every once in a while, so backseat-less is out. If you were considering the 2013 Scion FR-S, it's out, too.
Don't get me wrong, the four-seat coupe looks hot and is fun to drive, but your kids won't fit in the backseat — at least not safely. The 2013 Scion FR-S failed Cars.com's Car Seat Check. We couldn't properly install two of the four car seats that we use.
To be fair, the FR-S isn't supposed to be a family car. But if it has a backseat, we test it. Sometimes looks are deceiving, and we become pleasantly surprised to find enough room to safely install a seat. Other times, it's not even close. Such was the case with the FR-S.
But it wasn't for lack of trying. In fact, three separate editors used a few different brands of child-safety seats without luck. For the official Car Seat Check, Cars.com uses a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat (in both forward and rear-facing positions) and a Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.
First, the good news. The TurboBooster fit OK because the large seat bolsters were far enough to the sides, allowing us to nestle the booster into the cushion. With an average-size adult in the driver's seat, however, there's not enough legroom for the child. Let the seat kicking begin!
Our rear-facing convertible fit, too, but barely. The front passenger seat needed to be set all the way forward and in a completely upright position, preventing anyone (human) from sitting there.
Our last two seats wouldn't fit at all. In the forward-facing position, the convertible didn't have enough room, and the fixed head restraint got in the way. The FR-S' Latch anchors were buried but still accessible, and the tether anchors on the rear shelf were very easy to find, but the seats are so concave and the bolsters so high that we couldn't get the convertible to sit flat on the seat. Much of the car seat was suspended in the air; 80% of it needs to rest flat on the seat for it to be safe. We had the same problem with our Graco infant seat.
Is the problem specific to the brand of seats we use during our tests? Turns out, no. My toddler uses an Evenflo Titan convertible, and it wouldn't work in the forward or rear position. When it's facing forward, I had the same problem as our other seat. Rear-facing, the deep seat well prevented it from sitting at the proper angle despite adjusting the foot and installing it several times.
Even though the FR-S' backseat is predictably small, what really prevented the car seats from fitting was the shape of the seats. They're sunken and almost bucket-like, forming two deep wells that prevent the car seats from sitting flat.
Managing Editor David Thomas had similar problems with his son's soon-to-be-outgrown Graco convertible seat. "It just floated over the seat bottom after I connected the tether. My son was really excited to ride in it to the bakery — a tradition of ours — but we had to take the wife's Subaru instead."
The FR-S isn't alone. It joins a short list of cars that have failed our Car Seat Checks, including the Volkswagen Eos, Nissan GT-R, and Chevrolet Camaro convertible. That's out of 100 new models we've tested since November 2011. These cars, along with the FR-S, should be moved to your still-single and/or empty-nester car-shopping list.