If you're looking for a city-friendly, space-efficient approach to motoring, then the Scion iQ is a superstar among the super small. Taking up only as much space as absolutely necessary for a four-seat vehicle, the iQ measures barely 10 feet long and earns an impressive, EPA-estimated 37 mpg combined. An ideal runabout, this phone booth on wheels can fit into parking spots that virtually every other car would have to pass up. It can also execute a U-turn in a space that would require a three-point effort from even a Honda Fit. Indeed, the latter is more than 3 feet longer than the iQ, which gives one an idea of just how tiny this Scion is.
Within its diminutive footprint, the Scion iQ provides an impressive amount of space. Coupled with a decent ride and plenty of standard features, the iQ makes it plain that minimal size needn't equate to minimal refinement. In short (literally and figuratively) the Scion iQ provides everything an urban dweller needs in terms of comfort and features, yet no more than they'll need in size and speed. Of course, the most direct rival to the iQ is the Smart Fortwo. But although the Scion costs a bit more, it soundly beats the Smart, as it offers more passenger and cargo capacity, smoother performance, a better ride and even slightly higher fuel economy.
Current Scion iQ
The Scion iQ is a subcompact hatchback available in two trim levels: base and 10 Series.
Standard equipment highlights include full power accessories, air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls, a 50/50-split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a touchscreen interface and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and an iPod/USB interface. The limited-production 10 Series celebrates Scion's 10th anniversary and features 16-inch alloy wheels, floor mats, special badges and shift knob, and an illuminated center console. In typical Scion fashion, there are no factory options. Instead, there are dealer-installed accessories that include various wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, illuminated door sills and a premium sound system with satellite radio and a navigation system.
As mentioned earlier, the iQ boasts amazing space efficiency. Thanks to clever packaging, the front passenger seat moves up enough to allow a full-size passenger to ride behind. As such, the iQ essentially has an odd but usable 3+1 seating arrangement. Although there's just 3.5 cubic feet of cargo space with those rear seats up, folding them down opens up 16.7 cubes -- about the same as a full-size sedan's trunk.
Though it looks like a grown-up Smart Fortwo, the Scion iQ actually performs like a downsized Toyota Corolla. It's calm and composed at freeway speeds, tracks through turns with confident stability and churns through city errands with minimal discomfort. Although it has expectedly slow acceleration, the iQ's combination of a 94-horsepower engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) gives it relatively smooth, unstressed performance around town. The highway can be a bit of an adventure, though, as besides its modest power, strong crosswinds have a tendency to blow this light little box about the road.
Used Scion iQ Models
The Scion iQ was an all-new model in the United States for 2012. The following year brought two more speakers (for a total of six) to the audio system. Other than lacking the availability of the 10 Series trim level, these iQs are identical to the current version.