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2012 Scion iQ Review by John Heilig +VIDEO

2012 Scion iQ  (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Scion iQ

SEE ALSO: Scion Specs, Comparisons and Reviews - Scion Buyers Guide

SEE ALSO: Compare Scion iQ, Fiat 500, smart Fourtwo, Chevrolet Sonic

By John Heilig
The Auto Channel

2012 Scion iQ Review

Model: 2012 Scion iQ
Engine: 1.3-liter 4
Horsepower/Torque: 94 hp @ 6,000 rpm/86 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: CVT
Wheelbase: 78.7 in.
Length x Width x Height: 120.1 x 66.1 x 59.1 in.
Tires: P175/60R16
Cargo: 3.5/16.7 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)
Economy: 36 mpg city/37 mpg highway/37 mpg combined
Fuel capacity: 8.5 gal.
Curb Weight: 2,127 lbs.
Sticker: $15,995 (includes $730 delivery and handling charge

Top 5 reasons to buy this car:

1. Newest premium micro-compact
2. When you don’t want more car than you really need
3. Excellent maneuverability
4. City car personified
5. 11 air bags, if you need them

The Bottom Line: The micro-compact segment gets a new member with the Scion iQ, appropriately named since it competes with the not-so smart and the Fiat 500. The iQ benefits from innovative engineering and unique packaging to become the world’s smallest four-seater. You won’t want to put your tallest friends in the back seat for a long trip, but they will fit there.

I won’t say the micro-compact field is getting crowded, but with the addition of the new Scion iQ to the smart fourtwo and Fiat 500, there are now three cars in it. The poorly named smart is a two-seater with no cargo capacity, so it can be dismissed as an enclosed version of a scooter. The Fiat has been around for a long time.

The Scion is a four-seater like the Fiat, with a unique 3+1 seating configuration. The driver and front passenger are two of the three, while the left rear passenger is the third member. The right rear passenger’s space is somewhat smaller, but it would be adequate for a small child. It has about the same legroom as the Fiat.

Scion packages these four people by offsetting the two front seats. We have seen that a 6-9 man can fit in the driver’s and passenger’s seats and be reasonably comfortable. We also saw photographs of a 6-1right-seat passenger with a 6-6 person behind him, so it is possible.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

What my BIG co-driver and I liked about the iQ was that we didn’t feel crammed into the car. There is a comfortable space between the driver’s left shoulder and the passenger’s right. There’s also excellent headroom, if you are of a normal size. Scion also did some work with the dash, such as moving the glove box under the passenger’s seat to create more knee room.

There is no reduction in safety because of the size. The iQ has eleven air bags, including the first rear-window air bag. While this may be a concession to reduce potential injuries from rear-end crashes (the iQ still has more crumple space than the fourtwo), in the case of air bags, it’s always the more the merrier.

Under the short hood is a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine that drives the front wheels through a CVT transmission. Fuel economy is 37 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, and 37 mpg combined, according to the EPA. The engine is a little buzzy when you provoke it, but in general it isn’t any noisier than most four-bangers. And it does move the 2,127-pound iQ. We were up to 70-75 on I95 very quickly, and had to concentrate to keep the car under the legal limit in town.

When a car is just 10 feet long, you get some advantages. For one, it only takes a half a parking space. For another, it has a 12-foot diameter turning circle, which we tested in the hotel’s parking lot. Check the video on For another, it’s extremely maneuverable in urban settings. I can see New York City or Philadelphia streets being clogged with iQs as they duel the ubiquitous taxis.

Even though it’s only 10-feet long, it’s as wide as a “normal” subcompact car, which is why it feels roomier inside than some of the competition.

Most importantly, you don’t get the feeling of impending doom when you’re in the vicinity of 18-wheelers that you do in, for example, the fourtwo. The iQ is as comfortable on the highway as it is in town. The suspension is well-suited to either environment.

Watch TACH's exclusive Scion iQ promo video

The iQ’s interior is dominated by a friendly looking center stack that has a face. At the top is a screen that was the audio read-out in our tester, but can also function as a navigation screen.

The slanted glossy surface on the side of this screen, however, reflected back trees and made it appear as if something was falling off the dash all the time.

Even though the iQ is billed as a four-seater, in reality it’s more practical as a two-seater. This allows you to fold down the rear seats and create 16 cubic feet of cargo capacity (more than the basic 3.5). And while you may not use the iQ for long-distance touring, at least there’s enough room to put the groceries or bags after an extended shopping trip.

2011 The Auto Page