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2016 SCION iM Review By Steve Purdy +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2016 SCION iM

2016 SCION iM

By Steve Purdy
Senior Editor
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Toyota’s youth division sells fewer cars than you might expect in a variety of compact car segments but volume sales are only part of the goal. These inexpensive, relatively high-content cars are meant to lure young, first time buyers into the Toyota fold so that as they get older and more affluent, and as their transportation needs change, they may stick to the Toyota brands.

That might be a formula for a bargain. Let’s take a look.

2016 SCION iM  (select to view enlarged photo)

Scion’s new iM swoopy 5-door compact hatchback adds significant panache over the iA entry level sedan we reviewed last week. It shares much of its underpinnings with the white-bread Toyota Corolla but has an entirely different personality. For just a few grand more than the iA you get a lot more car. This one looks and feels way more sophisticated and mainstream.

The iM comes in only one well-equipped trim level. Neither navigation or CD drive are offered, but it gets standard low-speed pre-collision safety system, tire pressure monitors, back-up camera, USB ports and AUX audio jack, apps capability, heated folding outside mirrors, Bluetooth, 7-inch display, dual-zone HVAC, automatic headlights, LED DRLs, leather-wrapped steering wheel and all the other stuff we expect plus two years free scheduled maintenance.

The Scion iM has a less aggressive front fascia than its sibling iA, but its wedge-like profile is striking. A narrow v-line across the hood shows the round Scion badge in the center. Sharp-edged jowl openings and deep, black lower air dam make for a modern and attractive front view. Side and rear views get lots of well-placed character lines to make it look bigger than it really is. The standard 17-inch alloy wheels add both heft and style. We’ll see no tacky plastic wheel covers with these new cars.

2016 SCION iM  (select to view enlarged photo)

Considering the low roofline we found ingress and egress into the front seats surprisingly easy. You might be surprised at some bigger cars that are hard to get in and out of partly because of the roofline and partly the seat height. The cockpit trim is a big step nicer than the plain iA. The iM instrument panel, center stack and trim, fit and finish all suggest a higher priced car. The small navigation/multi purpose screen resides dead center of the dash and does its job well. Controls are simple and seating up front is quite comfortable even for a big guy like me. Decent lateral support keeps us in position even on hard cornering. And cargo space is good with 20 cubic-feet under the hatch. Passenger volume is a decent 90.4 cubic-feet.

The iM comes with a 1.8-liter engine making an adequate 137 horsepower. You can have either the standard 6-speed manual transmission or an all-new CVTi-S. The latter is a continuously variable transmission with 7 shift points programed into its range and a ‘sport’ mode that allows more aggressive faux shifts. The EPA rates the CVT at 27 mpg in the city, 37 on the highway and 32 mpg combined for this barely 3,000-pound car. With the manual transmission just subtract one click from the highway and combined numbers. A 14-gallon fuel tank makes for a good cruising range. The powertrain gets us down the road fine but it is among the most tepid performers in its segment. In fact, with the CVT you can expect a 0-to-60 time of a leisurely 10 seconds.

2016 SCION iM  (select to view enlarged photo)

We averaged just under 30 mpg in our week of mixed driving. With the manual transmission was great fun to drive though the clutch take-up was a bit light resulting in occasional stalls. (I’m easy – it just takes a manual transmission to make me happy.) We experienced the CVT last summer at the iM launch event finding it reasonably well sorted but still buzzy on hard acceleration. That’s not a criticism of just the iM, it’s just a characteristic of all CVTs.

We give good marks for overall handling and road feel. Particularly with the manual transmission the iM rewards spirited diving considering the modest amount of power at our disposal. Suspension tuning was well balanced between comfort and firmness.

As we mentioned earlier options are few but the iM will offer a few dealer accessories and a line of TRD (Toyota Racing Development) accessories. No turbo kit though.

2016 SCION iM  (select to view enlarged photo)

Scion’s warranty covers their cars for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The iM hatchback starts at $18,460 with manual and $19,200 for the automatic. Scion firmly believes in a “no haggle, no hassle” pricing strategy so don’t expect to dicker and deal much with these prices. You can even make a purchase entirely on-line if you like. (These prices do not include the $750 destination charge.)

So, if you are in the demographic range Scion is targeting you might be enamored with the iM because of its styling, efficiency and price. But there are so many other great choices in that category of cars you’ll be hard pressed to sort them all out. Just don’t leave this one off your shopping list.

©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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