The 2014 Scion iQ gets a new audio display and the limited-edition Scion 10 Series trim level.
Imagine you're going to a show late on a Saturday night, somewhere downtown. You've circled the block a dozen times looking for a suitable parking spot. There are a few places, but, after closer investigation, you find that they're just too small. Maybe if your SUV wasn't so big you'd be walking up to the box office by now.
For times such as this, cars like the 2014 Scion iQ are priceless.
Of all the cars on American roads, only the Smart Fortwo has a smaller footprint than the 2014 Scion iQ. But the iQ is a better car in almost every other measurable way. The Scion iQ has more interior space than the Fortwo, plus it has a rear seat. As such, it's possible to get four adults (hence the "3+1" passenger designation) inside the Scion. Two full-size adults can sit one behind the other on the passenger side, and you can still fit someone of meager proportions behind the driver. Of course, we're talking about short jaunts through the city, as the iQ really isn't intended for long-distance travel.
The more conventional powertrain on the iQ sets it apart from its rival as well. It's absolutely not fast, but it's significantly quicker than the Smart, and its larger four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) are better suited for accelerating in urban traffic than the Fortwo's tiny three-cylinder engine and automated manual gearbox. More important, when you're in the iQ, you feel as if you're driving a real car. Once you exit the city however, wind gusts will toss you around on the highway, making the iQ feel more vulnerable than larger subcompacts like the Chevy Sonic, Fiat 500 and Kia Rio.
It's worthwhile to note, too, that the 2014 Scion iQ is low on cargo space. Most larger subcompacts will carry more things, so it's a matter of assessing your priorities: Do you need to pack a lot of gear into your hatchback, or are you willing to give up some utility to increase your chances of finding parking in the city? If parking is your No. 1 worry, the iQ is one of your best options for 2014.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Scion iQ is a two-door, four-passenger subcompact available in base and limited-edition Scion 10 Series trim levels. Standard features include 16-inch steel wheels; a choice of two different plastic wheel covers; full power accessories; keyless entry; air-conditioning; a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and a six-speaker Pioneer sound system with a 6-inch touchscreen display, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Scion 10 Series is a limited-edition production run celebrating Scion's 10th anniversary. The iQ 10 Series comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, illuminated panels on the center console, illuminated badges, a solar-powered illuminated shift knob and floor mats.
The factory options end there, but a number of dealer-installed items are available. Besides such typical add-ons as a rear spoiler and various cargo-area items, dealers can install alloy wheels, foglamps, interior ambient lighting, satellite radio and an upgraded BeSpoke audio interface system with navigation and smartphone app integration.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2014 Scion iQ comes with a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 94 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque. A CVT is standard.
In Edmunds testing, the iQ accelerated from zero to 60 in 11.6 seconds, which is a second slower than the average subcompact car with an automatic transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 36 mpg city/37 mpg highway and 37 mpg combined. While the highway number isn't the flashy 40 mpg you'll see from some larger vehicles, the combined number is excellent.
The 2014 Scion iQ comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes (front disc and rear drums), front side airbags, front side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and three more airbags not commonly found in other cars -- front seat-cushion airbags and a rear window airbag that deploys around the rear-seat headrests.
In Edmunds brake testing, the iQ stopped from 60 mph in 131 feet, which is about 10 feet longer than average for a subcompact car.
In government crash testing, the iQ received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and three stars for side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the iQ earned a top score of "Good" for its performance in frontal-offset and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
As you would expect, the Scion iQ is at its best with just two occupants. Nevertheless, the car has been engineered to maximize interior space. Clever packaging under the hood allowed Scion's engineers to move the passenger side of the dash farther forward. This, in turn, allows the front passenger seat to be placed sufficiently forward to fit a full-size passenger in the rear seat behind. Meanwhile, the remainder of the rear seat behind the driver can accommodate a child if need be. Either rear seat is best used only in a pinch, but having them certainly is better than nothing.
If you're interested in hauling stuff instead of people, the 50/50-split rear seat folds flat to enlarge the cargo area from a meager 3.5 cubic feet to 16.7 cubic feet. Other interior storage includes space for four 25-ounce containers in the doors, plus two rear cupholders and one in the center console. There is no glovebox, however.
Like all Scions, the iQ benefits from a quality Pioneer audio system with a clever interface and abundant media connections. The optional BeSpoke is also pretty cool given how much added functionality it has with app integration such as Pandora and social media. In contrast, the rest of the cabin features simple, low-tech controls such as the three-knob climate system. Overall materials quality is of the rock-hard plastic variety, which isn't entirely surprising at this price point.
The 2014 Scion iQ is small, but driving one doesn't give you the impression that corners were cut to make it. Utility was the main focus of the iQ, and city driving allows for quite a bit of that. Its quick steering and short wheelbase make impulsive U-turns easy, and diving into tiny parking spots is effortless.
Less impressive are the iQ's straight-line abilities. On the upside, the car fulfills its main mission of getting you around the city, as its four-cylinder engine provides sufficient power to motivate this small, lightweight car. However, the CVT can get annoying at times: Its responses are often sluggish in low-speed traffic. Flooring the gas pedal wakes it up enough to allow you to merge onto the freeway with relative ease, but then you have to listen to the tedious drone from the hard-working engine. If you're using the Scion for short city trips, you probably won't be bothered much, but long-distance commuters should look elsewhere.
Fuel economy is quite good, of course, and the iQ has a decent ride quality on the highway despite its small size. Crosswinds affect it, though, and you feel a little more vulnerable in the iQ than you would in larger subcompact cars such as the Chevy Sonic or Fiat 500.
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