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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 37 mpg for the EPA combined rating. 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 you need in terms of comfort and features, yet no more than you 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, which debuted for 2012, is a subcompact hatchback available in a single trim level. 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 and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port. In typical Scion fashion, there are plenty of dealer-installed accessories instead of factory options. Among the main offerings are alloy 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 the kind of smooth, unstressed performance one might otherwise associate with an electric vehicle. Strong crosswinds can be unsettling at highway speeds, but that's about it for the iQ's bad manners.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Scion iQ page.