What Is It?
The 2016 Scion iM is a compact, four-door hatchback from Toyota's youth-oriented brand. It promises good fuel economy, generous feature content, strong safety credentials and sharp driving dynamics.
What's New About This Model?
The 2016 Scion iM is an all-new model. It does not replace an existing vehicle in the Scion lineup; however, it is heavily based on the Toyota Auris sold in other markets since 2012.
When Does It Go on Sale?
As it is a 2016 model year vehicle, we expect the iM to arrive at dealerships in the fall.
How Much Does It Cost?
Scion did not specify the exact cost, but it did say "under $20,000" so expect something in the $19,000 range. As with other Scions, though, there is only one trim level and no factory options beyond color and transmission.
What Kind of Standard and Optional Safety Equipment Is Offered?
Let's first mention the safety equipment, which along with six other airbags, includes a driver's knee airbag and a front passenger seat cushion airbag that prevents an occupant from submarining down and forward in an accident. These are rare in the compact car segment. A rearview camera is also standard.
Every 2016 iM will also include 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-folding heated mirrors, automatic headlamps, Bluetooth, a color display between the gauges, a 7-inch touchscreen interface, HD radio, Aha Internet radio control, a USB/iPod interface and a six-speaker Pioneer sound system.
Although there are no factory options beyond transmission and exterior paint, there are a number of noteworthy dealer-installed items such as roof racks, Toyota Racing Development parts (air intake system, antiroll bar, lowering springs, just to name a few) and a navigation system.
What Unique Features Does It Offer?
There are also a number of pet-friendly dealer-installed options. These include a dog harness and tether, a seat pet barrier and as Scion describes, "a grass pad, which discourages your doggie from standing on the center console." Frankly, a grass pad sounds like something that would encourage your doggie to pee on the center console.
How Many Body Styles and Trim Levels Are There?
The iM is only available as a compact four-door hatchback and in one trim level.
What Kind of Engines and Transmissions Does It Have?
A 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 137 horsepower is the only engine offered. Many competitors not only deliver more power from their base engine but also offer a second, even more powerful upgrade. It's hard to imagine anything other than subpar acceleration from the iM. Scion only released a highway fuel economy estimate of 37 mpg.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard and includes a hill-start assist feature that prevents you from rolling back on hills. It's a common but indispensable feature. Shoppers can also go for a continuously variable transmission dubbed CVTi-S that blends the fuel-saving nature of a traditional CVT (no gears, just a belt of sorts that expands and contracts based on engine needs) with seven stepped shift points that mimic what drivers expect from a typical automatic transmission. We gave the CVTi-S positive reviews when testing it in the Toyota Corolla.
In the iM, however, CVTi-S also includes a Sport mode that alters "shift" points and accelerator responsiveness for more exuberant driving, while a special feature called "G AI-Shift" detects an increase in lateral G forces during higher-speed cornering and maintains a suitably high engine speed by limiting unnecessary shifts. This should mitigate the sort of behavior that has contributed to traditional CVTs being the bane of driving enthusiasts everywhere. Sport mode also alters the electric power steering's response.
What Warranty Does It Include?
The Scion iM will include the same warranty offered on Toyota vehicles: three years/36,000 miles for basic coverage and five years/60,000 miles for powertrain coverage. Perhaps most notably, scheduled maintenance is covered for two years/25,000 miles.
What Models Will It Compete Against?
Ford Focus: The Ford Focus doesn't come standard with as many features, but its options list is deep and full of items like heated leather seats that you can't get on the Scion. It is also available in a sedan body style.
Mazda 3: Our top-rated compact car is available in sedan and hatchback body styles. It boasts excellent fuel economy, compelling performance and handling, a welcoming cabin and user-friendly technology.
Volkswagen Golf: The Golf is perhaps the quintessential compact hatchback. With an impeccably crafted and spacious interior, strong engines and refined driving dynamics, the Golf will be tough to beat — although it does come with a higher price.
Should You Wait for It?
There's certainly no shortage of highly desirable four-door compact hatchbacks on the market, yet none boast the iM's strong value, included scheduled maintenance or Scion/Toyota's reputation for reliability.