The little two-door is a blast to drive through tight streets, giving you new levels of zip and fuel economy to die for. The iQ can even fit four people comfortably, and the rear seats fold down to accommodate plenty of cargo if need be. It’s great for city living and parking is a breeze. The Scion iQ is less than perfect for long trips on the freeway, but is a fun and charismatic ride through downtown streets.
When we talk about the 2013 Scion iQ being small, or tiny or even dainty, it’s not to be condescending. The Scion weighs only 2,127 lbs. and has a wheelbase that measures at just 78.7 inches. You can take real pleasure in piloting the Scion iQ from place to place on surface streets. It sounds silly, but the iQ is a rather good enthusiast’s car if you’re on a budget and have no daily commute whatsoever. The steering is responsive and playful, and the turning radius is astounding – I found myself looking for opportunities to make U-Turns. Under the hood, the 1.3L four-cylinder engine provides strong pep off the line and its 94 horsepower and 89 lb.-ft of torque are plenty for such a light car.
Of course, the strong suit of the 2013 Scion iQ is its fuel economy. Rated at 36/37 mpg, it’s a fine combination of performance and efficiency thanks to Toyota Direct Injection and dual variable valve timing. The fuel-sipping CVT transmission is a little jerky at low speeds, but docile once you get going. Flip the shifter into the “Sport” setting, though, and the revs get more aggressive while the MacPherson struts even tighten up and dart you around. The Scion iQ feels much more confident in Sport mode, and in fact, I just kept it there the whole way to Anaheim just to stay sane.
Scion iQ - Official Site
The view from the cockpit is surprisingly pleasing – the iQ is actually pretty wide at 66 inches, and in fact we parked it next to my wife’s FIAT 500 and it looked short and squat, but more confident in its stance. While the cabin is sparse, its not exactly bare bones, either. There are no armrests, or center console or glove box. But Toyota decided against extensive use of cheap plastics, opting instead for faux-aluminum on the center dash and gloss black accents throughout. It’s a nice touch that appeals to the Scion youth market and is appreciated, but it also may be one of the reasons the iQ feels a little expensive at $15,385 MSRP.
If the iQ looked squat next to the FIAT 500, it looked like a water bug next to a catfish when I pulled up to my in-laws’ 32-foot RV. They had a good laugh watching me get out of it, and snapped a couple of photos, but eventually admitted they were surprised at how good the iQ looked. I pulled out three full trash bags of used clothing for the shelter where my mother-in-law volunteers, which they couldn’t believe fit inside (I did have to fold the rear seats down, but still). The three of us headed out to lunch, and with one rear seat folded down, we fit and even included a suitcase without any trouble. They enjoyed the car’s small dimensions but overall practicality quite a bit, and if a car can pass the In-Law Test, then it’s a success in my eyes.
Overall, the 2013 Scion iQ made quite an impression on me during our week together. We survived that harrowing freeway experience, bypassed security barricades at a sold-out high school football game and had a couple of nice nights out on the town. The iQ has personality, and that’s all too rare these days. One night I left a friend’s house and cruised past California State University Long Beach, thinking about the students that wouldn’t mind scooting from one end of campus to the other in something like the iQ. Every car has a market out there, and while the 2013 Scion iQ might not be a suitable fit for everyone – nationwide, Toyota has sold just over 6,000 through August – it’s tailor made for the active city life.
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