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2012 Scion iQ
Scion's tiny iQ gets great fuel economy, but is it too small for American tastes?

With an increasing emphasis being placed on fuel economy these days courtesy of more stringent CAFE guidelines, all manufacturers are looking for ways to boost fuel economy across the board. That means that you will see more hybrids and full-electric vehicles on the road. It also means that you will see more "eccentric" cars like the Scion iQ darting through traffic trying to avoid getting flattened by Suburbans and Expedition XLs.

The iQ is the latest addition to Scion's rather tired an uninspiring “youth oriented” lineup which currently consists of the (xB, xD, and tC). The iQ measures just ten feet in length and slightly resembles the Smart fortwo which has been a sales disaster in the U.S. marketplace. The vehicle features what Toyota calls 3+1 seating: two people can obviously fit up front with ease, but only one full-size adult will be able to sit in the back behind the passenger seat. Unless you're Mini Me or a kid in child seat, don't bother trying to fit behind the driver's seat. 

The iQ is powered by a direct injected, 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine which generates a meager 94 hp and 89 lb-ft of torque. While the engine can't even crack the 100 hp barrier, it only has roughly 2,100 pounds to push around.

The only transmission available is a CVT, so any chances of having fun in the iQ just took a bit of a nosedive with that selection. And acceleration is on the lethargic side with The Car Connection reporting that the iQ reaches 60 mph in 11.8 seconds.

But what everyone wants to know is how does the Scion iQ stack up when it comes to fuel efficiency. The iQ is rated at 36 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway; the combined rating is 37 mpg.

More expensive compact cars like the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, Ford Focus SFE, and Hyundai Elantra can all boast highway figures that surpass the iQ, but none can touch its city rating (the three compacts achieve city numbers in the 28 to 30 mpg range while EPA combined is 33 mpg).

With a starting price of $15,995, it closest competitor for fuel economy comes from the ’12 Hyundai Accent GS ($15,355 including destination charge) which can actually seat five and has six times the cargo space with the rear seats up. It is EPA rated at 30/40/33 (city/highway/combined). If you prefer more style, the Fiat 500 “Pop” will run you $16,000 and is EPA rated for 30/38/33 with a manual transmission. 

The Scion iQ will have limited availability on the west coast this fall. A full-scale launch is scheduled for March 2012.

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better than a smart car
By tastyratz on 7/25/2011 8:08:23 AM , Rating: 2
The smart car was terrible, maybe that impacted sales?
This is inexpensive with great city gas mileage. There is certainly a market for this car and I would be curious to see the sales numbers after it launches.

Imagine this bad boy with a diesel in it? I bet for 20k and prius like gas mileage people would line up (if it wouldn't directly compete with their hybrid offering).

RE: better than a smart car
By Brandon Hill on 7/25/2011 8:21:06 AM , Rating: 5
I wouldn't call it inexpensive -- this is Fiesta/Fit/Accent price territory. Those cars get nearly the same fuel economy while being a gazillion times more practical.

If the iQ was $10,000, then I'd agree.

RE: better than a smart car
By Omega215D on 7/25/2011 8:40:00 AM , Rating: 4
In NYC, Manhattan mainly, these little smart cars do make sense in that they can fit in tight parking spots, move around tight traffic better and use less fuel doing so.

It's a different story once outside of Manhattan unless the outer boroughs become just as congested.

RE: better than a smart car
By quiksilvr on 7/25/2011 8:49:12 AM , Rating: 3
These tiny cars only make sense if they are cheaper. I understand the complexity of the engineering involved to make such a car, but it's nothing new:

Either the price drops or the sales will.

RE: better than a smart car
By mcnabney on 7/25/2011 11:08:36 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, I was interested in this car for a long time. Now, when it finally shows up, the price is too high and the mileage is just 'meh'. I am thinking Fiesta now. With a manual gearbox it gets 30/40 mpg.

RE: better than a smart car
By Flunk on 7/25/2011 9:38:27 AM , Rating: 2
At this price it's only going to get bought by hipsters and eco-posers, basically the same market as the Smart Car. I can't see many passing up the much more useful Fiesta or Accent, which aren't difficult to park in the least, for a 2 seater with no cargo space at essentially the same price.

RE: better than a smart car
By Omega215D on 7/25/2011 10:04:16 AM , Rating: 2
Not difficult to park but in NYC parking spaces run out quick and some spots are only big enough to fit 2 motorcycles and most of the time just 1.

With these smart cars coming about I have noticed that my motorcycle has some competition in terms of parking space. I've also driven the Ford Fiesta for rallying. It's still bigger than the smart car but undeniably much more fun... of course the car was outfitted with some aftermarket parts so I can't comment on the stock model.

RE: better than a smart car
By YashBudini on 7/25/2011 10:35:04 PM , Rating: 2
It's a different story once outside of Manhattan unless the outer boroughs become just as congested.

Somehow being in bumper to bumper traffic at 70+ mph on the FDR or the Belt leaves something to be desired, especially when the vehicle riding your rear bumper is something like a Cadillac Escalade.

By inperfectdarkness on 7/25/2011 8:50:00 AM , Rating: 2
16k? maybe for an xA, not an iQ. i'll be looking at a kia rio before i look at an iQ.

RE: better than a smart car
By Samus on 7/25/2011 10:35:48 AM , Rating: 1
People will buy it because its a Toyot....*ahem* I mean Scion.

RE: better than a smart car
By aardarf on 7/25/2011 1:15:38 PM , Rating: 2
"...but is it too small for American tastes?"
"it closest competitor for fuel economy comes from the ’12 Hyundai Accent GS ($15,355 including destination charge) which can actually seat five and has six times the cargo space with the rear seats up."
THIS IS WHY I WILL NOT BUY ONE. For crying out loud I keep getting disappointed when I hear about a new microcar but it can't match a Prius for mileage. Give me something small like this that gets over 40 mpg and/or is $10,000. Or make it a hybrid with better mileage than Prius.

RE: better than a smart car
By vision33r on 7/25/2011 10:00:55 AM , Rating: 3
Diesel does not = prius gas mileage in the real world. I just love how the diesel folks love to promote this misinformation.

Diesel cars do not score well in city traffic and the only time diesels shine is constant driving highway efficiency.

You'll be disappointed when you see diesels gets only 34mpg combined while hybrids get 40mpg+ combined. There's a huge difference. While hybrids can get 50mpg in all city traffic, diesels cannot achieve 50mpg unless it is only highway non-stop fixed speed.

RE: better than a smart car
By mcnabney on 7/25/2011 11:11:22 AM , Rating: 3
In addition, there is a lot of bad data relating to diesels. The MPG numbers quoted are frequently those from the UK which use imperial gallons and that data is compared to the very conservative numbers that are allowed to be published in the US by auto manufactures for current gasoline powered cars.

RE: better than a smart car
By superstition on 7/25/2011 5:39:18 PM , Rating: 1
The same testing methodology rated some diesels higher than the Prius.

Comparing the UK's methodology to the US' is nice and all, but it does not support the notion that the Prius is superior to diesels bar none.

The Prius isn't all that impressive for highway traveling because of its gasoline engine. Diesel has more energy per gallon than gasoline. That's a fact that can't be argued away with confused points about Imperial gallons.

If a Prius gets fewer MPGs Imperial than some diesels (which it does, according to UK testing), then it is being beaten by some diesels.

Yes, if one only drives in the city, it makes more sense to get a hybrid. But, guess what's even more fuel-efficient in the city?

A diesel-electric hybrid.

RE: better than a smart car
By tastyratz on 7/27/2011 10:53:11 AM , Rating: 2
diesel electric hybrid would be the ultimate mileage machine, and we may start seeing them WHEN (not if) gas spikes even more.
Diesel loves to be loaded up and still get good mileage vs gas which under a lead food drops fast. You can tow or zip around carelessly and see a lower drop in mileage vs a gas car.

Also diesel is the advantage here in a small car like this. Where are you going to put the battery pack in the passenger seat? Hybrid does not scale well and will not do for sub sub compacts like this. It adds too much weight and takes up too much space which goes against the small lightweight car premise. A small efficient diesel outfitted with a start stop system would do wonders here. Hell you could turbodiesel a 3 cylinder or something really small even.

RE: better than a smart car
By superstition on 7/25/2011 5:42:06 PM , Rating: 2
The "real world" must mean America, eh?

If you look at the results in the UK, you'll see your points are overstated.

"Diesel cars do not score well in city traffic and the only time diesels shine is constant driving highway efficiency."

Only? America is a vast nation in which many people do a lot of highway traveling.

And, diesels don't just shine in highway travel, they also do quite well in the city if things like stop-start technology are added. You have to look to the UK vehicles to see how good diesel can be.

And, then there is the diesel hybrid, something that negates your entire argument. The only issue with those is the extra cost of a diesel engine. Diesel simply has more energy per gallon than gas.

RE: better than a smart car
By DennonHeim on 7/28/2011 1:19:29 PM , Rating: 2
What made the Smart ForTwo such a terrible car is the same attributes that this car has. Arguably, the Scion IQ is worse.

The ForTwo was an extremely small car with a very low price, but it has weak performance (0-60MPH in 12.8 seconds and top speed of 90MPH) and had terrible fuel efficiency (36MPG combined) despite its small size and the fact that it requires premium gas. With such weak advantages, why would anyone purchase a ForTwo over a similarly priced but superior Toyota/Hyundai/Honda?

The Scion IQ? It has similar body style, MPG rating, and performance, but it has a starting MSRP nearly $4,000 more. Uh...

No, really. Unless you live in an insanely congested city, I honestly don't see the advantage of purchasing a ForTwo/IQ over, say, a Hyundai Accent, Toyota Corolla, or Honda Civic. For the ForTwo/IQ to become more mainstream, it should provide bigger advantages to the common consumers, not just to people living in Manhattan/London.

I want better MPG
By commander logjam on 7/25/2011 9:25:41 AM , Rating: 1
Back in 1991 I bought a Honda Civic CRX HF. It would consistently get its rated 39 city and 51 highway MPG. I got rid of it in 2001 because they told me that the transmission repair it needed would cost more than the car was worth. I assumed it would be just a year or two before they would come out with new models that would reach that MPG.

Why is it that the new models cannot reach even close to those numbers?

RE: I want better MPG
By Brandon Hill on 7/25/2011 9:27:34 AM , Rating: 2
Get a Prius ;)

RE: I want better MPG
By mcnabney on 7/25/2011 11:16:53 AM , Rating: 2
Required safety equipent (steel reinforcement bars, air bags....) add about 500 pounds to the car's weight. Also, the SUV fad just inflated the size of all cars.

For example, I drive a Mazda 5, which is a very small minivan based on the Mazda 3 frame. What is amazing is that it is the same size as the original Chrysler minivans. Modern minivans are enourmous. Current subcompacts (like a Corolla) are larger than the early 90s compacts and even midsizes (like Camry). Everything is just so much bigger that mileage just sucks.

But the IQ is just so small, I don't understand why it gets lousy mileage.

RE: I want better MPG
By Spuke on 7/25/2011 3:30:08 PM , Rating: 2
But the IQ is just so small, I don't understand why it gets lousy mileage.
Because physical size is only one part of good fuel economy.

RE: I want better MPG
By mcnabney on 7/25/2011 3:36:19 PM , Rating: 2

It is small, but very heavy. The engine is not very efficient at highway speeds. Hell, they stuck a 4 cylinder in this while Ford is moving to slide a 3 cylinder into a Fiesta. Toyota is just not bringing their A-game to market anymore.

RE: I want better MPG
By Spuke on 7/25/2011 7:11:46 PM , Rating: 2
Toyota is just not bringing their A-game to market anymore.
Throw Honda in there too.

RE: I want better MPG
By YashBudini on 7/25/2011 10:37:30 PM , Rating: 2
Innovation has been on the sidelines for too long.


RE: I want better MPG
By Keeir on 7/26/2011 6:39:46 PM , Rating: 2
I would point out that your mixing and matching slightly.

The EPA has not changed it guidelines on what makes a car "compact", "mid-size", or "large".

It's based on internal volume.

For example, a 1988 Ford Taurus had 100 cubic feet of passenger space with a 17 cubic feet trunk.

A 2010 Corolla? 91 cubic feet of passenger space with a 12 cubic feet trunk.

Its true, (some) Asian brands have grown from being all -compact- cars into matching with the US EPA guidelines for size differences. (For example a 2010 Camry has the same internal volume as a 1988 Ford Taurus...).

The safety, features, and noise damping of a 2010 car however make its exterior size -larger-. For instance that same 2010 Toyota Corolla is the same width and is significantly taller than the 1988 Ford Taurus.

Again... it doesn't seem to me that a "SUV" craze has made car larger... but a dedicated interest in lower traffic deaths combined with the desire to have the -same- internal volume.

(Gosh, the most popular cars of 30 years ago had the -same- internal volume as the most popular cars of today. What a surprise!)

RE: I want better MPG
By Solandri on 7/25/2011 2:14:53 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it that the new models cannot reach even close to those numbers?

The EPA revamped its mileage ratings scale back around 2006(?). They have a website with older cars' mileage updated so you can compare to the mileage rating of new cars. Your Honda Civic CRX HF only gets 36 city, 44 highway under the new scale.

Yes, I understand you really got 39 city and 51 highway. The important thing to understand about EPA ratings is that they're not designed to predict what mileage you'll get. They're designed to allow you to compare cars. If you get 10% higher mileage than the EPA sticker on one car, you should expect to get about 10% higher mileage than the EPA sticker on a different car. So when comparing your old car to the EPA sticker of new cars, you should be using the corrected EPA values on the above site.

RE: I want better MPG
By Spookster on 7/25/2011 6:31:36 PM , Rating: 2
Or for that matter my 2003 Toyota Corolla which weighed around 2600lbs, produced 130hp, comfortably seating 4 with the possibilty of seating 5 and still consistently got 35mpg. How can they now produce another car smaller and lighter that gets barely a few mpg better efficiency and produces a fraction of the horsepower and barely seats 3? Doesn't make sense to me. Maybe they need to concentrate on improving their corollas and priuses instead of taking a step backwards with this vehicle.

a loser
By Richard875yh5 on 7/25/2011 10:11:16 AM , Rating: 2
Why should anyone buy this very limited car that gets no better gas mileage than a Cruze? Another loser from Toyota.

RE: a loser
By stephenbrooks on 7/25/2011 10:45:33 AM , Rating: 2
37 miles per US gallon? You've got to be kidding me. In those units* my Jaguar X-type/2.2L/diesel/155bhp gets 34.5 MPG and that's in realistic driving conditions (off the car computer). The real puzzle is how they made the IQ's MPG so bad . You'd only buy this if you had to park in a particularly small space. [* I'm converting from UK gallons, where it's 41.5]

RE: a loser
By Solandri on 7/25/2011 2:18:12 PM , Rating: 2
Diesel has about 12% more mass and 15% more energy per gallon than gasoline.

An engineer would be comparing fuel consumption in mass, not volume (that's the way it's done in aerospace). But the public is so used to measuring fuel consumption by volume I guess we're stuck with it. Volume measurements however will exaggerate the efficiency of diesel when compared to gasoline.

RE: a loser
By superstition on 7/25/2011 5:43:54 PM , Rating: 2
Is your calculation based on 10% ethanol gas?

RE: a loser
By Spuke on 7/25/2011 3:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
In those units* my Jaguar X-type/2.2L/diesel/155bhp gets 34.5 MPG and that's in realistic driving conditions (off the car computer).

1. The cars computer is optimistic.
2. The way fuel economy is measured in the US can't be compared to the way fuel economy is measured in Europe. Testing methods are totally different.

RE: a loser
By lawrance on 7/26/2011 1:22:37 AM , Rating: 2
You're slamming 37 MPG? Really? You must not be familiar with what's being sold here in America. We have very few choices for fuel efficient cars here. Probably less than 10 diesel cars to choose from, and basically 1 econo-box from every manufacturer, most of which suck. America loves it's SUV's and 37 MPG combined milage would place that in the top 5 most efficient cars sold here.

I remember traveling to France back in 2000 and seeing Smart cars back then. By the time they reached the US, it was a 10 year old model that looks like it wasn't even updated.

The iQ happens to be a Toyota. It's design is fresh and it's sure to be safe and reliable, (relatively speaking) and the price point is one of the lowest available. Those are the ingredients that sell.

RE: a loser
By Keeir on 7/26/2011 6:47:44 PM , Rating: 2
37 MPG combined from a 2 seat car with no cargo space is not so great.

Maximum PMPG is ~74.

My car might only be 24 MPG combined, but because it seats 4 comfortably, I could go as high as 96 PMPG. (Since I have 5 seat belts I guess that's 120 possible... and I'd still have room for more than 15 cubic feet of cargo)

But this is besides the point. There are cars available that around 2 cents more per mile (TCO over 150,000 miles)
A.) Carry 4-5 people
B.) Carry up to 60 cubic feet of cargo
C.) Still are "stylish"

Heck, there are cars thats TCO is -cheaper- and do at least A.

Hyundai Accent
By AnnihilatorX on 7/25/2011 8:05:36 AM , Rating: 4
The Hyundai Accent mentioned in the article looks a Americanized version of the popular and fuel efficient European/Asian Hyundai i10, which initially was slated not for US due to the lack in demand of the sub-compat class.

I own an i10 and it's tremendous value. Hyundai used to be a budget brand and I see it gradually climbing up the ladder recently.

I don't see it happening
By QuimaxW on 7/25/2011 9:51:26 AM , Rating: 2
Not at the $16k price point anyways. It is Fit/Fiesta/Accent territory. Fuel mileage is comparable, considering that at 30+MPG the cost savings per mile driven isn't as drastic as say an increase from 14MPG to 16MPG. The other cars in it's cost point are simply more usable than a bicycle.

There's a Schwinn bicycle dealer down the street from me that can sell me something with the iQ's functionality, awesome fuel mileage, 1/16th of the price, and it might actually prevent my future heart attack.

RE: I don't see it happening
By mindless1 on 7/26/2011 10:42:11 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, there is solace in knowing that if enough people switch to riding a bicycle, heart attack rates would drop while death by flattening by bus rates would rise.

Tata Nano
By Terminator64 on 7/25/2011 4:34:09 PM , Rating: 2
Whatever happened to the Tata Nano?

$16K Is A Joke For This Go Cart
By mindless1 on 7/26/2011 10:40:18 PM , Rating: 2
yes it's too small for Americans as a primary car, but even as a secondary, $16k is WAY too much for that. You won't want to drive long distances in it so the fuel economy isn't really that much of an issue so long as it isn't dismal which would be hard to do with a vehicle so small and light weight even if they put a 200lb heavier engine in it so it had some pep.

By rasgyle on 7/27/2011 9:02:52 PM , Rating: 2
Some have decried the gigantic advantages of Diesel over Gasoline cars, claiming confusion over "imperial vs. U.S. gallons".

Pretty much everyone knows about the VW Lupo 3L, which was pulled from the market because the Volkswagen leadership's head was lost at ass.

There's no confusion over the 78 U.S. MPG achieved in that car without a hybrid battery. Without regenerative braking.

Weight is an issue, yes. It's the bricks for brains U.S. politicians have. Please tell me how safe it is for two vehicles that weigh 3,300+ lbs to collide at any angle at 65+ MPH. Hella safe, yeah?

If all cars weighed as much as a fully loaded 18 wheeler, we'd all be sooooo much safer.

And if Americans keep going to war over oil supplies to feed their corpulent cars' vicious hunger for fuel, imagine how much safer you'll be. Everyone knows the quickest way to safety is to piss everyone off.

Side note: the "iQ" is d-e-r-p.

Here's a real high fuel economy car. It's a revamped tata nano with a diesel engine.

Please don't buy the iQ if you have an IQ.

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