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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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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.

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