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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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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 (blog) 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.

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