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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 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.

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