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2016 Scion iM

$9,576 — $19,892 USED
Hatchback
5 Seats
31 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 1 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Overall value
  • Decent cabin materials
  • Ride comfort
  • CVT operation
  • Gas mileage

The Bad

  • Handling
  • Acceleration
  • Sloppy manual transmission
  • Snug backseat
  • No forward-collision, blind spot warning systems
  • Usability of multimedia system
2016 Scion iM exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2016 Scion iM
  • New for 2016
  • Five-seat, four-door hatchback
  • Manual or CVT automatic
  • Standard dual-zone climate
  • Standard backup camera
  • Standard power-folding mirrors

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

From the 2015 New York International Auto Show, Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes a look at the 2016 Scion iM.

by Kelsey Mays -

The all-new Scion iM checks a lot of boxes for a low price, but driving fun isn't one of them.

That may come as a surprise to anyone who's seen the iM, a five-door hatchback whose aggressive bodywork recalls the compact-tuner body-type zeitgeist of the 1990s and 2000s. Still, though the styling writes checks the driving experience can't cash, the iM is otherwise a lot of car for its sub-$20,000 price. That, plus Scion's reputation for value and reliability, could attract a lot of shoppers who care little for acceleration or handling.

Typical of most Scions (such as the FR-S), the iM is a single-spec car with a lot of standard features, few factory options and a number of optional dealer accessories. It shares its front-wheel-drive underpinnings with the tC sports coupe and comes with a manual or automatic transmission. We tested both.

Exterior & Styling
The 
Scion iM stays true in profile to a concept version that hit the auto-show circuit in 2014, though it trades the concept's gilled bumpers for conventional skirts. It's aggressive, to be sure, with some interesting three-dimensional interplay in the lower front bumper. But it doesn't break any new ground for Scion, or for compact cars in general. The side and rear skirts look like add-ons; the nose platypuses into a generic downward wedge. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard — impressive at this price — but the entire package looks cliché, a warmed-over take o...

by Kelsey Mays -

The all-new Scion iM checks a lot of boxes for a low price, but driving fun isn't one of them.

That may come as a surprise to anyone who's seen the iM, a five-door hatchback whose aggressive bodywork recalls the compact-tuner body-type zeitgeist of the 1990s and 2000s. Still, though the styling writes checks the driving experience can't cash, the iM is otherwise a lot of car for its sub-$20,000 price. That, plus Scion's reputation for value and reliability, could attract a lot of shoppers who care little for acceleration or handling.

Typical of most Scions (such as the FR-S), the iM is a single-spec car with a lot of standard features, few factory options and a number of optional dealer accessories. It shares its front-wheel-drive underpinnings with the tC sports coupe and comes with a manual or automatic transmission. We tested both.

Exterior & Styling
The 
Scion iM stays true in profile to a concept version that hit the auto-show circuit in 2014, though it trades the concept's gilled bumpers for conventional skirts. It's aggressive, to be sure, with some interesting three-dimensional interplay in the lower front bumper. But it doesn't break any new ground for Scion, or for compact cars in general. The side and rear skirts look like add-ons; the nose platypuses into a generic downward wedge. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard — impressive at this price — but the entire package looks cliché, a warmed-over take on the last-generation Toyota Matrix. (Makes sense, given Scion is a Toyota brand.)

I'm not sold, but Cars.com editors have mixed opinions overall. Styling is subjective; if you like it, read on.

How It Drives
The 
Scion iM's sole powertrain — a 1.8-liter four-cylinder shared with the Toyota Corolla — provides modest overall power, but the optional continuously variable automatic transmission puts on a mighty effort to simulate a conventional stepped-gear transmission. CVTs' gearless setup gives rise to a nonlinear "rubber band" sensation between the gas pedal and actual acceleration, and the iM feels as nonlinear as the rest of them under normal use. With more gas, though, it produces a gratifying stepped feel, including a decent (if contrived) kickdown sensation on the highway. It's a slow, noisy climb to 70 mph, but it feels like a traditional automatic, and that counts for something.

Still, fun-to-drive rival hatchbacks like the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf are quicker. They're also more fun to throw around. The Scion iM wallows into corners; the steering is a soupy mix of relaxed motions and vague feedback, and the tires lose traction quickly. The nose tracks curves well enough, but the iM feels both lethargic and ponderous throughout the process.

The available six-speed manual does little to rescue the Corolla-like driving experience. With sloppy throws and an awkwardly long clutch takeup, it's an uninspired unit — and it hurts the iM's EPA-estimated fuel economy (the manual is rated 31 mpg combined versus the CVT's competitive 32 mpg). Skip it in favor of the more technological CVT (Which Toyota calls the CVTi-S).

Ride quality is soft but generic. For all the fuss Scion makes over the iM's independent double-wishbone rear suspension — a theoretical advantage over the semi-independent rear ends common in this class — the iM doesn't deliver the supposed advantage of better ride control. It's a reasonably comfortable hatchback, given the P225/45R17 tires don't have a lot of sidewall to absorb bumps, but it can get clumsy at times.

Interior
For a $20,000 car, cabin quality is competitive with other compacts. There's generous padding where it counts, including the upper doors and a padded section where the driver's knee touches the center tunnel. The dashboard has a ribbon of faux-leather stitching that evokes the real stuff far better than the molded stitching along too many Toyota dashboards. The upscale piano-black climate switches are light years beyond the clumsy plastic knobs in the Scion tC and Toyota Yaris. Cheap-looking silvery plastic, something Toyota used to cram everywhere, is sparse.

Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard (a rarity at this price range), as are a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated power-folding mirrors, automatic headlights and the usual power conveniences you'd expect in a compact car. Typical of Scion, the iM forgoes any significant factory options, including a lot of the luxury features you can get elsewhere in this class: If you want heated or power-adjustable seats, leather upholstery, keyless access or even a moonroof, look elsewhere.

Backseat headroom is good, but the three-position bench is otherwise snug — a result of limited legroom, a low seating position and short bottom cushions. Cabin materials are more basic in back, but that's a drop-off most compacts exhibit.

Cargo & Storage
Cargo space behind the rear seats is 20.8 cubic feet. That's a little short of comparable compact hatchbacks. The seats fold down in a 60/40 split for plenty more room, enough to easily fit some golf clubs and bags of groceries.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Typical of Scion, the iM's stereo fits into a dashboard cutout. That makes it easier to swap for an aftermarket unit, but it looks as inelegant as any stereo from the 1990s or 2000s. The head unit, a 7-inch Pioneer touch-screen that you can upgrade with multi-information navigation for another $900, is a usability mess. The on-screen buttons are small, and the physical controls next to them are even smaller. The volume knob is miniscule, and the tuning knob is missing entirely.

The stereo does, however, have a lot of features. HD radio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB and auxiliary ports, and Aha internet radio integration are all standard.

Safety
The 
Scion iM hadn't been crash-tested as of publication. Standard features include eight airbags and a backup camera, but the iM lacks forward collision, lane departure or blind spot warning systems. Click here to see a full list of standard safety features, or here to see our Car Seat Check, which revealed some major space limitations while trying to fit a rear-facing infant seat.

Value in Its Class
Including destination, the 
Scion iM base starts at $19,255 with a manual transmission or $19,995 with an automatic. That reflects a fairly complete package of standard convenience features with only a handful of available dealer-installed accessories. Given the generous features, plus Scion's two-year free maintenance, the iM has enough value to deserve attention from anyone shopping a modestly equipped variant of the Hyundai Elantra GT, Ford Focus, Mazda3 or Kia Soul.

I'm not sure that makes the Scion iM the most appealing Scion, however. Scion recently introduced another car, the iA subcompact sedan, that's based on the next-generation Mazda2. It has quicker reflexes, comparable seat-of-the-pants acceleration, better gas mileage and more safety features than the iM — and it starts around $16,500. If you're looking at an iM, be sure to check out the iA while you're at it. At the end of the day, the biggest reason not to buy an Scion iM might come from inside Scion's own showroom.

Send Kelsey an email  

 

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.8
13 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.1)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(5.0)
Value For The Money
(5.0)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Great buy and wonderful car

by joiseygal from Temp AZ on May 17, 2018

I own a V-8 Titan. I needed something small and gas efficient to drive around town. The scion IM does NOT disappoint. Great exterior. Amazing interior. Great gas mileage. I love this car and I am not ... Read full review

(4.0)

Good little hatchback, but don't expect much power

by Stacy Q from Portsmouth, RI on April 4, 2018

Comfortable, fuel efficient (in 26 months my average is 34.7 MPG with most of my daily driving being city miles), great sporty look and decent sized back seat and cargo area for a smaller car. For my ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2016 Scion iM currently has 1 recall


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2016 Scion iM Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Scion

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    24 months / unlimited distance

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    7 years/less than 85,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12, 000 miles

  • Powertrain

    7 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    160- or 174-point inspections

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2016 iM Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The iM received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

D

Booster

(second row)

A

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

C
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker