2012 Scion iQ

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$5,356–$9,996 Inventory Prices

Key Specs

of the 2012 Scion iQ base trim shown

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    36 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    94-hp, 1.3-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    2-speed CVT w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Convenient size
  • Urban fuel efficiency
  • Inventive styling
  • Cabin materials
  • Turning circle

The Bad

  • Highway composure
  • Visibility
  • Handling
  • Awkward controls
  • Front-seat comfort
  • No center armrest
2012 Scion iQ exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2012 Scion iQ

  • New for 2012
  • One of the smallest cars in U.S.
  • Seats three or four
  • 1.3-liter four-cylinder, CVT automatic
  • 37 mpg combined
  • 11 airbags

2012 Scion iQ Road Test

https://www.cstatic-images.com/stock/64x64/14/-74959434-1425053042814.jpg
Kelsey Mays

The Scion iQ packs the funky appeal of a Smart ForTwo with few of the Smart's drawbacks, but that doesn't make it a complete car.

The four-seat iQ can fit in parking spots that are impossible for other cars, and it drives worlds better than the not-so-Smart, which we named the worst car of the 2000s. But it still feels witless on the highway, and its urban novelty wears thin as you notice the missing features and room that similar money can buy.

A Toyota division, Scion introduced the two-door iQ for 2012; typical of the brand, it comes in one trim level with a bevy of available dealer accessories, but our test car had few.

A True Minicar
At just 120.1 inches long, the iQ is the second-shortest mass-market car in the U.S. The ForTwo measures 14 inches shorter from bumper to bumper, but other microcars — like the Mini Cooper and the Fiat 500 — are more than a foot longer. Compare the four here. Traditional entry-level cars, like the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta, are bigger still. The iQ is a true minicar, and it draws all the fascination of the genre. A Harley-Davidson owner pulled up alongside one of our editors and hollered, "My bike is longer than your car!"

The fascination will intensify when people see you park the iQ, which makes up for its size deficit versus the ForTwo by turning a scant 25.8-foot circle — 3 feet tighter than the Smart. You can make U-turns just about anywhere, so keep them legal.

Drives Like a Dream … a Sort-of Bad One
Th...

The Scion iQ packs the funky appeal of a Smart ForTwo with few of the Smart's drawbacks, but that doesn't make it a complete car.

The four-seat iQ can fit in parking spots that are impossible for other cars, and it drives worlds better than the not-so-Smart, which we named the worst car of the 2000s. But it still feels witless on the highway, and its urban novelty wears thin as you notice the missing features and room that similar money can buy.

A Toyota division, Scion introduced the two-door iQ for 2012; typical of the brand, it comes in one trim level with a bevy of available dealer accessories, but our test car had few.

A True Minicar
At just 120.1 inches long, the iQ is the second-shortest mass-market car in the U.S. The ForTwo measures 14 inches shorter from bumper to bumper, but other microcars — like the Mini Cooper and the Fiat 500 — are more than a foot longer. Compare the four here. Traditional entry-level cars, like the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta, are bigger still. The iQ is a true minicar, and it draws all the fascination of the genre. A Harley-Davidson owner pulled up alongside one of our editors and hollered, "My bike is longer than your car!"

The fascination will intensify when people see you park the iQ, which makes up for its size deficit versus the ForTwo by turning a scant 25.8-foot circle — 3 feet tighter than the Smart. You can make U-turns just about anywhere, so keep them legal.

Drives Like a Dream … a Sort-of Bad One
The iQ mates a 1.3-liter four-cylinder to a continuously variable automatic transmission for peppy-enough acceleration around town. It's as adept as the automatics in the 500 and most subcompacts, and it's worlds better than the ForTwo's ghastly automatic. The Scion has modest power at full bore, but snappy accelerator response and quick CVT ramp-up make the most of higher revs. The suspension rides well over major bumps, and the steering gives decent feedback.

Keep it slow, though. Handling situations bring out the worst in the iQ. The car leans hard in corners, and any midcorner bumps send the wheels skipping sideways. The brake pedal feels numb over the first inch or so of pedal travel, and the iQ's rear gets squirrely if you stop hard. The standard antilock brakes kick in fast, but a confluence of meager braking hardware — rear drums and tiny 10-inch front discs — and narrow P175/60R16 tires sap the car's overall stopping power. Optional lowering springs and a stabilizer bar from Toyota's TRD aftermarket division could help shore up the lean, but we'd like to see wider tires and better braking hardware make the accessories list.

Cruise control is unavailable, and it's clear why: Highways don't do the iQ any favors, encouraging an off-and-on driving style as you have to punch the gas halfway down to tack on any speed. The engine whines for help — not the throaty whine of a supercharger, but an artificial, sort of piped-in noise — as its 94 horses cry for help. The car's overall composure disappoints, with twitchy, oversensitive steering and a jittery suspension. The front axle has scarcely a moment to sort out an expansion joint before, just 78.7 inches later, the rear wheels barrel through it.

Though the iQ doesn't get the vaunted 40-mpg highway estimate that so many subcompacts are pushing these days, its mileage — 36/37 mpg city/highway — reads more like that of a hybrid than a conventional car. Combined mileage, at 37 mpg, beats all non-hybrids, including the ForTwo (36 mpg) and base, automatic versions of the Cooper (31 mpg) and 500 (30 mpg). What's more, the iQ does this on regular gasoline. Those other three recommend or require premium gas for maximum performance — an unpleasant downside to most minicars that still has us scratching our heads.

The Inside
The cabin materials are good, with niceties like one-touch power windows, tasteful piano-black accents and padding on the doors for your arms and elbows. All are uncommon among subcompacts, justifying Toyota's claim that the iQ is a "premium micro-subcompact."

The title doesn't hold up for long, though. Most of our editors took issue with the seats, whose unsupportive cushions offer little lumbar support and allow a lot of sliding in modest corners. Try to brace against something and you'll realize there's no center armrest. What's more, the driver's seat lacks a height adjustment. Taller drivers who move back to get enough leg space may find the steering wheel feels far away — and it doesn't telescope to come any closer. The ForTwo is even more inept (its wheel doesn't telescope or tilt) but the Cooper and many subcompacts have a telescoping wheel. Height-adjustable driver's seats are similarly ubiquitous in the segment.

At least there's plenty of room for the driver, and exceptional legroom for the front passenger because there's no glove compartment. It's what Scion calls "three plus one" seating, allowing enough space for the front passenger seat to scoot forward for a passenger to sit in back. The "plus one," however, suggests someone could actually fit behind the driver. I tried. Unless your driver or passenger is Frodo, it isn't happening.

Regular accessories — cellphone chargers, sunglasses and the like — will have to compete for space in the door pockets — no center console or glove compartment leave cabin storage as thin as Gandalf's staff. And with just a single center cupholder, you and your passenger will battle for Middle-earth over whose Starbucks gets the spot.

Cargo room amounts to just 3.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Fold them down and you get 16.7 cubic feet, which is equivalent to the trunk in a large sedan but well short of competing hatchbacks. With or without cargo you'll want to fold the seats, as it will keep the massive rear head restraints from swallowing your view out back. Alas, there's nothing you can do about the iQ's massive B-pillars, which impede visibility over your left shoulder. One editor said the iQ's visibility recalls the Chevrolet Camaro's — as damning as a comparison can get.

Safety & Features
Besides the requisite antilock brakes and electronic stability system, the iQ has 11 standard airbags, including seat-cushion airbags that keep front occupants from sliding under their seat belts, and a rear-window airbag that deploys around the backseat head restraints. Despite the bags, the iQ received four out of five stars in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests. Protection for the front passenger seat and rear seat were rated three stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the iQ. Click here for a full list of safety features, and here to see our evaluation of child-seat accommodations.

The iQ comes curiously equipped, with standards like a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth streaming audio and phone compatibility, one-touch power windows, air conditioning and remote keyless entry. But it misses basics like a center console and cruise control — which, despite the car's highway discomposure, is nice to have for the occasional long-distance trip.

iQ in the Market
For all that, you'll pay around $16,000, including a $755 destination charge, plus any dealer accessories. Similar money buys a well-equipped Kia Soul or Ford Fiesta, or even the Honda Fit that won Cars.com's $16,000 Subcompact Shootout. All these choices have real backseats and better road manners. Heck, Scion's larger xD costs about the same.

Nifty styling, city-friendly dimensions and sky-high gas mileage in the city will make the iQ a treasured runabout for a few buyers, but outside that, its appeal falls fast. The car went on sale in December 2011, and through the first six months of 2012, just over 5,000 shoppers took one home. That puts the iQ on pace with the aging xD, which has caught little sales fire since arriving five years ago. It's hard to see the iQ doing any better.

Send Kelsey an email  



2012 iQ Video

The 2012 Scion iQ is billed as an urban runabout, and its tiny dimensions do make for easy parking. Unfortunately, the short wheelbase leads to a choppy highway ride, and the car isn’t as practical as other similarly priced subcompacts.

Latest 2012 iQ Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(3.8)
Interior Design
(4.2)
Comfort
(4.0)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

Latest Reviews

(4.0)

Great used car!

by Texas2017 from Austin, Texas on January 31, 2018

I bought my 2012 Scion iQ used with 40,000 miles and in excellent shape. After 2 months of owning this little car I love it. It’s good on gas and has performed flawlessly. It’s a great value for a ... Read full review

(5.0)

I love my car

by Rosealiemartin1 from CHURUBUSCO on November 13, 2017

I wanted a car with good gas mileage to go back and forth to school. Didn't want an expensive car or a big car. I drove the smart car and was good with the size. I found a scion with less miles on it ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Scion iQ currently has 1 recall

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2012 Scion iQ has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Scion

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, lease available, rental car, travel protection, vehicle history report and toll-free assistance line

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase. Powertrain: 7 years/100,000 miles from original date of first use. Roadside assistance: 1 year from date of purchase
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 85,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 160 point inspection and reconditioning.

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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 iQ received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

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