Sweet little car
August 25, 2016
I bought my son a used Mazda 3 almost three years ago. They are usually very reliable; his wasn't. The first thought was to get him another used car, then I ran into the IA. After verifying that it is crash worthy (the crash ratings are very good, especially for a small car), we test drove one. We also test drove a 2013 Honda Accord. That may seem like an odd car to cross shop, but they were both manuals, and close in price.
First the good stuff: The IA is a blast to drive on a twisty road. As it is essentially a Mazda, good handling is baked in. It corners well, the manual transmission is very good, and it's just...zippy. It comes with a standard backup camera, and bluetooth connectivity. The electronics suite is better than that in many more expensive vehicles. And the stereo is decent. It's averaging about 38 MPG, and my son is a lead foot. the car also has high satisfaction ratings among buyers; which can't be said of most cars in this segment (Smart car, Nissan Versa Note, Hyundai Accent). The only more highly rated car is the Honda Fit, and they cost a bundle. Plus, my son wanted a manual, and I'm not sure if they stopped making manual Fits, but I couldn't find one. Front seat comfort is fine; the seats have all the adjustments necessary for anyone to get comfy. It isn't a power wagon by any stretch of the imagination, but when you are doing 75 on a highway, it's as planted and secure as a much larger car. Quite often small cars are sketchy at highway speeds; it's way to easy to speed as it's a very smooth riding car at speed. And for a small car, it has plenty of trunk space. My kid is getting ready to go back to school and he'll have no problem fitting all his junk.
The bad: Hills are its enemy. It only has 106 HP, and we live in a very hilly area, and it really taxes the engine. If you are going to pass someone, you really need to plan and make sure you have enough room. Again, this isn't a power wagon. The back seat is a penalty box. Ok for kids, but I wouldn't want to go very far with adults in the back seat. And that's about all that's wrong with it.
So bottom line, if you want a new car, easy on the eyes, comfortable, with amazing mileage and decent stereo, it's a nice choice. And my experience with Scions is that they are exceptionally reliable.