By Cars.com EditorsAugust 22, 2012
About the 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.
(upbeat music) <v Announcer>Cars.com auto review. (upbeat music) Hi, I'm Kelsey Mays for cars.com, here with one of the more controversial cars that we've driven lately. The 2012 Scion iQ.
It's only about 10 feet long bumper to bumper, which makes it by far the smallest car from Toyota's youth oriented division. So what is the iQ like? Well, some editors like it, and some really hate it. It uses a tiny four cylinder engine that works through a continuously variable automatic transmission, for EPA combined ratings of 37 miles per gallon. That makes the iQ the most efficient non-hybrid on the market. And it does all this on regular gas. Unfortunately, that efficiency does hurt some of the driving experience. The iQ is best suited for city driving. Acceleration off the line is decent. The turning circle is about 26 feet, which is excellent. Unfortunately, the suspension doesn't isolate very well. So you're working the steering wheel, trying to keep the car in a straight line. You're bouncing up and down a lot. It's not a pleasant experience. The iQ is not really a highway car, so it's best just to take the next off ramp and take city streets wherever you're going. Don't go barreling into that off ramp though, because the brakes are really unimpressive. There's an inch or so of dead pedal as you're starting to press down. And as you really get on the brakes, ABS kicks in really fast. The rear starts to become squirrely as you come to a stop. And the overall stopping distance is really unimpressive. (upbeat music) Cabin styling is mostly a hit. The materials are decent. There's a little bit of padding here where you might throw your elbows. There's some nice black sort of lacquered finish along the center of the dashboard and along the doors. Some other stuff falls short though. I feel like I want to sit a little bit higher. The seat adjusts fore and aft and it also reclines, but there's no height adjust. And so you end up sitting kind of low to the ground, for me, at least. I try to move back so that I can extend my legs more, but then I want the steering wheel to be closer to me. And unfortunately it tilts, but does not telescope. Other issues involve storage. There's not actually a glove compartment here, so you don't have any storage up there. You don't really have a center console. There's just this sort of space right here. There's only one center cup holder in our vehicle too. So why don't you have a glove compartment? Well, a lot of that's because of what Scion calls three plus one seating. That means that the front passenger seat is spaced forward a little bit. And that allows you to seat someone in back there behind the front passenger seat, while they sit a little bit farther forward. The plus one is behind me. And if you ask me, they are the unlucky one. Your friends aren't really gonna want to sit in back, which is all good and well, because it allows you just to leave the rear seats folded down. Now with them folded down, Scion says there's about 17 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume, which is equivalent to the trunks in a lot of large sedans. So decent room there. It also allows you to take these head restraints and leave them stowed back here, which is good because otherwise they stay up here and block a lot of the sight lines out the rear window. What doesn't help is the iQs price. Including the destination charge, it starts around $16,000. Similar money can get you a reasonably equipped subcompact, like the Honda Fit, the Ford Fiesta, the Chevy Sonic, or the Kia Rio. Those cars have real backseats that people are gonna want to sit in. The iQ might get better gas mileage and be easier to drive around the city. And for that, some of our editors really liked it, but for this sort of money, it sure does seem like a one trick pony. <v Announcer>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog, kickingtires.net.