By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.0
You can blame (or thank) MINI Cooper for this. Ever since the cheeky little Brit was reintroduced in 2003, buyers have been going gaga for small, personal city cars. Where small cars used to be cheap, inexpensive transportation, this new breed combines style, personality and performance along with the premium price tag. The key players in the game are currently MINI, Smart, the new FIAT 500, and now, the all-new 2012 Scion iQ. The funniest thing about this is that the largest car in the class is...you guessed it, the MINI.
If you're an urban dweller who has to fight it out for parking, or an eco-minded driver who doesn't want to give up the toys. If you find the Smart too small, the MINI too pricey, and the FIAT questionable on reliability, the iQ hatchback could be just right.
The 2012 Scion iQ is a master of hatchback packaging, fitting 2 +1 seating (we can explain) into a stylish package that is incredibly small on the outside, yet surprisingly roomy inside. And the front-drive, 3-door hatchback looks like the kind of futuristic cars we all thought we'd be driving by now. So...now you can.
Driving Impressions When you're behind the wheel of the 2012 Scion iQ hatchback, it's easy to forget you're in a car that's shorter than a MINI. You sit tall, like in the...FIAT 500, and that gives excellent visibility. Unlike the FIAT, the Scion feels more sleek and coupe-like, thanks to a smaller greenhouse. Scion puts the dashboard and center stack further away, enhancing the impression you're driving a larger car. The drive doesn't betray it – the 92-hp 4-cylinder is smooth and the iQ provides a surprisingly quiet ride. Freeway speeds are comfy, with only a little nudge from side winds betraying the short wheelbase. In town, it's only when you crank over the steering wheel, when the 2012 iQ turns on it's heels like an exuberant Jack Russell Terrier, that it strikes you how maneuverable the little Scion is. Keep the CVT automatic transmission in Sport mode, and you'll get more zippy performance, but it can't match the Italians (FIAT) or Germans (MINI) for road feel and driving fun.
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
You wouldn't think you'd get excited about a steering wheel, but the standard Scion iQ wheel has a fat, leather-wrapped rim, and angular contours that make it look like it came from a Ferrari. Nice.
Staggered 3-person seating
By pushing the dashboard and console way forward, the Scion iQ puts the front passenger slightly ahead of the driver, adding enough room for a passenger in the back. Clever. No such luck for those behind the driver, though.
Think of the Scion iQ as a 2-seater with room for an occasional third, and you've got it right. Considering the hatchback's tiny overall length, room up front is impressive. The seats are ample-sized and quite comfortable too. (Warning! If you've got both rear seats up, cargo room is non-existent.) Even more impressive is the iQ interior design, with beautiful curved door handles, a curved cascading center stack, and nice quality materials throughout. It's a nice place to spend time.
When you think about the Scion iQ's competitors, you realize that both the MINI Cooper and the FIAT 500 are retro-classic designs that have been re-envisioned. The Scion charts a bold new course. It's funky and aero. So we were surprised our 2012 Scion iQ test car didn't turn more heads. We think it's the dark charcoal (magnet gray metallic) paint. We've seen other iQ hatchbacks in a bright orange ("Hot Lava" to Scion) and white ("Blizzard Pearl"), and they really grab your attention. Because it's a Scion, you have a wide choice of personalization, including accessory body parts and wheels, so making one your own should be easy.
The 2012 Scion iQ comes impressively equipped. At its $15,999 starting price, standard goodies include air conditioning, power locks/windows/mirrors, keyless entry with electronic rear-hatch locking system, a thumping 160-watt Pioneer audio system with HD technology, a USB input for your iPod, Bluetooth connectivity, 16-inch covered steel wheels, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Buyers with safety concerns about the iQ's small size will be happy to know about its armada of airbags, including driver and passenger front, knee, seat-mounted side and side curtain air bags. There are also unique front seat-cushion airbags and a rear-window airbag that deploys around the rear headrests.
There's basically only one Scion iQ model, but like other Scion models, there's a nice array of accessories. On the outside, there's a 4-piece aero kit, rear spoiler, mudguards and fog lights. For the inside, the usual assortment of floor mats and cargo nets is available, plus a cool interior-lighting kit. Those of you looking to terrorize your local on ramp can plump for (Toyota Racing Development (TRD) lowering springs and a rear sway bar. Alloy wheels are available, as is a full-featured navigation system.
The front-wheel-drive (FWD) 2012 Scion iQ gets its kicks from a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that puts out 94 hp. It may be small, but it's a technical powerhouse, with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and dual variable valve timing. Toyota recommends 87-octane gasoline – which when combined with EPA fuel-economy estimates of 36 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, you won't be spending much at the pump.
1.4-liter in-line 4
94 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
89 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 36/37
By CBXMAN on Sunday, March 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive and fun to park"
Cons: "Not enough power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After a lot of thought it was time for the Lexus to go. 20 mpg in a 12 year old car that only ran on premium unleaded fuel just didn't add up for me. I almost went and looked at a Smart car when I remembered that Toyota had come out with the Scion IQ last year so I started doing my research. The car magazines were not kind to it saying that it was slow and the CVT transmission didn't ever seem to be in the right gear, etc, etc. I guess maybe Toyota didn't pay enough to advertise in these magazines because they could not have been driving an IQ. One test drive was all it took for me. The car is a ball in town because of its short size and speedy throttle response and holds it own on the Interstates cruising comfortably in the fast lane at 80 and it is not disturbed by the wake coming from tractor trailers. The IQ is BIG inside and comfortable for two. Yes it has two back seats but they are better left folded down. Store stuff under them before you fold them down. Toyota designed this car from the insde out first making sure that larger Americans like me could fit in it. I'm 5'11 and 240lbs and it fits me fine. If there were two of me sitting in a Smart Car we'd be rubbing shoulders. Not in the IQ. Plenty of room for 2 full sized adults. With back seats folded flat there is plenty of room in the back for our two Scottish terriers."
By CBXMAN on Sunday, November 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Low cost, fun to drive, fun to park"
Cons: "No armrest. Poor headlights and poor heater."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After a lot of thought it was time for the Lexus to go. 20 mpg in a 12 year old car that only ran on premium unleaded fuel just didn't add up for me. I drove a Smart car in England a couple of years ago but it was too small inside and the semi automatic trans was a pain. I almost went and looked at a Smart car when I remembered that Toyota had come out with the Scion IQ last year so I started doing my research. The car magazines were not kind to it saying that it was slow and the CVT transmission didn't ever seem to be in the right gear, etc, etc. I guess maybe Toyota didn't pay enough to advertise in these magazines because they could not have been driving an IQ. One test drive was all it took for me. The car is a ball in town because of its short size and speedy throttle response. It holds it own in traffic light drag races and on the Interstates cruising comfortably in the fast lane at 80 and it is not disturbed by the wake coming from tractor trailers. The IQ is BIG inside and comfortable for two. Yes it has two back seats but they are better left folded down. Store stuff under them before you fold them down. Toyota designed this car from the inside out first making sure that larger Americans like me could fit in it. I'm 5'11 and 240 lbs and it fits me fine. If there were two of me sitting in a Smart Car we'd be rubbing shoulders. Not in the IQ. Plenty of room for 2 full sized adults. With back seats folded flat there is plenty of room in the back for our two Scottish terriers. First Car I've ever owned that I liked enough to give it a name: Mighty Mouse because it drives and handles above its weight class. 1500 Mile Report This car is the most fun I've had in a car in years! Its getting 33 mpg with me at the helm with my foot to the floor most of time. I bet if I took it easy I could easily get it over 40 mpg. Every time I say to myself that I'm going to take it easy on this tank of gas and see how high I can get the mileage to go to I wind up reverting back to my normal driving style. Maybe it will be different when I grow up!(Current age:60). The IQ is staying rattle free in spite of the pounding it gets on our wonderful PA roads. It's not using any oil and starts up immediately on cold days and defrosters front and rear do a great job. Too bad the exterior rear view mirrors don't have defrosters in them. 12K mile Report See 1500 mile report. All is well, better actually. Installed a TRD Rear Anti Sway Bar and Sylvania headlight bulbs. Forget the Magazines for test results. Here's the real world: 0 to 60MPH ~7 seconds Top Speed 105 mph. Ignition cuts out after that. Speeds over 90 mph require a lot of concentration because the car is short and things happen very fast at high speeds. Here's a short list of what Toyota should add to the IQ: Exterior Rearview Mirror Defrosters Brighter Headlight Bulbs. Replaced mine with Sylvania Silverstar Ultras. Rear Anti Sway Bar. Go into a turn too fast and get ready for some big time lean. Whoppee!! Toyota has one as a dealer installed option but it should be standard. A glove box. Come on Toyota. There's room for one and the one sore point on this car is there are not enough places to store things up front. The sliding drawer under the passenger seat is a cute idea but its not big enough. Better interior lighting. The dinky light up front is not bright enough for anything and there is no light in the rear. Installing aftermarket battery powered LED lamps is a solution but really....Come on Toyota. The Scion brand is a premium brand and these features should be in the IQ for the price charged."
18 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Jt on Monday, September 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this little car. It is so much fun to drive and get 35mpg. Lots of room for two people. It is my work car. My friends can't believe that it has so much room and they love to ride in it."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Lunerbator on Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "compact fun to drive"
Cons: "poor gas, poor horsepower, poor customer service"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"When i bought the car it was great! topping almost 50 mpg. That did not last long. i am currently getting 24 mpg and have been for about 8 months ( i have owned that car for 10). the dealership is no help and scion tells me to deal with the dealership. honestly i don't take it out much because my 2004 jeep liberty with 170k miles on it gets better highway then this tiny car. i just wish i wasn't stuck with it for another 2 years."
4 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By white iq on Friday, July 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cute, great on gas, fun to drive"
Cons: "no glove compartment, no arm rest, no spare tire!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Once you get past EVERYBODY staring at you the IQ is really fun to drive. I get 41 miles to a gallon and that's combination highway/country roads and mountains. It rides very nice however if you catch a crack in the road it will throw you. I have to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. I probably should anyway but I'm trying to give you a visual. Not having a glove compartment totally stinks, you don't realize how much you need one until its gone. My husband is 5'11 so on the taller side and even with his seat pushed all the way back he's very uncomforable. There is no trunk.. at all which makes a grocery trip a puzzle. Overall the car is really fun to drive if your a small/short person and maybe have another small short person riding in the front seat with you. Forget trying to go flea marketing or shopping...there's no room. I have this as my only form of transportation and its very inconvient. If this is a play car then by all means its awesome and fun to drive...not to mention its wicked cute:)"
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Julie on Friday, April 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Driver and passenger leg and body space."
Cons: "Doesn't come in a manual transmission"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I was skeptical of how the IQ would handle on snow and ice due to the short wheel base. I live in an area where there is plenty of 'winter driving' hazards but my IQ breezed through the icy, snowy, cold roads just like it was a larger sedan. I average 38 mgp during the winter months(and that is with warming it up before driving) and am at 43+ average with the warmer weather. It is amazing how much I can put in the back hatch too!! I highly recommend this little car if you are looking for an economical way to get around and don't need to always carry a 3rd passenger...Although my 17 and 16 yr old kids do fit in the back seat for short distances, it wouldn't be the greatest comfort for long drives (50+ miles). I never hesitate taking my IQ somewhere."
15 people out of 16 found this review helpful