KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/16/2012
If it's true that Americans don't like small cars, someone didn't tell the good folks at Scion. Along with the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500 and Smart Fortwo, the 2013 Scion iQ subcompact joins a growing gang of tiny commuter cars, perfect for those who live in big cities were speeds rarely break 30 mph and time behind the wheel is counted in minutes, not hours. Easy to park in tight spaces, the iQ's tiny exterior hides a rather roomy inside, at least up front. The rear seats are barely big enough to hold two people. But, the rear-passenger-side seat has more legroom thanks to the staggered design of the front-passenger seat tracks and a dashboard that sits slightly forward.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you live in big city with very little parking space, the iQ is worth its weight in gold. Its Toyota pedigree ensures its reliability as well as serviceability just about anywhere in the country, a bonus that Mini, Fiat or Smart can't promise.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The iQ is small and you may not feel very comfortable driving it out on a highway surrounded by big SUVs and 18-wheelers. Slightly larger subcompacts such as the Kia Rio, Nissan Versa or Ford Fiesta are more spacious inside, cost about the same and deliver equal or better fuel economy.
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Scion iQ is updated with content previously optional including the passenger under-seat tray, rear-deck box cover and rear speakers.
When you're behind the wheel of the 2013 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 94-hp 4-cylinder is smooth and surprisingly quiet. 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 iQ turns on its 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 2013 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 nonexistent.) 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 2013 Scion iQ test car didn't turn more heads. We think it was 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.
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2013 Scion iQ comes impressively equipped. Standard items 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 airbags. There are also unique front seat-cushion airbags and a rear-window airbag that deploys around the rear headrests.
Notable Optional Equipment
There's basically only one Scion iQ, but like other Scion models, there's a nice array of accessories. On the outside, there are 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 onramp 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.
Under the Hood
The front-wheel-drive 2013 Scion iQ gets its kicks from a 1.3-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 – combined with EPA fuel-economy estimates of 36 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, so you won't be spending so much at the pump.
94 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
89 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 36/37 mpg
The 2013 Scion iQ starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $16,150 and can run up to $20,000 fully accessorized. That puts it right in the crosshairs of the 2013 Fiat 500, which starts at $16,200, but can top out at $25,000. Meanwhile, the 2013 Mini Cooper has a starting sticker price of around $20,200 and can top $30,000. Being the new kid on the block, we expect the 2013 Scion iQ will be in high demand to start – and that Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price will reflect real-world transaction prices close to MSRP. Resale should be equally impressive, although slightly lower than Scion's other cars.