By Zach Vlasuk
The 2016 Scion iM ushers in a new era of maturity for Toyota's youth-oriented brand. While still embracing such corporate cornerstones as evocative design and vehicle customization, the iM's real reason for being involves value and practicality. Whereas generously equipped versions of rival hatchbacks like the Ford Focus, Kia Forte5 and Mazda3 tend to hover around the $23,000 mark, the mono-spec Scion iM offers an attractive feature set along with upstanding residual values for under $20,000. Add to that a surprisingly high level of driving engagement and up to 37 mpg on the highway, and it wouldn't be a stretch to label the 2016 Scion iM as one of the best values among compact cars.
If you seek a well-equipped, fun-to-drive, value-intensive 5-door hatchback in a versatile-yet-stylish package, the 2016 Scion iM comes highly recommended.
Buyers in the market for a premium small hatchback loaded with upscale accouterments like a power driver's seat, leather, heated seats, passive entry with push-button start, and a moonroof should consider the Ford Focus, Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf.
Based almost entirely on the European Toyota Auris, the 2016 Scion iM is a brand-new nameplate in the U.S. marketplace.
Although 137 horsepower doesn’t sound like the stuff dreams are made of, what the Scion iM lacks in raw acceleration it makes up for in handling and ride compliance. Toss...
... it into a corner, and the iM is eager to play. When playtime is over, drivers are greeted with a ride that's supple and more cossetted than rivals like the Kia Rio5 and Hyundai Elantra GT. The chassis and adjoining suspension components earn extra brownie points for keeping much of the outside world where it belongs: outside. This reasonably hushed cabin also enabled us to appreciate the standard audio system’s impressively punchy lows and crisp highs, something that can’t be said for its Hyundai and Kia challengers.
Though not exactly a tangible feature, the iM's mono-spec ordering structure takes much of the guesswork and confusion out of the purchasing process. Better yet, this one-size-fits-all packaging means you'll never pay for features you don't want.
STANDARD PIONEER AUDIO SYSTEM
A feature often overlooked in the realm of compact cars is audio quality. Despite its traditional 6-speaker arrangement, the iM's sound system delivers an unexpectedly high degree of tonal accuracy and spectral balance.
Boasting an edgy-yet-tasteful layout, the iM's cockpit emphasizes functionality. The audio and climate controls are about as straightforward as they come, while symmetrical armrests and an adjustable steering column yield an appropriately neutral driving position. Power seats are not available, but the 6-way front buckets leave nothing to be desired in comfort or lateral support. And while rear legroom can’t measure up to rivals like the Mazda3, Kia Rio5 and Volkswagen Golf on paper, the iM’s rear quarters feel plenty roomy in the outboard seating positions. Space behind the rear seat stands at 20.8 cubic feet, topping the Mazda3 and Rio5.
Design-wise, the Scion iM keenly embraces the tuxedo T-shirt philosophy: It wants to be formal, but it’s also here to party. A sweptback roofline, aggressive lower body panels, and LED running lights and taillights suggest all the makings of a hot hatch, while projector-beam headlights and a versatile liftback speak to the iM's practical side. For those who desire some additional show without the go, Scion offers a host of dealer-installed accessories like TRD lowering springs, carbon-fiber window trim and body graphics.
Every Scion iM comes with dual-zone climate control, eight airbags, automatic headlight control, 17-inch alloys, LED running lights and taillights, a nifty 4.2-inch driver information display, a rearview camera, and a 6-speaker Pioneer audio system with Bluetooth and a USB port. Moonroof lovers, you’re out of luck. By the same token, all this upmarket hatchbackery at an entry-level price means some corners were cut. These shortcomings include a hard center armrest, lackluster headliner materials, and sun visors that don't slide to block the sun.
The iM's mono-spec packaging structure means that aside from the transmission and exterior color, your options are limited to a navigation system (+$900) and the dealer-installed accessories outlined above. Speaking of the former, smartphone users might express a preference for Pioneer’s aftermarket NEX 4100 head unit, which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, superior music streaming capability, and a factory look for about $200 less.
The Scion iM is powered by Toyota's 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine with Valvematic continuously variable-valve timing, which is also used in the Corolla. Developing 137 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque, it can be paired with a standard 6-speed manual or optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) featuring a 7-speed simulated sequential-shift mode. Beyond altering shift points, there's a sport setting that also quickens throttle response and adds weighting to the electric power steering. Combined fuel economy averages rank in the low-30-mpg range and, as you might have guessed, all Scion iM's run on regular gasoline.
137 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm
126 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/36 mpg (manual), 28/37 mpg (automatic)
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2016 Scion iM begins just north of $19,000, including destination and delivery fees. Adding an automatic transmission to the mix still keeps the price under $20,000. If this sounds like a terrific value, you would be right. Similarly equipped models from Mazda, Ford, and Volkswagen linger in the $23,000 range, and none of them can match the Scion iM when it comes to long-term ownership costs and resale value. But regardless of which model you choose, checking out KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price tool is the best way to ensure you get the best deal on your next car.