Scion’s First Four-Door Sedan Tops 40 MPG
Toyota says Scion is their “test laboratory division” with a goal of offering products that “stand apart from the crowd.” It seems Scion also has a clever strategy of filling their line-up with cars they did not design or develop, with the 2016 Scion iA the most recent example. This business plan can only work if the cars being rebadged as a Scion are any good, and in the case of the iA, starting with a Mazda2 was a good idea.
Note: the Mazda2 is no longer sold in the United States so if you are a Mazda fan, which we are at Clean Fleet Report, then the iA is the closest you will come to owning this car, which is sold elsewhere around the World.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The front wheel drive 2016 Scion iA is powered by a 1.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine producing 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Clean Fleet Report drove the six-speed manual version which is EPA rated at 31 city/ 41 highway/ 35 combined mpg. The automatic is rated at 33/42/37. Our week in the iA delivered a combined average of 41.0 mpg over 550 miles that were 75-percent highway/ 25-percent city driving.
Nine seconds for a 0 – 60 time isn’t setting any speed records, but the iA, weighing-in at 2,400 pounds, felt light and the six-speed manual allowed us to have some fun even with the low
horsepower number. To have that fun, we pretty much had to keep the accelerator pedal floored and the revs high. If not for the skinny 185/60R 16-inch all-season tires, we could have really wound the iA to the next level. This is where Scion would say it is time to consider their tC sporty coupe, which does deliver significantly more driving fun.
The iA can thank Mazda for giving it good road manners with tight steering and a comfortable ride that resulted in an overall controlled handling package. Again, the small tires certainly helped with the high fuel economy numbers, but did not add to its braking or cornering abilities. Braking would be considered normal through the front ventilated and rear solid discs utilizing four-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist technologies.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The sub-compact category is very competitive and most of the offerings look pretty similar. This probably is the result of the car’s size as opposed to a lack of design creativity as there is only so
much that can be done with a four-door small car to keep the proportions right and be somewhat cutting edge in the design. From the rear the iA looks like a Mazda while the front end has a curious stubby nose with what is becoming common: a largemouth bass lower opening featuring a black honeycomb grille. In the case of the iA, it is only rivaled by the Toyota Yaris (a sister car in the greater Toyota stable) among its class competition, so maybe they came from the same designer’s pen—or computer. Scion says the iA “cuts a striking profile” and that it “stands out in a crowd.” Take a look at it yourself because maybe you will see what Scion sees, but for the best angle, look at the iA from the rear, and you will like what you see.
Driving Experience: Interior
If you have been in a Mazda recently, you will quickly acclimate to the interior of the Scion iA. The materials are good quality for a car in this class, the gauges are laid out smartly and the car is quiet inside. The tachometer could be improved; it’s a small digital bar that is hard to see or read, so shifting our six-speed manual was done by ear and feel.
The driver’s seat has manual adjustments as does the tilt and telescoping steering column, making for an easy process to find a comfortable driving position. The seats offer ample support. A lumbar adjustment would have been a welcome addition as would a center armrest for the front occupants. The rear bench seat, that splits 60/40, accommodates three adults and has passable leg and headroom for those 5’10” and under. For longer trips or commutes, two adults would be a better arrangement to guarantee a comfortable ride, aided by the fold down center armrest with cup holders. Behind the rear seat is a good size trunk. When not carrying rear seat passengers, folding the rear seat flat provides additional storage area.
The infotainment system was centered by a seven-inch color touch-screen display for the AM/FM/CD/MP3 HD radio, featuring Aha and Pandora. Driven through six speakers, the infotainment
system was also equipped with two USB ports, iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks and Bluetooth streaming audio, hands-free telephone and voice recognition—all operational from the steering wheel. The radio, controlled by the touch screen, did not have on/off/volume knobs that would have added to driver safety and convenience. Clean Fleet Report also found the process to change bands and channels to be a three-step routine, which took the driver’s eyes and attention away from the road.
Safety and Convenience
The 2016 Scion iA comes standard with an extensive list of safety features starting with the low-speed collision system that utilizes laser sensors to help the driver avoid front end collisions. There are six airbags, rear-view back-up camera, tire pressure monitoring system, cruise control, stability and traction control, Halogen headlights, remote keyless entry, push button start/stop, power door locks, windows and outside rearview mirrors (with LED turn indicators) and air conditioning.
Pricing and Warranties
Base pricing for the 2016 Scion iA is $15,700 for the six-speed manual and $16,800 for the automatic. These prices do not include the $770 delivery and processing fee.
The 2016 Scion iA has not been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The 2016 Scion iA comes with these warranties:
- Basic – Three-year/36,000-mile
- Powertrain – Five-year/60,000-mile
- Roadside Assistance – Two-year/24,000-mile
- Corrosion Perforation – Five-year/Unlimited mile
- Factory Scheduled Maintenance – Two-year/25,000-mile
Observations: 2016 Scion iA with the Six-speed Manual
With intense competition in the subcompact category, the 2016 Scion iA needed to have its game face on. Among others, the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Kia Forte, Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Versa and Chevrolet Spark and Sonic all are established in the market and have a following. Basing the iA on the Mazda2 gave Scion a head start with solid Mazda design and build quality plus excellent highway fuel economy of 41 mpg.
Scion has a “mono spec” philosophy where it outfits its cars with a high level of standard safety and convenience equipment and then sets the price low compared to its competion. In the case of the 2016 iA, you will need to break-out your spreadsheet to find a comparable car with as many standard features and equipment and reconsider what you consider to be an “entry level” car.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.