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2013 Scion iQ

2013 Scion iQ
Urban commuter is small outside, roomy inside.

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Review Pages
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1. Overview
2. Walkaround and Interior
3. Driving Impressions
4. Summary, Prices, Specs

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Overview

The Scion iQ is a pint-sized microcar perfect for city dwellers seeking easy maneuverability and admirable fuel economy. Unlike other tiny subcompacts, the iQ seats four (or at least three people comfortably).

Although one would expect cars in this segment to be hopelessly cheap-looking, the Scion iQ does a decent job striking a balance between quality and economy. Bold exterior styling, consistent with the Scion brand, helps to fend off any would-be bullies. But let's be clear, you're not going to look macho driving down the road in a Scion iQ. But at least it won't look like you're piloting a rollerskate, either.

The iQ was all-new for 2012, so changes for 2013 are minor. The standard Pioneer audio system now has six speakers instead of four. A new BeSpoke premium audio system with 5.8-inch LCD display is also available.

Powering the Scion iQ is a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes a modest 94 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque. A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) kills some of the fun but, on the upside, helps to achieve an estimated 36/37 mpg city/highway, which beats both the Smart Fortwo and the Fiat 500 with the automatic transmission.

Sure, the car is tiny, but it doesn't feel that way inside. Several features enable the iQ to stay small without forcing occupants to feel like sardines. It's proportionately wider than other cars, allowing not only more space, but a greater sense of confidence on the road. In the cabin, that means an offset passenger seat along with thinner seat backs to give rear passengers more space. Under the hood, it's smaller, more compact components such as the front-mounted differential and air conditioning unit, as well as a high-mount steering rack with electronic power-steering. Underneath, a flat gas tank beneath the floor reduces rear overhang.

The 2013 Scion iQ's closest competitors appear to be the Smart ForTwo hatchback and the Fiat 500. Dimensions-wise, the iQ sits in between the two (20 inches shorter than the Fiat, but 14 inches longer than the Smart). The iQ could even be considered an alternative to the Mini Cooper. And while the iQ's base price seems fair at around $16k compared to the latter, that's not a lot of car for the money. Springing for upgraded audio, suspension enhancements and other options can skyrocket the iQ's sticker price to nearly $20k. So unless you live in a congested area and are specifically looking for a diminutive footprint to ease urban parking woes, you might get more bang for your buck with slightly larger vehicles such as the Mazda2, Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio or Honda Fit.

Scion iQ is powered by a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 94 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and gets an EPA-estimated 36/37 mpg City/Highway.

Model Lineup

The 2013 Scion iQ ($15,495) comes in one trim level. Standard features include air conditioning, cloth upholstery, power door locks, windows and outside mirrors, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls, 50/50 split folding rear seats, trip computer, Bluetooth handsfree phone system and a six-speaker, Pioneer audio system with HD radio, single MP3/WMA CD player, USB and auxiliary audio ports. Steel 16-inch wheels are standard with a choice between two plastic wheel cover designs.

Options include Blizzard Pearl paint ($395), a rear spoiler ($285) 16-inch alloy wheels ($749), wheel locks, fog lights, body side moldings, mudguards, a rear spoiler and paint protection film. Performance options include Toyota Racing Development (TRD) lowering springs ($399), sway bar set ($345) and shift knob ($80). Interior accessories include floor mats, cargo mat, cargo net and a seven-color interior light kit.

An upgraded BeSpoke premium audio system is also available ($845), with a 5.8-inch LCD color touch-screen display and a variety of apps, like Pandora live audio streaming, Twitter, Yelp and traffic information. It's important to note that at the time of this writing, BeSpoke is currently only compatible with iPhone 4 and 4S, not iPhone 5.

Safety features standard on the 2013 Scion iQ include 11 airbags (driver- and front-passenger airbags; driver- and front-passenger seat-mounted side airbags; side curtain airbags; driver- and front-passenger knee airbags; driver- and front-passenger seat-cushion airbags; and a rear-window airbag), antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, and brake-override.


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