Friday, July 6, 2012

2012 Scion iQ: The Brand’s First Micro Car

Highlights: This is Toyota's sister brand, Scion, first micro vehicle. The Scion iQ, which stands for "Intelligent Quotient" is being touted as the world’s smallest micro 4-seater, according to the folks at Toyota.

Test vehicle’s MSRP:  $15,995

Seating Capacity:  4 (according to Scion's engineers.... however, realistically this its a 2-seater).

Standard Safety Features: 11 airbags; ABS (front, side, rear, seat and the like); traction control; vehicle stability control; tire pressure monitoring system; and Toyota’s SmartStop technology to avoid sudden acceleration

Standard Equipment: 16-inch tires; power windows, power door locks; steering wheel mounted controls; a/c; and a remote keyfob

Standard Audio: an AM/FM/CD/HD Pioneer 160-watt stereo with 4 speakers

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty:  3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes

MP3 Capability: Yes

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.3-liter, 4-cylinder/94-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 36-city/37-hwy

What’s New: The Scion iQ is an all-new model.

Pros: When the engineers designed this pint-size vehicle, space was definitely top of mind. Not only is this micro vehicle capable of navigating today's narrow city streets, but it can also easily fit into small parking spaces. Moreover, u turns can be made on a dime due its super-tight turning radius. Yes, the engineers of this micro vehicle strategically utilize every available space – literally. The engineers even decided to design a flat gas tank which is housed underneath the floor, reducing overhang. Furthermore, the iQ packs a lot of standard amenities in this micro vehicle. Buyers can expect everything from a/c to power door locks.

Also as longs as buyers of the iQ view this as a two-seater, they'll get over the shock of the size of this  vehicle. In fact, the front seats are both roomy and supportive. Even 6 footers can be easily absorbed into the front seats due to its box-like design which offers adequate headroom.

And, although the iQ manages to use every available space, the engineers have made room for a handful of optional upgrades: a storage container underneath the front passenger seat due to the glove box being occupied with an airbag; a navigation system can be integrated into the optional 200-watt Pioneer audio system to literally blow the roof off of the vehicle; and a 200-watt audio system is available without the nav, which includes a 5.8-inch screen to incorporate such features as iTunes tagging, Pandora and six RCA outputs to add external amplifiers.

Cons: Unfortunately, this micro vehicle leaves no room for both cargo and rear seating arrangements. Yes, one will have to make a choice. In the world of the iQ, one can't have everything. And because of the price point of the vehicle, many critics believe that it makes sense to purchase a larger pre-owned vehicle, which offers room for both rear passengers and cargo. Moreover, when the rear seat headrests are in use, the driver’s vision is severely limited.

Also the pint size vehicle could be seen as a little risky when driving on America's dangerous highways. Now while we did gain enough nerve to place this vehicle on Atlanta’s highways, we realize that the iQ is better suited for today's crowded urban streets. This vehicle is definitely no match for semis, large vehicles or bad weather.

Furthermore, this vehicle wasn’t designed for cross country trips, since it lacked both a front center armrest and cruise control. In fact, these features along with a pop-up manual roof aren’t even available on the iQ’s extremely limited option list.

The Verdict: Scion’s newest pint size addition with its perky front-end design draws a lot of attention. The iQ not only achieves great gas mileage, but it packs a lot of must-have standard features including an array of airbags to compensate for its size. However, this micro vehicle at nearly $16,000 is no match for today’s large crossovers, vans, SUVs, pick-up trucks and semis. Until there is an equal mix of  micro vehicles on the highways, in our eyes, the Scion is best suited for navigating today's super crowded city streets with ease.

Competition: SmartFor two


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