A small car for big cities.
The notion of an ultracompact city car is pretty foreign to most Americans, but if you live in a crowded urban center, it can make sense. Heretofore, the only city car available in the United States was the disappointing Smart ForTwo, but the Scion iQ might redeem the concept. The iQ is longer than the Smart by about a foot, but it’s still two feet shorter than a Fiat 500. Unlike Smart, Scion squeezes in four seats — although the company characterizes the iQ as a three-plus-one-seater. That’s because the front-passenger seat is mounted farther forward than the driver’s seat, allowing enough space for a passenger in the right rear seat. Meanwhile, the left rear seat is almost unusable unless the driver’s seat is all the way forward. The iQ’s continuously variable automatic transmission is leagues better than Smart’s jerky gearbox. The Scion’s tiny 1.3-liter engine makes only 94 hp, but the iQ weighs 2127 pounds, so it doesn’t necessarily feel underpowered. Fuel economy is quite good in the city (where you’re most likely to drive it), but on the highway, it falls short of the 40-mpg mark. Ride quality is far better than you’d expect with such a short wheelbase, and the steering is a delight. The 25.8-foot turning radius is nearly three feet fewer than a Smart’s; you can’t beat that for maneuverability.
new for 2013
The iQ went on sale nationwide last spring. For 2013, there’s a bit more standard equipment: an underseat auxiliary tray for the front-passenger seat, a cover for the cargo area, and rear speakers.
Front, knee, front side, curtain, and backlight air bags; ABS; and stability and traction control are standard.
Very good city gas mileage
Fits in tight spaces
Virtually zero luggage space behind the rear seats
Effectively seats only three
Base Price: $16,140
TRIM LEVEL: iQ
BODY STYLE: Coupe, 3+1-passenger
ENGINE: 1.3L I-4, 94 hp, 89 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: Continuously variable
PASSENGER VOLUME: 73.8 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 3.5/16.7 cu ft