By Tom Crosby: New 2016 Scion iA lures young drivers with price

Tom Crosby

Tom Crosby

Toyota created the Scion brand to lure young, first-time car buyers and last year formed a partnership with Mazda. A tangible result is the newly released 2016 Scion iA four-door sub-compact sedan, a twin with the Mazda2, which will no longer be sold in the U.S. due to lagging sales.

The Scion iA is stingy on gas, handles like a sports car and is priced at half the cost of the average vehicle sold today in the United States. Kelley Blue Book says that average price is $33,560, ramped up in part by new and refreshed vehicles loaded with options.

Our test-drive Scion iA cost $16,479 with no options added. On a more than 2,500-mile test drive, it was exceptionally comfortable behind the wheel and goosed by downshifts in the 6-speed manual transmission (an automatic is available), it was adequate for lengthy passes on Interstates. On city streets, tightly circled ramps and curves, handling was excellent, helped by its short wheelbase. The ride was comfortable with a Macpherson strut front suspension and a rear torsion beam, resulting in only minor feedback from road imperfections. Wind noise was an issue on the highways, requiring higher radio volumes and louder conversations.

The engine is Mazda’s 1.5-liter Skyactiv 4-cylinder, a highly touted power plant producing efficient mpg. Our trip averaged 39.1 mpg with lots of highway travel at higher speeds. While dealer options are available, the Scion isn’t a slouch for standard benefits, amplified by pleasant interior materials. There is Bluetooth and audio hook-up for Pandora, Aha and Stitcher, plus two USB ports. The 7-inch elevated dashboard screen has clean, readable graphics and is controlled by a center spine knob. Cruise control, push button start and tilt/telescope steering wheel are standard. Fold-flat seats create more than ample trunk space above a spare tire. Rear seating is tight for taller adults but roomy enough for a child carseat.

Outside, the look is muscular with a nicely rising beltline. Singular touches include 16-inch alloy wheels, rear sheet metal indentions, character lines and chrome rimmed lights in the front sharing looks with a trapezoidal air dam and chrome-rimmed grille. The rear-view camera and a low-speed pre-collision system helped Scion iA receive an overall crash rating of “Good,” the top score given by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Scion iA comes with two years or 25,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance. Typically, Scions rate average in reliability.

LIKES: Price, handling, mileage, interior DISLIKES: Rear seating, power, noise
BOTTOM LINE: Great starter car for the price for a young couple

FACT FILE – SCION iA 2016

• Base price w/destination fee: $16,470
• Curb weight: 2,385 lbs.
• Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
• Length: 171.7 inches
• Width: 66.7 inches
• Engine specs: 1.5-liter, DOHC, inline 4 cylinder
• Horsepower: 106-hp at 6,000 rpm
• Torque: 103 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm
• Transmission: 6-speed manual
• EPA rating: 31 mpg city and 41 mpg highway
• Range: 11.6-gallon tank, regular
• Performance: 0-60 just under 10 seconds

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