Does size matter? The status quo is challenged by Scion iQ
June 29, 2012 | 11:00 am
(Updated: March 18, 2013 | 5:43 pm)
If five years ago you’d told anyone there’d be soon be a small-car revolution in the U.S., you’d have been laughed at. But it wasn’t long after that the gas crisis hit and fuel prices nationwide soared beyond $4 a gallon. What came next was something many red-blooded American’s never thought they would see; people were trading in their SUVs, Trucks and Vans for small cars that delivered better gas mileage.
While prices have settled – albeit higher than they were ten years ago – manufacturers have continued to bring small cars to the U.S. market. Consumers have continued their interest.
This leads us to the question: Does size matter? When you have composed yourself and finished nudging your neighbor we will concede that indeed in many instances size does matter.
However, there is also that age-old reply: It’s not how big it is, but what you do with it that matters. As gas prices have risen, manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge of doing more with small cars.
Enter the 2012 Scion iQ.
If you haven’t seen a Scion iQ it is smaller than a Toyota Yaris and slightly larger than a Smart ForTwo. Unlike the Smart, the Scion iQ prides itself on having a 2+2 configuration or in other words four seats. In this area size certainly will matter as you will want to choose your seating position carefully if you are anything over 5’ 2”. More on that in a minute. The epicenter of the small car debate is what features do you have to have in it to make up for the size? The first things that come to mind are gas mileage, technology and functionality.
If the Scion iQ didn’t get respectable gas mileage it would be a very hard sell, I mean something that small just can’t use that much energy. Lucky, the engineers over at Scion have done their homework and have balanced the luxury aspects with the economical frugality expected in a small – no, micro – car. Combined city and highway the Scion iQ will deliver an EPA estimated 37 mpg. For many the surprise will come in that you can get an estimated 36 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. For the gear heads in the crowd the power comes from a 1.3-L four-cylinder 94-hp 16 valve dual VVT-i engine coupled to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with Intel.
And what about power? The transmission has plenty of power to get you moving and only in the mountains or with a full car will you notice that acceleration is diminished. Have no fear though the Scion iQ is more than capable of reaching highway speeds. The biggest drawback to such a small and nimble car is that it is hard to drive in an economical fashion. That might account for the 35 mpg average we achieved during our week of driving around the Denver Metro area.
So does size really matter? For the Scion iQ it is possible to get a 24” suitcase, a carry on rollaboard and a duffle bag in the back with the rear seats folded down. Yes, it went to the airport three times in one week to prove the point. It is even possible to get two 6’ plus people in the front and a 5’ 2” person in the back with a light shopping trip to Costco (one side of the split folding back seat folded down, of course). The end result is a pretty capable small car that will certainly turn heads around town.
Base MSRP is $15,265, OFC’s test vehicle valued at $19,355.