Car Review Scion iM
BY JOSÉ L. CARMONA
Making its official debut at the 2015 New York Auto Show last March, the Scion iM is the Toyota subsidiary’s answer for young millennial autobuyers who are looking for a sporty fuel-efficient hatchback but also need a few extra bucks in their pockets.
Sharing its underpinnings with the Toyota Corolla, the Scion iM boasts a very stylish and modern exterior—and unlike some Scions of the past, now has a cabin that is roomy, refined, versatile and high-tech.
The five-passenger, five-door iM competes against some formidable contenders in the compact hatch-back segment, such as the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra GT, Kia Forte 5, Volkswagen Golf and Mini 5-door.
ONE TRIM LEVEL
The 2016 Scion iM is offered with one well-appointed trim level. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, automatic headlights, power-folding heated mirrors, full power accessories, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt-&-telescoping column with leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, 60/40-split folding rear seats, rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, 7-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker stereo with HD radio, Aha streaming internet radio and a USB interface.
Options include a navigation system, interior ambient lighting and various sport body enhancements. Also available are performance up-grades from TRD (Toyota Racing Development) that include an air filter, stiffer sway bars and lowering springs.
Under the iM’s hood is a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 137 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque.
It drives the front wheels through a standard six-speed manual trans-mission, or an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy at 31 miles per gallon (mpg) combined, 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission.
For the automatic CVT, the EPA estimates are 32 mpg combined, 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.
Standard safety features for the 2016 Scion iM include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side-curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag and front passenger-seat cushion airbag.
Scion iM’s interior is competitive with other hatchbacks with its contemporary design and materials quality, which is far superior to anything that previously wore the Scion badge.
There are many soft-touch and padded surfaces, with the center console featuring a cushioned area covered in simulated leather for the driver’s leg. We are also fans of the standard 7-inch touchscreen that is easy to reach, features sensible menus and is very quick to react.
Standard dual-zone automatic climate control is another nice touch.
The iM’s front seats are also note-worthy for their lateral and long-distance support, boasting greater comfort than many competitors. There are plenty of places to store smaller items and drinks with nine cupholders inside the car.
Taller drivers will have enough head- and legroom, though some extra telescoping for the steering wheel would be appreciated. The rear seat isn’t as welcoming for taller passengers since there barely is sufficient headroom or legroom for them.
Cargo capacity is also a bit smaller than other hatchbacks in this class, with only 20.8 cubic feet available behind the iM’s rear seats. With the rear seats folded, the cargo area is usefully wide, and the upright hatch provides enhanced space for bulkier items.
Forward visibility is good thanks to a raked-back windshield and narrow roof pillars, but the small rear-hatch window is tiny which, along with the wide rear-roof pillars, forces heavy reliance on the rearview camera.
There are no blind-spot mirrors or warning systems available, nor any other driver warning systems.
The Scion has a sportier appear-ance than most other hatchbacks, with sharp body creases, a raked-back windshield and side skirts that give it an aggressive stance.
The iM may boast sporty exterior styling, but that doesn’t mean it is performance-oriented. The four-cylinder engine is slightly under-powered, and acceleration is a bit slow, which is especially noticeable when trying quick passing or merging maneuvers on the freeway.
Unfortunately, that’s the price you pay when trying to achieve good fuel-efficient numbers.
On the bright side, we’re impressed with the iM’s ride quality, which demonstrates plenty of bump-soaking compliance while still maintaining a sense of composure and control, despite some body roll during cornering.
Overall, the 2016 iM is a welcome addition to the growing Scion line-up, offering young carbuyers a stylish, fuel-efficient alternative that doesn’t break the piggy bank. The iM starts at $22,160 for the six-speed manual and $23,165 for the automatic.
The iM is perfect for urban- dwelling singles or young couples needing a daily commuter car that can handle the occasional weekend road trip.