Scion iA

Scion adds a new model to the lineup this year, in the form of the subcompact iA sedan. Based on the stellar Mazda2 underpinnings, the front-wheel-drive iA rides on 16-inch alloy wheels and includes front struts and a stabilizer bar and a rear torsion beam suspension. Power comes from a 16-valve, 106-horsepower 1.5L 4-cylinder engine, which can be paired with either a standard 6-speed manual or optional automatic transmission. In the automatic, fuel economy is rated at 33 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway, while the manual-equipped iA returns slightly less, at 31 and 41, respectively.

The iA is available in one trim level. Standard features include power mirrors with integrated turn signals, a chrome-tipped exhaust, and halogen headlights. Inside you'll find push-button start, a backup camera, air conditioning, power windows and locks, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, and a 60/40 split-fold rear seat. A seven-inch touchscreen display controls the Scion Access Connect multi-media system (though a large central knob does the job, too), while USB ports, Bluetooth hands-free phone and music streaming, along with voice recognition and SMS text functionality, provide cutting-edge connectivity.

Other than the $1,100 automatic transmission, the only other option in the iA is an $419 SD card pre-loaded with navigation software, to be installed at a dealer.

The iA is also loaded with safety features like dynamic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes, plus a low-speed collision system, brake override and a host of front, rear and side airbags.

Editors' Review

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The 2016 Scion iA represents many things for the brand. It's the first sedan to bear the Scion name. Starting at $15,700, it's the least expensive model in the current lineup. It is also one of the best (and last) cars to ever wear the Scion badge, which is interesting because it's actually a Mazda in disguise.

By now, it's no secret that the iA is actually a badge-engineered 2016 Mazda2 sedan, built by Mazda in its Salamanca, Mexico assembly plant before basically receiving a "Face/Off"-style fascia swap with a Prius C. But because Mazda has announced that it won't be selling a Mazda-badged Mazda2 in the US market anytime soon -- and, as I recently learned, the iA is such a fantastic little car -- I'll welcome it wearing any badge it can.

Beneath its Toyota engine cover breathes a 1.5-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine. Output is stated at a modest 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. Mating the engine to the front wheels is either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with a flexible locking torque converter. Scion tells us that the automatic can lock its torque converter in any gear to give the powertrain a more direct and responsive feel. My Sapphire blue example featured the manual gearbox.

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The Good Forward automatic emergency braking and a rear camera are standard features on the 2016 Scion iA. A lively 1.5-liter engine and some of the best handling in class reward the driver with performance far beyond what the on-paper specs imply.

The Bad The standard 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system lacks Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatibility and doesn't look as easy to upgrade as other models in Scion's lineup.

The Bottom Line With spec-defying performance and surprisingly sophisticated driver-aid tech, the 2016 iA is both one of the best cars to wear the Scion badge and one of the best in its class.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 9
  • Features 9
  • Design 8
  • Media 7

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