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2012 Scion iQ (photos)

The new iQ from Scion is a microsubcompact, a car well-designed for cities as it can easily fit in curbside parking spaces. A 1.3-liter engine helps the car get an EPA-rated 37 mpg average fuel economy, higher than any other nonhybrid car.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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Toyota has been selling its microcar, the iQ, around the world over the past few years, and now it comes to the U.S. wearing a Scion badge. Small cars are becoming more acceptable in the U.S., but Toyota chose its youthful and risk-taking Scion brand to market the car.

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The iQ is strangely proportioned, looking almost as wide as it is long. That wideness contributes to stability. The front grille opening is thin, and the headlight casings dominate the fenders.

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Because of the car's small size, Scion can get away with a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. It turns in fuel economy of 36 mpg city and 37 mpg highway in EPA testing.

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At just over 10 feet long, the iQ is very easy to park and has an excellent turning radius. The front seats are easy to fit in, but you have to choose between having rear-seat passengers or cargo space.

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The ride quality in the iQ is decent, despite its short wheelbase.

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The rear seats fold down in a 50/50 split. There is only the tiniest bit of cargo space under the hatch with the seats up.

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The interior is a strange mish-mash of styles, with some metal veneer, two tones of hard plastic, and some piano-black trim elements. Scion will only offer one interior design scheme.

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With its electric power-steering unit, the wheel turns easily and does not have to rely on the small engine to keep boost up.

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This set of audio controls comes standard on the iQ's steering wheel. There is no voice command system in the car.

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The instrument cluster includes a small screen to the right, showing trip data.

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The iQ uses a continuously variable transmission to put power to the front wheels. This is the only transmission available for the car.

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The Pioneer head unit integrates a Bluetooth phone system with a contact database. But Scion strangely locks out the list when the car is moving.

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The audio source selector uses this flow screen, a nice, practical design.

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The head unit includes HD radio.

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The head-unit screen displays a connected iPod's music library.

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The Pandora interface is full-featured, with thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons.

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Small tweeters are mounted in the oddly designed door handles.

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