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Scion iQ is the perfect metro runabout

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With our recent deep snowfalls, it’s doubtful the Scion iQ could traverse more than two-three inches of snow with its low undercarriage clearance and 16-inch tires. But the upside is that there wouldn’t be a problem finding a tight, shoveled out parking space.

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This mini 3-door liftback can be parked in the tightest of spots thanks to its compact size. It has been coined a metropolitan runabout as it’s nimble in city driving and very easy to park when space is at a premium. And if your daily travels to work are short distances, this is the car for you with its 36 city, 37 highway mpg EPA mileage ratings.

It is not, however, a car for long distances. In fact my trip from Allentown to New York City was about the farthest I’d want to drive this little squirt. It’s perfect for NYC driving while attempting to squeeze between kamikaze cab drivers and delivery trucks during morning rush hour traffic. But getting there on I-78 was somewhat terrifying since the wind from speeding 18-wheelers and crosswinds buffet the car like a turbulent plane ride.

While it’s small on the outside it’s surprisingly spacious for four on the inside provided two are small children in the back seat. Legroom is negligible and ingress/egress is tight back there. Or, two miniature poodles (but not Pete the Pit Bull) would fit.

Scion engineers nicely maximized interior space in a number of ways, one of which was to embed the audio speakers in the swoopy door handles. The top portion of the vertical stack looks like a stingray with its wings extended out over the dash. HVAC controls are vertically positioned large rotary dials and atop them is a large LCD screen to display audio functions. But it lacked a GPS nav.

The speedometer is compact as it’s one large gauge with a tach embedded into it for more dash space. But its orange background hue made it tough to see during bright sunny days.

Front seats are soft and semi-supportive while the rears are flat and
as said, a real squeeze for access. Fold the backs and cargo space goes from a miniscule 3.5 cubic feet to 16.7 (30.5 inches of depth) cubes. This is just enough for two airline approved roll-a-long but no golf bags.

Performance wise, iQ is far from a speedster. Its meager 1.3L, 4-inline cylinder chugs out 94-hp and 89 lb/ft of torque that transfers power to the wheel via a CVT automatic transmission. It has been 0-60 timed at 11.6 seconds. On flat roadways power is adequate. But on uphill jaunts with two adults aboard the climb is slow.

Again, this is the perfect city car where power is a moot point.

As for ride, the iQ is smooth around town however its short wheelbase shows its firmness when encountering tar strips and unimproved railroad crossings that produce some head bobbing.
But that’s the price you pay for a high mileage car. And iQ’s is base priced at $15,265 to which was added a rear speaker package for $100, storage package for $20, carpeted floor mats at $90, a cargo net $65, Pioneer HD radio that is iPod ready and a CD deck for $479, plus an XM satellite radio for $449. That brought the bottom line to $17,198. iQ also comes with a long list of standard items including a myriad of airbags fore and aft.

For that price there are compelling competitors in the form of the Fiat 500, Chevy Sonic, Kia Rio, even Toyota’s own Yaris.

But despite its size, you’ll be shocked to know that the governments’ 5-star safety ratings gave it four stars for frontal crash, four for front seat side crash, and four for rollover.

To check out a Scion IQ stop by Krause Toyota in Fogelsville, or Bennett Toyota on Lehigh Street in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.

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