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August 31, 2016

2016 Scion iM: Toyota’s Small “Hot Hatch” Sibling

1__2016_scion_im___raodwayScion says its new 2016 iM hatchback is "waku-waku, doki-doki." Translation: Over-the-top excitement.

This Japanese brand within the Toyota stable was developed to attract the young and young-at-heart in the American market. Scion believes its 2016 Scion iM offers excitement, an impressive array of standard features, top-notch safety, and an affordable price. We agree.

Scion has re-energized its portfolio with two new offerings: the 2016 Scion iM hatchback and the 2016 Scion iA sedan. While the sedan is essentially a Mazda2 -- with the exception of a Scion-trimmed front and rear -- the iM is an updated version of Toyota's Auris, a hatchback popular in Europe.

3__2016_scion_im__rearThe five-door, five-passenger iM has a lot going for it, and will attract the attention of hatchback enthusiasts, sedan buyers seeking more utility, or consumers looking for the versatility of a small SUV, but wanting a different footprint. It comes with good looks, more room and stowage than its compact category might suggest, and a competitive price, which starts at $18,460 for the manual transmission version and $19,200 with the automatic (along with a $795 delivery charge). It joins competitors like the Ford Focus, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra Touring, and the VW Golf.

The 2016 iM has looks that resemble the Toyota Matrix, penned to give an impression of forward motion. Its length, at just under 171 inches, is similar to others in its class. Sporty touches come from its windswept headlamps, a chrome exhaust tip, piano black grille treatment, 17-inch alloy wheels, and 225-width tires.

Stepping inside, you'll find an attractive cabin that features piano black trim, contrast stitching, round vents, soft-touch accents, and nicely bolstered front seats. In the rear are 60/40 split seats that fold flat to improve in cargo carrying. It can hold up to 21 cu.-ft. of goods in the back.

Motivating the iM is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 137 horsepower and 126 lb.-ft. of torque and is paired to a standard six-speed manual or an available continuously variable transmission; the CVT comes with a sport mode and a manual-like sport shift mode that has seven computer-optimized shift points.

4__2016_scion_im___monitorEPA fuel economy is good for its segment with 27 mpg city/36 highway/31 combined with the manual transmission and 30/37/32 mpg with the CVT.

We drove both the automatic and manual versions of the new iM in preproduction prototypes, but concentrated our review on the manual model, with Toyota's TRD package that was spawned from its racing development group. The cabin is roomy and airy in the front with a windswept windshield, however the rear is better served for two passengers, rather than three, and for riders under 6 feet, as the hatch's contour slopes downward in the back, making shorter headroom.

We found good power for everyday driving, especially for a vehicle of its class and price, and four-wheel disc brakes that did their job, stopping the iM in a measured manner. The electric power steering carved turns well over a course of highway motoring and driving along the tight and winding canyon roads in coastal southern California.

The iM's handling was clearly enhanced by the TRD package's specialized air filter, lowering springs, and anti-roll bars that work with the stock suspension to tighten the handling in corners and during passing maneuvers. We were also impressed by the standard Hill Start Assist that holds the iM for 2 seconds and keeps it from rolling backwards, an aid to drivers who are challenged by manual transmissions and steep grades.

2__2016_scion_im___profileThe Scion iM comes in one well-equipped trim, without factory options, although a few items can be dealer-installed, such as a navigation system, roof rack, cargo accessories, a pet carrier, and a TRD performance upgrade package.

Notable is Scion's long list of standard safety attributes including the Star Safety System, with stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, a brake assist, and "smart stop" which, under certain conditions, reduces engine power when both gas and brake pedals are pressed at the same time. Also onboard is a rear backup camera.

Sue_Mead-headshotBy Sue Mead for MotorMatters
SUE MEAD began her automotive career as a part-time freelance evaluator for Four Wheeler Magazine in 1988 on the first team that included women as test drivers. Today, she travels the globe test-driving cars and trucks and working as a photojournalist/feature writer for dozens of publications. Mead specializes in 4WD, and has been an auto editor and 4WD editor for CNN/fn. Mead has been inducted into the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and recently won her class as the Driver of Record in the 2011 Dakar Rally. Mead has received a number of awards for her work in the field of automotive journalism. She has written for Four Wheeler, 4Wheel & Off Road, Automobile, AutoWeek, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics. Parade, Women’s Sports & Fitness, Autobytel, AutoTrader and the New York Times, as well as publications around the globe. Mead has written three books: Monster Trucks and Tractors; Off Road Racing, Legends and Adventures; and Rock Crawling.

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