Scion has been quiet lately, but they introduced two new models for 2016 to bring a little excitement to the brand including the Scion iM. It wants to be your cute, fun, hatchback that is affordable without being a boring economy car. That’s an easy sell, but it’s tough to pull off those two things in the same car. The iM does a good job and will feel just right for the younger set that is its target.
Since its inception in 2003, Scion has designed cars that are all over the map. You don’t see one and immediately know that it’s a Scion and they like it that way. There have been a lot of changes in the industry since then and Scion has grown up, but they’ve still giving each car its own unique personality rather than building them all with the same signature design elements.
The appeal of the Scion iM starts with a price under $20,000 so it’s easy on your wallet. A mono-spec pricing strategy means that there is only one way to get the car so there is no long list of options to tempt you into spending thousands more. Your only choice is whether you want the standard 6-speed manual transmission or optional CVT.
The iM comes with plenty of standard features that help it feel well-equipped and not cheap. The list includes dual-zone climate control, backup camera, leather-trimmed, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, 7″ touchscreen audio with 6-speakers, and Bluetooth hands-free capability.
The interior, despite its modest price point, looks and feels nice. The cloth seats are well-cushioned and supportive. The leather trimmed steering wheel complements leather dash accents along with piano black finishes. It’s simple without becoming boring and spartan. There is plenty of room for two adults up front and the rear seats can easily accommodate two with a third, very trim adult fitting in a pinch.
Styling is firmly in hot hatchback territory. It’s very low, especially up front where you’ll want to be careful with cement curbs. There are 17″ wheels with that sporty body kit with nothing of the overtly boxy styling of Scion’s earlier models. LED daytime running lamps, chrome tipped exhaust and projector-beam halogen headlamps with auto on/off complete the package. It’s a good-looking car.
The engine is a 1.8-liter I4 with 137 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque. That’s not a heck of a lot, but this is a small car so it does well. The response isn’t impressive, but with a manual transmission it becomes a more enjoyable drive. Most will opt for the CVT which is well-programmed to offer the right amount of power at the right time without any hitches.
While the iM delivers on features and style, the drive itself is uninspired. The suspension is smooth on city streets and nicely evens out potholes, but it is not an enthusiast’s car. The fun is missing. It’s comfortable and competent and a great commuter car, but those who are looking for an engaging hot hatchback need to look elsewhere.
The 2016 Scion iM is a middle of the road car. There are less appealing, cheaper options that are a chore to drive and there are more expensive, more powerful options for enthusiasts. The iM offers a little bit of everything. It has sporty exterior styling, a comfortable interior, and good options all at a price point that makes it easy to afford.