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REVIEW: 2016 Scion iM – Going Where It Belongs

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The Scion brand is finished, and its cars will be re-branded as Toyotas.

That’s good, because the iM should have been a Toyota from the start.

Related: Unfortunate Scion: Toyota Shelves Its Youth-Oriented Brand

What is it?

The Scion iM is essentially a hatchback version of the best-selling Toyota Corolla sedan.

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It’s proportioned a lot like a Mazda3. Overall length is held to 170.5 inches, which makes the iM very parkable.

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Prices and trims

As a Scion, the iM’s appeal centers around lots of standard features, like mirrors with signal repeaters.

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You get these niceties at the low entry price of $19,255 for the six-speed manual version and $19,995 for the CVT.

Both prices include the $795 destination charge.

There’s just one iM, with no trim levels, and the few options include a $900 Pioneer BeSpoke audio/navigation unit and a $399 rear spoiler.

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Our manual-transmission test car had the $185 carpeted floor mats, the $89 rear bumper protector and the $65 wheel locks, for a total $19,594.

Nice that this well-equipped car stayed under $20K.

Related: Old Scion Models Get New Lives as Toyotas

Safety

The 2016 Scion iM lacks a forward-collision mitigation system – no warnings, no auto-brake. You’d look perhaps to the Scion iA for that. The iM gets “Good” ratings in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Performance

The iM’s 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine is also under the Corolla‘s hood, where it makes either 132 or 140 horsepower, depending on which Corolla you choose.

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This engine produces 137 horses in the iM, and those horses feel like a generally healthy bunch. The engine is game to rev up, but noise levels encourage you to stay below 4,000 rpm.

The tested iM’s six-speed manual shifter mirrored the Corolla’s in being a long-throw and  low-effort affair. As with the engine, it operated innocuously and didn’t spur you to pull any fast ones.

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Ride and handling

That story continues with the iM’s suspension, which provides a comfortable ride and likable routine handling.

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As speeds rise, the iM joins the Corolla in being quick to understeer and run wide of your intended line, which gives little impetus for back-road probing.

Seating

Welcome to a differently-trimmed Corolla interior; the iM has only minor detail differences.

That’s good in terms of comfort, because the front seats are quite kind to your backside.

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Seat padding is a likely compromise of cushy and firm, and side and thigh support is decent.

The rear seat is one area where the Corolla and iM diverge: the Corolla has a Town Car-like 41.4 inches of rear legroom, but the iM’s is cut to 32.7, which charts at the lower part of the compact class.

Headroom is about the same, so six-footers will feel the iM mostly in the shins.

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The iM’s interior can feel dark; in the preceding pics, the exposure is turned way up to show the seat’s details, but all that black trim can create a dusky effect.

It’s more apparent here in this flash shot, which shows the iM’s relatively clear over-the-shoulder view.

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Cargo

The iM has a sizable 20.8 cubic feet for cargo with the rear seats up. The mat is part of this car’s $185 mat package.

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There’s a shallow tray beneath it that’s divided up for incidentals.

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The rear seats need their headrests to be removed before they’ll fold…

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…and when they do, they fold flat.

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Infotainment and controls

Breaking up all that black was a cushioned white strip on the lower instrument panel, a jaunty accent.

As with the Corolla, the panel is tall and bluff-faced. It’s a more conservative design than you’d find in a Honda or a Hyundai.

Still, the panel’s gentle curves and smooth plastics give it a quality look, and the controls are at hand.

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The standard Pioneer audio system has a larger screen than you might find in other compact cars – it’s a full seven inches.

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Its Bluetooth paired easily with my Android phone, and there’s an Aha-brand app manager for social media, news sites and more.

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The driver faces an additional 4.2-inch screen between the gauges, for information and alerts.

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Below the center screen are the dual climate controls, which are an appreciated luxury touch at less than $20K.

Note the dust on the piano-black trim – it quickly accumulates on that dark and slick surface.

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Below that is a bin with with a rubbery floor that hides behind a door, along with connections for 12V power, USB and AUX.

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The round vents are a fun offset to the interior’s angular shapes.

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Overall

The Scion iM will have an easy transition as it migrates to Toyota’s showrooms; it’s very much like the Corolla sedan that’s already sold there.

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This will be music to the ears of the Corolla faithful, who put between 25,000 and 30,000 new Corollas on US roads each month.

More Corolla choice will likely lead to this hatchback selling better than it ever did as a Scion, which lately has done a business of only about 1,300 iMs per month.

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As for the iM’s sporting intentions, we can leave them in the dust bin of old Scion press releases. At least the iM looks the part, and for Toyota’s shoppers, the iM’s generous equipment levels will likely seal the deal.

Tell us in the comments – what do YOU think of the Scion iM becoming a Toyota?

Base price: $18,460

Price as tested: $19,594 (includes $795 destination charge)

Options:

Carpeted floor mats and cargo mat: $185

Rear bumper protector: $89

Wheel locks: $65

Likes

Value for the dollar

Roominess and utility

Comfortable front seats

Dislikes

Unremarkable performance

Unavailabile active safety features

Limited options and configurations

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