2016 Scion iA: Lots of Car for the Money [Review]

2016 Scion iA

Grand Rapids, Mich.–Scion’s new 2016 iA from parent company Toyota is mainly aimed at younger folks who want an affordable, economical and practical subcompact sports sedan with many features.

The front-drive iA looks sporty, with swept-back windshield pillars, long hood, sculpted body sides and short rear deck. It was introduced in the Grand Rapids area at a media preview, which involved driving the car over a variety of urban and country roads. For the most part, it did fine.

2016 Scion iA

Engine Power Torque Transmission MSRP Rating
1.5L DOHC 4-cylinder 106 hp @ 6,000 rpm 103 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 6-speed manual or automatic $15,700 (MT)$16,800 (AT) Buy it!

Scion expects 75 percent of iA customers to be first-time buyers, with nearly 40 percent replacing a used car. Scion hopes the iA will draw younger people buying their first new car and keep them within the Toyota family.

List prices should be a major attraction, especially considering the iA’s long list of standard equipment for an entry level subcompact.

2016 Scion iA interior

That equipment includes a rearview backup camera, air conditioning, keyless entry, pushbutton start, cruise control, pre-collision braking, 7-inch touchscreen Display Audio System with Aha, Pandora and Stitcher connected services. There’s also a Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio. The steering wheel has audio and Bluetooth switches. There are 6 speakers.

List prices for the iA are $15,700 for the model with a slick six-speed manual transmission, which requires a long clutch throw, to $16,800 for an iA with a six-speed automatic transmission. Those prices don’t include a $795 freight charge.

The automatic has a sport mode that adjusts throttle response and shift points for quicker initial acceleration.

2016 Scion iA

The iA is essentially a Mazda 2, which isn’t sold in America. The Scion iA and Mazda 2 are built alongside each other at Mazda’s plant in Mexico, with such things as a large iA grille that Scion says helps distinguish the car.

Actually, some now-classic 1950s Ferraris had a similar extra-large grille, but the iA’s grille may be polarizing to some.

The iA uses Mazda’s sophisticated 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 106 horsepower. The iA with the manual only weighs 2,385 pounds, so performance is lively–as long as a driver shifts the first four gears a lot. Fifth and sixth gears are overdrive gears for highway cruising.

More power would be welcome, although the 0-60 m.p.h. time is reportedly a respectable 10 seconds.

2016 Scion iA interior

The $16,800 iA with the automatic transmission weighs a little more, at 2,416 pounds and makes the car easier to drive. Scion expects 50 percent of iA buyers will be woman, and I suspect most will select the automatic.

With the manual, the iA delivers 33 miles per gallon in the city and 42 on highways. Figures with the automatic are nearly identical at 31 and 41.

The iA has a roomy front compartment and the rear-seat area can handle two tall occupants. The trunk is fairly large, with a low, wide opening, and the split-folding 60/40 rear seatbacks sit flat when folded to significantly enlarge the cargo area.

My test iA’s front seats were supportive, although bright sunlight nearly washed out the gauge readings. Controls in the generally quiet interior could be easily used.

2016 Scion iA

This is a nimble car. The steering is quick, although it transmits little road feel. The ride is very supple, especially for a subcompact, and handling is secure with a good suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels. The brakes work well, with linear pedal action.

Buy itOn the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the affordable and well-equipped 2016 Scion iA a Buy It! rating. Toyota’s relatively young Scion operation needs a sales shot in the arm, and the iA might provide it.

2016 Scion iA Specs:

  • Engine: 1.5L DOHC 4-cylinder
  • Power: 106 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 103 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual or automatic
  • Drivetrain layout: front-wheel drive (FWD)
  • EPA estimate fuel economy (mpg): 6-speed manual 31/41/35 (city/hwy/combined) | 6-speed automatic 33/42/37 (city/hwy/combined)
  • Curb weight (pounds): 2,385 (MT) / 2,416 (AT)

Check out the full video of the 2016 Scion iA to see if it really is as fun to drive as a Mazda2: