Category Archives: Auto Recalls

2016 Scion iA Sedan

iaSusan Frissell

Having just spent the last week in the 2016 Scion iA, the edict comes down from Toyota: They are killing the Scion brand. Spun off as a separate lineup of vehicles in 2003, Scion will now slip off into oblivion to that great automobile place in the sky. Another foreign-car fighter bites the dust. Scion sales dwindled in 2015, to 56,817 units (a drop of 3 percent).

The Scion iA, introduced last year isn’t a bad little sedan; but not a compact entry that will be sorely missed. We attended the launch for the Scion iA and iM a year or so ago and thought the two new entries somewhat noteworthy, but also more contestants in an already crowded market.

Toyota North American CEO Jim Lentz stated this isn’t a step backward for Scion; rather a “leap forward for Toyota.” Scion, according to Lentz, was an ‘entry point for cost-conscious, young buyers.” A platform for allowing Toyota dealers to attract and engage young customers, the Scion brand was kind of an experiment, including all that was new and high tech.

The average age of the Scion buyer was 36 years; 70 percent of those buyers who had never purchased a Toyota. Not necessarily on an upward climb, Scion may have succumbed to plunging gasoline prices, crushing sales of small cars.

The sad part-for this writer-is that anything that ISN’T a sport-utility-vehicle is headed for oblivion. What with Fiat Chrysler just announcing they may kill the compact Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans, only to bring out additional SUV’s. Not only are cars idolized as they once were, but now the “car” as we know it, may be history.

Despite Scion’s struggles, their products did seem innovative when first out. The FR-S sports car, along with the iA and iM, so it’s said, will live on as Toyota models. Whether the public supports it or not, automotive manufacturers might want to make available a sports car; something fun, not only practical.

Our Scion iA, a base model selling at just over $17,000 (including destination) was well-equipped, yet not fancy. Cloth interior, the basic AM/FM/ HD Radio with six speakers and the only available power plant, a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, 16-valve. Six-speed automatic and manual transmissions are available and fuel economy is a respectable 31/41 mpg.; average 37 mpg.

The Scion iA comes well-equipped for an entry-level sedan and includes the usual Halogen headlamps, 7-inch color touch screen display, Ports w/iPod connectivity, Am/FM/HD, Bluetooth wireless, voice recognition, connected service suite, Pandora , keyless entry, push-button stop/start, A/C, 60/40 split rear seat, carpeted floor mats, and a large host of safety technology.

Competition for the Scion iA is Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic and Spark, SmartforTwo, Honda Fit and Hyundai Accent. Some with a little more style, but fewer standard features. Acceleration seems a tad sluggish in the iA, the upholstery what you’d expect in this level of vehicle, but the iA takes most road surfaces well, gets you from point A to point B, and provides a good value. It feels like a solid little sedan when on the road.


MSRP: $16,800; total vehicle price $17,570; destination $4770

Engine: 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder DOHC, 16-valve, 106 hp., 103

Transmission: six-speed automatic w/sport mode

Wheelbase: 101.2 in.

Height: 58.5 in.

Width: 58.9 in.

Weight: 2,385 lbs.

Length: 171.7 in.

Wheels: 16-inch 16×5.5 in.

Tires: 185/60R16

Warranty: 3 yr/36,000-mile basic; 2 yr/25,000-mile free maintenance; 5 yr/60,000-mile drivetrain

2016 Scion FR-S

frs1Susan Frissell, PhD

Having spent a week in the Scion FR-S sport coupe, we were reminded of the original Celica of days past. A very popular little sport coupe, Celica’s demise was mourned by many. A stablemate to the Subaru BRZ, the FR-S has several good points; and a few not-so-good.

For 2016, Scion has given the FR-S its first meaningful update. Introduced in 2012,, the FR-s has had moderate success, in a category that is quickly disappearing. Minor changes include some visual tweaks and new trim for the cabin, two new exterior colors (Ablaze Red, Oceanic Blue), a new standard audio system, and new standard rearview camera.

The Scion FR-S raises pricing about t $400, bringing the MSRP to $26405 for the automatic, and manual $25,305. Not inexpensive, particularly for the Scion brand, the FR-S can be considered an “affordable” sports coupe.

The FR-S is for the most part, a fun coupe to drive. The ride is hard, but the seats are firm and supportive. The car is nimble and solid, offers high tech features for the young set, and of course, excels at safety equipment packages. We would have enjoyed driving it on some twisty roads rather than around town. Not just sure this writer would welcome it as a daily driver. But then, It’s not aimed at my demographic.

Sporty in looks, the FR-S has an aerodynamic look and feel, is well-built and economical. We found the center console cupholder feature annoying. The two-cup holder moves back/forth in the console but is in the way of the driver’s elbow. I spilled my coffee more than once.

We found that driving in Sport mode was more comfortable (less bumpy, more smooth) than standard mode. Getting the gearshift to move into gear proved more difficult than it needed to be. New features for 2016 on the FR-S include a 7-inch audio screen, featuring more resolution, a revised Nav system, connect Bluetooth (Aha lite, iTunes, tagging included on non-Nav model); standard backup camera, interior feature color changes (changed steering wheel bezel, door grips and center console side ornament to high brightness silver color).

The FR-S is powered by a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine, with 200 horsepower. At 151 lb-ft, it’s not exactly a pocket rocket.. The engine is a variation of a Subaru design, with the addition of Toyota’s direct- and port-injection system.

Steering may not have the anticipated precision of a sports car, but it’s tight and performance-oriented. Brakes worked well, effective and not jerky. Tires are 17-inch, hold the road well and give the car a heavier feel

Sitting in the FR-S gives one the feel of a sports car, but getting in and out of it aren’t so pleasurable. The cabin is for the most part, quiet even with a small growl. It is a sporty vehicle, after all.

Head and leg room in the FR-S is more plentiful than expected. The small back seat space is hardly worth it, but could hold packages (or a 5-year-old), and the like. Some reviewers believe an adult passenger can fit in the rear seats; we’re not so sure.

Cargo space is what would be expected for a two-plus-two coupe. Not as much as a Corvette, for instance, but enough for a couple of suitcases and gear. Also helpful are the fold flat rear seats, opening up additional horizontal space.

Scion says the FR-S was designed to hold four wheels and tires, a toolbox, a helmet, and a driver–all you need for a basic day at the track. I suppose that could work. Our silver exterior color wouldn’t have been our choice for a sport coupe: Rather, the blue or yellow, maybe even red would be a better fit.

Standard features on the 2016 Scion FR-S are generous which makes up for a lack of many options. Consumers can choose most of the options and upgrades on their own rather than in the usual packages. We wish more manufacturers would operate this way.

Optional equipment available on the FR-S includes carpeted trunk and cabin floor mats, an ashtray kit, mud guards, wheel locks, suspension kits and larger wheels. Not on the option list is navigation. This seems strange as it is available on the Subaru BRZ.

Standard equipment includes manually adjustable six-way driver and four-way passenger front seats; fold-flat rear seats; a first-aid kit; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; an eight-speaker audio system; USB/Bluetooth/auxiliary inputs; and more.

Competition for the Scion FR-S includes Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, Nissan 370Z and Miata MX5. Some pretty hefty choices.


MSRP: $26,405; total vehicle price $27,175; destinaiton $770

Engine: 2.0-liter H-4, 4-cylinder Boxer DOHC, 16-valve, 200 hp., 151 lb. ft. torque

Transmission: six-speed sequential automatic w/paddle shifters, Dynamic Rev Management

Wheelbase: 101.2 in.

Length: 166.7 in.

Height: 50.6 in.

Width: 69.9 in.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal.

Tires: 215/45R17 all-season

Wheels: 17-inch alloy

Scion iM Compact Hatch: A Second Drive

We reviewed the all-new 2016 Scion iM hatchback in July after an intro in Grand Rapids (…m-introduction). Overall, we liked the iM, although found it a tad weak in the power department. Now, after our second preview, we have a more favorable impression of its assets, which are several for a compact vehicle.

First off, the Scion iM is an all-new, but familiar compact. Sold as the Toyota Auris in Europe, the iM is a hatch equivalent of the ever-popular Toyota Corolla. A “return of the Corolla wagon, ”the iM will appeal to not only its target audience: young and active, but also to the Boomers (much like other Scion products, namely, the xB).

While the iM offers a lot of goodies, it lacks some features common in competitive compacts. For instance, you won’t find any factory options, only one engine option slightly below average for other compacts (1.89-liter, 4-cylinder, 137 hp,.126 lb. ft. torque), active safety gear, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, or forward collision warning.

What you will get includes a long list of standard features, including power windows/door locks, 17-inch wheels/tires, rearview camera, Bluetooth, touchscreen infotainment system, cruise, keyless ignition/entry, power folding/heated side mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto headlights, and streaming Internet radio/HD.

We especially like the dog-friendly accessory offered by Scion. With your pup’s safety in mind, Scion offers a package that includes a pet barrier for the seat, unusual grass pad that mounts on the center console to keep your pet from standing there, door guards to prevent claw scratches, and a tether to keep your dog tied when running errands.

Other standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, a standard body kit, and free scheduled maintenance for two years/25,000-miles, whichever comes first. Included in the free-scheduled maintenance are oil changes, filters, tire rotation and scheduled inspections.

This useful daily driver has a tight interior (cu. Ft. under 21), replaces the subcompact Scion xD. A sporty compact option, the iM is an entry-level vehicle starting at $18,460 ($795 destination). Scion subscribes to the ‘no haggle’ pricing regimen so expect to pay the price advertised.

The iM is road-trip worthy, but don’t expect to out-run the faster-moving vehicles when negotiating the on-ramp. This little 4-banger takes a longer time than we would like to get up to speed. Buyers can opt for navigation.
The iM weighs in at 2,943 pounds, seats five and has a 14-gallon fuel tank. Fuel economy is respectable and averages between 27/28 (MT/CVT)-36/37 mpg.

Japanese Manufacturers Recall 3 million Vehicles

Toyota, Honda and Nissan are recalling more than 3 million vehicles globally for an identical problem with passenger side air bags whose inflator may burst, sending plastic pieces flying.

No injuries have been reported thus far, and the recall for air bags made by Japan’s Takata Corp. affects other automakers including non-Japanese manufacturers. Details were not given.

Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 1.7 million vehicles, with some 580,000 in North America, another 490,000 in Europe and 320,000 in Japan, and include models Corolla, Tundra and Lexus SC, produced between November 2000 and March 2004.

Toyota said it had received five reports of air bag problems, three in the U.S. and two in Japan, but there have been no injuries.

Honda Motor Co. is recalling 1.1 million vehicles; about 680,000 in North America, 270,000 in Japan and 64,000 in Europe. The models include the Civic, CR-V and Odyssey.The recall extends to Latin America, China, other Asian nations, the Middle East and Africa.

Nissan Motor Co. recalled 480,000 vehicles globally, some 137,000 of them in Japan, for the air bag problem. Recalled models in Japan include the Cube, X-Trail, Maxima and Teana, made from August 2000 to January 2004, spokesman Chris Keeffe said.

The problem appears to be related to human errors during production. A worker forgot to turn on the switch for a system weeding out defective products and parts were improperly stored, which exposed them to humidity, according to Honda spokeswoman Akemi Ando.

Also affected under the same recall were the RX-8 and Mazda 6 at Mazda

The Hiroshima-based automaker said 45,000 vehicles were recalled, including 4,000 in Japan. It did not give numbers for other regions, but said recalls will be announced in North America, Europe, China and other nations.

According to Japan’s Transport Ministry, the recall affects nearly 732,000 vehicles in Japan.

Hyundai, Kia Put out Call for Big Recall

hyundaielantraHyundai/Kia have announced a major recall of 1.9 million vehicles, due to problems with airbags and brake light switches. Most of the lineup is affected by these problems, and includes 2007-2011 model years. Also, 194,000 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantras are involved. Not only are the airbags involved, but a faulty switch which can stop the brake light from illuminating when the driver presses on the accelerator pedal. Also affected is the cruise control system. The switch may not turn off when the driver steps on the brake, and push-to-start buttons may not work. A feature on the vehicle that stops the driver from shifting out of park without a foot on the brake may also fail.

According to a report from the NHTSA, “failure to illuminate stop lamps during braking or the inability to disengage the cruise control would increase the risk of a crash.” So far there have not been any crashes or injuries related to these possible failures, and the malfunctions do not occur all the time. The performance of the brakes is not affected.

The Elantra airbag recall involves a support bracket that may break loose when side airbags are inflated and could cause injuries. NHTSA began investigating the problem last year and traced it to cars that were equipped with dimming rearview mirrors installed after they arrived here in U.S. ports from South Korea. When the mirrors were installed it is possible the technician may have dislodged the bracket. Dealers will install industrial adhesive strips to keep the brackets in place, at no cost.

The models affected by the above recalls include:

Hyundai: 2007-09 Accent, Tucson SUV; 2007-10 Elantra; 2011 Sonata; 2007-11 Sante Fe SUV; 2008-09 Veracruz; 2010-11 Genesis Coupe

Kia: 2007-09 Rondo, Sportage; 2011 Optima; 2007-11 Soul; 2007 Sedona

Owners will be notified and dealers will replace switches free of charge. Kia owners will receive notices in May, while Hyundai owners can expect to hear from the manufacturer in June.

Auto Recalls 2012

According to the NHTSA, 14 people have complained about the problem, athough there have been no crashes or injuries reported. Drivers have reported that it was hard to stop the car with brakes and several of them noted they had to shut off the engine or put the car in neutral in order to stop. One driver reported having to run a red light and entered an intersection before the car could be stopped.

The agency reports that the cruise control cable may become detached and hold the throttle open. According to Ford spokesman Daniel Pierce, Ford is cooperating in the probe. He said the company was just notified of the investigation.

One driver reported in a complaint to NHTSA on Aug. 27, 2010 that his 2006 Taurus began to accelerate without any pressure on the gas pedal. He stated he pushed the brakes to the maximum, but the car ran a red light, stopping halfway in the intersection. The engine revved until the car was shut off, but it revved again when it was restarted.