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 ft.lb.torque

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