The Scion iM was a last gasp for Toyota Motor Company. That’s because Scion will fade into the sunset in late 2016, another car brand that sold some cars and, ultimately, died the in face of underwhelming demand.
Sure, the Scion xB was a hit when it first arrived and the tC managed to charm about 17,000 buyers annually over the last few years and the Scion FR-S remains an enjoyable roadster. However, of those three vehicles, only the FR-S will see daylight in 2017 as a Toyota model.
It’s in this rapidly evolving environment that Scion launched the iM in late 2015 where it has managed to move about 1,200 models each month — a long way from being a breakout hit. Yet the iM will have a place in Toyota’s fleet going forward and that’s why I jumped at the chance to evaluate this new car. Here are five reasons to drive this small hatchback.
Reason #1: The Scion iM is affordable
There is one big reason to consider the Scion iM: its low price. The 2016 Scion iM starts at $19,995 for models with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and $19,255 for cars with a six-speed manual transmission. That’s a low starting price. Even after adding every possible upgrade (8 total that added $2,872 to the overall price and ranged from navigation to the film that protects your paint), the most you’ll spend on a 2016 Scion iM is around $23,500 after you pay the $795 delivery fee and $650 acquisition fee. Put $2,500 down and finance the car over 60 months and you’ll pay $332 per month. Remember, that’s for the most loaded iM model. Cut out the options, save some money, yet still drive a well-equipped compact car.
For many iM buyers, that low price is the most compelling feature of all.
Reason #2: It’s a looker
Economy cars aren’t known for incredibly stylish designs and the iM won’t turn many heads. But taken on its own, it’s a good-looking hatchback that seats fives and holds its own stylistically against cars in its class such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Mazda 3. My first impression was that the iM reminded me of the now-defunct Lexus CT 200h. That’s decent praise for a car that costs a whole lot less than that now defunct Lexus model.
Buyers will appreciate the 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, and LED running lights. What they’ll miss is a sunroof or HID headlights. That’s because they’re simply not available. Add a rear spoiler and body kits to increase the sporty looks.
Reason #3: It’s packed with great standard features
The Scion iM looks good from the outside and even better from the inside. That’s because it’s packed with a gaggle of standard features that young drivers want but don’t always find in cars at this price — at least without going wild on the upgrades list.
A rearview camera and Bluetooth to stream audio from your phone is standard. So is a 7-inch touchscreen that includes one-touch access to Aha streaming radio and six speakers that enable the music to surround you. You can plug in a device via USB but most people will stream via Bluetooth. One feature that is not included is satellite radio. Guess Toyota assumes Millennials would rather stream their own playlists than listen to Sirius/XM’s radio stations — or listen to HD Radio for free. You also can’t upgrade to add safety features like a blind spot warning system or rear cross-traffic alert.
Other nice features include keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, cruise control and power seats. It’s all nicer than the basic economy cars you may remember not so long ago.
Reason #4: The Scion iM is recommended by Consumer Reports
The big knock on the Scion iM is that the engine feels underpowered. That’s true compared to other cars in its class. The 137 horsepower it generates is between 15 and 25 hp less than many cars in its class. So know that the iM looks sportier than the actual performance this hatch delivers.
Yet that performance deficit didn’t prevent Consumer Reports’ editors from adding the Scion iM to their list of “Recommended” vehicles for 2016. Frankly, I was a bit surprised the iM earned a place on that list that also includes the Honda Civic, Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla, vehicles that are superior in nearly every way. Neither the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf or Chevy Cruze make the list, largely due to poor reliability ratings.
Reason #5: It includes free scheduled maintenance
Given that Consumer Reports expects the iM to perform better than average in terms of reliability, it makes perfect sense that Scion offers two years of free scheduled maintenance. It’s called Scion Service Boost and it provides free maintenance for 2 years or the first 25,000 miles. That means oil changes, tire rotations, and all the standard stuff are free. Just drop your iM at your local Toyota/Scion dealership. Two years of roadside maintenance is also offered for the first 2 years.
Worth a look, but not particularly noteworthy
I’m mixed on the Scion iM. I like how the bolstered front seats hold me tight. I like the looks of the car and it feels like a good value for the price. What I don’t like as much is the underwhelming performance. It was fine to drive around town but it’s slow to accelerate on the freeway. Third-party testers report 0-60 times between 9 and 10 seconds. That’s a lot slower than what you’ll experience in the more powerful VW Golf or Ford Focus. Ultimately, the Scion iM is a car that looks sporty, but isn’t, which was the same critique of the old Lexus CT 200h. It should be reliable. It should be safe. It just won’t elevate your heart rate as much as you might like.
2016 Scion iM photo copyright Waterdog Media, Inc.