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2012 Scion iQ: Really An Intelligent Choice?

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On: Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 12:00PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2012 Scion iQ: Really An Intelligent Choice?

At first glance, it seems as though the littlest Scion is obviously targeting the other intellect-based automobile out there—the Smart Car. They have similar attributes, similar stances, and offer much the same in the way of cargo room and performance. But it is actually those latter characteristics that make us ask a single question upon hearing the name iQ: "Oh, really?"

So it seems that the flow of logic is simple: If you buy an iQ (or a Smart Car, for that matter), then you are intelligent, and if you don't—well, then good luck, dummy. But after some fairly simple evaluation, the iQ makes us wonder if the folks over at Scion are grading those intelligence tests on some sort a curve that we don't know about. Here's the thing, once you get passed the novel look-how-cute-it-is vibe and oh-I-can-park-in-smaller-spots-than-you showing off, this car doesn't offer a whole lot, even considering its... tiny... price of ownership.

But before you think we are being a little too harsh on the little guy, let's see what we have here. Okay, you get a 1.3-liter 16-valve DOHC inline four that makes a reasonable 94-horsepower (thanks to a very high 11.5:1 compression ratio) and a less than exciting 89-pound-feet of torque. That mini-motor is connected to a continuously variable transmission that helps propel the 2150 pound pod down the road with all the alacrity and panache of a runaway baby carriage—on sand. Like most cars in this class, the iQ is slow, and we're not talking intellectually. 60 mph for this engine is like a long division problem without a calculator. It takes 11.8 seconds to hit the mark, and anything beyond that is almost an exercise in futility. The iQ will get there, but you'll have plenty of time to contemplate the meaning of life before it does.

But then a car that measures 120.1-inches long, 66.1-inches wide, and 59.1-inches high isn't really intended for high speed recreation. No, the iQ is intended to be small, efficient, and practical transportation. But even giving it a Mulligan on the acceleration tests, the Scion scores a 36/37 on the EPA city/highway standardized test, which in today's hybrid/electric district lands the iQ at about a 'C' for fuel mileage. But even cars like the Prius, Leaf, and every other hybrid are grouped in their own classroom; there is still a lot of upstart prodigies in the iQ's class these days, and they are offering more than the Scion can. Cars like the Cruze Eco and Nissan Versa offer comparable or better mileage, plus a ton more cargo room at around the same price (give or take a couple grand either way) for a budding family, whereas the iQ necessitates another vehicle for a family of three or more.

But then, if you are aware of all that the iQ does (and doesn't) offer and you do, in fact, live in an urban area where parking is of high value, then perhaps the iQ does make a lot of sense. It offers a bit more room than a SmartForTwo, as well as a bit more youthful styling to boot. But, if you do find yourself behind the wheel of one of these miniature motorcars, just try to remember that you bought one because it probably is the most intelligent choice for you, not necessarily because you know something we don't.

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