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2016 Scion iA Review - First Drive

We take a look at Scion's first ever sedan

Jun 29, 2015

It's been 13 years since Scion entered the automotive marketplace and rocked the world with its unconventional xA and xB. Scion has always skewed younger, which has meant targeting "Millennials" or "Gen Y" consumers in the past. Since its start, the brand has done a bit of growing up without forgetting its roots. At the '14 LA Auto Show, Scion Vice President Doug Murtha announced three new products within the next three years. Sure enough, two have already been delivered for '15 - the first-ever iA sedan and the new iM hatchback.

2016 scion ia front view Photo 2/16   |   2016 Scion Ia Front View

Before getting in too deep about the iA, you have to realize that it's not a full-on sports car or built to hunt down apexes like the FR-S. The iA is rather an affordable commuter car and is offered with amazing value; we'll tell you why...

2016 scion ia driver side profile Photo 3/16   |   2016 Scion Ia Driver Side Profile

The iA is priced at $15,700 with the six-speed manual transmission, or $16,800 if you want the automatic. At that price, we were surprised to see all the standard equipment that comes with the car such as keyless entry, push button start, integrated rearview backup camera and a two-year or 25k mile, no-cost maintenance plan.

Keen observers will identify the iA is loosely based on the '16 Mazda2 both inside and out. The face has a hexagon lower grille and an upscale-like piano-black bumper treatment, along with a chrome grille surround. If I'm quite honest, it's not the prettiest car around and the front resembles a catfish. Available colors will include Stealth Black, Abyss, Graphite, Pulse, Sapphire, Sterling and Frost.

Scion invited me to drive the new iA through the Malibu hills, along the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway and also the streets of Santa Monica. My first advice: you might as well tape and leave the sport switch on for a somewhat better torque feel. Without it, the car is quite lackluster. Scion tells us the steering and brake systems have been given special attention, suitable for a sport sedan. Up front is a Macpherson front strut suspension and at the rear a torsion beam for a balance of handling and comfortable ride. We found that it's able around corners, but it's definitely geared more towards street comfort than a sporty feel. We had another concern while driving - the left A-pillar. It becomes quite the blind spot looking forward into a corner.

2016 scion ia engine cover Photo 7/16   |   2016 Scion Ia Engine Cover

Under the bonnet is a 1.5L four banger producing 106hp and 103 lb-ft of torque. The iA seems perfect for long road trips with the six-speed manual's fuel economy getting 31mpg in city and 41mpg on the highway. The automatic is a tad better on gas with 33mpg and 42mpg, respectively. With my need for speed tendencies, I'd prefer if Scion did without the fancy standard equipment and have a better engine. Even as something as old as the '86 Corolla GT-S 4A-GE motor rated at 112hp has more pep and liveliness to it. At the end of the day, this car wasn't intended to be a sporty sedan... If you're driving up hills or even merging onto a freeway, it'll require a lot of flooring the right foot.

The iA is a good option for first-time car buyers or for ballers on a budget. It will most certainly not be the most fun car to drive, but it will get you from point A to point B safely and with a little bit of style. There isn't really any car that offers so much primo standard equipment at the price. For that, Scion is redefining what an entry-level car is supposed to be. But maybe Scion can throw in a FA20 for a future Release Series iA. It wouldn't be bad to have one parked next to my FR-S in the garage.

2016 scion ia driver side front view Photo 11/16   |   2016 Scion Ia Driver Side Front View
2016 scion ia passenger side profile Photo 12/16   |   2016 Scion Ia Passenger Side Profile
2016 scion ia driver side front view Photo 16/16   |   2016 Scion Ia Driver Side Front View

That New Car Smell
The Sticker Pricing: $15,700 Manual; $16,800 Automatic
Engine: 1.5-liter 16v DOHC 4-cylinder
Scale Tipping: 2,385 lbs Manual/ 2,416 lbs Automatic
Footwork & Chassis: Front MacPherson struts; Rear torsion beams; 21mm stabilizer bars
Brakes: Front ventilated discs; rear drums
Wheels & Tires: 16in alloy; 185/60R16
At the Pump: 31/41/35 Manual; 33/42/37 Automatic (city/highway/combined))
The Competition: Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic, Hyundai Accent 5
Deep Thoughts: If you're looking for a sports sedan, look somewhere else. The Scion iA is for first time new buyers who wants an entry car with premium standard equipment.

Jofel Tolosa
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