2016 Scion iA Subcompact Sedan: Last of the Cheap Cars?

I find myself split on my opinions of the all-new 2016 iA sedan from Scion. And that’s not meant to be a pun as my opinions split almost right down the middle of the vehicle itself. Front? Good. Rear? Not so good. Not to mention the vehicle itself has sort of a split personality.

2016 Scion iA/Images courtesy Scion

The split personality of Scion’s very first sedan (four door) car comes in the fact that the automaker sourced the vehicle from Mazda, the iA is what we used to get in the U.S. as the Mazda2 (no longer sold here). Scion drops in its powertrain and a few other components and voila, the 2016 Scion iA. And no sooner does Scion give us its first sedan than Toyota announces it is retiring the division but plans are in place for Scion models to live on with Toyota badging come fall.

Scion calls the new little iA a sports sedan but I will just call it a sedan as there is nothing too sporty about it aside from the fact you can order it with a manual transmission. We opted for the six-speed automatic (which, by the way, does have a sport mode setting) for our test vehicle as we drove a stick in the Scion iM hatchback recently and were looking for some variety. The gearbox is mated to a 106hp 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that offers surprising response in this little sedan and it runs fairly quiet for a small engine. As I said earlier, front: good.

The Scion iA achieves some nice EPA results in the form of 33 mpg city and 42 mpg highway with the automatic and slightly less when outfitted with the six-speed manual tranny.

I will concede the new iA does have some sporty and aggressive styling up front but so does a miniature Doberman. Scion only offers it in sedan body styling and it arrives in one trim level with just about everything standard. It rides on 16-inch alloy wheels and features a halo of standard safety features, including rear backup camera via a 7-inch color touchscreen infotainment display with center console mounted commander control knob. I missed satellite radio in the entry-level car but it does have a push button starter and remote keyless entry along with tilt/telescopic steering wheel.

Interior trim is basic as one would expect from a value-based vehicle but the two-tone cloth front seats are comfortable and supportive. The rear seating is a bit cramped with decreasing headroom but again as I said earlier, front: good, back: not so good. The trunk offers a good amount of cargo space and can be accessed via the key fob.

The new Scion iA sedan drives nice enough and while I would not recommend it for any type autocross or automotive “sport” event it can handle its own and never feels unsafe or out of control. I would even recommend this car as a first driver for Dad’s worried about the kids heading off for college and wanting to keep them safe and secure.

On to some of the “not so good”. Just closing the doors reminds you this is an inexpensive vehicle. And the entire time I drove the vehicle there was an increase of road and environmental noise coming from the rear of the vehicle as if designers and engineers worked diligently on noise, vibration, and harshness from the front of the vehicle and when they got behind the b-pillar a bean counter stood up and said “Whoa, we are out of money, stop right there.” This issue is minimal for those of you who will be listening to the music loud or driving around with the windows down but for those of us used to a higher degree of quiet it comes as a bit disconcerting.

Pricing for the 2016 Scion iA “sports” sedan begins at $15,700 for a manual equipped car and ends at $16,800 for vehicles with automatics. The only other charge is the $795 delivery, processing, and handling fee.

As you can see a cheap car is no longer cheap and with the value brand of Scion going away the status of pricetags of Scion models moving into the Toyota showrooms is up in the air. Get ‘em while you can, I say, and get what will most likely be a collectors car sometime in the future…way, way in the future.

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.