The Future For Scion? The 2016 Scion iM

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Scion iM
The 2016 Scion iM.
Twelve years ago, Toyota launched the Scion brand, the object being to lure younger buyers who saw Toyota as "Mom and Dad's" brand.  The Scion xA and xB not only didn't set the world on fire, they sold largely to Grandma and Grandad.

More recently, Scion has introduced cars with some genuine youth appeal, the tC, which did well for a while, but has faded, and the FR-S, a car we like so much that it (as of this writing) is in the list of TireKicker's Best Cars on the right hand side of this page. Still, it's a low-volume car and Scion could use some sheer numbers.  The new iM may be just the car to do that.

Side view of 2016 Scion iM
2016 Scion iM.
The iM blends stylish bordering on racy bodywork with Corolla mechanicals, That means decent if not startling performance, very good fuel economy (EPA estimate 27 city/36 highway) and legendary reliability. And for those of us who still know how, you can get it with a stick.  Yes, an honest-to-goodness six-speed manual transmission, which has the benefit of being not only more fun, but $700 less expensive than an iM with a CVT (continuously variable transmission).

Interior view of 2016 Scion iM
2016 Scion iM interior.
The dashboard is similar to but different from that in the Corolla, with legible gauges, thoughtful control placement and very attractive piano black accents.  For $18,460 (the starting price of a manual-spec iM), you get 17-inch alloy wheels, a security system, ABS, vehicle stability and traction control, smart stop technology, hill start assist, a rear-view camera, tire pressure monitoring, automatic projector beam halogen headlamps, LED taillamps and daytime running lights, a rear window wiper, chrome-tipped exhaust, color-keyed heated power-folding exterior mirrors with LED turn signal indicators built in, a seven-inch color touchscreen six-speaker audio system with AM/FM/HDRadio with aha and iPod connectivity, voice recognition, remote keyless entry, power door locks, power windows, a dual-zone climate control system and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

Standard.  For $18,460.  That is probably the best-equipped vehicle anywhere near that price point that we've reviewed in years.

You can add more options, but not many more.  The BeSpoke audio system with navigation is really the only major one.  Through a scheduling error (mine), both TireKicker World Headquarters here in Sacramento and the Phoenix bureau wound up with manual-spec iMs the same week (ours was red, theirs was blue). Both were identically equipped, adding carpeted floor mats and a cargo mat ($185) wheel locks ($65) and a rear bumper protector ($89).  With $795 delivery, processing and handling fee, the bottom line for both was $19,594.

Although we are drivers and writers of different sizes and different driving styles in different environments, we both found the iM to be fun to drive, economical and a remarkable value for the money. Bigger and better looking than the current Honda Fit, and available with a manual with this level of standard equipment, the Scion iM deserves to be a breakthrough vehicle for the Scion brand.