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Consumer demand for small, fuel-efficient city cars gained steam after the Great Recession. In response, Toyota created the smallest four-seat car in the world: the iQ. Although badged as a Scion in North America, it remained an interesting, unconventional choice for those tackling urban landscapes. The Scion iQ left the U.S. after only four years in 2015, along with the Scion marque 12 months later.

Even though the iQ isn’t made anymore, shoppers can still pick one up on the used market. But is it a good choice?

Is the Scion iQ safe? 

Let’s get straight to the elephant in the room. The Scion iQ may look unsafe, considering its minuscule road presence. However, the crash safety ratings tell a different story. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the iQ a four-star rating. Although that isn’t perfect, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the subcompact hatchback well in nearly every area.

Despite its proportions, the Scion iQ has nine airbags and 11 in later models. It also has a world-first airbag between the rear glass and the rear head restraints. Such puts passengers at ease dealing with the thin ribbon of air between the backs of their heads and a potential rear-end accident

How reliable is the Scion iQ? 

There’s a difference between the perception of the iQ’s reliability in consumers and consumer reporting publications. U.S. News based its reliability score on the J.D. Power predicted reliability rating of three-out-of-five, meaning slightly above average. Some other rating agencies evaluated the iQ lower, but consumers seem satisfied with their compact city car.

Used Scion iQ consumer reviews from Edmunds show off a 4.7-star rating based on 39 reviews. Regardless, there is one NHTSA recall on the 2012 and 2013 Scion iQs regarding a system cable for the front passenger airbags.

Does the Scion iQ have enough cargo and passenger space?

Scion iQ
Scion iQ at North American Auto Show | Getty Images, Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Although the Scion iQ is under ten feet long, it will seat four adults. No, seriously. Will all of them be comfortable? No, they won’t, but they will fit. Realistically, the Scion iQ is more of a 3+1, meaning a full-size passenger can only fit behind the front passenger. Such is possible because Toyota created some nifty space-saving features. For example, the asymmetrical dash allows the passenger to sit further forward than the driver. The HVAC unit is smaller, it has a flat under-floor fuel tank, and the seats are thinner. Nevertheless, there isn’t much room for storage.

With the rear seats up, there are only 3.5 cubic feet of cargo space. One may think that’s enough for a bag of groceries. However, since most of the space dimension is vertical, one will struggle to squeeze in a gallon of milk. Luckily, the seats fold down, revealing 16.7 cubic feet, which U.S. News says is a “small maximum capacity for a subcompact hatchback.” But, if the iQ’s cargo space is seen as the trunk, it’s on par with what larger cars offer. Unfortunately, potential owners must choose between hauling around friends or material possessions.

How is the Scion iQ’s performance?  

The Scion iQ probably won’t be bought solely on its performance metrics, which are expectedly unimpressive. Therefore, potential owners won’t be bothered by its 94-horsepower 1.3-liter four-cylinder. While it isn’t for highway acceleration, given the iQ weighs just over one ton, it won’t be dangerously slow. Regarding handling, the iQ’s geometry doesn’t make for a canyon carver. asserts that the iQ “leans hard in corners, and any mid-corner bumps send the wheels skipping sideways.”

Fuel economy is where the iQ shines. The EPA estimates 36 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. These are great numbers, even though the iQ isn’t a hybrid.

What does it cost to have a Scion iQ?

For the 2015 iQ specifically, U.S. News claims the five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be $3,720 per year. According to them, the Scion is the lowest total among subcompact cars.

Since the Scion iQ was only made between 2012 and 2015, there aren’t too many listed for sale. Autotrader shows just 17 listings. Fortunately, the iQ is both inexpensive to run and buy. The priciest will set a potential buyer back around $14,000, but it’s for a 2012 model with less than 30,000 miles.

Is the Scion iQ a good used car? 

The Scion iQ is a cheap, cheerful, and compact way of getting around and transporting a close-knit group of friends or the monthly grocery store purchase. With its short stance, swept lines, and wrap-around rear glass, it’s a bit of a head-turner. There may be used car alternatives that would achieve greater gas mileage and give more cargo space, passenger comfort, and performance dynamics. But that isn’t the iQ’s style. This car is for people who desire transportation and literally nothing else.


Why Did Toyota Decide to Discontinue Scion?