2015 Scion iQ

Nimble, easy to park and highly efficient, the Scion iQ merits consideration from buyers seeking a sensible city runabout. Clever packaging means that, despite its diminutive dimensions, four passengers can squeeze in for short trips. However, an unrefined transmission makes for a noisy driving experience, and it's worth noting that significantly larger and more practical cars can be had for the iQ's price.

Sometimes, there's more to a car than meets the eye.

On the one hand, the Scion iQ delivers all of the qualities you would expect after seeing its tiny form- namely, excellent maneuverability, a tight turning circle and parking ease bested only by motorcycles.

Excellent fuel economy? Yes, the iQ delivers on that front as well, with an official EPA estimate of 36 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.

However, if you think a miniscule interior is also part of the package, you're in for a surprise. Smart placement of the engine allows for an offset dashboard and a front passenger seat that's located father forward than the driver, freeing up enough space behind for an adult. The left rear seat is still best left to children, though even to fit three adults in something as small as the iQ ranks as an impressive achievement.

Standard features are also a strong point, with all of the expected niceties - power windows and locks, A/C and Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming - present and accounted for. The new touchscreen audio system is a welcome addition, while the optional premium stereo/navigation system and its attendant smartphone-based apps - including Aha internet radio, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Tripadvisor - makes the iQ even more functional. Clearly, small need not equate to basic.

Unfortunately, the iQ does posses many of the usual microcar downsides. While easy on gas, the 1.3-liter four-cylinder produces just 94 horsepower and 89 lb-ft of torque. That's fine for city driving, but on-ramps and passing situations can take a bit of advanced planning. Making matters worse is the iQ's uncouth continuously variable transmission, which induces considerable engine drone whenever acceleration is summoned by the driver.

Cargo space is limited to a virtually-nonexistent 3.5 cubic feet with all seats in place, although folding the rear seats flat unlocks a useful 16.5 cubes. Notably, the iQ does without a glove compartment, although there are five cupholders.

Finally, the fact that numerous four-door models with more power, space and nearly the iQ's fuel economy are available at the same price

Standard and Optional Features
The iQ comes standard with a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD radio stereo with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and AUX and USB inputs, power windows and locks, A/C, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.

Like all Scions, the iQ is monospec affair, with the only factory options being paint colors.

However, buyers can select from a wide range of dealer-installed accessories, with the most notable being the BeSpoke premium audio/navigation system.

Occupant Safety
The iQ is fitted with 11 airbags, including the world's first rear-window curtain airbag. Other airbags include driver- and front-passenger airbags; driver- and front-passenger seat-mounted side airbags; side curtain airbags; driver- and front-passenger knee airbags; and a driver's seat-cushion airbag. Traction and stability control systems are also standard.

Key Competitors
The iQ is much more spacious and practical than its closely rival, the lackluster smart fortwo. However, its appeal diminishes when compared with models like the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Mazda Mazda2 and Honda Fit, which offer more room for people and cargo for the same coin.