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Scion iQ fits bill for compact, urban living

October 2, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Billed as the world's smallest four-seater, the petite 2012 Scion iQ makes an ideal car for urban living.

If you're looking at the iQ from the front, it looks small. View it from the side, and it looks really small.

In other countries, the iQ is sold as a Toyota model. Here, the youth-oriented Scion nameplate was deemed the best fit.

"It's the brand that we do different things with, and I think the iQ is such a different vehicle. It's a vehicle for a new urbanite, that it made the most sense to make it a Scion," said Scion spokesman Greg Thome.

Many people's first reaction is that it's a lot like the two-seat Smart Car. However, the iQ is 6 inches wider and more than a foot longer than the Smart Car.

It also has a back seat, but it'll only fit smaller people or kids. It's best to call shotgun if you can. The front seats have all kinds of room.

The payoff to the small size is ease of parking and gas mileage with ratings of 36 to 37 mpg. It also has the cuteness factor. You'll definitely feel tiny in traffic while in the iQ.

By comparison, the MINI Cooper is considered a pretty small car. The iQ is quite a bit smaller, and it's barely bigger than a full-size Kawasaki Touring motorcycle.

Scion says the iQ is small but safe. It boasts 11 airbags, which is way more than most other cars. Other standard items are Bluetooth connectivity and HD radio, and customizing options are numerous.

The iQ is part of a growing trend in America of smaller cars. People want to drive something smaller for a variety of reasons including fuel economy. Though, not everyone is sold on the idea of going really small.

For example, the little Smart Car was a hot item when it first came out, then sales dropped way off.

Also, some formerly small cars are getting bigger. The redesigned Volkswagen Jetta is much larger than the old model and sales are way up.

Still, if we are ready for little cars for city use, the iQ has a lot going for it.

"There's a lot of folks that are living in the city. They are living closer to where they work in the city, but they still need transportation, and they want a car that has a lot of style," said Thome.

The iQ will go on sale first in the U.S. very soon. Then, the rest of the country can weigh in on this bantamweight early 2012.


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