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Scion iM: All-New Hatchback for 2016

By Frank A. Aukofer, March 26th, 2016

The 2016 Scion iM is an all-new offering with contemporary looks and an endearing personality as a quiet, welcoming, and practical economy car.

It's a midsize hatchback from Toyota's youth-oriented division. The iM complements the new iA in the Scion lineup that now includes just two other models: the FR-S and tC sports coupes. The iA, a subcompact conventional four-door sedan, actually is a rebadged Mazda2, which Mazda no longer sells in the U.S. Elsewhere in the world, the iM is called the Auris, or simply a Toyota Corolla hatchback. (It does share some Corolla components.)

The new iM seats four comfortably on nubby and sturdy cloth upholstery covering supportive seats. Though it has no sporting pretensions, the front seats have the sort of bolstering needed for spirited driving on curving mountain roads. A fifth passenger can be passably accommodated in the center rear position, but with some discomfort.

The surroundings have a quality look with piano-black accents and soft-touch surfaces. On the test car, a band of white trim highlights the black dashboard.

Out back, a roomy cargo area with a hard security cover has a capacity of 21 cubic feet, or as much as you'd find in the trunk of a full-size car. There's also some shallow stowage space under the cargo floor, above the part-time spare wheel and tire. Rear seatbacks fold flat to accommodate extra stuff.

There is only one version with a sticker price of $19,255. That's with the six-speed manual gearbox. Add $740 for a continuously variable automatic transmission. The stick shift test car had floor mats, locks for its stylish 17-inch alloy wheels, and a rear bumper protector, which brought the suggested delivered price to $19,594.

At this price point there are a few downsides: The sun visors do not slide on their support rods to fully block sun from the sides. There's no pushbutton starting. And the iM's audio does not allow satellite radio. However, it does have the ability to tune into high definition (HD) radio stations.

But the iM doesn't need much in the way of options. It comes with most of what buyers want in a small family car these days: full safety equipment including a backup camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows with one-touch up and down on the driver's window, remote locking, cruise control, leather-wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and a decent audio system.

Though marketed as a subcompact or compact, the iM is actually rated as a midsize car under the federal government's definition. It has a total of 111 cubic feet of interior space, divided into 90 cubic feet for passengers and 21 cubic feet of cargo space under the hatch. A car with 110 to 119 cubic feet of space is classified as a midsize.

One of the iM's competitors, the Nissan Versa hatchback, also gets a midsize designation from the feds. Other iM competitors include the hatchback models of the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Kia Forte, Chevrolet Sonic, Mazda3, and Volkswagen Golf.

If your orientation is more toward so-called "hot hatchbacks," then the iM is not your car. Its 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 137 horsepower and 126 lb.-ft. of torque, which is respectable and won't cause embarrassment in stoplight sprints around town. It won't run ahead of cars like the VW Golf, Mazda3, or Kia Forte 5. Of course, all of those are way more expensive than the iM.

But if you're looking for a practical hatchback with more than enough to keep up with urban traffic and is a quiet, comfortable, long-distance highway cruiser, the iM suffices nicely.

It also can be entertaining with competent, though not exceptional, handling and braking, and a light clutch and greasy gearbox that you can joyfully shift for a whole day in traffic without wishing for an automatic.


Base price $19,255 (as tested: $19,594)
Curb weight 2,943 lbs.
Displacement 1.8-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cyl. w/EFI
Epa mileage rating 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 14 gal.
Horsepower (net) 137 at 6100 rpm
Overall length 170.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 126 at 4000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD midsize hatchback
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