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Quick Drive: The 2016 Scion iA Is A Shockingly Good Car For The Money

Quick Drive: The 2016 Scion iA Is A Shockingly Good Car For The Money

When the chance came to spend some time behind the wheel of the 2016 Scion iA, I was pretty interested. After all, as many of you know this is a car that is essentially a partnership between Mazda and Toyota (parent of the Scion brand). For all intents and purposes, this is a Mazda 2 sedan that has had some exterior styling modifications made and some interior branding touches added as well. The main reason I was interested in spending some time with it is because of the price and what the car offers at that level of cost. The car you see here had a sticker price of $16,495. For that money there were power windows, a decent stereo, an interior that felt more valuable than we expected, and a 1.5L naturally aspirated four cylinder engine hooked to a six speed manual transmission. Yes, we said six speed manual. That is absolutely what made our experience with this car. The tight shifting little box allowed all 105hp to be put to use. In an automatic this car’s personality would likely shift from fun to, well, something far less than fun. By the time we were done with the car, the idea of a spec series using these cars, gutted, with a cage and a little more tire seemed brilliant to me, but I digress.

Optional equipment is very limited on these cars. You can upgrade the wheels if you’d like although the stockers are not bad and the upgrade does not gain you any tire advantage. You can add navigation if you’d like for about $400 bucks, and other than picking a color that is pretty much it. The Mazda DNA is clearly present here. That company has long made its bones by building small and sprightly cars that have some spunk. While not a barn burner by any standard, the ability to wind the little engine up and then have some fun knocking up and down through the gears was appealing to me. Additionally the weight of the steering and the fact that the car can be thrown into a corner with some level of aggression was cool. The narrow tires and cold winter road conditions definitely took its toll on the available grip, but this car is a fun little piece and is insanely practical. Copious trunk room, plenty of space for adults in the back. It may not be a car you want to drive cross country in but we packed the family in it and when trekking all over the place with no complaints or issues.

The last point we’ll make is that this is a lot of car for the money. It does not look, feel, or act like a $16,000 car in our opinion. It is shockingly quiet on the highway, the interior will never be mistaken for a Bentley but it also will never ben embarrassing to put whoever you want in the car. The nose piece is a little sucker fish for us but we get what they were trying to do with straying from the Mazda look while maintaining  similarities for ease of manufacturing. The car delivered fuel economy in the mid-30mpg overall and was touching 40mpg on the highway.

The bottom line is that if you are in the market for a commuter mobile, something to put your kid in, or maybe something for an older member of your family that wants some comfort and a little personality on a budget, this is a great car in that role. I’m not sure who should get the praise between Mazda and Toyota but the reality is that this thing over delivers on its price point and that may be the highest compliment of all.

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4 thoughts on “Quick Drive: The 2016 Scion iA Is A Shockingly Good Car For The Money

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    Shockingly fugly you mean?

    I wouldn’t pay 50 cents for a gawping fish-mouthed abortion no matter who made it with whom….

    1. Pontiacdragracer

      I’m with you on that grill Gordie. Seems that gaping scoopie mouth thing is the latest rage. It’s on Toyota, Lexus and sadly even the new Camaros….. What’s up with that?


    I hear you on the looks. I’ve had a Mazda 2 rental car in the hills of TN and I have to say that it was actually quite fun though underpowered. You could really push it through curves and it felt pretty composed. I had an auto and didn’t bother trying to manually change gears except for the occasional downshift on a downhill. I’d not buy one but didn’t really mind it much as a rental.

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