By on July 6, 2015

2016 Scion iA Exterior-004

When is a Scion not a Scion? Since Scion is division of Toyota, this is both a trick question and a serious one.

Scions can be anything from tweaked Toyotas and foreign market Toyotas to cars built by other manufacturers for Scion. The first such product was the collaboratively developed Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86. The second is this Mazda-designed and Mazda-built Scion iA.

Exterior
Mazda and Toyota entered into a partnership of sorts a while back, and the iA is the first fruit. If you didn’t know by now, the tasty looking 2016 Mazda2 hatch is not coming to the USA, despite Mazda’s plan to sell it in Canada and Puerto Rico. To satisfy shopper’s love for sub-compact Zoom-Zoom, Scion had Mazda turn the 2 into the Scion iA sedan for the U.S. and Toyota Yaris sedan for Canada. As happens with the Ford Fiesta, the hatch-to-sedan conversion adds around a foot of length overall. To help differentiate the iA from any future Mazda2 sales in the USA, the front end gets an enormous trapezoidal front grille and some “Angry Birds” headlamps. Out back, the Scion’s rear is less disguised with a strong Mazda influence in the tail lamps blended with a hint of Camry.

I know I’m going to take heat for this, but I actually like the looks of the iA in person. I think the side profile and rear are better balanced than the Ford Fiesta sedan, although the Fiesta’s grille is better looking. The overall design comes across as more intentional and — dare I say — emotional than the Nissan Versa or Chevy Sonic.

2016 Scion iA Interior-006

Interior
Hop inside the iA and it’s pure Mazda, which is a good thing. In terms of style and parts quality, Mazda basically made Scion a 90% scale Mazda3 interior with a few tweaks. We get the same chunky steering wheel loaded with buttons, same single-dial instrument cluster and 7-inch infotainment screen. Also cribbed from the Mazda parts bin is the standard keyless-go system, a single-zone manual climate control and standard cruise control.

For a car as small as the iA, the front seats proved surprisingly roomy. Scion claims 41.9 inches of legroom up front, which is more than you get in the Corolla or Focus, and a still respectable 34.4 inches in the back. Although taller drivers will probably bash their elbows on the B-pillar, they will fit. Cargo room comes in at a generous 13.5 cubic feet beating the bigger Corolla by a hair.

2016 Scion iA Interior

Infotainment
Mazda calls the infotainment software MazdaConnect. Scion hasn’t named it specifically but the system is exactly the same. What sets the iA apart isn’t so much the class-leading infotainment software and interface but that the system is standard. Looking like someone grafted an iPad to the dashboard [I think it looks more like a cheap Walmart Android tablet than an iPad, but to each their own. -Mark], the 7-inch color touchscreen LCD is the heart of the system. In the center console we have an iDrive/MMI-like controller knob and button array. Similar to Infiniti’s systems, you can navigate with either the controller, or the touchscreen, or both depending on what is easier at the moment. As long as you’re parked. Above 5 MPH the touchscreen functionality is locked out allowing only voice and control knob inputs.

Smartphone app integration for streaming media is standard and shoppers can add navigation software to the display for an undisclosed price after you buy the car. The high-resolution graphics, an intuitive interface and complete voice commands of your media library create a system that rivals uConnect and iDrive for best in the industry. The only danger with making this system standard in the iA is that it makes other Scions look decidedly behind the times.

2016 Scion iA Engine Mazda SkyActiv-001

Drivetrain
Logically, there’s a Mazda 1.5L four-cylinder engine beating under the iA’s hood. Good for 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque, the engine uses all Mazda’s fuel sipping tech, including direct injection, a high 12:1 compression ratio and a Mazda 6-speed automatic with a tall final gear and aggressive torque converter lockup program. For the purists in the crowd, you can get your iA with a short-throw manual transmission, but you’ll get 2 MPG better (37 MPG combined, 42 on the highway) with the 6-speed automatic.

2016 Scion iA Exterior-003

Drive
In an unexpected twist, all iA models will come with a standard low-speed collision warning and mitigation system. The system is similar in design to Volvo’s first-generation City Safety system and uses a laser scanner mounted in front of the rear view mirror to monitor traffic. At speeds between approximately 5 and 18 MPH, the system will first warn the driver of an impending collision, pre-charge the brakes, then as a last resort reduce engine power and apply the brakes autonomously to either avoid or mitigate the collision. The Scion reps said the system is not programmed to detect pedestrians or cyclists like Volvo’s latest system, but it “may respond” to that type of obstacle depending on the situation.

Since my time was limited with the iA, I wasn’t able to put it through my usual battery of tests. You should expect acceleration times to be leisurely, likely in the 10 second slot occupied by the Prius C. The best acceleration times will be with the 6-speed automatic but the 6-speed manual will make those seconds tick by faster because it’s simply more fun. I spent most of my day in a 6-speed manual version and, although I did long for more power, the short throws and excellent clutch pedal distracted me for the most part.

2016 Scion iA Exterior-006

For a Scion, the steering is sheer perfection. For a Mazda, I’m still sad the iA has electric power steering. Turn in is crisp as can be expected from a car riding on 185/60R16 tires and the steering ratio is just about perfect. The Scion folks had Mazda tune the iA towards the softer side of the segment which causes more body roll than I had expected, but aside from that it didn’t reduce the fun too much on the winding mountain roads of our test drive. Overall grip is lower than I had expected with plenty of commotion coming from the tires if you enter a corner a little too hot. I blame both the tire size and the rubber compound for this but the tires can be easily swapped. Even though we have a torsion beam suspension in the rear, the iA was remarkably well-behaved in corners with broken pavement.

The most compelling thing about the iA is the combination of Mazda engineering and Scion pricing. For 2015, the MSRP starts at $15,700 with the 6-speed manual and ends at $16,800 for the iA with the 6-speed automatic. Because of the way Scion’s pricing scheme works, the manual transmission model has a high level of content that frequently precludes a manual transmission in the competition like the 7-inch LCD infotainment system, the pre-collision braking system, keyless-go and the backup camera. Scion also tosses in a 2-year/25,000 mile scheduled maintenance plan. When comparing the iA to the rest of the segment, the high level of standard equipment manages to make the iA the best sub-compact deal around. When pitted against Nissan Versa, the value leader in the segment, the Scion manages to be $1,500 less when comparably equipped.

2016 Scion iA Exterior Front Grille

The iA isn’t the Scion I was expecting, and it isn’t the Mazda I was hoping for either. The iA seems like Mazda’s interpretation of what a Scion should be, and marriage has created a surprisingly good little car. Shoppers will find a well-controlled ride, excellent road manners and impeccable fuel economy all wrapped inside Scion’s warranty and scheduled maintenance, and sold at a Toyota dealer. The combination makes for the most appealing sedan in this segment by a hair. (If Ford mates an automatic transmission to their 3-cylinder turbo Fiesta, it’s game on.) The combination should also be a lesson for Mazda, because Scion’s mono-spec philosophy and pricing give pragmatists a reason to buy the best driving sedan in this segment.

Scion provided the vehicle, insurance, gas and a snazzy lunch for this review.

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102 Comments on “2016 Scion iA Review With Video – Mono-Priced Zoom-Zoom...”


  • avatar

    The entry price isn’t too bad.
    It really is “pure Mazda”. It benefits from that cause most Scions look terrible. Especially the new tC.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    @Alex
    How would you compare this to a new Honda Fit. IMO the Fit has gotten softer in the ride and handling over the years but I may be wrong. Of course the versatility of the Fit is unmatched. Could you just give me your quick impression of the two against each other.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Well, they are in the same price category, but the Fit is by far the more practical vehicle. The iA seems better put together, the manual transmission is more of a team player and the fuel economy is better but the Fit actually handled better and is faster since it has a more power. I like the iA, but the Fit is more practical.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I don’t know the newest Fit but he previous was like being in American jail, vs jail in Netherlands

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Scion = Toyota’s GEO?

    I’ve long said that Toyota does not make a good subcompact car for North America. They got the compact and mid size formulae just right, but anything above and under, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Don’t know about Canada, but the US never has or will embrace subcompacts. Why would Toyota want to spend billions developing another one for the USDM after all the historical fail?

      The partnership with Mazda seems like a successful jewelry store giving a little consignment space to some native art.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I’m not sure the U.S. market hasn’t embraced subcompacts – true, they don’t sell as well as larger cars, but they still sell in substantial numbers. Think about it – how many subcompact nameplates were even around 10 years ago? I can only think of three offhand – Toyota Echo (Yaris), Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. Now pretty much every major manufacturer has an entry. Chevy alone has two. This is becoming a well established market segment with distinct players.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Replace Toyota with GM and replace Mazda with Isuzu, Subaru or Toyota and tell me what you get.

        The same formula as GM did, 20 years later.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          This.

          I find it astounding that a Japanese car company can’t build a competitive subcompact – every one of its competitors except Subaru does.

  • avatar
    jesse_ohio

    Wow, I actually don’t hate this. Seems like it scratches the now-absent Mazda2 itch, although driving dynamics probably suffer a bit. It sure looks better than the [previous gen] 2, IMHO. Powerplant is weak, yeah, but sounds livable with a 6-speed. Possible replacement for an aging Protege5 that has gotten bitten by the rust bug…?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Wasn’t the Mazda2 pretty awful and third-worldy?

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Well, you wouldn’t like it, let’s go with that. It’s loud, it doesn’t have the smoothest ride, but it’s got a slick little shifter, and it’s engaging to drive in that small Japanese car sort of way. I’d peg it as roughly a cheap knockoff of an old Honda – third worldy seems like it’d be taking the Nissan route of making cheap knockoffs of old Toyotas.

    • 0 avatar
      otaku

      I don’t know. Will this thing carry over all of the same Mazda trademark rust issues I keep hearing about or has Scion done anything extra besides slap on a badge to help fight off corrosion?

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        I read somewhere that Mazda made major improvements to its corrosion prevention treatments sometime around 2007 and is now on par with the rest of the industry. I’m starting to believe it because a couple weeks ago, I saw a 2006 or 2007 Mazda3 that had absolutely awful body rust for its age around the rear wheel wells, the 3rd brake light at the top of the trunk lid, and who knows where else. Mine is a 2008 and has zero rust. It’s been through the same salty midwestern winters and gets washed probably once a year.

  • avatar
    redav

    This bodes well for the Mazda-Toyota partnership. It looks like Scion got a winner of a car that they should be able to sell in much larger quantities than Mazda could on their own. I think Mazda’s decision to not sell the 2 in the US for now is the right one. I don’t think the having both the BRZ/FRS is beneficial to Subaru/Scion, so there’s no reason to duplicate that situation.

    Also, with the next Yaris (in a year or two) being a 2 hatchback, Mazda will sell both configurations in the US without having to figuring out how to sell them. Clearly, Toyota is better at that. Mazda wants to move more upmarket, and not taking up floor space with subcompacts should help.

    For anyone who really wants a 2, due to the minimal style changes made by Scion, they could simply import a bumper, swap some badges & the steering wheel, and they’d have a 2. And with the content & price combo, that’s not a bad deal.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “It looks like Scion got a winner of a car that they should be able to sell in much larger quantities than Mazda could on their own.”

      Well, I agree wholeheartedly with the first part about the car being good, but the second part…I dunno. Toyota has severely screwed up with Scion, and I don’t think a rebadged Mazda and a rebadged Auris are the answer.

      And I find it astounding that Toyota can’t build a truly competitive subcompact for itself. And the Corolla isn’t exactly all tha either – that one has been coasting on a 20-year-old rep for a LONG time now.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I don’t deny Toyota’s mismanagement of Scion or their overall decline. But Mazda would be lucky to move 15k of these in a year, and Scion should be able to do better given sales volumes of their other cars.

        Basically, I would never bet against another car company’s ability to sell Mazda’s cars better than Mazda themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        The Corolla, with a brief exception 3-4 years in the late ’80s, is just a car. A well-made, long life car that has never been fun to drive or a cannon-carver. A smaller Camry, if you will.

        That dash-top Android is nothing more egregious than I’ve seen at Mercedes lately. I wonder how many shock-and-awe folks will be drawn by it at such a low price point….

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Hey, just put an angry fish face on that little crampy car.. million seller!

  • avatar
    jesse_ohio

    Yay:
    Tilt-telescope wheel
    Height-adjustable seat
    Cruise standard
    Touchscreen standard
    MPGeez
    Quality manual shifter
    Rear camera
    Keyless entry & pushbutton, I guess
    Baby spare, not patch kit

    Nay:
    Rear drums. Should be banned in any segment.
    Fish maw grill
    Rear torsion beam, although might be fun to throw around
    No hatch
    Weird digital tach
    No native support for Spotify (what is “Aha” anyway?)

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …we have a mazda 2 for our big car, love it to death, and were very disappointed to learn we’d have to ship from puerto rico if it came time for replacement…while i’m glad to see scion offer a stick, without a hatch i’m not interested…

    …still, scion’s all-options marketing philosophy is a refreshing change of pace, as alex’s comment about typical manual transmission appointment hits close to home: in order to get top trim with a stick-and-clutch, we had to put deposit on a special order and wait 6 weeks for our car to ship from hiroshima…the current 3 dazzles with all its bells and whistles, so it’s nice to see that carry over to the iA even when fitted with a standard gearbox, although to be fair part of our 2’s charm is how minimalist and simple its optioned-out features remain, kind of a last hurrah for the spartan and purposeful control/interface paradigm…

    …if scion’s iA does well, i wonder whether mazda will reconsider bringing the 2 stateside?..

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “we have a mazda 2 for our big car”

      Bah-dum *tsssh*

      The veal is great, folks.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …no honestly, fitted with a cargo rack up top it’s a remarkably capacious, comfortable, and capable five-door utility vehicle, especially considering the nimble handling found only in a sub-2300-pound car…

      …our daily drivers are an elise and an MX-5, night-and-day apart from the 2…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I think Mazda may be making a mistake not selling this in its own dealerships. It’s not like other manufacturers can’t sell subcompacts, and I think the main reason the 2 didn’t sell was its’ styling. This new one looks loads better than the outgoing model.

    Or do they think this would steal sales from the 3?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Given their limited footprint in the US, I think Mazda decided that their sales and marketing resources were better spent on the Miata and the CX-3. Toyota can move a lot more 2 hatches and sedans than Mazda could by itself. Toyota benefits from Mazda’s gas engine R&D and thus can spend more of its own resources on hybrid drivetrains.

      • 0 avatar
        I_S

        Correct. Mazda reportedly delayed the Mazda2 hatch release in Canada due to limited resources and the focus on launching the CX3 (which I have seen on some delivery trucks in the Markham area). Basically, a more profitable Mazda2.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The current 2 also does not have the styling they’re trying to implement, with the wavy Kodo.

  • avatar
    statikboy

    “The engine uses all Mazda’s fuel sipping tech…” So does that mean it has Stop-Start technology, which is part of Mazda’s fuel sipping tech?

    I am continually disappointed with manufacturers tendencies to put taller gearing on automatic versions of cars. All else being equal (number and ratio of gears), a manual is an inherently more efficient system, although maybe less so with modern automatics. It seems like it is just a way to get people to spend more for the auto so they can “save money” on the “more efficient drivetrain.”

    • 0 avatar

      Using the same math everybody does to “unjustify” hybrid purchases, the slushbox will save you 23 gallons of gas per 15,000 mile year and take 13.4 years to pay for the $1100 cost delta (which being Scion is cast in stone) with $3.50/gallon gasoline.

    • 0 avatar
      I_S

      Disagree, automatics were plenty popular here even prior to holding the fuel efficiency crown. People were buying them for the convenience/lack of need to learn manual, not for the efficiency.

      “All else being equal (number and ratio of gears) … ” – correct unless talking about a DCT or a CVT. A torque converter is not as efficient as slipping the clutch; having said that, manuals are limited to 6 gears, while 7, 8, or 9 gear counts become common with automatics.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So this seems to be the anti-iM.

    You would have to have rocks in your head to buy the Yaris sitting next to the iA on the Toyota showroom floor.

    But, but, but, I like 4-speed automatics and steel rims and I dislike safety equipment – all for the same price. Give me the Yaris over this! (the sad thing, a segment of buyers will buy the Yaris only because it has the Lazy T ranch logo on it, and the iA doesn’t)

    I still say Scion is a dead brand – call this Yaris, kill the current Yaris, call the iM a Corolla wagon, or Corolla max, or a Corolla-V or something. Call the tC a Corolla Coupe, make the FR-S a Celica, kill the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      They still make the Yaris?

      I never see them, Prius hatch’s tend to be more popular.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Saw a new Yaris with dealer temp tag on it the other day. I thought, “Now THERE’S someone who is uninformed.”

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Yup, and Yaris sales are up about 100% from last year. Yaris is about 55% fleet – moving around 2,100 to 2,250 units a month – up from around 750 to 900 a month last year.

        just barely over 100 HP, 4-speed automatic, rear drums, torsion beam suspension, steel rims with hub cabs, spartan interior that is made with materials slightly better than a Coleman cooler. The underlying technology is positively Malthusian at this point and completely uncompetitive.

        It is the definition of “cheap and cheerful,” and in the same breath, “penalty box on wheels.” It is one of the worst cars you can buy in the B-segment, with exception to reliability. It is part cockroach.

        For the money, just about any other offering would be better, and it’s biggest enemy in the showroom (sans the iA now) is the Corolla LE that is about $1K more.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          So 30+ years later the Tercel became the Yaris, and gained an extra gear?

          I’m surprised no ones been shaming Toyota like they would Detroit.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            At this stage of the game, anything with less than 6 gears (or simulated via CVT) is just ridiculous. If any automaker other than Toyota or Honda was offering a 4-speed slush box in 2015 the rage would be epic.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The Yaris is a kind of cockroach (I own an Echo hatchback now, so fair disclosure and all that).

        The car is, excepting the advances of rust, nigh-unkillable and ridiculously cheap to keep: it sips fuel and even things you’d consider wear items on a normal car just don’t wear out on an Echo/Yaris.

        It isn’t all that much fun to drive (mine is a manual, and some could be had without power steering). It really isn’t fast. It probably isn’t very safe. But it is singularly cheap to run and utterly reliable.

        For all the bitching on TTAC about “we want a reliable, simple, no-frills car like we used to get in 1985”, when someone actually makes one, the complaints are incessant. Which tells you that TTAC readers are a) hypocrites, and b) a lot more like regular car buyers than they want to admit, because the Yaris doesn’t sell all that well.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          “we want a reliable, simple, no-frills car like we used to get in 1985″, when someone actually makes one, the complaints are incessant.”

          They hate the Yaris ‘cuz it ain’t RWD.

          The perfect TTAC car would be a brown manual Chevette.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    That head-on photograph looks like I could just peel off that Scion logo and paste a Ford logo on instead.

    At least then stylistically, it would be accurate.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Looks like a tidy little package, but I’m left wondering how they only got 105hp out of a direct injected 1.5L when Honda extracts 130 out of the same displacement, and Hyundai gets 138hp out of 1.6L. A stick shift accent is actually a quick little commuter, I think I’ve seen sub 8-second 0-60 figures. if this thing is more like 10 seconds, that’s quite a bit off the pace, in real world feel not just bizarre commuter car bench racing.

    The other concern is that if they have to stick to those MSRPs per their dealer agreements, that puts it uncomfortably close to dealers blowing discounted Foci/Cruzes/Sentras out the door for $15k, and I’d imagine those would feel like a big upgrade to a typical shopper during the test drive (smoothness/NVH). So it really comes down to all of the gadgets and features that come on the Scion and whether consumers prioritize them over a more comfortable, larger, better driving automobile.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Don’t get too caught up in the HP numbers. How the engine delivers that power is much more important than the maximum power number.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        That’s very true, but I’d still be curious to see acceleration times. This thing does undercut the Fit and Accent by several hundred pounds.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I got a chuckle out of both the HP figure and the rear seat legroom.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Eh, it’s definitely not a Versa or new Fit, but 34.2 is mid-pack-ish for the rest of the class. Better than the Sonic if I recall, and actually comparable to the Focus (which has awful rear legroom for a compact). My dad’s 2007 Fit is measured at 33.7″ and I can sit behind myself with a bit of room to spare at 5’11.”

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @gtemnykh

            Has less legroom than Sonic. Sonic sedan and hatch 34.6.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I stand corrected.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The 2 is considerably lighter than the Fit, so Mazda can get away with tuning for a bit less power.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Does this mean that Toyota realizes that they lost their mojo with subcompact designing and engineering and will take a hit in the reliability dept

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      I’m having trouble understanding how mojo and subcompact belong in the same sentence.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      They lost their mojo the minute they started selling Tercels.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Ryoku75: +1

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Tercel was the best subcompact in its time, there are still a bunch of them rolling around! You anti-Toyota guys make me scratch my head, what other subcompacts do you still see being used on a day to day basis?

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I don’t know where you live, but here in the salty midwest, I haven’t seen a Tercel in many years. I occasionally see an Echo here and there, though. And I live in cheapskate country, too. If the value proposition were there, folks would be driving them.

          They may run forever, but they are forever the penalty box of driving. I’d easily rate them worse than all of the other Toyotas in the mix. And considering that the Prius is the 99% effective birth control of driving, that’s saying something…

          • 0 avatar
            Volt 230

            In my own condo, there are 3 of them, the fact that they’re still daily drivers and are 20 yrs old is amazing.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You probably still see a Paseo, the sporty sister, here and there.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I see a few Festivas, which is amazing considering CARB emissions testing. I probably see every generation of Tercel at least once a month too, and I’ve also seen a couple of Starlets. Tercels were competitive throughout their run. As awkward as the Echo’s dash was, they’re proving to be as durable.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Waaat. Starlet, in the US?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            http://bringatrailer.com/2015/02/11/two-owners-blue-plate-1981-toyota-starlet/

            They’re like good Chevettes.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh oh, I was thinking 90’s Starlet, like the one I saw in Gran Turismo on Playstation. I didn’t realize we are talking early-Corolla.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I see more vintage K-Cars than Tercels.

          The last Tercel I ever saw was a banged up 80’s sedan, rust kills all the older ones, awful cars.

          The fact that my ’89 Tercel made me miss my Omni should tell you how terrible Tercels were.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Ryoku owned some beat to death ’87 Tercel that he bought for $600 so now he lambastes them whenever they are brought up.

        Aside from rust, Tercels are damn near indestructible and are woven from that old Toyota cloth that lasted through the ’98-’02 Corolla and ’00-’05 Echo. The last two generations of Tercels from the 90s are super simple to work on, and are actually made with very nice materials on the inside, however spartan the design actually was. Echos are excellent as well, although I don’t care for their tippy looks. Thank the upright ‘chair’ seating that made it so much roomier than its Tercel predecessor.

        GeoZinger regarding a Prius being birth control on wheels, I was going to say the same of your beloved J-body GMs, but then I remembered that most of them are piloted by chain smoking teenage mothers. All in good fun :)

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          That’s a fact on J-body.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          No worries. At least *somebody* had fun in the J-body. The Tercel? Not so much…

          ;)

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          ’89, and it was $1000. I wouldn’t call it “beat to death”, compared to other Tercels it was a gem. You’d be wise to not make assumptions about me.

          For the 80’s the Honda Civic was the superior compact, fuel-injection standard along with a real suspension and decent hp for the time. Like the Tercel they rust in 5 years and dent like foil, but the engines will last.

          I’ve driven a more modern equivalent to the Tercel, a Scion Xb. Felt just the same but with a little more space.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The Civic switched to fuel injection for the 1988 model year, with a laggy throttle body injection system for most trims, Si and EX and RT4WD wagons got multi-point injection. Before that it was carbs with a rat’s nest of vacuum lines. The pre-’88 cars also had a very basic suspension based on torsion bars front and rear.

            I’m not sure what exactly makes you think the Tercel was a particularly egregious offender when taken in the context of its 1980s economy car peers. My family’s ’85 Civic was an underpowered tin can on wheels, our ’90 Wagon was a bit better but still a rattletrap (still miss it dearly). Compare the Tercel to a Chevette, Festiva, or Colt of the time and I think your grousing would subside.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          ’89, and it was $1000. I wouldn’t call it “beat to death”, compared to other Tercels it was a gem.

          It gave me my drivers license, but its cramped interior coupled with gutless 1.5 made it a penalty to work with. Need I mention the bearing hubs at the back? Cheap plastic door handle guts? Broken switches?

          I was fairly simple to work on, but I thought the whole purpose of a Toyota was to buy one and weld the hood shut.

          Working on it I did though, new exaust bits (old one was rust), tweaking and cleaning the Weber carb (couldn’t just give us fuel injection), digging around for replacement trim (this proved impossible), new wheel bearings (cant just pack up, they’re hub things).

          I guess they’re okay if you live in 1988 Tokyo, but in 2009 America they simply dont work be it “Tercel” or “Yaris”.

          Drove a first gen Xb recently, basically a modern tercel. Was slightly better but still better suited for the congested city than highway.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Wow so your 20 year old car needed an exhaust system, some wheel bearings, a door handle, and a tune-up?

            Do tell us more about this horrifying money pit!

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          At gte:

          Objectively the parts were all pretty typical for the cars age, even my “invincible” Volvos would need bearings and exhausts.

          But why do you even read my posts?

          Seems like whenever I say anything on my Honda, Toyota, whatever you start getting smug on me, putting words into my mouth, etc etc.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Because it seems that you like to vocally present your frankly bizarre and contrarian opinions of a pair of old Japanese cars you owned whenever it is even slightly relevant. I just can’t resist the urge to counter your opinions with my own, which seem to be more grounded in much more typical ownership experiences.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Fyi if you kept tabs on my other comments you’d see that I actually gave the Tercel credit at times, like having pretty okay handling for being dirt cheap.

            But you could just listen to my complaints if you’d like, thats cool too.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        You win the internet.

        It’s gone downhill with each model since the Tercel. Although the Echo was butt ugly, it was actually fun to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          My friend’s family has a 2000 Echo sedan with a 5spd since new, an utterly faithful little car. Same basic chain driven 1.5L DOHC 4 cylinder that they still put in the Yaris today, and there really wasn’t much on that car to break. Still looks good too, after 15 years of central NY road salt. I remember how novel and spartan the central gauge cluster seemed. Just a pale green/blue oval speedometer and some idiot lights, that’s it. The rear seat legitimately has space for 3 decent sized adults to sit back there, thanks to that upright profile. Peppy, too. 2000lb curb weight and 105hp, actually better power to weight than this new Scion.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Yup, with the manual ‘ye old Echo can find 60 in about 8 flat.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            My son’s 02 Echo (5 speed coupe with zero options) has been a great little car and not bad to drive. I think he paid $2,500 for it from working a summer job in high school. It’s made it through high school, 4 years of undergrad, and will probably carry him through to his PhD. I think we had to replace a starter, one ignition coil, catalytic converter and exhaust, evap hose, fan belts, and tires in the time he’s had it.

            It’s a blast to drive over narrow curvy New England roads. The lightness cures a lot of problems. It’s also fun to torture some of the expensive German hardware in the neighborhood when they have to struggle to keep up. I used to take it during the winter when parking on his campus became difficult due to snow parking bans and thoroughly enjoyed my time with the car.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            Wow, that’s a lot of repairs on that Echo! I know this sounds like a joke, but I’ve got an 18 year old Cavalier that doesn’t have that much of a repair history. Just mostly brakes, belts, broken exhaust hangers, the oddball valve cover gasket and now, endless rust. But that’s a given in my climate and after 265,000 miles…

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I’d be curious to hear the mileage on the Echo. And my guess is that that starter just needed a new $20 contact set (my 4Runner needs some now after 120k miles and 20 years). Your Cavalier is on the original fuel pump, alternator, suspension components (ball joints, tie rod ends)? I highly doubt that but I could be wrong!

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            gtemnlyh: My daughter drives the car now and I don’t have access to the records right at the moment. But, please note, I never said the car was showroom fresh. After 265K miles, it’s definitely *tired*. Very tired. We’re looking for another car for her to drive. Thankfully, she only drives it around town, so she’s never far from help.

            As far as I remember I never have had to replace tie rods, ball joints, CV joints, alternators, fuel pumps, etc. Stupid crap rusted or broke, like I mentioned the exhaust system hangers. I’m pretty sure this car had one of the door hinges replaced, though that had more to do with the advancing rust. We had three J’s at the house at one time and they all had similar issues but at different times.

            Again, this thing is tired, in every way imaginable. But you would be too, after 18 years of continuous service. I’ll be glad to get this rolling tetanus delivery device off of the road.

  • avatar
    ctg

    Even the manual transmission model comes with pre-collision braking? Does it bring the car to a complete stop? Does the driver have to hit the clutch to avoid stalling, or is there some kind of clutch pedal override?

    I’m curious about this because I’ve only heard of pre-collision braking on auto-equipped cars (for example, Subaru is only putting EyeSight on their automatic cars, sadly not the manual WRX).

  • avatar
    pbr

    I like this. The front looks better to me than Mazda’s corporate snout (not saying much). The infotainment system, pre-collision braking system, keyless-go and backup camera are interesting only because I wonder how well they could possibly work at this price point. If the Mazda shines through I think the author’s assertion that it’s the best-driving car in the segment is plausible.

    Wonder what auto vs. manual trans sales split will be …

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “but it “may respond” to that type of obstacle depending on the situation.”

    Scion, making driving random since 2016! Seriously, I don’t want my car’s behavior that unpredictable, depending on the computer’s mood that day.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I suppose given a choice between, “My car definitely won’t see the dude and stop if I have my head up my ass” and “My car might see the dude and stop if I have my head up my ass”, I’ll choose the former, unpredictable or not. If the system doesn’t detect a person, it behaves just like not having it, and given that this isn’t something you should ever be *relying on* anyway, I fail to see the negative to having it there if it might help.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I am just thinking of situations where the car determines a larger threat of accident of some cyclist, perhaps darting around in traffic. I see him, he knows what he’s doing, car doesn’t – stops suddenly, and I’m rear ended.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Good catch. Because we all know that the Prime Directive is Share The Road With Bicycles!

          Which has always seemed to grant the same logic to Share The Road With Toddlers.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    Sounds pretty good. I’d consider one, but the Scion pure pricing makes it a tough sell. Once you consider the incentives available and the ability to negotiate on a Mazda, the price would be within ~$1000 of a Mazda3 sport trim, although it’s equipped closer to touring trim which is another thousand.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I think Mazda blew it when they decided not to bring the 2 to the states.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    A crossbreed between a fish and a backpack? This is fugly

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