By on March 14, 2016

Scion iA, Image: Toyota

The best-selling Toyota subcompact in America is a Mexican-built Mazda that’s sold as a Scion and will soon be sold as a Toyota. It’s a car that’s already called the Yaris R in Mexico and the Yaris Sedan in Canada.

Meanwhile, Toyota’s once hot-selling subcompact, the Toyota-branded Yaris, is a hatchback imported from France that scarcely attracts any attention at all.

In between, Toyota’s actual Japanese-built Prius C is increasingly unpopular.

Scion’s best-selling car since its launch last fall, the iA, is far from a major player in America’s declining subcompact car market. (Overall, subcompact sales actually increased in February, albeit only slightly, after tumbling in January.) Combined, the Toyota subcompact trio owns 15 percent of U.S. subcompact sales through the first two months of 2016, up from 12 percent a year ago, prior to the dawn of the iA.

With a three-pronged approach, Toyota is therefore outselling all but the two best-selling subcompact cars in America: the Nissan Versa and Hyundai Accent.

The competition is not exactly fierce. Although Chevrolet Sonic sales are rebounding, the 23-percent year-over-year rise through two months still means Sonic sales are 44 percent off 2014’s sales pace. Even if the Hyundai Accent maintains its current 7-percent rate of improvement, Accent volume won’t return to the levels Hyundai achieved in 2009. Yes, 2009, when overall auto sales were in the toilet.

The class-leading Versa is down 10 percent in early 2016. Honda’s Fit, widely regarded by critics to be the class of the field, is on pace to lose 20,000 sales this year (as Honda prepares to sell approximately 60,000 HR-Vs). The aging Ford Fiesta is on track for U.S. sales to fall to a four-year low. At the current rate, Kia will struggle to sell 20,000 Rios in America in 2016. Kia sold more than 50,000 Rios in 2002 and topped the 40,000 mark in 2012 and 2013.

2016 Mazda2, Image: Mazda

And what of Mazda? The Mazda2, of course, is dead. After failing to make any headway with their 2010-2015 subcompact foray — a period during which Mazda USA sold 61,963 Mazda2s, or about the number of Mazda3s it sells in seven months — Mazda gave up on the weakening U.S. subcompact market. The CX-3 partially fills the void, and it’s already selling as well as the Mazda2 did at its peak. But Mazda is also benefiting from an arrangement with Toyota that sees the renamed Mazda2, Scion’s iA, selling at a faster pace than the discontinued, previous-gen Mazda2 ever managed.

February marked a six-month sales high for the six-month-old iA. With 2,305 sales, the iA accounted for four in ten Scion sales and slightly more than four in ten Toyota subcompact sales. The average of 1,958 monthly sales since September works out to 23,500 annual sales for the Mazda2, which we know as the Scion iA, 22-percent better than the Mazda2 ever achieved when it was actually the Mazda2.

2015 Toyota Yaris, Image: Toyota

Yet strangely enough, Scion may never get the opportunity to sell 23,500 of its Mazda2s. By the end of summer, the iA will be transitioning, no longer permitted to wear those counterculture Scion badges; maturing instead into full-blown Toyota guise.

Yaris sales are down by half so far this year. Prius C sales are on track to decline for a fourth consecutive year. Thus, given the propensity of Toyota’s own Yaris to disappear from radar  and Toyota’s own Prius C to gradually fade from view the iA’s status will remain mostly intact, but for one change.

By the end of the year, the best-selling Toyota subcompact in America will be a Mexican-built Mazda that was once sold as a Scion but is becoming a Toyota.

[Images: Toyota, Mazda]

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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38 Comments on “Toyota’s Best-Selling Subcompact Is A Scion-Badged Mazda, Naturally...”

  • avatar

    I saw a Mazda 2 on Saturday. What a little sad it is, and the owner looked sadz too. Were all of them sold in ridiculous hi-liter colors? This one was bright green, a very “Lookie here!” color. I’ve yet to see a ScionMazda in the wild.

    No mention of the Mirage, eh?

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      The iA still has the awkward proportions of a B-segment sedan, but from the rear-quarters it bore enough resemblance to the Mazda3 to fool me until I was closer. I think it looks quite nice until you look at the grill and then…

      well, just don’t look at the grill.

      • 0 avatar

        It looks so mad at me. Maybe if I get a staple remover and take it out, it will calm down and the swelling will pass.

      • 0 avatar

        30-mile-fetch: “well, just don’t look at the grill.”

        From the inside, you can’t see the grill. In fact, no matter how ugly the outside of almost any car is, from the inside you can’t tell.

    • 0 avatar

      The old 2 is indeed sad looking but drives sweet. Seriously.

      • 0 avatar

        …with the standard transmission, it’s a riot on the streets: grab it by the scruff of the neck and wring it out, the way it wants to be driven, pulling through traffic with deft and gleeful conviction…

        …lighter than the MX-5 and agile as heck!..

    • 0 avatar

      The Mazda2 is my favorite rental car. Seriously. It absolutely loves to be hooned, and would be even more of a blast with a stick shift. I keep waiting to hear about a “Spec Deuce” race series, because the handling and steering are that good.

      • 0 avatar

        For the time being, there’s still SCCA B-Spec, although it looks like the 2 is a little outgunned by some of the competition. But yes, it’s a blast with the stick, although the power band or gear spacing needs to be changed a little.

    • 0 avatar

      As of last week, I have the privilege to see Mirage every day. Because now it is parked on my neighbor’s driveway. His son bought it. Wow. I could sell him my old Mazda…

    • 0 avatar

      Haitian slums are painted fluorescent colors, too. So. You draw your own conclusions.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t get the hate for color. I’m sick to death of black/white/red and six shades of grey.

        • 0 avatar

          I almost completely agree with you except that my favorite color is red. Whenever I have occasion to look at a car and the question, “do you have a color preference?” comes up my response is always the same; “anything but black white or silver.” At this point there are very few actual colors that I would turn down, pink comes to mind. I’d take the purple that MOPAR used to produce before I wpuld take black or white.

          As it is I have Tangerine Scream and get compliments often enough.

        • 0 avatar

          The color choices for the current Mx5 are a perfect example.

      • 0 avatar

        Lamborghini and McLaren love the fluorescents. I don’t why people don’t like actual colors but the rolling gulag of six different shades of grey gives me a sad.

      • 0 avatar

        Haitian slums? Seems they’re making the best out of bad situations by using bright, vibrant colors. Also seems the farther up the economic ladder you go, the blander the colors get until you get into the 0.01%, where they can literally afford to not give a rat’s.

        The fact that middle-class Americans have this thing about muted, neutral colors says wonders.

        • 0 avatar

          The American middle, are so financially stretched and suckered, they don’t buy the colors they like, but rather the colors they are told “improves resale value.” Heck, they even do their best to ban others from buying colors they have been told may reduce their neighborhood’s “home values.” And that, truly is about as sad as a Haitian slum.

          • 0 avatar

            stuki: “rather the colors they are told ‘improves resale value.\'”

            Seriously? What’s the resale impact of a color? 0.0025%? Cleaning the windshield before you try to sell it counts for far more.

            The “stretched” who recognize that they are “stretched” and who consider “value” as a top element of a vehicle purchase decision are generally buying used cars (either a 5 year old import or a 2 year old domestic) in whatever color happens to be available with most of the equipment they want.

            Those of us who can afford new and want value are careful about the resale value of the whole car, not the color.

            Mostly, people just answer the “what do you want your monthly payment to be” question, pick the vehicle they like and then sign whatever is put in front of them because their monthly payment is the one they wanted. “Can afford payment” = “value.”

          • 0 avatar


            I think it can impact the value down or up lots more down the road. Maybe not in three years – but in 10, 15? Yeah. Purple or black Impala SS or Fleetwood, worth more. Cars from 2003 with orange leather, worth less. A 2007 M35 in burnt orange with orange leather, worth less than usual. Impreza in some rare one-year color scheme? Worth more.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The current Yaris is a reliable and utilitarian runabout that feels wretchedly cheap and joyless. Even the reputation of one of the biggest automakers in the world couldn’t make it sell.

    The old Mazda2 had some joy but felt similarly cheap and lacked utility, and being sold by a near-niche automaker certainly didn’t help its case.

    The current Mazda2 looks like a better car than either, and if it will now have the Toyota logo on the front, it may finally be the right combination.

    • 0 avatar

      It is woefully uncompetitive in the B-segment. Look at the Versa, Fit, Fiesta, heck even the Sonic.

      Reliable as a boat anchor only takes you so far. A 2006 Pontiac Grand in rental car spec trim with the GM 3.8 and the 4-speed auto was as reliable as the sunrise too – but an interior designed by Playskool and made by Coleman only takes you so far in the eyes of buyers.

      The Yaris as it stands today goes beyond a car for people who don’t care about driving – the Yaris is a car for buyers who go to the Toyota showroom because they won’t even cross shop the Honda dealer across the street.

  • avatar

    Optics on body style make a HUGE difference for subcompacts. The Mazda 2 was a hatchback at launch. Looked smallish next to its big brother Mazda 3. And the colors were certainly a …um..brighter palette. (Maybe Mazda thought these cars would be bought for teenagers by their parents?) The rebadged Scion had both the hatchback and sedan and it just looks larger as a sedan, with better colors and not surprising that badge snobs are picking it with a Scion/Toyota emblem.

    The Mitsu mirage also suffers from the same in the US. I have personally seen the ROW latest Mitsubishi Mirage in Sedan form and it is a slightly more dignified form of transportation than its smaller sibling.

    So, they really should take Sergio’s money and do a Dart and a 200 for FIAT and the Mazda 3 could play new Dart and a 4-cyl only Mazda6 could be the 200

  • avatar

    Mazda sold Toyota the sedan, and intended to market the 2 hatch on its own. There’s even an EPA entry for the 2016 Mazda2, which means they paid to have it certified before deciding to pull the plug.

    Which leaves the Yaris as the only small hatch. Made in France, which is just weird.

    Maybe when Scion goes away, Toyota will sell the hatch and sedan versions of the Mazda2 under the new badge, and let the Yaris die.

    • 0 avatar

      …it’s EPA and NHTSA certified for stateside sales, but only marketed in puerto rico…

    • 0 avatar

      You don’t have to certify a power train for emissions (and thus MPG) separately for each badge on the car. Do no they didn’t “pay to certify” the 2 Toyota “paid” to certify the Scion and it applies to the 2 as well though they changed their mind and aren’t offering it for sale.

  • avatar

    Well it’s really simple. The US spec Yaris is a horrid B-segment car. It is woefully class uncompetitive. If it wasn’t for rental agencies it wouldn’t have a market.

    The Prius C is based on the same awful chassis — in the B-segment, it’s like Toyota isn’t even trying.

  • avatar

    That iA is godawful to look at. Jesus Christ. I mean, seriously. Its terrible.

  • avatar

    Maybe the poor iA can now get a slightly less hideous Toyota grill

  • avatar

    If this isn’t badge engineering, I don’t know what is.

  • avatar

    Yaris hatch gets ancient 4 speed automatic. iA/Yaris sedan gets a 6 speed automatic. The engines are both 1.5 but one’s Toyota the other Mazda. I know which I’d prefer on the highway.

  • avatar

    I may be in a sub-group of one, but I like the IQ. Unfortunately Toyota peddles it here only with a CVT. It is astonishing to me that other automakers, including Toyota, have not figured out the MINI formula. It is a premium subcompact, drives that way and feels that way.

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