Our Buy/Drive/Burn today is yet another reader suggested trio, this time from SoCalMikester. Mike wants to take a look a three quite affordable compact hatchbacks from 2007. Honda, Nissan, and Scion are all on offer today, but which one’s worth your limited number of 2007 dollars?
I’m beginning to worry that many vehicles I once fervently desired to own will never again appear on my shortlist of possible daily drivers.
These vehicles, from the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Fiesta ST to the Audi S4 and Porsche Macan and numerous others in between, possess one of two common traits. Their internal combustion engines send power either to the front or all four wheels.
I don’t want to be that guy; I don’t want there to be any hint of sounding like this. You know the kind of guy I’m talking about: a real, living, breathing version of the 14-year-old forum addict who, never having driven any car of any kind, suffers all manner of teenage angst over the very notion that BMW sells all-wheel-drive M cars while scolding Ford for emasculating the Mustang GT350R with electronic aids.
But a hard-hitting winter manifested itself early on Prince Edward Island, and I’m worried that the fun quotient exhibited by a 2013 Scion FR-S could never be replicated by a front or all-wheel-drive car.
Toyotas mostly don’t show up in the big self-service wrecking yards until about age 15, so discarded Scion xB s are just beginning to appear in U-Wrench-It inventories. Here’s a Scion Toaster covered with totally brutal airbrush murals, spotted in a Denver-area yard a few months back.
Five Years on, Scion FR-S/Toyota 86 Has Few Buyers Left, But Still There's a Comparison Test Win up Its Sleeve
Five years have passed since the Scion FR-S — known elsewhere as the Toyota GT86 and known now in America as the Toyota 86 (and at Subaru as the BRZ) — arrived in America. Buyers, never particularly numerous to begin with, are few and far between. Toyota now sells 62 percent fewer Toyota 86s in America than the Scion FR-S managed during its first year.
You expect to see sports cars peak early and then gradually fade. The degree to which the Toyota 86 née Scion FR-S has faded, however, has been more than a little striking. FR-S/86 sales have fallen so far, so fast, that U.S. car buyers are now ten times more likely to acquire a new Chevrolet Camaro, three times more likely to acquire a new Volkswagen Golf GTI, and twice as likely to acquire a new Mazda MX-5.
But is the Toyota 86 deserving of such rejection? Not according to a just-completed CAR Magazine comparison test in which the five-year-old Toyota claimed victory — ahead of the Mazda MX-5 RF and BMW 2 Series.
Forget, if only for the next few minutes, the way it looks. You may hate it, you may love it. But don’t let your interpretation of the 2018 Toyota C-HR’s exterior angles cloud your judgement.
While you’re at it, set aside class designations, as well. Whether you, like me, consider the 2018 Toyota C-HR to be unqualified for “crossover” status because it’s missing all-wheel-drive availability, the C-HR is still positioned as a rival for front-wheel-drive HR-Vs, Renegades, Encores, and CX-3s, among others.
The Toyota C-HR was initially intended to form part of the Scion lineup in North America, but with that brand’s demise, Toyota wisely moved the C-HR into its own lineup. Slotted below the Toyota RAV4 with dimensions that all but mirror the old Toyota Matrix, the 2018 Toyota C-HR is a $23,495-25,435 hatchback that’s garnered more attention during its stay with me than any vehicle I’ve ever tested.
To my surprise, almost all of that attention was positive. But is the Toyota C-HR worthy of such attention?
Quick trivia: what’s the fastest-growing auto brand in America?
Jeep? Land Rover? GMC? Ram? Volvo?
Year-over-year, through the first four months of 2016, sales at Scion — Toyota’s 13-year-old youth-directed brand — are up 53 percent. It’s not just recovery after a poor start to 2015. Scion is on track for its best year since 2008.
Well, Scion would be on track for U.S. sales to rise to an eight-year high if, by the end of this year, Scion still existed.
The main complaint levied against the Toyota GT86 (and Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins) is its supposed lack of power, even though it pumps out 200 horses. Coming in at a close second on the 2+2 hatchback coupe’s complaint list is its lack of usable space.
Toyota Australia has an answer to that second concern, and it’s in the form of a Shooting Brake that looks like a Honda CR-Z after hitting up some free weights.
Prior to the New York International Auto Show, Toyota distributed an upbeat press release. Come party with us, it said. “Scion is not going away quietly.”
Yet, as I walk toward Scion’s booth, a quiet unease fills a void once occupied by a loud, confident generational pulse. The typical eye-catching signs with heavily embossed, trendy hashtags are all but entirely absent upon my arrival. Massive subwoofers sit dormant inside 13 years’ worth of one-off tuner concepts. Engineered studio lighting softly highlights the vehicles on display, while simultaneously attempting to hide the vast, empty spaces between them.
Scion’s show booths are normally chock-full of tchotchkes and the beautiful people handing them out — but not today.
If you’ve been holding out on buying a Scion tC until the right special edition came along, this is your last opportunity.
Scion’s parent, Toyota, took the youth-oriented brand behind the woodshed last month, making the upcoming Release Series 10.0 version of the tC coupe an aerodynamic swan song.
Scion’s slow-selling FR-S rear-wheel-drive coupe is about to become Toyota’s slow-selling rear-wheel-drive coupe, and it will be branded with the same moniker as in many other parts of the world.
That’s right: this is the Toyota 86, also known as what it should have been named here in the first place.
New-to-TTAC reader Kobe writes:
I’ve only begun to read TTAC and your email responses are a great read, so I figured I’d give sending you a question a shot.
Two of my wife’s friends are looking for reliable, used cars. The parameters I’ve been given were $4,000 or less (as she will need to save a little for maintenance repairs I figure), a hatchback (preferably four-door), automatic, front- or all-wheel drive, and decent gas mileage. Her friend has lived around NYC most of her life, so although she has her driving license, she has rarely driven.
Now, I went about scrolling through all the makes and models that are listed on Autotrader and came up with this possible list:
Being a car flipper, tuner and technician that falls within the millennial age group should make me an ideal candidate for various Scions. Yet, when I attempted to jog my memory yesterday, I could think of only a a few I’ve touched with my own two hands.
In fact, I’ve only flipped a single vehicle from Toyota’s youth brand: a repossessed xB festooned with the standard roll call of aftermarket vendor decals. It would be my only foray into a tuner culture the brand attempted to make accessible to millennials straight from the dealer. It also represented the misfortune of many young owners who lose their vehicles to the bank.
Beyond the funky metal, there’s one element that set Scion apart from its Toyota mothership: monospec pricing.
By offering up only a single trim for each models and reducing options to paint colors, transmissions and accessories, Scion was able to market its vehicles to a different audience and offer a no-haggle sales approach.
For the 2017 model year, that monospec approach will continue, but Toyota is evaluating its future. Also, Scion’s no-haggle pricing model won’t be surviving the transition to Toyota.
Toyota officially announced Wednesday morning that Scion will “transition to Toyota,” effectively killing off the youth brand started in 2002. Its first vehicles went on sale in California in 2003, and included the xA hatchback and xB wagon.
According to a release from Toyota, Scion “is now transitioning back to the Toyota brand” and most Scion models well be rebranded as Toyotas starting August 2016 for the 2017 model year, including the forthcoming C-HR. The Scion tC will be discontinued as of August 2016.
Update 2: Toyota has officially announced Scion’s “transition to Toyota.”
Update 1: Road&Track is reporting it has confirmed the rumor with an inside source and the death of Scion will be publicly announced later today.
A top-secret meeting took place Tuesday afternoon to announce the death of the Scion brand to employees, reports CarBuzzard (via Motor Trend). The company is rumored to make the announcement public today.
We at TTAC have openly wondered about the future of Scion, though recent sales performance of new products looked to have put the youth-oriented brand on the right track.
Scion is on a little bit of a hot streak with the addition of the iA (based on the Mazda2) and iM (based on the Toyota Auris). That formula is working so well that Scion is ready to badge engineer another vehicle as its own. Specially, they are going to badge engineer a crossover that the brand so desperately needs in order to be relevant long term.
While only showed as a concept in Los Angeles, the C-HR (which is also a Toyota concept) is definitely heading to production and definitely going to keep the brand rolling for the next 10 years.
Toyota will build the next generation RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid on its new global platform in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada near the Lexus RX in 2019, the automaker announced Tuesday.
The plant, which recently lost production of the Corolla to Mexico, would receive a significant upgrade to the Toyota New Global Architecture line that could be used to produce other cars in the future. In a statement announcing the RAV4’s production, Toyota executives touted the Cambridge and Woodstock plants as the “North American hub for sport utility vehicles.”
I call Scions “the acronyms from hell” because even I have trouble keeping up with all of them.
iQ, iA, iM, tC, xB, xD. Did I forget one? The xA and…wait! I forgot the FR-S, but that’s only because I rarely see those go through the auction block. Everything else, save the two new iA and iM models, seems to make a perennial pilgrimage to the wholesale heaven of unwanted used cars for one unfortunate reason.
Scion, historically, can’t help but hit ’em where the customers ain’t.
If history is any indication, North American consumers may get their first look at the Scion C-HR at the New York Auto Show in April 2016.
Autoblog confirmed Tuesday that Toyota would show off its production-ready cute ‘ute next March at the Geneva Auto Show. Last month, Scion teased a concept it would be showing in Los Angeles next month, widely considered to be the C-HR in Scion clothes. Both announcements may mean that the C-HR is following a pattern started by the Scion iM.
Scion, Toyota’s “youth” brand, released the above teaser image Tuesday morning along with a brief press release stating their third all-new vehicle will be displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show this November.
Is this the Toyota CH-R in Scion drag? It very much looks to be.
The FR-S did not turn out to be Scion’s savior. Doubts regarding the ability of a conventional hatchback and a subcompact sedan — the brand’s first sedan — to rescue a brand that was built on unconventional cars have been expressed in many corners.
Yet with the arrival of those two cars, the iA and iM, Scion was the fastest-growing car brand in America in September 2015 and the second-fastest-growing brand overall.
Toyota’s compact crossover C-HR will be making another auto show appearance before its production version is unveiled next year at the Geneva Auto Show, and its quite possible that the model could make or break Scion’s future in the U.S.
Toyota hasn’t released many details about the C-HR, other than to say that it’ll be built on the same, global TGNA structure that the next-generation Prius is built on and would have a similar hybrid powertrain.
The small crossover would fit entirely within Scion’s wheelhouse of younger buyers who apparently can’t get enough of crossovers, and would help make relevant a brand that is, um, struggling with sales.
Scion — the youth focused, geriatric-coveted Toyota Junior Team brand — is looking to push sales in a different direction as it tries to shed its “retiree in an xB” image in favor of #millenials Snapchatting their road trips in Scion iMs.
According to The Detroit Bureau, Scion wants to offer their wares online in more markets in an effort to appeal to younger consumers who don’t want to take test drives, I guess.
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.
To wonder aloud: How long can cool be, you know, cool?
For Scion, “cool” has a half-life of around 12 years and the youth-oriented brand from Toyota has a significant turn to right the ship back toward sales from the its first year in America. Last month, Scion posted a 20-percent dip in sales, discontinued two models — iQ and xD — and spelled out an end for its xB — the only Scion to post anything resembling sales growth.
Is it better to be dead or cool? Didn’t Kurt Cobain write a song about this?
Though we already have an idea as to what the Scion iM will look like, Toyota issued teasers for it and the iA ahead of their New York debut in April.
The Scion tC was not one of the cars I had in mind.
Oh, it does its best to look its part, and I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did, but it’s no sport coupe.
If you purchase a Scion FR-S with an automatic transmission, I hope you’re deeply ashamed. There might be a legitimate reason. I’d accept a condition that prevents you from working a clutch and shifter. You know, something like losing a tussle with gangrene as a child or an advanced Type-II Diabetes induced foot-ectomy.
Harsh, inconsiderate statements, but why the hell would you want this car with an automatic?
Several Toyota models dominated this year’s Consumer Reports list of used car recommendations, with 11 out of 28 overall belonging to the automaker’s Scion, Lexus and namesake brands.
Many assumed that with the new FR-S hitting the dealers, it would only be a matter of time before the front-wheel-drive tC was sent out to pasture. However with an average buyer age of 28, the tC is isn’t just the youngest Toyota, it’s the youngest car in America. With demographics like that, product planners would be fools to kill off the tC and so the “two coupé strategy” was born. The last time we looked at the tC, the FR-S had yet to be born, this time the tC has been refreshed in the FR-S’ image. Which two door is right for you? Click past the jump, the answer might surprise you.
It’s the perfect day and the perfect road for a brisk mountain drive in the siena red Z3. For the last time this year it’s easily warm enough to put the top down—in a little over a week the remnants of Hurricane Sandy will bury the area in snow. WV15 winds tightly along a mountain ridge, flanked on each side by peaking fall foliage. Valleys far below on each side, you’re on top of the world. There’s only one problem with this soul stirring picture: my father started the day closer to Cass, and the BMW is holding me up. With the next brief straight I snick the firm, short-throw shifter into third, spur the boxer well over 4,000 rpm, and roar past him. WV15 is an even better road for a Scion FR-S en route to meet up with a pair of Mazda RX-8s for our Third Annual Appalachian Road Trip.
We’ve already looked at the FR-S, but I came of car-driving age just minutes before the heyday of the Toyota AE86 and, by God, I’m going to write about any car that claims to be an homage to the car that stands as the ’55 Chevy of Japan. So, I got on the horn with Toyota PR: “Hey, Moe, it’s Murilee Martin. Yeah, that Murilee Martin. Listen, I’m heading out to the East Bay next weekend and I need something that won’t embarrass me when I need to out-donut the Glasshouse Caprices at the sideshows in Oakland, know what I’m saying? Sure, the FR-S sounds good!”
[Editor’s note: TTAC does not review cars, TTAC reviewers do. The reviews can be as different as the reviewers are, and they voice their opinions independently. Due to the high interest the FR-S has received, we put a whole squad of TTAC reviewers into the car, and we are not done yet.]
Alex’s initial look at the pre-production Scion FR-S had a few feathers getting ruffled in the comments section. Then came Derek’s discussion of the hype surrounding the car and his own disappointing drive, and even more feathers were bent askew. Now Jack’s had a go at dissecting the FR-S on the track (his natural environment, if not the car’s), and it’s basically been like firing chickens into a snow-blower.
So, while the little Toyobaru sits in the middle of crossfire of angry verbiage that is like, so totally not what usually happens around here, I’ll belly up to the bar. We’ve had the launch event, we’ve had the track comparo; I had the FR-S for a week to evaluate it as a daily-driver, and one thing right off the bat:
“This car,” Derek Kreindler told me as we grabbed third gear down Toronto Motorsports Park’s front straight, “is like a GT-R for a guy who lives in his mother’s basement.” He had a point. Some American subcultures practice what I think of as immobile ambition — think of all those McMansions with no furniture and a double-income couple anxiously hoping someone will stop by and be impressed by the bridal staircase and crown moldings. Other subcultures are all about getting out in the street and showing off your clothes, your ride, or your woman.
Scion has had a sordid past. Originally, Scion was Toyota’s solution to a lack of 18-25 year old shoppers. Over the past 9 years however Scion has lost their way and lost their youth. Their median buyer just turned 42. The tC coupe, which started out as a car for college kids, now has a median buyer of around 30. Scion claims the FR-S is a halo car – to me, that means the FR-S will be bought by older drivers (who can actually afford it), attracting younger buyers to their showrooms. Despite being out of the target demographic, Scion flew me to Vegas to sample the FR-S’s sexy lines to find out.
The Scion (nee Toyota) IQ may be a very small car, but we’ve treated it like big news here. Alex Dykes took an an early look a few months ago. Michael Karesh turned his lens on the IQ in a Take Two. So far, we’ve been cautiously optimistic.
Why review it again? Simple. The IQ is arguably the proper spiritual successor to the original Mini: a packaging miracle which could define the way a large segment of humanity drives in the future. In a market chock-full of retro pastiche and style-over-substance, the IQ is that rarest of things: a truly new automobile, packed throughout its ten-foot length with original thinking.
In this test, we’ll swerve around a bit, race an old woman in a Bentley Turbo, consider who the buyers for this product will actually be, and introduce the IQ to the car which could wind up being its Nemesis. Snuggle up to the asymmetric dashboard and let’s go.
Scion is quite sure of one thing: the new iQ is a much better car than the smart fortwo. What they’re much less sure of: how many of the targeted fine young North American urbanites will buy one rather than periodically use Zipcar. I’m neither young nor urban, but I’m going to do my best to pretend. Why might I buy this car—or not?
It will come as no surprise to regular TTAC readers when I say that Scion has had some sales issues lately. But instead of euthanizing the brand as some on TTAC have suggested, Toyota has decided to take a different route. Thankfully, rather than creating more me-too models based off of US-market Toyotas, the plan includes some JDM/Euro models and the much anticipated “Toyobaru “sports car. The first object of foreign desire landing stateside to start off Scion’s resurrection is the Toyota iQ micro-car. The iQ should be in showrooms across the country soon, but does Scion have the IQ to make a smarter Smart?
Toyota has had a problem lately: aging clientele. While some marketing firms will try to reinvigorate an aging brand with flashy new commercials and risqué advertising campaigns, Toyota decided to create a whole new brand in 2002 targeting Generation X and Y: Scion. Since the generations at the end of the alphabet are short on cash but long on youth, value pricing is the biggest draw for the Scion brand. Therefore it should be no surprise that the average age of Scion shoppers isn’t as low as Toyota could have hoped: old people like a bargain too.
Anarchy in the TTAC! It turns out that Michael Karesh and I both got invited to short-lead Scion tC press events. His review is found here and nicely covers things like the sound system, recent sales numbers, and the American economy. It’s so comprehensive that I didn’t feel the need to attend my press preview.
I did, however, feel the need to pay my bookie, so I am dutifully submitting this piece to offset a small amount of my personal debt. If you are not in the mood to read two reviews of this car, I have helpfully summarized my review in one sentence, posted “before the jump” for your convenience:
Given sufficient velocity and violence of application, it is possible to set the brakes on fire.
Eager to connect with twentysomethings, Scion has sponsored over 2,500 cultural events. Nevertheless, sales are far off their peak. Apparently free doom-metal concerts can only accomplish so much when the target customer can’t find a decent job. Or is the product the problem? Apparently Scion thinks so, as it’s forecasting praying that a redesign of the tC for the 2011 model year will double the model’s sales. (Which, if accomplished, would still leave them at half the 2006 peak.) So, might these prayers be answered?
Big changes were afoot in the Scion back in the summer of 2007, as the brand’s pioneering crop of Yaris-based funkmobiles gave way to a second generation of models aimed at expanding the brand’s appeal to American consumers. Oddly enough, the biggest changes came for a new model with an unchanged name: in a single generation, the the tiny xB went from freaky, fuel-sipping urban runabout to a bloated, Camry-based beast. In contrast, the less-successful xA underwent a far less radical change as it morphed into the xD, saving it from the initial scorn of Scion purists and keeping the brand’s Yaris-based roots alive. Not that the xD has been in any way rewarded for staying (relatively) faithful to its brand’s mission: like the xA it replaced, the xD has never sold better than its larger, less brand-faithful stablemates. Which begs the question: is the xD a bad car, or was the original vision of a funky, urban micro-car brand a dead-end dream?
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