First Drive: 2016 Scion iA and iM

As Scion introduced its new iA and iM models in Santa Monica, I was thrilled to be back in my SoCal stomping grounds to test these new vehicles on the beautiful mountain and canyon roads around the Malibu area. The winding roads and climbs would offer a perfect setting for our test drive, and we started off on a beautiful summer day by making our way North up PCH with spectacular views of the Pacific to our left.

The drive started with the all-new 2016 iA, the first sedan model ever offered by Scion. The iA grabs your attention right away with a bold and pronounced front grille. The sporty and aggressive lines of the front end of this entry-level compact sedan gives the impression of a more expensive model and will certainly appeal to buyers looking for a distinctive design.


Right away I put the iA in Sport mode and was pleased with the responsiveness and handling, which was a pleasant surprise for a vehicle that features a 1.5-liter engine with 106 horsepower. It certainly didn’t feel like an entry-level sedan. It’s priced at $15,700 for the 6-speed manual transmission and $16,800 for the 6-speed automatic with a $795 delivery, processing and handling fee. Scion has a no hassle, no haggle Pure Price policy so you’ll get this attractive price at the dealership.

For that price buyers will get a nice package of features, including rear-view backup camera, keyless entry with push-button start, a low-speed pre-collision system, 7-inch touch screen multimedia system with voice recognition, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power exterior mirrors and a 60/40 split rear seat back. The all-black interior was pretty sharp for a subcompact and comfortable as well.

Gas mileage is impressive and checks in at an EPA-estimated 33 city/42 highway/37 combined MPG for the automatic version and 31 city/41 highway/35 combined for the manual.

The new iA was developed as part of a new collaboration with Mazda, with much of the vehicle based on the 2016 Mazda 2 sedan, with the front design being the most obvious difference. It will be interesting to see how this collaboration develops, but it’s off to a nice start with the sporty iA.

The iM hatchback also sports an aggressive design with assertive lines, but it has a totally different look when compared to the iA. It comes down to a matter of taste, but while I preferred the iA with its aggressive front grille, the iM’s design is pretty sporty and sleek as well. Check out the photos and see which one you like better.


Scion emphasizes the versatility of this vehicle, characterizing it as an “enabler of fun.” The hatchback design certainly offers more flexibility and suits an active lifestyle.

I had the opportunity to drive the standard 6-speed stick shift as opposed to the CVT model, and it was certainly fun to drive on the canyon roads. With the manual is accelerated nicely and handled the corners well. The iM features a 137 horsepower, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, and gas mileage comes in at an EPA rating of 28 city/37 highway/ 32 combined for the CVTi-S and 27 city/36 highway/31 combined for the manual transmission.

Like the iA, the iM is also loaded with some impressive standard features given the price point, with a rear-view backup camera, 60/40 fold-down rear seats and standard cargo cover, 7-inch Pioneer Display Audio unit, real leather-wrapped steering wheel, Scion’s first 4.2-inch color TFT multi-information display, dual-zone automatic A/C control and hill start assist. Somehow I managed to screw up and not take advantage of the hill start assist when we pulled into Pepperdine University for some great views of the coastline.

I liked the design of the iA interior a little better, but was till impressed with the interior design of the iM and the overall comfort level. The iM also has a very competitive MSRP of $18,460 for the manual transmission and $19,200 for the CVTi-S model.

These segments are getting much more competitive as all of the brands are upping their game, but even in that environment these vehicles should get plenty of attention for the styling and features offered for the price. Both vehicles will be in Scion showrooms as of September 1st and should be on your test-drive list if you’re shopping in the compact and subcompact segments.