Scion Launches Two New Models: iA and iM

In the city of brotherly love, I found much to love about the Scion siblings. credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Scion, Toyota’s lower priced sibling, debuts more entry level cars.


The sporty hatchback on the Scion iM. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Car companies usually reserve their biggest splashes for sports cars and luxury vehicles, but Scion is firmly planting itself at the entry level buyer with its two new cars, the iA and the iM. These cars, released at the same time, both seek to grab budget minded buyers who want a no hassle buying experience. The cars come in just one trim model, with the only choice being automatic or manual transmission, and a limited number of colors.

By cutting down on options, Scion is keeping prices low, but the cars still come with a number of goodies that put spring in your step.

Enabler of fun: meet the iM

ScionScion iM, designed for a price conscious adventurer, is the sportier car, with a hatchback and flexible storage so you can pop a pair of skis of a bike in the back and head to the mountains. A Scion executive described the iM hatchback as ‘an enabler of fun,’ and in a drive around Philadelphia, I could see what he meant. the subcompact is easy to maneuver and park, and has enough pep under the hood to make merging on to the highway smooth.

The Scion iM costs $18,460 in a stick shift, $19,200 for automatic, and taking it on a trip won’t break the bank either; it gets 27 mpg in the city, 36 on the highway in manual transmission, 28/32 in automatic.


Simple navigation screen on the Scion. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The hatchback has a few nice touches, like a leather wheel, dual climate control so drivers like I am, who are always cold, won’t have to argue with hot-blooded husbands, and a backup cream with grid lines that aided in parking.  There is a 7-inch touchscreen that is easy to use, particularly for the millennials the brands is targeting.

Entry level sedan: iA


Note the red speed limit sign. If (when?) you exceed the speed limit, the icon turns from white to red. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The iA sedan has a front grill that the designers made elaborately polarizing It is a bold design that makes the car stand out in a sea of look-alike sedans. The Scion iA shows a true collaborative spirit; it was developed with Mazda, yet it will be sold at Toyota dealerships.

The value priced iA is just $15,700 in manual and $16,800 in 6-speed automatic and it gets an amazing 42 miles per gallon on the highway in the automatic. There are no plans to offer the car in a hybrid model, but with this fuel efficiency, there is no need.

The iA also has a back up camera, and adds a few more touches like push button start and remote keyless entry. There is one add-on, a basic navigation system.


Old vs new: the Scion iA is at home near an old stone foundation in Pennsylvania. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Neither car has an option for Sirius XM radio, but Scion execs said this was to keep options to a bare minimum and prices low; however, you can easily connect your phone and use your own music (what millennial doesn’t have a slew of tunes on her own device?) And of course you can charge your phone in the cars; the iA has two USB ports and an auxiliary jack, while the iM has one USB port. And you can connect your phone with Bluetooth in both.

Safety first

The cars have 8 airbags, so if you are buying one for your recent new driver or college grad, you can rest assured that he and his passengers will be safe.


In the city of brotherly love, I found much to love about the Scion siblings. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The iA also has a “pre-collision system” that detects pedestrians and will slow the car down, as long as it’s going 2-18 miles her hour. This is a great feature for parking lots of city driving, where you rarely exceed these speeds (in New York City, where I live, the speed limit is capped at 25 mph; in Philly, where I drove the iA, there was so much traffic that I rarely got above 12 mph). The system works via a laser sensor on the side view mirror, and gives a warming, charges the brake if you don’t slow down and then, if you STILL haven’t applied the brakes, actually stops the car. While I was driving city streets, a person suddenly dashed out in front of the car and I got that audible warning. This would be a welcome feature in NYC, where running in front of moving cars is an urban sport.

The Scion also has an innovative icon on its navigation screen. If (or, in the case of my co-driver, when) you exceed the speed limit, the icon turns from white to red. What a cool way to let you know to tap the brakes!

Less time at the dealership

Scion implied the buying process, with just the one model, two transmissions and six colors. There is no haggling over price, or bundling of options with features you don’t want to pay extra for. The company studied the time it takes the average person to buy a car, which is about four hours, and reduced that time to two hours.

So you have more time to embark on your next urban adventure or outdoor experience.

Note: I was Scion’s guest at the drive, and my travel expenses were covered; opinions expressed are my own.

Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell