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Roseville, Calif.- Originally a brand that was looking to capture youth-oriented car buyers that parent company Toyota was unable to reach, Scion has drifted from the game plan of late.

The concept of offering vehicles with a certain edgy, unique appearance has not reached the level of success that was first expected. So the shift toward more conventional vehicles is underway. One of those models is the all-new Scion iA, a subcompact with some enviable qualities to go with its fairly conventional appearance.

There are two things that immediately surface regarding the 2016 Scion iA: price and gas mileage. The estimated price of $15,700 is within range for many car shoppers, regardless of age. And the estimated 31-41 mpg is about as good as it gets in the subcompact class.

2016 Scion iA

  • Performance: 1.5-liter, four-cylinder, 106 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 31-41 mpg
  • Price estimate: $15,700
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 2 years/unlimited; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited

The primary competition for the Scion iA is the Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent.

Like all subcompacts, there’s nothing too fancy in regards to appearance or performance. The iA’s exterior is highlighted by a somewhat bold front fascia and what has become Toyota’s signature piano-black accenting. The iA has the same platform as the new 2016 Mazda2 (sold overseas only for now).

There are a few sportier subcompacts on the market that will offer a more fun, performance-laden ride. But the front-wheel drive Scion iA is a bit deceptive, delivering better power than one would suspect from a 1.5-lite, four-cylinder engine that produces 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and the standard six-speed manual transmission is not a problem to master.

There are no thrills driving the Scion iA, yet it does have rather nimble handling, is easy to maneuver, and pulling into a tiny parking spot is no problem. In freeway situations, plotting out one’s passing strategy requires a little more planning because the iA is not a car that accelerates quickly.

There’s both good and bad with the iA interior. Although it’s supposed to transport five people, the backseat will not accommodate three adults with any level of comfort thanks in part to a middle spot that’s hampered by a big floor hump. And two adults and a child will also be a squeeze. The iA offers acceptable room and comfort for front seat occupants.

One aspect neither front passenger will enjoy is the lack of armrests or even a center console. It’s baffling why Scion didn’t include something in the design to prop an arm on for comfort. The iA trunk is on the small side, but it is deep, providing 13.5 cubic feet of space. The infotainment system dial interface is solid and the iA comes with a 7-inch touchscreen.

If out shopping for a subcompact, the 2016 Scion iA is definitely worth a look and a test drive. The price is reasonable, the gas mileage is terrific, and the vehicle’s overall makeup is a nice effort.

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