The New Ride…

ruc-iQ

Those who know me have heard this way too many times, so I’ll be brief. I first saw the Scion iQ at the 2009 New York City Car Show and it was “love at first sight”. I’ve always had a soft spot for very small cars which I believe is inherited from my Dad. I can remember riding with him in his tiny used Fiat 300 (600?) way back in the 60’s. My last small car was a ’94 Ford Festiva, which I only gave up because the Mrs. didn’t want our soon to be driving son’s first accident happen in that “tin can”.

It was a long wait for the iQ to be available in the states, let alone this part of the country. When it finally arrived, there was no question – as long as it passed the test drive it would be bought. It did, and it was. The two options I added were the sport wheels and a beefier sound system.

I’m just over 3,000 miles into it as of this post, so this is a first impression owner report.

Like my last car, a 2005 Scion XB, the inside is surprisingly spacious and comfortable compared to what would be expected seeing it from the outside. That said, the iQ has a ridiculous back seat which is useless unless you usually need to transport small children who unfortunately have no legs. I removed the headrests and keep the back “seats” folded down making for flat, relatively suitable storage space.

The driver’s seat is supportive and comfortable, and the passenger seat is even better due to extra legroom. The interior provides ample shoulder room, the car being wider than it’s competitors Fiat and SmartCar. There is no glove box (ugh) and the slide out plastic tray under the passenger seat is an annoying, lousy replacement. I fixed this with a small knapsack that lays flat behind the console, between the seats, and contains everything the glove box would, plus all my music CD’s. I think the glove box was nixed by the engineers to help make room for the nine airbags surrounding the cabin.

The sound system is incredible and was worth the purchase. I like loud music – which it delivers and then some. Clear as a bell and with all the little nuances often unheard with systems that only do “LOUD”. The system interface is well laid out and is feature rich on it’s touch screen.

My driving pattern is a daily work commute, 45 miles round trip. The ride to work happens at around 5:15 in the morning and I do that 22 miles on the interstate (only because the traffic is usually light – I hate driving highway no matter what I’m driving). On the ride home, no highway, a mix of secondary roads and back roads, but the same path every day. It includes quite a few ups and downs of long hills.

My driving style is mainly geared towards maximum MPGs – keeping that little green “ECO” light on the dash lit up helps with this as does monitoring the average MPG that resets on each fill up of the 8 gallon tank. The MPG average I’ve calculated over the 3,000 plus miles is 36.7 (car is rated at 37). I’m more than ok with that as the car is fun to drive, and zippy enough for me. It handles the highway well at about 65 MPH and the secondary road uphills with relative ease – keeping up with traffic minus any signs of strain.

Admittedly, you need to like small cars to own a Scion iQ.

Due to the short wheelbase, bumpy roads are bumpy! But not to the point of being unsafe. The engine noise is significant, not overbearing, and like the XB is remedied by the sound system. While I did take the XB back and forth to Baltimore and Boston quite a few times, it could handle 70 to 80 mph with ease and had plenty of luggage space – not so for the iQ on either point. It won’t be making those kind of trips unless I make them alone, mix secondary roads into the ride, and am not in a major hurry.

An item that makes most folks take a step back when I mention it is, NO SPARE TIRE. A combination air pump powered by the car’s electrical system and a can of goop to stop the leak is the replacement. I suspect my AAA card is the better replacement – as long as they come with a flat bed tow truck in case it needs to be toted off.

Overall? I am more than pleased. It’s more of a “car” than I thought it would be, feeling road worthy and handling well. I honestly don’t feel like I’m in a super-small car unless I look over my shoulder and am reminded that second half of it is missing. I find it fun to drive and am happy with the fuel efficiency.


UPDATE 2013-04-07: This car was traded in towards a new ride for the Mrs. (her turn) in October of last year. By about 6,000 miles, it had developed a very scary and annoying metal against metal noise under the hood which the dealer would not or could not address. This event, coupled with an interior smell of burning oil after the engine heated up (like it was dripping on the manifold) and new sounds coming from the suspension, made it clear it was time to bail out of this car. I did love driving it but not enough to risk the repair adventures I imagined inevitable. And no, I did not beat on this car – it was all about the MPGs, which it delivered on quite well.

I’m now driving the old woman’s hand-me-down 2005 Toyota Corolla, in good shape with about 60k miles on it. It should get me through the next 2 years or more without much grief.  Oops – did I just say that out loud?