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#38

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $15,665 - $17,850
Invoice: $14,882 - $16,958
MPG: 36 City / 37 Hwy
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Scion iQ Performance

Test drivers say that the 2014 Scion iQ has sufficient power for driving in the city, but it struggles on hills and is slow to reach highway speeds. Parking is a breeze, thanks to a tight turning radius, they say. However, test drivers note that when the iQ faces freeway speeds, the engine is incredibly loud and the CVT doesn’t make good use of the engine’s power.

  • “The iQ is certainly freeway capable, but it's far more at home at lower speeds on city roads." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • “Flooring the gas pedal wakes it up enough to allow you to merge onto the freeway with relative ease, but then you have to listen to the tedious drone from the hard-working engine. If you're using the Scion for short city trips, you probably won't be bothered much, but long-distance commuters should look elsewhere." -- Edmunds
  • “When the iQ encounters bumps, potholes, and other road imperfections, it tends to bounce and bound over and through them. Simply as a product of the car's short wheelbase, larger bumps and dips result in abrupt up-and-down motions." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "It proved more than adequate for low-speed city driving, having the oomph to dodge and dart through traffic. But it lost steam easily--we had it floored while climbing a city hill as the iQ had given all the power it had available. The driving quality suffers, especially under acceleration, from the uneven power delivery of the CVT." -- CNET (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Scion iQ comes with a 94-horsepower, 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine, which is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The iQ gets an EPA-estimated 36/37 mpg city/highway, which is near the head of the class.

Test drivers say the iQ is strong enough for tooling around the city, but it’s slow to reach highway speeds and climb hills. Reviewers note that the engine is incredibly loud and they dislike the CVT, which they say is slow to deliver power and takes the fun out of driving the iQ.

  • "On the upside, the car fulfills its main mission of getting you around the city, as its four-cylinder engine provides sufficient power to motivate this small, lightweight car. However, the CVT can get annoying at times: Its responses are often sluggish in low-speed traffic." -- Edmunds
  • "Keep the continuously variable automatic transmission in Sport mode, and you'll get zippier performance, but the iQ can't match the larger Mini Cooper or Chevy Sonic for road feel and driving fun. Engine drone is a letdown and only seems to grow louder the longer the commute." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The iQ does 0-60 mph in about 10 seconds. That's OK for the urban grind, but marginal for highway passing, climbing steep hills, or merging onto fast-moving freeways, all of which demand patience and planning." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Every time the iQ is about to do something entertaining, the CVT intrudes and spoils it. Dive into a corner, the tires bite and…the transmission induces its drone of defeat and the car practically falls on its nose. Scion says the iQ will run from 0 to 60 mph in 11.8 seconds, but a better estimate might be a week." -- Car and Driver (2012)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers are impressed with the iQ’s tight turning radius, saying it’s easy to park and is a great car for city drivers. However, reviewers say that the iQ can be jostled by crosswinds on the highway and is easily affected by bumps and ruts in the road. The steering is responsive, but doesn’t offer much road feel, they add.

  • "Fuel economy is quite good, of course, and the iQ has a decent ride quality on the highway despite its small size. Crosswinds affect it, though, and you feel a little more vulnerable in the iQ than you would in larger subcompact cars such as the Chevy Sonic or Fiat 500." -- Edmunds
  • "Making a U-turn in some vehicles can feel like a gamble, but with the iQ's 26.4-foot turning circle you'll never have to worry about that dreaded 3-point turn amid oncoming traffic. In less dramatic situations, this also translates to tight maneuverability in parking lots." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Because of its tiny wheelbase and numb-on-center steering, the iQ can be darty on the highway. With fast steering inputs, the car changes direction very quickly. During a simulated emergency lane-change maneuver, the iQ moved quickly into the next lane, but a fair amount of body lean and side-to-side swaying motions made the car feel tippy. The steering does not impart much road feel, even at highway speeds." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Because of its compressed measurements, the iQ can be susceptible to pull and wander from road disturbances such as dips, grooves, and cable car tracks. The ride feels firm, yet there's obvious body movement in the corners." -- Motor Trend (2012)
Review Last Updated: 5/14/14

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