2012 Scion iQ

This week, automotive journalists headed to California for a preview of the 2012 Scion iQ, a small coupe that resembles the Smart ForTwo. The 2012 Scion iQ will start at $15,995, including destination charges.

The iQ’s market debut is behind schedule. “The Scion iQ was initially supposed to make its American debut this summer, but first supply issues and then the March 11 earthquake pushed the iQ’s launch back further,” says Motor Trend. “But Toyota was able to get its factories up and running sooner than expected and it’s now official — the iQ will reach the U.S. starting this fall.” According to Motor Trend, AutoWeek and Autoblog Green, the 2012 iQ goes on sale in California first, followed by the South in January. The East Coast and Midwest will get the iQ last.

Toyota, Scion’s parent company, hasn’t released official information on the features the iQ will have, but according to Autoblog Green, the base iQ will come with a lot of standard features. Pandora, an Internet radio service more automakers are offering, will be standard. Navigation will be optional.

Toyota hasn’t said if the specifications it released in March 2010 still stand, but according to the automaker’s year-old press release, the iQ will have a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that will make more than 90 horsepower, and will come with vehicle stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and traction control.

The affordable small car class is crowded with small cars that are hip and fuel-efficient, so it will be interesting to see how the 2012 iQ competes with the Ford Fiesta, Fiat 500 and Mazda2. Before destination charges, the Fiesta starts at $13,200, which is $2,795 less than the iQ. The $15,500 Fiat 500 and $14,180 Mazda2 are priced similarly, but in comparison to the iQ, they lack Pandora.

If you’re considering an iQ, compare these vehicles thoroughly to determine how much you’re willing to pay, how much space you need and which features you’re willing to live without or pay extra for.

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