$6,021 - $6,021

2013 Scion iQ Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Scion iQ was new.


Performance: 6.5

Despite its underpowered engine, reviewers agree that the 2013 Scion iQ’s small size and accurate steering make parking and navigating cities a breeze. When the iQ is taken out of urban environments and faces rough roads and freeway speeds, some test drivers think its performance is unrefined.

  • "Another advantage to the iQ is its efficient, more conventional powertrain setup that makes it feel more like a normal car to drive than the Smart. It's equally slow, though, meaning this city car is best kept in, well, the city." -- Edmunds
  • "Unlike the ForTwo, it's brilliant to drive. In fact, from behind the wheel, it's Toyota's best small car." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "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

All iQ models have a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 94 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission is standard, and no other transmissions are available. According to the EPA, the iQ averages 36/37 mpg city/highway. Its city rating is very high for the class, but its highway rating is low for a car as small as the iQ.

Test drivers are quick to point out that the iQ is really slow and that its engine is very weak. Most reviewers are disappointed with the transmission. They say the CVT drains the iQ of any fun-to-drive potential.

  • "… the 94-hp iQ feels suitably slow." -- Edmunds
  • "The iQ's 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine is vocal, and its modest output means noise is omnipresent, but it's never intrusive. And thanks to a wide ratio spread with a short low ratio, the iQ squirts off the line, even up San Francisco's notoriously steep hills." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "Mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the only option, the iQ gets a surprising amount of push. It steps off the line smartly, its engine winding out with a tortured sound." -- CNET (2012)
  • "On the road, the engine is noisy, buzzing at high revs from being linked to a continuously variable transmission." -- AutoWeek (2012)
  • "Here’s what’s wrong with the new Scion iQ: It’s stuck with a continuously variable transmission that drains the fun out of it. Every. Single. Drop." -- Car and Driver (2012)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers like the 2013 iQ’s precise, responsive steering. They particularly like that the iQ is one of the easiest cars to park and navigate through cities.  Some test drivers say the iQ delivers a smooth, comfortable ride, but one says that the iQ is easily distressed by ruts and bumps in the road, which cause it to change course. A different critic says that when crosswinds come, it doesn’t feel as planted as compacts like the Chevrolet Sonic and Fiat 500, though one test driver finds that the iQ feels confident.

  • "Given its short wheelbase, you might expect the iQ to have a choppy ride on the highway, yet it delivers acceptable stability at speed. Crosswinds affect it, though, and you feel a little more vulnerable in the iQ than you do in larger subcompact cars like the Chevy Sonic or Fiat 500." -- Edmunds
  • "Drive in any major city, and you will be amazed at the number of parking spaces that become possible." -- CNET (2012)
  • "The person in the front left seat will have the best seat of all: the iQ delights with accurate, communicative steering. … The suspension does a tremendous job of masking the short wheelbase: the ride is never choppy. And unlike in the Smart, the iQ's rear suspension actually absorbs bumps." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "That said, the iQ responded smartly when starting on steep inclines, and the brakes were strong and responsive, even during hard downhill braking." -- AutoWeek (2012)
  • "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. … However, it feels remarkably secure at highway speeds with no noticeable crosswinds to terrorize us." -- Motor Trend (2012)

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