2014 Scion iQ
Toyota spun off the Scion brand a decade ago as its youth-oriented division and introduced the iQ for model-year 2012 as a car it dubs a “premium micro subcompact.” There’s little like it on the American road, starting with its size – just 10-feet long but 5-feet tall. That creates fine room for two adults in front. To carry more, slide the front passenger seat forward, slip a grownup behind, and squeeze in a child behind the driver: it’s a 3+1! Virtually no parking space is too small, and it’s surprisingly stable on the open road. Zero-60 mph in 9.6 seconds from its three-cylinder engine is acceptable. The iQ rates four stars on the five-star federal safety scale, and airbags in the back-seat headrests add a measure of protection should you be rear-ended. Fuel economy is rated 37 mpg combined for all configurations. Base price is $16,520. See the CarPreview.com 2014 Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Buying Guide for coverage of the 2014 Scion iQ EV pure-electric model.
2014 Scion xD
An often-overlooked slow seller, this four-door hatchback is a good choice in very basic transportation. The styling is current, but the rest is old-school, with a small-outside/small-inside design, a dated powertrain, and take-corners-slow handling. The only factory options are a choice of manual or automatic transmission and exterior color. The basics are standard: air conditioning, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a 6.1-inch color audio dashboard touchscreen. Scion does offer a wealth of factory-approved “port-installed” accessories to customize your xD, including lowered suspension, spoilers, carbon-fiber trim, fancier wheels, and a sound-system upgrade. Fuel-economy is rated 29 mpg combined for all configurations. Base price is $17,555.
2014 Smart ForTwo
A sort of motorized phone booth, the ForTwo is the smart choice only if you need consume just 9 feet of pavement when you park or maybe dice traffic like a bike messenger. Otherwise, the list of subcompacts that beat if for value, comfort, room, acceleration, and fuel economy is a long one. Designed for Europe’s narrow city streets, the two-passenger (ah, “for two”) comes as a coupe or a convertible with a slide-back canvass roof section. A three-cylinder engine drives the rear wheels through a woefully miscalibrated dual-clutch automatic transmission. It’s slow, rough-riding, and requires premium-octane gas. Fuel-economy is rated 36 mpg combined. Base-price range $14,020-$18,860. See the CarPreview.com 2014 Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Buying Guide for coverage of the 2014 Smart Electric Drive pure-electric model.
Entry-level motoring, Toyota-style, translates to this mundane but easy-to-like hatchback available in a two- or four-door body style. We prefer the four-door for its far better rear-seat access, though cargo volume is the same for both — and tight for the class at that. Passenger room is OK, thanks to the egg-shaped interior. Slow acceleration and a modest handling envelope best suit around-town commuting. It’s noisy on the highway and not terribly fuel efficient. But Yaris gets the job done with little pretension and the value-added of Toyota reliability. Fuel-economy ratings span 32-33 mpg combined. Base-price range is $15,240-$18,150.