2016 Scion iA second drive review: sub-$18k sedan extraordinaire

The 2016 Scion iA is one of the best small car picks on the market.

It’s quite a turnaround for Scion, which previously had the lackluster xA and xD models in this size category.

In all fairness, it’s a turnaround that arrived a bit too late, as the Scion brand, a youth-oriented sub-brand of Toyota, is being retired at the end of the model year.

And not all the credit should go to Toyota and Scion, as it is. The iA is actually a Mazda—assembled in Mexico, by Mazda; designed and engineered by Mazda; and essentially the same vehicle that’s badged a Mazda 2 sedan (or a Yaris) for other markets. It’s very closely related to the Mazda CX-3 as well—a high-riding, swoopy hatchback that’s built on some of the same underpinnings.

It’s a superb value. As is customary for Scion, the iA offers no factory options but comes very well-equipped. Yet here the feature set is even better; it includes Bluetooth, cruise control, keyless ignition, a rearview camera system, and power locks, windows, and mirrors—plus a multimedia system that has voice recognition and is ready for app-based streaming audio.

For all that, the iA costs just $16,495 with a manual transmission or $17,595 with an automatic; and it was in that latter form that we test-drove the iA late this winter.

The iA competes against sedan versions of the Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, and Kia Rio. And against all those models, in nearly every respect, we can see the iA as the better pick.

We emerged from a week with the iA absolutely gushing about what a great car the iA is—especially when we put ourself in the mindset of a budget-strapped shopper trying to get the most new car out of a low payment and sub-$20k sticker price.

Want details? In addition to the value factor itself, click through to see the reasons why we see the iA as something special among small cars, and one of the best subcompact sedan values on the market.

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