Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Scion iQ Looks Better than Smart


In a downsized economy, less is more and sometimes big things come in small packages, 10-foot-long packages. Standing not so tall, measuring at just over 59”, Scion’s 2012 “premium micro-subcompact” is just that, a big step to downsizing for American consumers.

At a whopping 66.1” wide and weighing in at 2,127 lbs, the newest addition to Scion’s family geared to young buyers and urbanites is all about “intelligent quality,” appropriately titled the iQ.

Simple and straightforward, Scion’s subcompact creation adds new “IQ” to the generation of smart cars with its concentrated design for intelligence, innovation, individuality, and quality.

The Beat was there in refreshing Palm Beach, Fla., for the iQ’s press preview and there are a lot of cool features about this little bundle.

The iQ starts at less than $16,000, an MSRP of $15,995 (which includes delivery fee).
It has a 1.3-liter, 94-hp engine and a combined mpg of 37, which is economically savvy in today’s gas consumption but a little low for a car of this size.

The modern look of the iQ, described as “Techno-Organic Design,” is slick and spunky. The exterior is clean and simple including elongated front headlights that give the illusion the nose of the car extends beyond its compact size.

Alloy-finish side mirrors with mounted turn signals, an LED brake light mounted above rear window wiper and extended A-pillars to help create an open passenger cabin modernize its design. Inside, the less-is-more motto continues with a black dash and door tops.

Front seat bottoms are form fitting and covered in a deep gray cloth patterned with light gray ovals. The leather-wrapped manual tilt steering is lined with red-stitching and features a flat-bottom for optimal leg room with audio controls and mode button.

Interior features include front console cup holder, two rear cup holders, four 25 oz. drink bottle holders, remote keyless entry, auxiliary 12v power outlet, first aid kit, rear window wiper, sun visor mirrors, and electric rear hatch release.

One possible disadvantage of the sleek look is the speedometer display, which is challenging to read with its positioning slightly tilted on its side and can be a bit distracting when trying to gauge speed while driving.

The Scion drive monitor, placed left of the speedometer, is a little cluttered to read, displaying fuel level, instant/average fuel mileage, average speed, outside temp, resettable trip meters, odometer, digital clock, and CVT indicator.

The iQ’s interior is also modified to accentuate the theme of “Big Ideas Concentrated” with an asymmetric dashboard and seating design. Center console is clean and simple with a single air conditioning dial, an LCD display, and audio CD slot. The 3+1 seating, driver, two adult passengers, and the fourth seating position behind driver ideally intended as room for a child, makes the iQ the world’s smallest four seater.

Engineering behind the iQ relies on the idea that “a car should not be any bigger than it really has to be.” With this idea in mind, six engineering innovations make the iQ possible, such as a flat gas tank housed beneath the floor reducing rear overhang and slim-back front seats for optimal rear legroom.

These innovations also allow for Scion’s new subcompact to maintain as much extra space as possible for a car of its size. A mini storage bin is placed under the front passenger seat and the 50/50 folded seatbacks give the option of riding with a third passenger as well as storage space.

The rear cargo floor is formed by the lid of a removable storage tray, hiding the second storage area formed in Styrofoam that holds owner’s manual, first aid kit, and tire repair system. The backseat completely folded forms a flat cargo surface. iQ’s maximum EPA cargo capacity is 16.7 cubic feet and with rear seats upright the iQ has just over 3.5 cubic ft of cargo space.

Still, for claustrophobics and urbanites traveling outside of the inner city, the-little-car-that-can isn’t a realistic option to pack enough storage space for anything that requires extra room for three or more passengers and luggage such as camping equipment.

Nevertheless, for those driving a local distance with little baggage the iQ is easy to drive and easy to park with a turning radius of 12.9 feet with electronic power steering.

As part of the personalization options the iQ offers three audio systems, Standard, Premium, and Navigation.
Standard Audio includes Bluetooth hands-free and audio, HD radio, scion sound processing, USB/AUX, steering-wheel mounted controls, CD player with mp3 and WMA capability, four speakers, two in center console and two full range mounted in doors.

Premium Audio includes all standard features plus 200 watts max power, 5.8” TFT touch screen, Pandora internet radio capability, album art, iTunes Tagging, and six RCA outputs.
Scion Navigation System Audio includes all standard features plus 7.0” touch screen, iTunes tagging, six RCA outputs, DVD player, ipod video via USB connector, full navigation system GPS based on SD card, and video input for connecting with aftermarket backup camera.

iQ owners also have a choice of two wheel covers, 16-inch steel wheels, or 175/60R-16 all season tires. More dealership accessories available are fog lights, alloy wheels, lowering kit, rear spoiler and whatever personalizing ideas the buyer can imagine.

With its “mini-me” capabilities, the iQ stands apart from the subcompact prototype, making the iQ a unique city car of its kind.
Driving the urban minded car is a quiet ride, especially for a car that looks like it’d be swallowed up by the road. This is thanks to an acoustic windshield built to decrease sound frequencies.

As far as safety features for a little car in a big world, the iQ’s Star Safety System includes anti-lock braking system, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, smart stop technology, traction control, and enhanced vehicles stability control. It also boasts the most airbags in the industry with 11 standard airbags, including the world’s first rear window airbags.

The micro-subcompact car segment is redefined by the iQ as Scion introduces its concept of “New Urbanism,” a vehicle for a more progressive buyer whose transportation needs and desires are changing
with today’s evolving concerns like consumption control and the environment. This will launch Scion’s niche for innovation into another element of authenticity, community and personalization for the rising generations of buyers and although a few tweaks may prove necessary, the iQ is definitely a big step for subcompact kind.

Be sure to look out for the iQ, which will be released in waves starting on the West Coast, dipping down into the Southeast and Gulf states area, followed by New York, then completing its sweep in the East Coast and Midwest in March.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

VW Taking a Shot with e-Bugster

Volkswagen has had lofty ambitions of improving its market position in the U.S. and worldwide.
So far, its vehicles haven't quite followed along.
So at this year's Detroit auto show, it rolled out something called an e-Bugster. That sounds like a shopping cart with a tablet computer attached. It doesn't quite look that good, though.

Observers said that basically, this is a Bug with an electric motor.
If The Beat gets an up close look, we'll be sure to report back. For now, consider us underwhelmed.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cadillac to Make ATS Luxury Compact

Cadillac recently announced, at the Detroit auto show, that it will build the ATS, a new compact luxury sedan.
This is exciting, as this field is showing momentum now with automakers realizing that people who want a compact car with good fuel economy might also want luxury.
This car should compete nicely against the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4, among others.
Click for slideshow

Thursday, January 12, 2012

BMW Expanding Capacity, Workforce in S.C.


There's more good news for the Southeast's thriving automotive manufacturing industry, as BMW says it will add to its plant in South Carolina and tack on 300 more jobs.
The German luxury brand will invest an additional $900 million in the plant in Greer and accelerate production of its new X4 model, the Associated Press reports.
The company recently reached the 2 million vehicle milestone at the plant, which began production in 1994.
AP said BMW projects production of up to 300,000 cars a year with 7,500 employees at the plant.
In August, BMW said it had adopted a six-day work week to increase production.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hyundai Elantra Follows The Beat Honor with North American Award

  • Kim McCullough, Brand Vice President, and Andy Goss, President, Land Rover North …
  • Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, right, and Hyundai President Seong Hyon Park, second from right, peel off a sticker awarding the 2012 Hyundai Elantra as the North American Car of the Year, at the North American International Auto Show, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in Detroit, Mich. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, right, and Hyundai President Seong Hyon Park, …
  • This photo provided by Hyundai Motor America, shows the 2012 Hyundai Elantra, winner of the North American Car of The Year award at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Hyundai Motor America)This photo provided by Hyundai Motor America, shows the 2012 Hyundai Elantra, winner …
 The Hyundai Elantra edged out the Ford Focus and Volkwagen Passat Monday to win the 2012 North American Car of the Year award.
The prestigious industry award was announced at the start of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which hosts media previews this week and opens to the public on Saturday.
The Land Rover Range Rover Evoque won the North American Truck of the Year, beating the BMW X3 and Honda CR-V. The Evoque, which starts at $43,995, gets an estimated 18 miles per gallon in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway.
Jaguar Land Rover North America President Andy Goss said it's a tremendous honor and humbling for the company, which has had had finalists but never a winner in the 19th annual independent awards program.
"We're going to market the hell out of this," said a smiling Goss on a stage above the four-cylinder sport-utility vehicle. The U.S. is the world's largest Range Rover market.
Fifty automotive journalists voted on the winning vehicles from a group of finalists, and the vehicles must be all new or substantially changed to be eligible. Organizers accept no advertising, though automakers capitalize on the marketing value of the honors.
John Krafcik, Hyundai's North American CEO, said the award won't help the compact's sales much because the company already is selling as many Elantras as it can make at its factory in Montgomery, Ala. But the award should help solidify the brand's image in the eyes of the American public, especially in the highly competitive compact car segment.
"It should be helpful for our brand going forward," he said.
The Elantra, which starts at $16,445, gets an estimated 33 mpg.
The company is looking at ways to boost production at the Montgomery plant, but Krafcik said Hyundai plans to focus on maintaining quality at the factory before deciding on any increases.
Hyundai sold more than 186,000 Elantras last year, nearly a 41 percent increase over 2010 figures.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tips for Trading in Your Vehicle

If you are looking to trade in your current car for another one, there are a few things you should know that can help you get the best deal. Check out these tips.
  • Do some research to find out the value of your trade-in. Knowing how much your used car is worth before you go to the dealership is very important. There are several different places that can provide you with the value of your new car, but we would suggest using the Black Book Appraisal Guide. Black Book uses numbers from nationwide wholesale car auctions of similar cars to yours to give you an accurate estimate of what you can expect to get for your car.
  • If you're upside-down, don't trade in your car! In fact, you may want to reconsider buying a new car at all. Being upside-down on your car means that the worth of your current vehicle, or the amount that you would get for trading it in, is lower than the amount that you still owe on that car. For example, if your vehicle is worth $5,000, but you still owe $7,000 on the loan, then you are upside-down by $2,000. So if you were to trade in that car and buy a new one in this scenario, you would essentially be adding $2,000 (the upside-down amount) to your new car loan, and adding debt onto debt is a dangerous game. It's better to wait until you are right side up and then look into buying a new car.
  • Negotiate your trade-in value on its own. The way to ensure you get the best deal on both your new car and your trade-in is to negotiate the two deals separately. Sometimes, the dealer will try to get you to negotiate for your trade-in and the price of your new car together. That way they can do things like offer you a great deal on the new car, but then short you on the trade-in. But if you negotiate the two as separate transactions, you can ensure you're getting the best deal on both.
  • Get a car wash! Make sure your car is primped, pretty, and ready for a thorough look over. The dealer will inspect your car and you want to present it in the best light possible. And on that note, be honest about the condition of your car! If you try to slip one by the dealer and they catch it (and they will), it will just cause trouble you don't want.
These tips will help you get the best deal on your trade-in, which in turn helps you get the best deal on your new car. One other thing to consider is that if you trade in your car to a dealership, you will get less money than if you sold the car yourself, so if you have the time to do that it may be an option worth exploring. For more information on trade-ins or selling the car yourself, check out the Trade-In page in the How-To section  at

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Models to Keep an Eye On

 The new year will bring some hot new models to the vehicle market. Here is a list to keep an eye on.

  The 2013 Chevrolet Spark comes from overseas to become the latest addition to the Chevy lineup, joining the Cruze and the Sonic to give the Bowtie a formidable presence in the small car segments. The Spark falls into microcar territory and competes against cars like the Fiat 500 and coming Scion iQ. It will feature four passenger doors and more cargo room than both, and there is even an electric version for those looking to go green.

  Ford's redesigned 2013 Ford Escape made its world debut at the 2011 LA Auto Show. The Escape drops the hybrid option in its latest compact crossover offering, but offers up a pair of EcoBoost engines that should give the Escape class leading fuel economy. It also gets some impressive features, like a class-exclusive power liftgate that you can open with no hands.

  After giving a makeover to one of its best-selling models earlier this year in the Civic, Honda keeps the ball rolling with the redesigned 2012 Honda CR-V.Honda is hoping  to keep its place at the top of the compact SUV/crossover heap.

  The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is Mazda's new entrant into the competitive compact crossover market. The CX-5, which made its North American debut, will feature Mazda's new Skyactiv engine technology so expect great fuel economy to go along with that indefinable Mazda fun-to-drive factor.

  Toyota has expanded the Prius family for this year and we had a chance to check out the bigger, more versatile 2012 Toyota Prius v at an event in Charlotte. The Prius v keeps a lot of the same characteristics that made the original Prius so popular and adds on wagon-like utility. With over 40 combined mpg and extra cargo and passenger room, the 2012 Prius v seems like a case where more... actually is more. and AtlantaAutoBeat Staff