Toyota’s Scion iQ: The next generation of pretentious car ownership

The cars we drive say a lot about us.
~Alexandra Paul

I’ve discussed smart’s fortwo before. I found it wanting, honestly, with a price and fuel efficiency that were only marginally better than the Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa. Not enough to justify tooling around in a two-seater that can barely hold your groceries.

But now Toyota itself is offering their latest conspicuously pretentious car, the Scion iQ. Don’t ask me how the guy in the promo photo is going to be able to fit those plants in that car. It’s basically the smart fortwo all over again, except that in keeping with the conspicuousness, it’s priced between two and three thousand more than the fortwo, the Versa Note, and the Yaris. It jumps to five grand more than the Versa sedan.

Like the fortwo, the fuel efficiency is pretty much on par with the subcompact class. The Versa advertises a whopping 40 mpg highway (my own Versa Note gets about 36 highway, with an average 30-33 combined), which is the highest advertised for any of these cars. Honestly, at this point the difference between the EPA estimate and the reality is greater than the mpg difference between the individual cars.

But ultimately, it comes down to a desire to look good over a desire to have a functional vehicle. I hauled an eleven-foot baseboard home in my Versa Note a couple weeks ago (yes, part of it was sticking out the back, but not much), and I regularly surprise people with just how much shit you can fit into a hatchback. I paid less, I get comparable efficiency, and I can haul shit like I’m rocking an El Camino. The only reason I see for the Scion iQ and the smart fortwo is the pretentious factor. They’re like giant, wheeled hybrid badges. LOOK AT ME, I GIVE A SHIT AND DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT PRACTICALITY.

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