Saying Goodbye to Scion with the iM Hatchback

When I originally reviewed the 2016 Scion iM, I found it a little odd. It was by no means a bad little budget hatchback, but it abandoned Scion’s previous design language and didn’t look like it fit amongst the automaker’s previous cars.

However, that was after only one day with the car. I took another look at the iM recently for a week-long test drive and developed a newfound appreciation of the little car. Of course, I revised my opinion just in time to see Scion disappear.

Toyota announced last week that it would absorb its youth-oriented sister company, putting an end to Scion. While other Scion models will end with this model year, the iM and iA will continue production as Toyotas. It’s not clear if their names will change or how long they’ll still exist. But, the 2016 Scion iM will be the first — and the last — of its kind as christened.

Also: Take Two: 2016 Scion iA Sedan Will Grow on You

Though it couldn’t arrive in time to save the brand, the iM was intended as part of a new direction for Scion in aesthetic and intention. With its iA cousin, the iM was intended to redefine the automaker from a trendy, youth-oriented builder of cool, edgy, affordable cars to a company that made equally affordable cars with a little extra class that a young, entry level buyer can afford.

For its part, the iM packs an inline four cylinder engine, front wheel drive and a choice between six speed manual or automatic transmissions. That power train isn’t big on power, but puts out a MPG of 27/36.

The five door body is surprisingly spacious — wider than most hatchbacks. The driver and passenger ergonomics work well. There’s also plenty of room in the back for anything the young urban driver might need to drag around town.

The overall driving experience is comfortable and grounded, if not thrilling. But, you can’t expect a buzz out of a $20,000 car.

Its build quality is basic, and its styling could strike you as odd, but the charm of the iM is how much it looks to offer the economy car buyer. For a car that sells around $20K, the buyer walks away with Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio capability, power everything and a complete infotainment system.

Maybe Scion was just trying to hang on at the time of its designing, but it seems as though the plan was to provide maximum appeal for the buck — to offer something unique and a little more stylish than the money might buy otherwise.

It’s up to the young buyers out there to decide if the mission was accomplished. But, I see no reason why an entry level car buyer shouldn’t be able to enjoy such features in a base car — maybe the buyer’s first car.

So, there’s a place in the world for the Scion iM. It will survive as newly christened Toyota for the foreseeable future. Here’s hoping some version of the car sticks around in Toyota’s line.