Thursday, October 27, 2011

THE 2012 Scion iQ

THE 2012 Scion iQ stretches out just a tenth of an inch beyond 10 feet long, but it packs some slick engineering into that short space. Maybe too much slick engineering.

The iQ’s cleverness is most obvious in how Toyota engineers managed to shove seats for four passengers into a shell that’s 26.5 inches shorter than a two-door Mini Cooper. That was accomplished with neat tricks like a compact ventilation system that nestles as a single unit behind the center dash panel; the shape of the dash itself, which is recessed on the passenger side to provide a few more inches of space; front passenger seat tracks that are set forward a bit, relative to the driver’s seat, for more rear legroom; and very thin seats.

But the rear seat is tiny, best reserved for a single third passenger sprawled crossways. Even then, that passenger will be able to tolerate only short trips. And when the second-row seat is in use, only 3.5 cubic feet of cargo space remains. In fact, the rear seat is so close to the rear window that this is the first car with a back window air bag to cushion rear-passenger brainpans in a crash.

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