I test drove the iA, iM, tC and FR-S models of the 2016 Scion series right smack in the middle of a Colorado winter when mounds of days-old ice covered city streets. As you can imagine, my top need was ground clearance. Of course the quality of tires on any vehicle can make a huge impact on a driver’s confidence, but for these test drives, ground clearance was top of mind.
FR-S Model: Ground Clearance 4.9 inches
At first sight, I thought the FR-S was too low-to-the ground to drive in the snow. The model, featuring a 2-liter engine with 200 horsepower, surprised me with its energy and capability to grip and hug winter roads. This 2-door coupe, featuring a 6-speed transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, and front engine rear-wheel drive, presented a tight shifting experience. This forced me to be very in tune with this hot lava-colored ride. I enjoyed controlling the transitions from one speed to the next while driving in the city.
Striking accents on the FR-S range from automatic project beam halogen headlamps to LED taillights and center mounted stop lamp to a chrome-tipped dual exhaust. It seats four, including two invisible friends that can be delegated to the back seat, where the fit can be tight. I had no problem driving it in the snow, until I approached one particularly icy incline.
I thought maybe this would be the time to call on my not-so invisible friends for a little push. As low to the ground as it was, clearance was not the issue. Since I was in my very own driveway, I had access to salt, and threw a little here and there. Voila! I was my own hero. 2016 Scion FR-S MSRP: $35,305; Combined City/highway MPG: 25.
iM Model: Ground Clearance 5.5 inches
While driving the iM, I faced different terrains from one corner to the next – sunny and dry on one block then
cold and icy on another. The 5-door hatchback, which features a 1.8 liter engine with 137 horsepower, 7-speed automatic transmission and front wheel drive, moved just as easily over bumpy layers of ice as it did on a perfectly dry street. There was no starting and stopping to strategize how to avoid major ice challenges. Ground clearance, even for these rolling hills of solid ice, proved to be a non-issue for this electric storm blue-colored ride with 17-inch alloy wheels.
As I test drove the iM, I was intrigued by the many roles this well designed Scion could play for young and sophisticated families. The storage space was impressive, seating five people and boasting 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space – and this is before folding the 60/40 rear seats.
The affordable hatchback – which I just truly want to call a classy miniature station wagon, but I won’t – also provides automatic project beam halogen headlamps, LED tail lamps and daytime running lights and a daring shark fin antenna. With or without the family in tow, the iM is a respectable ride. The 2016 Scion iM MSRP: $19,200; Combined City/Highway MPG: 32.
iA Model: Ground Clearance 5.5 inches
The iA, featuring a1.5-liter engine with 106 horse power, front wheel drive, electric power assisted steering and direct injection system, had the messy job of maneuvering through the muddy slushy mix that followed the ice. The pulse-colored, 4-door sedan was up for the challenge, plowing through the slush with attitude. The 6-speed automatic transmission with sports mode undoubtedly had something to do with that powerfully smooth ride. Or maybe it was the aerodynamic sleek style with a surround chrome grille, and piano black bumper treatment that spurs the attitude. The 16-inch alloy wheels aren’t too shabby either. All Scions ring affordable in their own unique way, but the return on investment for the iA gave me pause and happy moments.
It’s able to seat five people in addition to storage space with the 60/40 fold flat rear-seat. I was seated pretty low in the car, so the manual height adjustment lever on the driver’s seat helped me get a better view of my surroundings along with the rear-view back up view camera on the 7-inch display. Other valuable offerings include rear defogger and steering wheel with audio controls and two USB ports. Unlike some other Scions that have the Star Safety System, the iA comes with a low-speed collision system. Long story short, I felt safe and empowered in this affordable ride. 2016 Scion iA MSRP: $16,800; Combined City/Highway MPG: 37.
tC Model: Ground Clearance 6.3 inches
Spring-like weather made an appearance during the time I test drove the tC, and while the ground clearance was massive compared to the other Scions I had driven, there was no need to be concerned about it at that point. The 3-door liftback features a 2.5-liter engine with 179 horsepower, 6-speed manual transmission and front wheel drive.
Free of any adverse weather challenges, I was able to take