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Scion iA and Hyundai Tucson

Scion iA | Starting price: $16,500

As far as cars go, if you’re looking for a collector’s item of sorts, the Scion iA might be just the thing you’re looking for. With the recent announcement that Toyota will soon be phasing out the Scion brand, it might be a nice feather in your hat to get a Scion iA before it gets rebadged as the Toyota iA.

To further complicate the family tree, the iA actually has the underpinnings of the Mazda 2, which isn’t available for sale in the U.S., despite the fact that it is manufactured in Mexico. This means if you were hoping to get behind the wheel of a 2, you can still get your fill by driving a Scion iA.

Whatever badge it wears, the Scion iA is undoubtedly a solid contender in the subcompact sedan category, whose competitors include the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic. It offers just about everything most buyers are looking for wrapped up into a nice package for well under $20K.

The iA’s large grille is certainly the feature that stands out the most. It is large, no doubt, and looks like it is going to swallow a mouthful of plankton. Riding on 16-inch wheels, the iA gets points for style, even sporting a longer nose and short rear deck for a sporty feel.

Inside, the design is clean and simple, not to mention comfortable. Two-tone stitching in the seat fabric is a nice touch. The rear seat is tight, but that’s to be expected in this segment. However, the thing Scion does best is offer a lot of bang for the buck, and the iA is no exception. Priced at $16,495, you get push-button start, a rear backup camera, cruise control, USB and AUX inputs, Bluetooth and a 7-inch touch screen. Tack on another $1,100 for the 6-speed automatic transmission, and you’ve pretty much maxed out this little sedan.

The iA is powered by a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine, cranking out 106 horsepower. But don’t let that number fool you. The iA feels zippy — and shifting its 6-speed manual gearbox is actually quite pleasant. This car is nimble and agile and feels well-balanced for the type of vehicle it is. If you’ve driven other Mazdas before, then driving the iA will feel familiar — and it will feel good. Steering is on-point and accurate, the ride is controlled, and handling feels smooth through all sorts of driving conditions. Especially notable is how quiet the cabin is. Many cars in this category let wind and other noises in, trading some comfort for fuel economy. However, at 31/41 mpg city/highway, Scion manages to give us both.

The iA is an excellent choice for commuters and college students alike. It has Mazda’s driving dynamics, Toyota’s quality and reliability, and features that make it uniquely a Scion. The iA is certainly keeping it all in the family.


Hyundai Tucson| Starting price: $23,000

The compact crossover segment, like so many automobile categories, can be brutally tough. You’ve got competitors such as the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. The Hyundai Tucson remains in the top tier of the competition by offering an array of stand-out features, which also happens to add about $10,000 to the base price when fully loaded.

The Tucson is available in four models: the base SE, Eco, Sport and Limited. As you do a walk-around of this small cross­over, you can see it commands a substantial presence with its confident stance, bold front fascia and sculpted lines.

Except for the SE, all Tucsons are powered by a modern and sophisticated 175-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter engine mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. If that feels like a mouthful, it is. Needless to say, this is a very nice powertrain. The engine is peppy and the shifting is smooth, and you’ll get 26/33 mpg city/highway. The turbo reacts instantly to a little pressure on the gas pedal and will get you merged onto the freeway in a quick and effortless manner. The SE features a non-turbo 2.0-liter engine mated to a conventional 6-speed. You get an 11-horse drop in power and 23/31 mpg.

Around town, the Tucson zips around with a light touch and feels quite agile moving in and around tight spaces. Steering feedback could be better, but you’ll only notice that if you’re looking for it. No matter where your Tucson takes you, the interior remains surprisingly comfortable and quiet. In fact, the Tucson may be the one to beat when it comes to minimizing cabin noise. Wind, asphalt roads and even semis are no match for the sound-dampening materials Hyundai employs within the confines of its small crossover.

With more than 61 cubic feet of cargo space and a flat cargo floor, the term “small crossover” is relative.

Thanks to a new suspension, the Tucson’s ride is much improved. The use of a multi-link rear-suspension design and a front strut suspension that includes anti-roll bars gives the Tucson a sporty, solid feel. There’s very little sense of body roll even through sharp turns, and it feels sure-footed whether you’re driving the all-wheel drive or the 2- wheel drive model. Speaking of which, AWD is available for $1,400.

As for those standout features, you can get all LED lighting, power seats with heating and ventilation and even heated rear seats. If regular AC isn’t enough for you, there’s dual automatic climate control. There’s also plenty of tech, including a backup camera, bluetooth and navigation. The panoramic sunroof is another high-quality feature. The Hands-free Smart Liftgate will automatically open when it senses the key fob is near. Industry-leading safety features include lane departure warning, blind spot remover and an automatic emergency braking system are also onboard.

Clearly the new Tucson will appeal to very broad array of consumers. The base SE starts out at $23,525, while a fully-loaded Limited tops out at nearly $35,000.

For more information on these and other vehicles, visit mycardata.com.

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