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2016 Scion iM
The feature-packed 2016 Scion iM  provides decent performance, roominess and a fairly low price.

Prices: $18,460-$19,200

Grand Rapids, Michigan--The 2016 Scion iM  is oddly named, but never mind because it's essentially an American version of the European market Toyota Auris.

That means the front-drive iM, which replaces the boxy Scion xB, has Toyota's typical quality, reliability and durability. Toyota is the parent company of youth-oriented Scion.

The iM was recently introduced at a media preview in Grand Rapids, Mich., along with the lower-cost Scion iA front-drive sedan. The more powerful iM hatchback is more upscale.

List iM prices are $18,400 for the model with a six-speed manual transmission and $19,200 with a responsive continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Freight adds $795 to the list price.

Most iM buyers are likely to get the CVT, which has a Sport mode for spirited driving. It's got a handy size for easy maneuvering, being shorter than the Toyota Corolla.

Power is from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with double overhead camshafts. It produces 137 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration is decent, but not neck-snapping because the iM weighs from 2,943 to 3,031 pounds. Figure on 0-60 m.p.h. in approximately 9.5 seconds.

However, fuel economy is pretty good. It's an estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on highways with the manual transmission and 28 and 37 with the CVT automatic.

What's really going to help sell this car is its long list of standard features for the money. They include dual-zone automatic climate control, rearview backup camera, leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic wheel with switches for audio and other functions, 4.2-inch color multi-information display and a 7-inch Pioneer Touchscreen Display Audio System.

The only options are a navigation system and color choices.  

Scion says the iM is sporty. It does have a rather sporty look with its low, wide stance and sport body kit. Also, the CVT in Sport mode provides faster, crisper upshifts and downshifts.

The front seats provide good lateral support through curves, and the   upscale interior is driver-oriented. Scion says the instrument panel is "sports-car-inspired," but that's hardly the case because the tachometer is tiny.

A strong point is a roomy interior. Up to five adults fit comfortably. There are two console storage boxes, four door pockets and 8 cupholders, although the 2 cup holders in the front console are set a bit too far back.

The hatchback makes it easy to quickly load and unload. The cargo area is large with the rear seatbacks folded forward and has a low, wide opening.

Oddly, my test iM with the CVT didn't have the split folding 60/40 rear seatbacks that Scion says the iM has. Rather, the rear seat had a 70/30 split. I asked another journalist to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks, and he said, "Yeah, it's a 70/30 split, all right."

For safety's sake, there are 8 air bags.

The view over the low cowl and sloping hood provides excellent driver visibility, although the rear pop-up headrests badly block driver vision through the back window when raised. However, there are fairly large color-keyed, heated power-folding outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators.

While generally fun to drive, the iM is more oriented toward practicality and comfort than sportiness.

The ride is very compliant, thanks partly to an independent rear suspension that also helps handling--along with a highly rigid body, front/rear stabilizer bars and 45-series tires on 17-inch alloy wheels.

Also offered are optional Toyota hot rod items such as "TRD" springs that lower the car.

Steering is precise, but doesn't provide much road feel. The brakes stop the  iM easily and have good linear pedal feel.

In all, Toyota's Scion iM offers a lot for the money.