Auto Consumer Reports 2014

December 20, 2021
Tesla tops

Question: When is a sporty car not sporty at all? Answer: When it’s the Scion tC. It certainly looks inviting, and the Scion tC comes with lots of standard equipment, including a touch-screen audio system and a large sunroof. But that’s where the good news ends. The Scion tC’s stiff suspension and heavy steering shouldn’t fool you into thinking this is a performance machine. Handling is entirely humdrum, and even smooth roads produce a jarring ride. Granted, we don’t expect a car like the tC to be quiet, but the cabin produces a din of unpleasant engine drone and a tiresome exhaust howl. So it is neither a sport coupe that’s exciting to drive nor a stylish coupe for those just wanting to look good. Need more convincing that the tC belongs in the bottom rung of our tests? None of our drivers thought the Scion tC fit them well; sitting behind the wheel feels like you've descended into a cave. If you want something with a Toyota/Scion pedigree that’s truly fun to drive, check out the Scion FR-S. Its reliability may be in question, but its sports credentials sure aren’t.

Score: 42

You think that a car as small as the Chevrolet Spark would deliver stellar fuel economy, right? Spoiler alert: The Spark, with its dinky 84-hp, 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine, only returned 31 mpg overall in our tests—that’s even less than the midsized Mazda6. And to get that lackluster economy, you still have to put up with a ride that shakes your kidneys, a cabin noisier than a Metallica concert, and front seats so narrow and firm that it almost (we said almost) makes coach-class airline seats seem plush. Finally, the nail in the Chevrolet Spark’s coffin has to be the over-complicated MyLink Touch radio on higher trim levels: It has no knobs or traditional buttons…not even a volume knob. (LS models have a simple, mostly-well-designed radio.) And don’t let the low price “spark” your interest in buying one: The Chevrolet Spark is no winner in our owner satisfaction survey, either.

Score: 36

Despite a too-clever name, the puny Scion iQ isn’t the class valedictorian. Its 34 mpg overall fuel economy is decent, and it’s small enough to practically park in a shoe box. But these attributes are far outweighed by the iQ’s agonizingly brittle ride and handling that feels as darty as a hockey puck. Road, wind, and engine noise absolutely roar on the highway. And the two-person rear seat is among the biggest jokes in the automotive kingdom; it’s so small you have to step outside to change your mind. How’s the Scion iQ selling for Toyota? Not well. Industry reports show that just 1, 935 units were sold during the first 11 months in 2014. Rumors say that it has one foot out the door of the U.S. market.

Score: 35

Some electric cars have impressed us (Tesla Model S, Ford Focus Electric, Nissan Leaf), but Mitsubishi’s lackluster effort somehow feels short circuited in contrast. It’s not even because its meager 59-mile range and a six-hour recharge time (we averaged about 75 miles for a six-hour charge with the Nissan Leaf). It's that the ride is horrendous, acceleration is painfully slow, and the i-MiEV comes with an antiquated interior with fit and finish that feels decidedly third-world cheap. True, zero tailpipe emissions and low operating costs are pluses. But we’ve driven better golf carts than the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. rtve researchgate

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