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2012 Scion iQ Fuel Economy

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You might expect a car the size of the 2012 Scion iQ to crank out 60 or 70 miles from every gallon. But you'd be wrong; the thing is, minicars like the iQ, while lighter, still have to push just as much surface area through the wind at high speed, and tires have nearly as much rolling resistance.

On the highway, the iQ doesn't nearly approach expectations. The iQ's EPA city rating is an excellent 36 mpg, but its highway rating is a hybrid-like 1 mpg higher, at 37 mpg. On the highway, that's a few mpg behind much larger sedans like the Hyundai Elantra and the likes of the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Ford Focus SFE.

At root of the issue is likely that a rather low top-gear ratio for the CVT has the little four spinning up near the 4,000-rpm range in brisk highway driving. Over several scenarios of hard stop-and-go and enthusiastic highway driving (pretty much worst-case-scenario) during a first-drive opportunity, we saw figures in the upper 20s.

The 2012 Scion iQ works out to be a green choice for low-speed city commuters, but it's somewhat thirsty for a mini on the highway.

All this said, the 2012 iQ is arguably a little more fuel-efficient overall than the other mini that it compares most readily to, the Smart Fortwo. With its 37-mpg Combined figure, it beats the Fortwo by 1 mpg—although the Fortwo's 41-mpg highway figure is quite a bit better.

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