2012 Scion iQ - front three-quarter view, maroon

Slow, uncomfortable and noisy. That's what Consumer Reports says about the Scion iQ. After giving it a good going-over, the magazine gives it a road test score of 29. That ranks it near the bottom of all new cars CR has reviewed. Very near. In fact, the only new car currently rated lower is the Smart ForTwo, iQ's direct competitor, which scored a 28.

While CR is sometimes criticized for going too easy in its car reviews, it unloaded on the Scion. Ride comfort was dinged for being stiff and jittery with "road, wind and engine noise" that drowned out normal conversation. CR said the engine and CVT was "barely enough to stay up with highway traffic" but praised the 34 mpg it saw during testing, though the institute expected more from a car so small.

Inside, the rear seat is described as awful, tight and "best avoided all together." And while the upholstery wasn't bad to look at, the headliner "resembled fuzzy cardboard" and the car's carpeting "looks like it was taken from some other car's trunk."

CR liked the car's safety test results and praised the iQ's braking and easy parkability and... that's about it.

In our recent review, we shared CR's concerns but still found that there's some fun to be had in the iQ, if only because of its tiny size. We also deemed the Scion to be massively more appealing than the Smart ForTwo.

In addition to the iQ, Consumer Reports has also posted new reviews of the BMW 328i (quicker, more fun), Mercedes C250 (quiet, more refined), the Chevrolet Malibu Eco (comfortable, lackluster) and Camaro Convertible (quick), Dodge Challenger (better handling) and the Fiat 500C (agile but choppy ride).

Read the full Consumer Reports press release below.
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CONSUMER REPORTS FINDS SCION iQ NOT SUCH A WISE CHOICE

Classic rivals face-off: BMW 328i beats Mercedes C250 in a close contest

YONKERS, NY- Consumer Reports tests of the tiny Scion iQ found it to be slow, uncomfortable and noisy, among other drawbacks. With a road test score of 29, it joins the ranks of the lowest-scoring cars Consumer Reports has tested in recent years.

At only 10 feet long, the new iQ is slightly bigger than the tiny Smart ForTwo, which is also among the lowest-scoring cars Consumer Reports has tested. Unlike the Smart, a token rear seat adds some flexibility, but it is very small and takes up almost all of the iQ's luggage space when in place. Consumer Reports testers found its choppy ride, noisy cabin, and uncomfortable driving position severely limit its appeal.

"While the iQ's fuel economy is good within its class, it requires drivers to endure a lot of trade-offs just to save at the pump. Its $16,205 sticker price is no bargain either," said David Champion, Sr. Director of Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center.

Among the iQ's few high points: Its stubby body gives it an amazingly tight turning circle, making it easy to park and best suited to urban driving. And its 34 mpg overall helps out at the pump.

Consumer Reports' latest tests also include a face-off featuring one of the auto world's greatest rivalries: The BMW 3 series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class sport sedans. Redesigned for 2012, the BMW 328i beat out the updated Mercedes C250 by only one point in CR's road test scores: 86 vs. 85. Each car now comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine instead of a six-cylinder as its base powertrain, following an increasingly popular trend towards better fuel economy. Both are improved over the previous models Consumer Reports tested, but they still score below the Infiniti G37 in this category.

The 328i is quicker, handles better and is more fun to drive, although its steering is less communicative than in the previous model. And CR recorded an impressive 28 mpg overall, easily the best fuel economy in the class. But the C250 is quieter and provides a more refined powertrain and simpler controls. Each car provides taut, agile handling, with little body lean and high cornering limits.

Also tested: The redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco has a mild hybrid system that delivered 29 mpg overall, beating all conventional (non-hybrid or diesel) family sedans in Consumer Reports' tests. Highlights of the Malibu Eco include a comfortable ride, a quiet and well-finished cabin, and straightforward controls. But it has uninspiring handling, low cornering limits, and a tight rear seat for this category. Its overall road test score of 76 is lackluster among midsized family sedans. While the hybrid Eco version was the first of the redesigned Malibus to go on sale, two conventional four-cylinder engines come later.

CR also tested three stylish and sporty cars for summer: the V8-powered Chevrolet Camaro convertible and Dodge Challenger R/T coupe, and the sleek, if tiny, Fiat 500C drop-top. Though each delivers on fun driving, none is an overall standout in its category. The Camaro and Challenger are modern muscle cars, reminiscent of another era. The Camaro is very quick with excellent brakes and sharper steering than previously tested Camaros. Recent handling changes have improved the Challenger's steering and body control. But overall, they both fall short of the Ford Mustang GT coupe and convertible that CR previously tested. The Fiat 500C has agile handling, impressive fuel economy at 34 mpg overall, and a clever top design that can open as a huge sunroof or can be fully lowered. But it has a choppy ride, cramped driving position, and slow acceleration.

Among this group of tested cars, only the Dodge Challenger is Recommended by Consumer Reports because it scores high enough and has above average reliability. The BMW 328i, Mercedes-Benz C250, Chevrolet Malibu Eco, and Camaro convertible are still too new for CR to have reliability information and the Scion iQ and the 500C scored too low to be Recommended. To be Recommended, a vehicle must perform well in CR's battery of tests, have average or better reliability in CR's Annual Auto Survey and perform well in government and industry crash tests.

The full report and road test results on Consumer Reports' latest tests are available on www.ConsumerReports.org on June 26th and in the August issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands July 5. Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR's ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.