The Best and Worst from Scion Over the Years

Even though it was only in the marketplace for 13 years, Scion has done some great things for the automotive industry… and some really bad things, too.

The company that brought us affordable coupes and funky box-shaped cars has officially been killed off, with its models being integrated into Toyota’s lineup. While that won’t mean much to the average car shopper since the vehicles are still being sold, a lot of the things that Scion as a brand embraced will be gone. Outside the Supra, Toyota isn’t exactly known for exciting, trendy offerings, but rather safe and reliable sedans like the Corolla and Camry.

SEE ALSO: The 5 Biggest Reasons Scion is Dead

That means the things that made Scion models exciting will likely fade away, from cool concepts to embracing the aftermarket tuner scene. We decided to take a look back at Scion’s history, picking out the best and the worst things the brand has brought us over the years.

Best: Scion FR-S


If you looked over Scion’s entire model lineup over the years, the only vehicle that truly stands out for enthusiasts is the FR-S. At the 2012 SEMA Show, the Las Vegas Convention Center was filled with modified FR-S coupes from wall to wall. In fact, the trend continued overseas in Japan, where the model is known as the Toyota GT86. Even at the Tokyo Auto Salon, the rear-wheel-drive sports coupe was a favorite among Japanese tuners.

ALSO SEE: Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 Review

One of the things the Scion brand did right from Day One was its willingness to embrace the tuner community. Over a decade ago, dealerships frowned upon modified cars rolling into their service centers, but Scion was one of the few automakers that welcomed it. One example of this is when the bright yellow Scion FR-S above by Meguiar’s debuted at the 2012 SEMA Show; many Scion faithful say it inspired the Release Series 1.0 model.

Worst: Scion iA


At the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the new Scion iA, introduced last year, serving has an entry-level sedan for the brand. Essentially a rebadged Mazda2, the Japanese automaker rolled out some wacky creations in time for the 2015 SEMA Show. But considering Mazda axed the Mazda2 in North America, it’s a surprise that Scion decided there would be a market for the Scion iA.

Hopefully we won’t have to see a Scion iA Release Series 1.0 inspired by the lowrider-themed project seen above. As unique as the project is, we don’t need its influence trickling down to dealerships – especially if it sports a Toyota badge.

Best: Scion iM Concept


When the Scion iM concept debuted, enthusiasts were pleasantly shocked. Aggressive styling up front gave the hatchback character. And even though the wheels were aftermarket and it had a lower stance than what you would typically find on a production car, the iM didn’t look all that bad. It was one of the more exciting concepts Scion had put out in recent years and gave the brand a bit of life in what had become a stagnant lineup.

ALSO SEE: The Scion Brand is Dead

Worst: Production Scion iM


But then the production Scion iM debuted and all excitement for the model was lost. We get it, concepts are designed to be exciting and production models are normally tamed down a bit, but the iM got really tamed down. Fitted with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 137 horsepower, the iM isn’t even exciting on paper, especially when you consider how many competitors are turning to turbocharged powerplants. Known as the Toyota Auris in Europe and Japan, the Scion iM could have taken advantage of the brand’s youth-oriented branding with a more exciting design. In other words, Scion could have taken a risk and it might have paid off.

ALSO SEE: 4 Things I Learned Driving the 2016 Scion iM

Best: Scion Fuse Concept


The Scion Fuse concept debuted at the 2006 New York Auto Show, at a time when the brand was still young and very exciting. Embracing the tuner aftermarket, Scion had built a reputation for its willingness to take risks and the Fuse concept got people excited for the future. Except the concept went nowhere, and none of its styling elements or design features ever trickled down to a production model. In addition, the Fuse was built by Five Axis Models, which was a great partner for Scion in the early years. Five Axis was also responsible for building some great concepts including the DJ Scion xB and convertible xA. Even though the company has some goodies for the FR-S, it has since focused on Toyota’s premium brand for wild concepts, leaving Scion to be boring all on its own.

Worst: Scion Hako Coupe Concept


If the Fuse was Scion’s way of showing off an extreme version of its Scion tC in 2006, then the Hako Coupe concept was taking the boxy xB to a whole new level in 2008. Unfortunately, it was as if the automaker took everything that was cool about the Fuse and made it uncool, resulting in a Scion xB that looked like it got stung by hundreds of bees. The idea of a two-door xB isn’t even a bad one, but it clearly went nowhere since the model ever went into production. Thankfully.

Best: First-Generation Scion tC


Love it or hate it, the first-generation Scion tC did its job well. The bubbly coupe was an affordable sports car despite being front-wheel drive. The aftermarket embraced it, and TRD even offered a supercharger for it! From bumper to bumper, the tC looked great and fit the demographic well and it’s hard to believe that at one point, it was one of the most popular cars among tuners and aftermarket manufacturers. It even had a strong presence in sport compact motorsports with drag car variants and drift tCs storming tracks all across the nation.

Worst: Second-Generation Scion tC


And then the second-generation Scion tC arrived and it was a bit of a head scratcher. Instead of a sloping, curvy body lines, Scion decided to go entirely flat up top, giving the tC an awkward, angled design. The headlights also got more rectangular and the overall design incorporated more sharp lines than was arguably necessary.

Sales of the Scion tC paint a better picture at the demise of the coupe. At its peak in 2006, the company moved 79,125 tC coupes off dealership lots in the U.S. That number dropped dramatically in 2009 when it sold just 17,998. The second-generation model, which was introduced as a 2011 model year in late 2010, didn’t help much in reviving sales. In 2011, Scion sold 22,433 units and last year only 16,459 sold.

Discuss this story on our Scion Forum

Recent Updates:

November 19th, 2021 – Updated introduction and footer for accuracy.

Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Filed under: Featured Articles Japanese Scion
Tags: , , , , , ,


Dennis Lui says:

I think out of all cars the IA is the best, auto guild what chu talking about.

Perry F. Bruns says:

I agree that the iA is a good little car, and looks to sell well despite Mazda’s decision not to bring it to the U.S. Frankly, I think there is a market for a small, safe, fuel-efficient car with decent handling, and would consider the iA (or, most likely, Yaris Sedan by the time I’m ready to replace my xB), but a good MazdaYota does not a good Scion make.

Scions were supposed to be quirky little rolling laboratories. They stopped being that.

Dennis Lui says:

Lop i agree honestly, i like the ia because is mazda. 🙂

Mark S says:

I have an FR-S, it is a hoot. Wondering whether to leave as is or rebadge as a Toyota.

TuxedoCartman says:

In Japan, it’s a Toyota 86; the Toyota GT86 is sold in Europe.

Also? Scion dealerships were anything BUT friendly to modified car owners. Anybody who has done so much as change their wheels probably has a story to tell you in that regard.

Mark S says:

Listen to Everyday Driver – they had no problems with their Certified Pre-owned, as long as the issue did not involve a part that they had modified. Notables sheared hub bolt threads were not covered when they use some nuts from Tire Rack (heard this was an issue with Subie WRX once as well, maybe is the hub bolts!).

TuxedoCartman says:

Listen to me, because I actually own the car and am involved in the community.

Mark S says:

“Everyday Driver” is an auto enthusiast podcast and you tube channel. After reviewing the FR-S many times, one of the presenters purchased his own used FR-S, been doing a few mods. They regularly post about their FR-S experiences.
I also own an FR-S – dealer has warned me that if I alter the car and the mod is problematic or causes a problem, that part is not warranty covered, which sounds fair.
Please elaborate on what you mean by “involved in the community”…..I go on FT86, that is about it.

TuxedoCartman says:

Go on FT86 a bit more, then, and read up on it. Dealerships TELL you they will warranty the car except for the modifications… because they have to do so by law. The problem is they will do everything in their power to tie whatever problem you’re having to whatever modifications you’ve done. Faulty high-pressure fuel pump? Oh, that’s due to the stiffer ride of your lowering springs… denied. Transmission grinding? That bucket seat you installed makes them suspect you’ve been racing… denied. I was told that a known service recall problem on all 86/ BRZ’s, shifter rattling, was due to increased chassis bracing I put on my car, and informed my vehicle had been “flagged.”

Maybe your dealership is different. Maybe your anecdotal experiences bear out the author’s assertions. But I know I’m not the only 86 owner in Las Vegas/ SoCal who’s had to fight with dealerships over issues with our cars simply because they’ve been modified, because I talk with them at track days and meetups. If people on the internet are to be believed, it seems to happen all over America. So forgive me if I take issue with someone who doesn’t even get basic facts about the car right, like its Japanese name, making a blanket statement about how dealerships are so encouraging of the modified community. If they are, it’s only because it saves them money on warranty repairs.

Mark S says:

Suspect that some of the deal is the amount and type of mods. I am sure some dealers will be tougher than others and my dealer might get tough with me when I turn up with a serious warranty claim (so far only a dodgy side mirror). As to FT86, it is a great place to learn about issues and car mods and visit when I need to know something.

As far as making a blanket statement, u did it first, I countered that this may not be everyones experience and used a broadcaster as an example (who did get denied due to using a Tire Rack product).

Xaffax Darkstar says:

I just recently learned about the Hako. I didn’t know it was a concept, My reaction was. “That’s the car I want.” It’s a rebel car that screams for a custom paint job. It’s weird, it’s different. It’s bold and it doesn’t bend towards current car fashion. The fuse is interesting, the Hako is mind blowing. It’s for Rockers. People Who like Fying V and Explorer guitars and are into Alice Cooper, ZZ-top and Kiss those are the kind of people who would go for the Hako I think.

Sheldon Harris says:

My 2012 9.0 RS Scion xB with 158hp 2.4 Camry motor can smoke a iM and stock to stock beat the FRS as well. The oil consumption issues were fixed by Toyota after 2011. Scion gave up on the xB but nowadays you’ll find old 08 2nd Gen xB’s still going for $5 to $7k with very high mileage ( 200k) You messed up Toyota. All you had to do was redesign the Xb or give the iM 180hp.