But it’s insanely practical

This week I’m driving the 2017 Toyota iM, you know, the rebadged Scion iM that survived the death of Toyota’s funky youth brand. The little car is proving to be rather fun to drive, mostly thanks to its six-speed manual transmission, light clutch, and very noticeable light weight. The iM has also proved itself to be incredibly practical, offering tons of cargo room in its hatchback body. But those can’t cover some oddities baked into the iM’s inherent inexpensiveness.

For starters, the infotainment system is the exact same unit shared by the Toyota 86 (yet another Scion survivor), the C-HR, and the iM. Selecting the small gear-like button pulls up a menu screen that should be labeled “Home.” Well, one of the soft-key buttons says “Vehicle.” But rather than being a settings and preference page, it literally gives all the vehicles this infotainment system can be programmed for. The choices include all the vehicles above, along with “Other,” just incase Toyota develops a new vehicle within the next five years that needs a generic infotainment system.

Other indicators of the iM’s $19,615 as-tested price is the digital clock. It looks like the same digital clock found every Toyota product 15 years ago. Granted, Toyota has moved away from this clock in most of its newer stuff, but boy, this clock not only tell the time, but also the decade.

Another telltale sign of having no option packages are the numerous block-out panels on the dashboard. They forever remind the owner of options not chosen or those simply not offered on the iM – at any price. There are two in the cubby hole in below the center stack, and another two just left of the steering wheel.

Last but not least is an interesting observation. Trying to adjust the backlighting brightness of the gauge cluster is, well, a cluster. Believe it or not, you’ve got to press the TRIP button on the steering wheel. Press two times to see the two tripometers. Press it a third time and you’ll see a blue bar indicating the brightness level of the backlighting. Then press and hold the TRIP button in order to cycle through the preset brightness levels. That were you thinking, Toyota?!

Ranting aside, I really do like the Toyota iM. It’s priced well against its competitors, it gets and EPA-estimated 35 mpg on the highway, and it comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. There’s certainly a lot to love. You’ll just have to get past the few “interesting” quirks.

Oh, and I’ve lovingly named my tester, “Snot Rocket.” I feel it’s appropriate given its color.


Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read More
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