Hey Metal Heads: Slayer-Inspired Scion to Stalk SEMA

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As long as there has been heavy metal, teenagers have sought out bands with which to frighten their parents. Now there's a car to really drive 'em nuts. In November, Toyota-owned Scion will unleash a special-edition car perfectly suited for that purpose, the Scion x Slayer Mobile Amp tC, inspired by the irreverently iconic headbangers, Slayer. On second thought, given the band's influential career spanning more than three decades, the youngsters' enthusiasm may actually take a backseat to that of Mom and Dad for a road trip "South of Heaven" to spend some "Seasons in the Abyss."

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You can't make out a whole h-e-double-hockey-sticks of a lot from the rudimentary pencil-sketch-style image Toyota released this week of the modified version of Scion's sporty coupe — beyond it being obligatorily black in color with a large, red circle adorning the hood (the band's inverted-pentagram logo, perhaps?). No doubt something very similar has been sketched on more than a couple fifth-period Life Sciences textbooks by daydreaming junior-high misfits (we don't mean us). In any case, the automaker promises an exterior style commensurately aggressive to its subject with band-inspired details. And perhaps of equal importance, that influence carries over into the interior as the "multimedia machine" boasts amps, towers of speakers, a custom mixer and a 32-inch monitor for media playback, Toyota said.

By Matt Schmitz | September 19, 2014 | Comments (1)

Top 10 Urban Cars

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From squeezing between a Dumpster and a wall to holding your breath as a bus hard aports past your bumper, cities can be an automotive minefield. And cars are often the casualties. Need proof? Look no further than auto insurance rates. A 40-year-old male with a 2012 Honda Accord in Manhattan's West Village would pay 27 percent more for the exact same coverage than if he lived across the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J., according to CarInsurance.com's analysis of six leading carriers.

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Yet scores of Americans still prefer to live in the city. From New York to San Antonio, the country's 25 largest urban centers are home to 31.9 million people within city limits, according to the 2010 Census. That's 10.3 percent of the entire U.S. population in 2010, and given the trend of increasing urbanization, it doesn't look like it will recede anytime soon.

Most city-zens still have to drive. Not to worry: Our latest Top 10 nominates cars best suited for urban driving. Editors considered our candidates' overall size relative to their competitors, as well as visibility, city gas mileage, turning radius, city drivability, utility and more.

Here are our picks, in order of which cars received the most votes. In cases of a tie, we ranked by turning circle and other dimensions.

By Kelsey Mays | August 11, 2014 | Comments (10)

Top 10 Used Cars for $10K

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Although new cars offer the latest design, tech and safety features, shoppers buy more of their used counterparts: about 2.7 used cars for every new car sold in 2013, according to CNW Marketing Research. It's hard to blame shoppers. The average new car sells for around $30,000. By contrast, the average used car sold in early January 2014 for $10,843 at franchised dealerships (e.g., Bob's Honda) and $9,513 at independent dealerships (e.g., Bob's Used Cars), according to CNW.

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The age of paying $10,000 for a brand-new car is in the rearview mirror. So what are the best used cars for $10,000? We crunched a lot of data, and from a pool of more than 60 candidates, here are our top 10 cars, listed alphabetically.

By Kelsey Mays | March 17, 2014 | Comments (17)

Toyota Lets Dealers Drop Scion Without Penalties

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With Scion sales down 1.8% through July — in a market up 8.4% — Toyota told its dealers they could drop the flagging youth brand without any penalty. So reports Automotive News (subscription required), citing dealers who attended the automaker's national dealer meeting this month in Atlanta.

For those who keep the brand, the newspaper reports that Toyota previewed two possible new products: an FR-S convertible and a pint-sized crossover SUV that could compete with Honda's upcoming Fit-based crossover.

Toyota hatched Scion in 2003 with the boxy xB and tiny xA subcompacts. The brand peaked in 2006, when sales reached 173,034 from three cars. The tC coupe led the surge, accounting for nearly half the brand's sales that year. At the tC's debut, in early 2004, Toyota said it targeted 60% of Toyota dealerships to have Scion facilities.

By Kelsey Mays | August 23, 2013 | Comments (4)

Scion Makes Touch-Screen Standard

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Scion announced this week that its 2014 lineup would get a touch-screen audio system. All models will come with the Scion Display Audio System featuring a 6.1-inch LCD touch-screen, AM/FM/CD/HD Radio, hands-free phone and music streaming via Bluetooth and an AUX/USB port with iPod connectivity.

"Scion is the first non-luxury car brand to feature a touch-screen audio system as standard equipment across its entire lineup," the automaker said in a statement.

In addition to the base audio system, all new models will offer the Scion BeSpoke premium audio system, featuring Aha internet radio as an option. The $1,198 system features navigation, social-media integration and smartphone access to 30,000 free audio stations.

Scion's 2014 lineup includes the xD ($16,675), xB ($17,725), tC ($19,965) and FR-S ($25,455). New for the iQ lineup is the limited-production Monogram Series, starting at $17,275; all prices include a $755 destination charge. All 2013 xB models that begin production this month or after will also come standard with the new touch-screen audio system.

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Scion Series 10 Limited Editions Celebrate Brand's 10th Birthday

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By Matt Schmitz | August 19, 2013 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Best Base Models

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An ode to the base model.

Black door handles and a seat that can't move up and down/
paying monthly for not a lot has me feeling like a clown.

Just because you might not be able to afford more than the very least in a car doesn't mean you have to sing the base-model blues. Automakers are adding more features to their lowliest trim levels to entice shoppers even if some are stuck in the stone ages before the USB port became a necessity.

Here are 10 models that we consider to be solid picks, even in their base-model version.

By David Thomas | June 12, 2013 | Comments (9)

Scion Series 10 Limited Editions Celebrate Brand's 10th Birthday

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Coming to dealers in June will be special editions of Scion's entire lineup, including the just-announced 2014 Scion tC. Marking the brand's 10th anniversary, the Scion 10 Series editions of the xB, xD, iQ, FR-S and tC will all be painted one color — Silver Ignition — and feature the Scion name illuminated on the dashboard when drivers enter the vehicle before it fades to reveal the number 10.

More 2013 New York Auto Show Coverage

Each will be sequentially numbered, with a total run of 10,000 units to be produced. All will feature silver seat belts, LED Scion badges on the hood and rear that light up when the car is unlocked, and a solar-powered illuminated shift knob. The xB, iQ and xD models will come with unique alloy wheels, while the FR-S 10 Series will have standard high-intensity-discharge headlamps, dual climate control and smart key with push-button start ignition.

By Aaron Bragman | March 28, 2013 | Comments (1)

Scion xB Lives Another Year

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Despite rumors of the Scion xB's looming demise, it looks like the funky box will live another year. Toyota announced that the xB will return for model-year 2013 with lightly updated exterior styling and a slightly higher price.

The 2013 xB gets a revised front bumper and a tweaked interior, including new light-bronze metallic accents and new seat fabric. A BeSpoke Premium Audio system is a new option; Absolutely Red and Nautical Blue Metallic are new exterior colors. They replace Stingray Metallic and Elusive Blue Metallic.

By Jennifer Geiger | December 7, 2012 | Comments (0)

Black Friday: Best Cars for Serious Shoppers

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A successful Black Friday shopping trip is all in the planning. Bargain hunters study store ads and websites as though they're cramming for a test, and now they have less time to do so as several major chains — Sears, Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us — will open their doors on Thanksgiving evening instead of 4 or 5 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving.

There's one thing that Black Friday shoppers can plan before the deal-laden store circulars arrive: which car to take.

Black Friday shoppers might think bigger is better — big SUVs, minivans — when it comes to picking a car for hauling all their bargains. They're not wrong, especially if they're hoping to bag a gigantic flat-screen TV at a low price. But nimble, small cars in busy parking lots shouldn't be left out of the Black Friday fun. Here are our top picks for Black Friday haulers.

By Jennifer Newman | November 20, 2012 | Comments (0)

Kia Soul: Last Box Standing?

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It seemed like the automotive industry was all about thinking inside the box during the last few years, with squared-off entries from Honda, Scion, Nissan and Kia entering the market. Since the midsize Honda Element debuted in 2002, it's been followed by the compact Scion xB and subcompact Nissan Cube and Kia Soul to much initial fanfare and even commercials with lovable dancing rodents.

But is the box-on-wheels party over? It looks like consumers have cooled to the idea of driving such distinct cars. Model-year 2011 was the Element's last, and this past spring Toyota announced it's canceling the xB. Are the Cube and Soul next?

By Jennifer Geiger | July 18, 2012 | Comments (18)

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