While everyone is hating on the new Prius, I have two statements to make about it. The first one is that I actually like it. The second one makes more sense.
Think fast: What does the new Prius and the first xB have in common? Well, in their time they were radically styled and didn’t look like anything else on the road. Many people called both the new Prius and the original xB ugly when they launched. Now, what if I told you that the new Prius was a big reason as to why Toyota killed Scion?
You see, Scion’s whole idea came from the time when Toyota was safe and boring. It was designed as a platform to experiment on, without potentially harming the Toyota brand. However, things didn’t go as according to plan.
In 2007, for the 2008 model year, the headlines all proclaimed Beige Bites Back and Bloats the Box. Indeed, old-fashioned inflating and finessing without radical change happened to Scion’s most memorable car. Not a lot happened through the Great Recession, but afterwards, Toyota re-badged an extremely niche-market car as a Scion, and made the tC bigger, heavier, and less exciting. Then, in 2014, something changed. Toyotas started to become less boring.
Take the current Corolla S for example. It doesn’t look boring anymore, with its machined-face wheels, angular headlights, and aggressive gloss-black lower grille, it looks a lot more interesting than the old one. And to top it off, Toyota started to add more features into their cars again. LED low-beam headlights come standard, as do 8 airbags, bluetooth, and power windows, locks, and mirrors. For under $25k, you can get a fully loaded S model with sport seats, navigation, automatic climate control, a moonroof, leatherette, and 8 way power seat, and push-button start with smart key, among other features. And this all came wrapped in the Toyota name that parents trusted. Even though it is mostly similar to the old one underneath, you could never tell by just looking at it. Then, the Yaris gained the giant X grille, the Camry SE and XSE looked a lot less boring, and now even the Prius no longer looks boring. Suddenly, Scion was no longer needed. In fact, that showed with their two latest models. The iM is a corolla hatchback, and the iA is a Mazda 2 Sedan, and sold in Canada as a Yaris sedan. The writing has been on the wall for a while, but Toyota is finally getting its mojo back. So what killed Scion? Well, as Michael Ballaban pointed out, sheer neglect was a big part of it. But at the same time, part of it had to do with Toyota realizing that it couldn’t rest on its laurels. In the end, Scion became a sacrifice made so that Toyota could thrive another day. It represented what was wrong in Toyotas in recent history, and it needed to be killed for Toyota to really live. So don’t mourn the death of Scion. The writing was on the walls long ago. Instead, celebrate not only some of the cars Scion put out, but also for the fact that without Scion, we’d probably still have nondescript Corollas and Camrys everywhere. And after all, a world with fewer boring-looking cars is a better place.