Hi, iQ! A Staycation in the new Toyota Scion Micro-Mini

Sponsored By Smart Scion

Astronomical gas prices, escalating air-travel costs and a general lack of free time continue to make the staycation a popular American travel option.  The greater Madison area is so loaded with top-ranked attractions, activities, treats and diversions one might ask, “why ever leave?” This becomes more obvious when you have a delightful little run-about like the Scion iQ.

Scion iQ proves that it’s possible to create a fuel-efficient, reliable and reasonably priced urban vehicle that’s spunky, fun, quick, comfortable and safe. And it runs on regular gas. Why buy an “economy car” that demands premium fuel? iQ leaves you more money for fun.

Local cuisine is the flavor of the day in travel, even if you’re near home. Madison’s Monroe Street is a great incubator of such hot spots. jac’s Dining & Tap House is a case in point. It’s an inviting pub and gregarious gathering place for young professionals, students and families. Want suggestions for dinner? The folks at the table next to you will offer tips. The dessert menu is worth a staycation all by itself! 

Scion designed the iQ to easily carry two or three people. They call it a 2+1. With the passenger seat moved forward, three adults ride quite comfortably. With two aboard the rear compartment becomes a convenient space for a load of groceries, suitcases or golf clubs.

Jump-start your staycation with a breakfast stop at newcomer  Egg & I just off the Beltline on the south frontage road across from Johannsen’s Greenhouse. This hearty breakfast stop offers eggs, waffles and pancakes done right. A cup of coffee awaits you at the front door.

The iQ loves sneaking into little parking spaces. It makes parking fun. A favorite trick is turning a “U” on a narrow little street. Crank the steering wheel tight left or right and you can turn around in 12.9 feet. It’s like sitting on an office chair and spinning around. See a quick demo at youtube.com/watch?v=bDwZPQn6ado. Having an iQ means never worrying about heading to the Square, State Street or the UW campus.

Add the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) and The Chazen Museum of Art to your staycation itinerary. In addition to cutting-edge exhibits, MMoCA cues up Rooftop Cinema on Fridays in June. The view itself is worth the trip and avant-garde films add a nice exotic touch in the high-over-State-Street sculpture garden. Head down to the sparkling new Chazen for another inspiring session. Spark and Flame: 50 Years of Art Glass and the University of Wisconsin–Madison (through August 5) celebrates the studio glass art movement revived by our own Harvey Littleton. He inspired and influenced countless students, among them internationally acclaimed Dale Chihuly whose Mendota Wall graces the Kohl Center. 

Summer is a great time to visit one of the UW’s most iconic places—the Memorial Union. Fewer students are jockeying for the colorful Terrace chairs overlooking Lake Mendota. But don’t stop here. Drive to the new Union South which was reborn in spring 2011 as a sophisticated, urban, Prairie-style sports lodge. In the Memorial Union tradition, award-winning Babcock Hall ice cream is served.  

It’s a blast to zip from union to museum to union and it’s nice to know iQ is built to be safe. There are eleven airbags, including a rear-curtain bag. It has Toyota’s Star Safety System, a package of intelligent, anticipatory and effective refinements that should be
standard on any car: traction control (TRAC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Brake Assist (BA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Smart Stop Technology (SST). The iQ’s wheels are fastened with four lug nuts, not three as some cars offer. That’s truly comforting when you’re negotiating Madison’s Euro-style pot-holed streets in spring.  

Add a Frank Lloyd Wright tour to your iQ staycation. Some of his finest works are accessible, including the First Unitarian Meeting House (1951), Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center (1997) and, by appointment, his first Usonian house “The Jacob’s House” (1937). The latter features a unique cantilevered carport that would suit the Scion iQ nicely.  Wrightophiles will extend their expedition to Spring Green’s Wright-designed Visitor’s Center and Taliesin estate. This scenic hour-long trip of about 40 miles (Hwy. 14 and County C) amply demonstrates the iQ’s comfort and road worthiness. 

The first time you consider taking the iQ on the Beltline you may wonder if perhaps there are better, more scenic back-street routes. Skip the worry. This car is geared to quickly reach merging speed at 50–55 mph. The  “Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with intelligence” smoothly harnesses ninety-four eager horses in the four-cylinder 1.3 liter Dual VVT-I engine and you’re good to go. The iQ is quick-as-a-water-bug into the traffic stream, even hanging with the fast crowd in the left lane. 

Returning from Spring Green, visit Middleton’s National Mustard Museum to spice up your staycation. Sample some of the hundreds of mustard variations from around the world. Buy some to take home. Pick up some sausage, crackers and cheese up the road at Carr Valley Cheese and head over to Capital Brewery for a tour. Hang awhile in the Biergarten. 

An internationally flavored option is tucked in an unassuming Middleton mall off Allen Boulevard. The art and ambiance of Tapas Rias bring an authentic serving of Spanish hospitality and flair to the neighborhood. Order a glass of wine at the bar and you may be served a complimentary olive and cheese plate. Attentive wait staff help mix and match enough small plates to make a meal. Try mejillones ala marinara (mussels), pincho de solomillo (beef skewers) and tortilla Espanola (vegetarian omelette) to start. You may recall late nights in Barcelona cafes, and yet you’re just an easy iQ drive from the Madison Mallards Duck Pond. Ahhh, staycation! 

Driving through town, gas mileage stays in the 35–36 m.p.g. range. Stop at Madison’s crown jewel of conservation, the UW Arboretum.  This beautifully preserved and restored natural area was the vision of Aldo Leopold built by Civilian Conservation Corps labor. It preserves 1,200 acres of prairie and forest and restores early Wisconsin ecosystems. Here you can learn plant identification, join guided walks or enjoy free garden tours.  

Some micro sub-compacts seem to think that economy must mean spartan, devoid of creature comforts. Fortunately the Scion designers were not of that school. This car is engineered by folks who understand that no matter the size, a car should feel good. It has all the features we expect: power locks and mirrors, auto up and down power windows, tilt-steering and economy-drive monitoring. Scion builders must love good music because iQ comes standard with a six-speaker system, outputs to add more and capacity to add external amps.  

The iQ designers know we use Bluetooth, we want the best high-tech, HD radio and navigation systems. XM® satellite radio is available too. You can option-up and get the SNS 200 LCD screen so you can watch DVDs when you’re parked. Like with all Toyotas, if it’s there, you know it works fine.

When you buy a Scion iQ, the staycations can start immediately and continue indefinitely. Did we mention Olbrich Gardens? Overture Center? Lake Kegonsa State Park? Wollersheim Winery? Tenny Park? APT? Michael’s? 

OK, we’ll see you in the showroom! 

- By Gary and MaePatrice Knowles

Gary and MaePatrice Knowles live in Madison where he is a freelance writer and marketing  consultant to clients in travel, food, hospitality and entertainment and she is a public relations and communications specialist.


Capital Brewery

7734 Terrace Ave., Middleton

(608) 836-7100


Chazen Museum of Art

750 University Ave., Madison

(608) 263-2246


Egg & I

2501 West Beltline Hwy.
Ste 111, Madison

(608) 275-EGGS


First Unitarian Society

900 University Bay Drive, Madison

(608) 233-9774


jacs Dining & Tap house

2611 Monroe St., Madison

(608) 441-5444


Jacob’s House

441 Toepfer Ave., Madison

(608) 238-8355


Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center

1 John Nolen Dr., Madison

(608) 261-4000


Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

227 State St., Madison

(608) 257-0158


National Mustard Museum

7477 Hubbard Ave., Middleton




5607 County Rd. C, Spring Green

(608) 588-7900


Tapas Rias

2518 Allen Blvd., Middleton

(608) 831-0528


UW Arboretum

1207 Seminole Hwy., Madison

(608) 263-7888


Wisconsin Union Memorial Union

770 Langdon St., Madison

Union South

1308 W. Dayton St., Madison

(608) 890-3000




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