The Scion xB is not a car for people who enjoy driving but for those who enjoy style and individuality. The xB isn’t exactly my style, but lots of people seem to like it, based on its sales numbers and how many I see on the road. Still, the xB’s market share clearly is suffering since the introduction of other boxy competitors such as the Kia Soul and the Nissan Cube. Both outsold the xB last year, and xB sales have fallen off in recent years, from a high of more than 61,000 in 2006 to just 20,000 in 2010. The Soul sold 67,000 units in 2010, almost three times as many copies as the Nissan Cube, its nearest competitor; the aging Honda Element brings up the rear of the pack in the 14,000 range.
This particular xB was fitted with all kinds of boy-racer add-ons, including sporty, nineteen-inch wheels and suspension mods (which make the car look cool but do no favors for the vehicle’s ride quality); a TRD muffler; carbon-fiber-looking window surrounds; and a rear spoiler. Those accessories may make the Scion look better, but to me they just emphasize how slow this poseur car is. Even my wife thought it was very sluggish off the line, and she’s no Ashley Force.
Personally, I like the xB more for its utility than its style. Ingress into the back seats is nice and easy, which is especially good for me, a dad with small kids. Cargo space is expansive and versatile. I wouldn’t say that the xB is any better than a Cube, Soul, or Element in these regards though, so it really comes down your preference of styling. Any of them would make a great second car to complement a minivan.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
The xB is the second Scion of late — the first being the new tC — to leave me pleasantly surprised. Steering offers decent feedback, and the four-cylinder is commendably smooth. As Rusty notes, this is no sports car, but I don’t think it’s trying to be, appearance add-ons notwithstanding. Rather, the xB remains a car for the set that wants a practical, roomy car that stands apart from the crowd. In that sense, it does underwhelm a bit, simply because so many players have entered the, “I’m shaped like a box! Isn’t that kooky?” segment. Similarly, the center-mounted instruments, though well executed, have entirely lost their shock value and now are just annoying. What that leaves you with is a comfortable, decent-driving, roomy, and very affordable Toyota. Could be worse.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
This particular xB is the Platonic ideal of what a Scion is. On top of the $17,670 base price, Scion has loaded $8799 worth of accessories and options to make this a truly custom car. Highlights include the 19-inch wheels ($2150), dual headrest monitors ($1599), lowering springs ($399), and a rear spoiler ($423). In army rock green-gray with those massive black wheels, it looks dang cool.
Given the amount of suspension-stiffening modifications on this xB, it actually rides reasonably well. The four-speed automatic transmission, however, curses this Scion to a lower caste of the automotive world. It dampens the acceleration of the relatively powerful 158-hp four-cylinder and makes for abrupt full-throttle downshifts at highway speeds. It’s also one reason that the xB hasn’t kept up with the rapid rise of fuel economy ratings in this segment. The 28-mpg highway number is pretty pitiful next to the 39 and 40-mpg ratings of the compact sedans. Still, the xB is a hoot for those who want a compact car want a bit more utility and a lot more personality than the segment standard.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
Base price (with destination): $17,670
Price as tested: $26,469
2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine
4-speed automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Vehicle stability control
Tire pressure monitoring system
16-inch steel wheels with covers
60/40 split rear seats
Pioneer 160-watt AM/FM/CD player with 6 speakers
Power door locks and windows
Remote keyless entry
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Options on this vehicle:
TRD 19-inch alloy wheels — $2150
Scion DVD headrests with 7-inch monitors — $1599
TRD sport muffler — $489
Scion security — $469
Alpine premium HD radio — $449
XM satellite radio — $449
Rear spoiler — $423
TRD lowering springs – $399
Fog lights — $340
TRD rear sway bar — $325
4-in-1 color interior light kit — $299
BLU Logic handsfree system — $299
Carbon fiber window trim — $299
Illuminated doorsills — $290
TRD front strut brace — $245
Carpeted floor mats — $155
Cargo net — $65
TRD oil filler cap — $55
Key options not on vehicle:
Performance differential — $2210
Navigation system — $1999
Performance clutch — $1260
Remote engine start — $529
Auto-dimming rearview mirror — $229
22 / 28 / 24 mpg
2.4L DOHC 16-valve I-4
Horsepower: 158 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 162 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Curb weight: 3084 lb
Wheels/tires: 19-inch aluminum wheels
235/35R19 Toyo Proxes 4 performance tires
Competitors: Nissan Cube, Kia Soul
What’s new? Face-lifted inside and out for 2011 model year.