Scion Tweaks Bumpers, Prices On 2013 xB; Will Buyers Bite?

Last we heard, Scion’s small xD and xA hatchbacks faced an uncertain future – but it appears their demise may not be so imminent as was once reported. In fact, Toyota’s “youth-oriented” division just announced pricing and revisions for the 2013 xB.

What’s new for 2013? According to Scion, its compact box-on-wheels gains “numerous enhancements,” including a new front bumper –complete with a gloss black lower grille, and integrated LED accent lighting – and a gloss black rear diffuser. Inside, trim panels boast a light bronze finish, HVAC vents are garnished with chrome bezels, and seats are trimmed in a new fabric pattern. Buyers can also choose between two new colors – Absolutely Red and Nautical Blue Metallic – and, if so desired, opt for the same BeSpoke touchscreen infotainment system offered in the FR-S and iQ.

These amendments also manage to help drive the xB’s price tag upwards. An xB with a five-speed manual transmission now commands $17,555, including $755 in destination fees. That’s roughly $500 more than a comparable 2012 model, and that same increase also applies to xBs fitted with the four-speed automatic ($18,505). 2013 xB models should roll into showrooms nationwide in early 2013.

But will these mild updates sustain xB sales for another model year or more? Every product has a finite lifespan, and both the xB is entering its seventh year on the market with precious little change. As time marches on, the xB’s volumes have decreased by sizable margins. In 2007 and 2008, U.S. xB sales hovered around the 45,000-unit mark before plunging by 20,000 units in 2009. Scion never seemed to recover from that slip, as it sold just over 20,000 in 2010; 17,000 in 2011, and has sold almost 19,000 units in the first eleven months of 2012.

Why the sudden drop? Certainly, the addition of new players in the xB’s niche hasn’t helped, but others – notably Kia’s Soul – have performed tremendously well. Soul doubled between 2009 to 2010, and then jumped by 40,000 units to 102,267 in 2011. Thus far in 2012, Kia has sold a whopping 108,601 Souls in the United States.

Both the xB’s age and sales performance have helped fuel rumors of the Scion hatchback’s demise – as have Scion executives, for that matter. A Ward’s report from this past summer hinted both the xB and the xD hatchback could be dropped from Scion’s lineup. Corporate spokespeople subsequently told us that despite the report, neither model was going to be immediately discontinued. That we’ve now seen announcements for both a 2013 xB and xD lends credence to that claim, but it’s obvious Toyota needs replacements for at least one of these models – and stat.

What does a successor to the Scion xB need in order to remain relevant – and, more importantly, successful – in today’s market? Send us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: Toyota, WardsAuto 

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