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