2013 Scion xB

Patrick M Hoey

The xB doesn't look at all like something I would enjoy driving, but I did indeed. Whereas the Nissan Cube, for better or for worse, drives exactly like it looks -- that is, like a living room on roller skates -- the xB feels like a sporty compact. The steering is tight, responsive, and has more weight than any Toyota product I can remember. The 2.4-liter engine happily winds up the rev range. I found myself chucking this box into corners, which must have looked rather funny to anyone behind me.

The interior is about what you'd expect of an $18,005 car, with cheap but good materials and decent panel fits. Center-mounted gauges should have died with the Saturn Ion. The touchscreen radio is pretty neat for this price and likely will appeal to the targeted younger demographic. Too bad the stereo itself is so poor.

David Zenlea, Associate Editor

On one of the first nice days of the spring, I was pleased to discover that the Scion xB is a very pleasant windows-down cruiser at country-road speeds (about 60 mph). It's good to rest your left elbow on the windowsill, because the door armrest is rock-hard.

As David Zenlea pointed out, the xB takes corners better than you'd expect, to the point that it's moderately fun to drive. I didn't enjoy the noisy engine, however, and this is one of the slowest cars I've driven in some time.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Much like its boxy peers, the Scion xB's exterior is polarizing. But the xB is unique in that instead of looking like a futuristic cartoon car -- think Nissan Cube -- it references the past by pulling styling cues from the chopped hot rods of the 50s and 60s. It's still nearly as unconventional as the other oddballs in this class, but I find just slightly less conspicuous.

Driving the Scion isn't an exciting affair but it's not dull either. It's far more tossable than the Jeep Compass and the Kia Soul, and the 158-hp 2.4-liter is a powerhouse compared to the Cube's puny 1.8-liter engine.

Unfortunately, the xB's interior fails miserably. The plain materials, cheap looking gauges and controls, and uninspired design look primitive and the all black color scheme begins to feel oppressive after even a short time behind the wheel. The shallow greenhouse, one of the very design elements that make the exterior interesting, only accentuates the oppressive feeling.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms

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Well, it is nice to know that someone is getting tired of the all-black interiors in cars that I call "coal-bin cars".  The bigger problem, for me, is that too many so-called "sport" cars only come with a black interior.  Even the Miata now has only black interior.  The Focus ST, BR-Z, FR-S and Scion TC-- cars that regular people can buy-- all have black interiors only.  I have owned 4 Honda Accords-- all stick shifts with beige interiors.  Now, Honda has decided that stick shift Accords will only come with black interiors.  Why?  Who knows.  Maybe a way to get rid of sticks?  So, if I want an Accord with a stick I have to put up with a dour looking black interior.  At least the new Mazda6, with a manual, can be had in a light interior (dune?).  Unfortunately, the two trim levels that have the stick shift cannot be optioned with a sunroof.  Yeah, like someone wants to spend $28,000 for a gorgeous midsize sedan with a stick-- but NO SUNROOF?  Stupid, stupid Mazda.  I could go on and on.  Oh, wait, I guess I have already done that.PS:  I haven't owned an automatic car since 1978.  Hard core or hard headed?

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