Toyota introduced the Scion brand in 2002. The Asian automaker promised the new brand's vehicles would be unusual, affordable, and aimed at the youth market. Initially, just two vehicles were offered for sale at select Toyota dealerships, the xA and xB. The xA was an affordable subcompact and the xB an unusual box on wheels.
|2011 Scion xB|
Base Price: $16,950
At-Tested Price: $26,170
Built in Japan.
Carbon-Fiber Window Trim
XM Satellite Radio
Bluetooth Cell-Phone Connection
Rear-Seat DVD Entertainment System
Front Sway Bar
Alpine Audio System
19-Inch Alloy Wheels
TRD Oil Filler Cap
Illuminated Door Sills
Front Strut Brace
Engine: 2.4-liter I4
Transmission: 4-Speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive
Both were offered with a host of custom trim and convenience items designed to let buyers customize their purchase while still at the dealership. They also featured Scion's unique new "Pure Price" strategy.
Pure Price is Toyota's name for a one-price strategy, similar to the one Saturn employed. After doing "extensive" research, Toyota determined that younger buyers didn't want to haggle for their new vehicle and preferred a vehicle with a reasonable price. Toyota claimed that is would ensure a simpler and shorter purchase and eliminate all negotiation.
Of the two, the unconventional xB was the best seller. It seemed to better appeal to younger buyers, with its eccentric styling, roomy interior, and versatile cargo hold. xB competes against vehicles like the Jeep Compass, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and Nissan Rogue.
At the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, Scion introduced the second-generation of the xB. The new car arrived in dealerships in the fall as a 2008 model. Compared to the previous model, it rode a wheelbase that was four inches longer, was 12 inches longer overall, and had gained 600 pounds. The slab-sided body was softened but was still only offered in four-door wagon style with front-wheel drive.
For 2011, the xB sees a number of interior revisions and comes in Base and awkwardly named Release Series 8.0 trim levels. Both seat five on front buckets and a three-place rear bench and have a single-piece rear tailgate. Power comes from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower. Transmission choices include either five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic.
Standard safety features include antilock four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, tire-pressure monitor and dual-front, front-side and curtain-side airbags. Rear-view camera and park assist are not offered.
When equipped with the manual transmission the Base lists for $16,000. Opting for the automatic raises the starting price to $16,950. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, tilt steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, center console, split-folding rear seat, power mirrors with turn signals, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, Pioneer AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with digital-media player connection and iPod adapter, intermittent wipers, rear defogger, rear wiper, rear privacy glass and 205/55R16 tires.
Release Series 8.0 lists for $18,405 with manual and $19,355 with automatic. It adds to the Base sunroof, floormats, and unique interior and exterior trim.
Options include navigation system, DVD entertainment system with twin screens, satellite radio, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, theft-deterrent system and fog lights.
In addition, dealers offer a number of interior and exterior dress-up items to suit buyers tastes.
The xB is built in Japan and has a destination charge of $720.
Get up and Go Acceleration is good from a stop and midrange passing punch is more than acceptable. The engine feels a little winded in highway passing situations where a little more zip might make driver's more comfortable in two-lane overtaking.
Unfortunately, xB is saddled with a four-speed automatic, while others in the class are stepping up to more fuel-efficient five-speed or CVT designs. That hurts xB's passing response and also leads to lurching downshifts in certain situations.
Scion claims that traction control is standard. While that may be the case, it's easy to get the front wheels spinning for a brief second in slippery conditions. On the other hand, the standard stability control is very welcome at such a low price point.
With automatic the xB is EPA rated at 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. Those numbers are slightly better than most compact SUVs, but also slightly worse than compact wagons like the Mazda 3 or Toyota Matrix. In routine driving, expect to average about 25 mpg. If your commute includes a fair amount of highway driving, don't be surprised if you nudge past 27 mpg. Scion says that xB will run fine on regular-grade gasoline.
On the Road Aimed at younger buyers, xB rides more firmly than expected.Bumps are softened, but there's still some impact harshness and things get bouncy if you opt for the optional 19-inch wheels.
Even though the xB really is a box on wheels, it drives more like a compact car than an SUV. Body lean is moderate in quick turns and the steering is direct--though highway on-center feel could be improved. The base tires don't have much grip though and xB will understeer at the first hint of hard cornering. That's not unusual for vehicles at this price point, but might be a disappointment for "younger" buyers. The brakes are adequate and the pedal is easy to modulate for smooth, drama-free stops.
Opting for the optional 19-inch wheels and tires lends an agile feel and considerably more cornering grip.
Given its low price and open interior design, you wouldn't expect the Scion xB to be whisper quiet on the highway, and it isn't. But the xB is surprisingly quiet around town and quieter overall than many compact SUVs. The engine groans in hard acceleration but quiets nicely once cruising.
Behind the Wheel Scion crafted xB's interior with an eye toward attracting younger buyers, so it is a little unconventional. There are no traditional gauges behind the steering wheel. Instead there's a large digital speedometer above and to the left of the center console. Next to that are traditional analog gauges for engine speed, temperature and fuel level. The design takes some getting used to, and the large digital speedo is sure to keep back-seat passengers entertained.
Radio and climate controls couldn't be simpler or more clearly marked. Sadly, the touch-screen display washes out in sunlight. Window, lock, and mirror controls are located on the driver armrest. They are easy to operate, but could use better illumination.
Materials are befitting of the low price, meaning mostly hard plastics. However, the padded driver arm rest and center console cover are a nice comfort touch.
Though they aren't very contoured, the front seats are soft and supportive and should be a good fit for just about any size adult. The driver seat is height adjustable, though even tall drivers won't be lacking for headroom. Leg room is adequate and no more. Outward visibility is fair, but blocked by narrow window openings to the front and a smalish rear window. The driving position is slightly higher than a traditional sedan, but lower than that of a compact SUV.
Rear bench seat is flat but nicely padded. It offers adult size head and leg room, even if the front seats are all the way back. Doors open wide, making entry/exit a breeze. Though sitting three across will scrunch everyone, the xB truly is a four-adult car, something that can't be said for a lot of compact SUVs.
Space behind the rear seat is generous, and folding the rear seats is a snap. xB is rated at a touch below 70 cubic feet, which matches many compact SUVs and blows away some larger car-based wagons. Interior storage is fair. The small glove box and map pockets are offset by an under-floor cargo bin and a cubby beneath the rear seat.
Bottom Line The xB is an interesting proposition. Not quite a compact crossover, but considerably larger than your average compact wagon. That gives it an appeal beyond it's reasonable price and peppy but efficient engine.
Toyota really should have opted for a five-speed automatic, but if you do a lot of around town driving, you probably won't notice. If you're in the market for a versatile hauler with a roomy back seat, the xB could be the right choice.
|Specifications 2011 Toyota Scion xB|
|Dimensions||4-door wagon ||Engine||DOHC I4|
|Wheelbase, in.||102.4||Size, liters/cu. in.||2.4 / 144|
|Length, in.||167.3||Horsepower @ rpm||158 @ 6000|
|Width, in.||69.3||Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm||162 @ 4000|
|Height, in.||63.4||Transmission||4-Speed Automatic|
|Weight, lbs.||3027||EPA Estimates, mpg||22 city / 28 highway|
|Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.||69.9|| |
|Fuel Capacity, gals.||14.0||Manufacturer's Warranty|
|Seating Capacity||5||Bumper-to-Bumper||3 years / 36,000 miles|
|Front Head Room, in.||40.2||Powertrain||5 years / 60,000 miles|
|Front Leg Room, in.||40.7||Corrosion||5 years / Unlimited miles|
|Second-Row Head Room, in.||41.2||Free Roadside Assistance||3 years / 36,000 miles|
|Second-Row Leg Room, in.||38.0||Free Scheduled Maintenance||None|