Most automakers have been leaning toward the youth market lately. Scion, a new brand that falls under the Toyota umbrella, reaches a step further and is ready to aim its wares squarely at younger buyers.
Are those sought-after young shoppers eager to buy scads of factory-offered accessories to dress up and individualize their purchases? Scion marketers will soon discover the answer to that question, when the subcompact five-door xA wagon and the defiantly square-profiled xB go on sale.
These are the first two production models from what is considered to be a new brand, even though Toyota dealers will sell Scions. Both Scion models were unveiled at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2003 and go on sale in June 2003 initially in California only. Prices start below $13,000 for the xA and in the $14,000 neighborhood for the xB. The same 108-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine powers both models.
Scion will target members of Generation Y, especially those who favor customized vehicles. Scion is about personalization, says James Farley, vice president of Scion. Its about providing buyers with a personalized dealership experience, a personalized ordering experience and personalized vehicles. About 40 accessories, including fog lamps, a rear spoiler, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, floormats and auxiliary lighting kits, will be available.
Distribution will be extended to the South, Southeast and East Coast in February 2004, and during that year, a third Scion model will debut. Scion dealerships promise younger shoppers the freedom to explore at their own pace.
While the xB reaches toward and beyond the boxy look established by the recently introduced Honda Element, the xA hatchback resembles several small wagons. Styling touches on the xA include sculpted wheel arches, a wide front grille and substantial rocker-panel extensions, which the company says enhance the horizontal, muscular stance and visually draw the vehicle closer to the ground. Six body colors and three 15-inch wheel designs will be offered. Riding a 93.3-inch wheelbase, the xA is 154.1 inches long overall and 60.2 inches tall.
The xA holds five occupants with front sport seats and a 60/40-split, folding rear seat. Metal-tone trim decorates the instrument panel, which contains black-on-white gauges. The doors, seats and dashboard feature a textured treatment. An illuminated, translucent storage compartment is installed in the center cluster. Cargo space includes underfloor storage and a cargo-area cover. Cargo volume totals 11.7 cubic feet.
Standard xA features include air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, a rear defogger, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The standard 160-watt six-speaker stereo system plays CDs and MP3 music files. Digital Scion Sound Processing lets the driver choose between three audio modes: Neutral, Hear or Feel. A six-CD upgrade system features a lighted display with 10 available colors.
Under the Hood
The xA uses a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 108 hp at 6,000 rpm. Either a five-speed-manual gearbox or a four-speed-automatic transmission may be installed. The company claims that average gas mileage is greater than 30 mpg.
Antilock brakes are standard, and side-impact and side curtain-type airbags are optional. All seating positions have three-point safety belts.