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By Jim Flammang
April 15, 2005
Vehicle Overview Scion, a new brand that falls under Toyota's corporate umbrella, is targeted at young buyers. The subcompact xA hatchback is powered by a 108-horsepower four-cylinder.
For 2005, the standard 160-watt Pioneer sound system features Sound Retouch digital equalization, which promises clearer CD/MP3 sound. An xA Release Series 1.0 model for 2005 is finished in Absolutely Red exterior paint and has a sport grille and color-keyed rear spoiler. Six-spoke Enkei alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires.
Besides an automatic transmission, side-impact and side curtain-type airbags are the sole factory options. Approximately 40 factory accessories, including fog lamps, a rear spoiler, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, floormats and auxiliary lighting kits, can be installed.
Exterior 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." Three 15-inch wheel-cover designs are offered. Riding a 93.3-inch wheelbase, the xA is 154.1 inches long overall and 60.2 inches tall.
Interior The xA has sport front seats and a 60/40-split folding rear seat; it can carry up to five occupants. Metal-tone trim decorates the instrument panel, which contains black-on-white gauges. An illuminated, translucent storage compartment is installed in the center cluster. Cargo volume totals 11.7 cubic feet.
Standard features include air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, a cargo cover, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Digital Scion Sound Processing lets the driver choose between three audio modes: Neutral, Hear and Feel. A six-CD upgrade system features a lighted display with 10 selectable colors.
Under the Hood The xA uses a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 108 hp at 6,000 rpm. A five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission can be installed.
Safety Antilock brakes are standard. Side-impact and side curtain-type airbags are optional. All seating positions have three-point safety belts.
Driving Impressions Because the xA is more conventional in appearance than the boxy Scion xB, its appeal may extend a bit beyond the youth market. Nevertheless, this hatchback conveys a youthful personality, especially if it's equipped with distinctive accessories like auxiliary interior lighting or the multihued display on the available six-CD changer.
Performance, ride comfort and handling are comparable to Toyota's other small models, but the xA fails to stand out in any category other than cuteness and price. The xA doesn't feel quite as well-constructed as some small cars, or as sound as typical Toyotas, but it's more solid than the xB.