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By Jim Flammang
June 23, 2005
Vehicle Overview A member of Toyota's youth-oriented Scion brand, the defiantly square-profiled xB is powered by a 108-horsepower four-cylinder and can be equipped with numerous accessories.
"The xB was developed for youthful trend leaders" who like to customize their vehicles, said James Farley, Scion's vice president. About 40 accessories are available.
Audio enhancements for 2005 include Sound Retouch digital equalization — which promises clearer CD/MP3 sound — in the standard 160-watt, six-speaker Pioneer sound system. A special-edition xB was added for 2005: the xB Release Series 2.0, which is painted Solar Yellow. Only 2,500 xB Release Series 2.0s are available.
Exterior The xB takes the boxy look established by the Honda Element and goes a step further. Its appearance is a blend of flat panels and 90-degree angles, which are highlighted by a ground-effects kit. The xB also has a slightly lowered suspension, which Scion says improves handling.
The xB is 64.6 inches tall and weighs slightly more than 2,400 pounds. The door openings are large, and steel wheels hold 15-inch tires.
Interior Up to five occupants get tall seats and abundant headroom and legroom, courtesy of the xB's upright profile. The speedometer and odometer are centrally positioned, and auxiliary controls feature amber illumination. The 60/40-split second-row seats fold flat and can be removed to yield a flat load floor. Cargo volume with the seats up is 21.2 cubic feet.
Standard xB features include air conditioning, keyless entry, 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 features a lighted display with 10 selectable colors.
Under the Hood The xB's 1.5-liter four-cylinder produces 108 hp at 6,000 rpm. A five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission can be installed.
Safety Antilock brakes and Vehicle Stability Control are standard. All seating positions have three-point safety belts.
Driving Impressions This unique vehicle tends to grow on you more than most vehicles. The xB is exceptionally easy to drive, performance is modest but adequate, and automatic-transmission shifts are remarkably smooth.
The ride is more pleasant than expected on most urban streets, but the xB can exhibit some bounciness on the highway; however, quick suspension recovery makes this phenomenon less bothersome. Easy maneuverability is coupled with rewarding steering feel, but you wouldn't want to push the xB too hard through curves.
The xB's short seat bottoms are a drawback. Support and bolstering are good, and cushioning is sufficient for comfort. A very low cowl and steering wheel combine with almost chairlike seat height for broad visibility in all directions. The speedometer is mounted near the center of the dashboard and is fairly easy to read. The tachometer and fuel gauge, on the other hand, are small, and the central indicator panel is more difficult to see.
The driver's elbow is slightly restricted, but front-seat headroom is abundant. There's vast backseat headroom and legroom, and entry and exit in the front and rear is exceptionally easy.