Call it the box.
Funny looking car with a funny name -- xB -- a box on wheels.
It arrived in the 2004 model year on the Left Coast, when Toyota formed a Scion division to sell such odd-looking vehicles to young folks who made the Internet a way of life and who spend 50 percent more time on the Web than watching TV.
Toyota figured once Scion buyers aged and made some money, they'd move up to a Toyota and then a Lexus and live happily ever after in the family.
Still too soon to determine whether the game plan is working, since most buyers are still paying off their first Scion, but research shows that 80 percent of those who purchased a Scion are new to the Toyota brand, an encouraging sign, according to Steve Haag, corporate manager for Scion.
And the 2008 model year brings the first big change for those who love the box but want a bigger one. They get a longer, wider and little heavier xB.
They also asked for a bigger engine, so a 2.4-liter, 158-horsepower 4-cylinder replaces the 1.5-liter, 103-h.p. 4 that was more apropos for a soapbox run downhill.
We tested the 2008 xB now arriving in showrooms, still somewhat novel but not as startling as Generation I.
The '08 xB has grown 12 inches in length and 3 inches in width. Wheelbase was stretched by 4 inches. There's more room to stretch arms and elbows as well as more room for luggage or supplies behind the rear seats.
Leg, knee and arm room are pleasantly ample to eliminate any discomfort on short or long trips, as long as you don't expect to fit three adults in back.
But none of that added length made its way to the seat-bottom cushions. A couple inches more would provide better thigh support on long-distance drives to reduce leg fatigue and the fidgets. Seats also lack generous side bolsters for support in corners and turns.
The xB comes with stability control with traction control as standard. Stability control helps prevent unnecessary and unexpected lateral movement, and traction control keeps you from slipping at takeoff on wet or snowy roads. It would be ideal if the xB offered all-wheel-drive as an option for the Snow Belt. But it skipped it to keep the price down.
The suspension keeps harsh bumps from filtering into the cabin, so ride is pleasant and bounce free; no jitters over uneven pavement or radial slap over tar marks.
But this isn't a sports car. It's meant to carry a couple friends or a small family, your workout bag or luggage, groceries or a bike when you fold the second row seats flat.
It's a small, low-priced hauler, which traded mileage for pop with the 2.4-liter engine. The fuel economy with the lively engine is 22 m.p.g. city/28 m.p.g. highway, down from 30/34 last year. With the change in government testing for the 2008 model year, Scion says it's likely 30/34 would have fallen to 28/32, but the much more potent 4 took a considerably bigger toll.
And it's not as low-priced anymore. The xB with manual starts at $15,800, the automatic at $16,600, hikes of about $1,300.
The boost covers the larger size and bigger engine as well as the addition of side-impact air bags and side curtains, outside mirrors with turn indicators, roof-mounted antenna, storage tray under the rear seat, front and rear disc brakes (had been front only), 16-inch all-season radials (up from 15 inch), cruise control and iPod connectivity as standard.
The xB is built off a new platform that could be shared by another Scion or Toyota. The xB retains basically the styling it had, with rounder edges, and it looks as if it stands a little lower.. Actually it's a fraction of a inch higher, though it already had more than enough room for any melon except a Conehead's.
Nice touches include stowage pockets on both sides of the cargo floor as well as under it; stowage in the doors and in the dash left of the steering wheel; a stowage ledge above the glove box; and bottle holders built into each door.
Scion says a new fixed tray under the rear seat can hide magazines, cameras, cell phones, CDs and even a laptop. But the seat bottom doesn't lift, so you have to slip items on or off the tray from an opening in the front. Anything on the tray will slide around once the vehicle is moving, so it's a great idea that falls short in the execution.
There also is a small stowage compartment in the center console between the two front seats, a cell phone or iPod holder plus a power plug and iPod jack in the console and another power plug under the gearshift lever now in the lower dash rather than on the floor.
Base price of the test car was $16,600, which included four-wheel anti-lock brakes, power mirrors/windows/door locks, air conditioning, rear window washer/wiper/defogger, tilt wheel, AM/FM radio with CD player and remote keyless entry as standard.
The test car added a trio of not-needed items -- aluminum wheels for $795, illuminated door sills for $249 and carpeted floor mats for $155.
You also can add a navigation system for $2,250, a DVD entertainment system with screens built into the backs of the front-seat headrests for $1,599, satellite radio for $449 and remote start for $529. One item not available is power sunroof.
Haag said buyers are monthly payment shoppers who don't look at options as adding $500 or $1,000 to the total, but rather $4 to $8 a month. Scion buyers usually add at least $1,300 in dealer installed accessories to personalize their vehicles.
Haag said the average xB buyer is 38 to 40, though the average age of all Scion buyers is 30.
Sales of the xB in the first four months of this year were down to 9,673 units from 18,648 a year earlier, as were sales of the xA, to 6,799 from 10,494. But Haag said it's not that the cars lost their popularity; Toyota stopped producing both in Japan in December and just resumed xB output in March. The xA is out of production, to be replaced by the xD in August.
"We sold about 175,000 Scions last year and will reach that rate when all the cars are being sold again," he said. "I'd like to grow Scion, since 80 percent who buy one are new to the Toyota brand. But we'll stay a niche brand and won't go to 300,000 to 500,000 units a year. Maybe 200,000 plus would be it."
When the xB was created, Scion said it probably would last only a few years and be replaced by a totally different model. Plans obviously changed.
"It became the icon of the brand and made sense to continue it for now, though I'm not sure we'll have one in 10 years. I can't say," he said.
- - -
2008 Toyota Scion xB
Wheelbase: 102.4 inches
Length: 167.3 inches
Engine: 2.4-liter, 158-h.p. 4-cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 22 m.p.g. city/28 m.p.g. highway
Price as tested: $17,799 *
$795 Aluminum alloy wheels
$249 Illuminated door sills
$155 Carpeted floor mats
* Add $580 for freight.
Longer, wider, taller remake of original.
More potent engine for better passing/merging.
Stability control, traction control, side-air bag curtains standard.
Gobs of room for people and their things.
Still novel design.
Car grew and mileage shrunk.
Shovel needed to scrape bugs off huge windshield.
Novel styling but still expect clowns to hop out.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Bill Jackson||Cars.com National||August 27, 2009|
|Mike Hanley||Cars.com National||July 9, 2007|
|Kelsey Mays||Cars.com National||April 12, 2007|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||November 4, 2007|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||October 14, 2007|
|Royal Ford||Boston.com||September 23, 2007|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||August 17, 2007|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||July 11, 2007|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||June 3, 2007|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||May 2, 2007|
People Who Viewed This Car Also Viewed
Closest Dealers Listing this Car
Featured Services for the Scion xB
- Sell your current car quickly and easily on Cars.com.