A car doesn't have to be fast or expensive to be fun, and Scion's funky xB is a prime example.
The 2008 has a spunky attitude, lots of space and an inexpensive price tag. It's the box personified.
The xB is available in one model, and the base price is $16,230 with destination fees. Standard features include power steering, power windows, power door locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, tilt wheel, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, side-curtain airbags, vehicle stability control and traction control.
The test car was tricked out with big wheels and a Toyota Racing Development suspension package and its price still barely topped $21,000. The TRD suspension gives the xB a lower ride height and the manners of a go-kart.
The design is bold, and not everyone will like it. The low roof, high beltline and fat fender flares give it a slightly cartoonish profile that one friend described as a Mini on steroids. I think it is neat.
Customization is a big part of the Scion appeal, and a long list of accessories enables buyers to personalize their cars.
Scion is Toyota's youth division, and the xB is probably the most distinct of the division's three products. Engineers increased the wheelbase of the 2008 by four inches, the overall length by a foot, and the overall width by almost three inches. Short overhangs keep overall size in check. The xB sneaks through traffic like a mouse running from a cat, and it slips into parking lot spaces with room to spare.
The TRD suspension is a nice compromise between comfort and handling, and it made the xB agile in traffic. The car darted around corners without feeling as if it was riding on tiptoe, yet the ride was compliant enough to soak up bumpy roads. The low-profile tires may be susceptible to pothole damage in the winter, however.
The xB's cabin is surprisingly roomy given the vehicle's footprint. The front seat has plenty of leg-room, and the narrow windows felt snug and secure.
The asymmetrical instrument panel has cool textures, and the gauges are mounted in a slightly off-center pod. The digital speedometer readout, just below the driver's normal line of sight, was so handy that when I got back into my own car the speedometer seemed out of place.
Versatility is an important trait, and the xB's split-folding rear seat and large rear hatch make it easy to load large items.
Scion said the xB's design team aimed for a "lounge-like interior that met the comfort and lifestyle needs of the customer." There is 21.7 cubic feet of cargo area behind the rear seats. For added convenience, the 60/40 split rear seats fold down to create a flat load floor. The front seats recline fully.
Keeping the xB practical meant giving it lots of interior storage. Storage space is found in the console, front doors and in a tray under the back seat. The tray provides hidden storage for cameras, laptops and the like.
The four-wheel disc brakes are also larger than before, and 16-inch wheels are now standard.
The xB's additional size necessitated a larger engine. The 2.4-liter, 158-horsepower engine from the tC coupe now resides under the xB's hood. That is 55 horsepower more than the previous model. This engine has dual overhead cams and variable valve timing. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic with sequential shifting. The test car's manual was easy to shift, but I might prefer the automatic for city driving.
The xB's standard stereo is a 160-watt system that has an MP3 jack. The test car was equipped with a premium audio system whose interface was fairly fussy and hard to decipher, but then it is aimed at much younger folks.
Warranty Three-years or 36,000 miles, with a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
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