2008 Scion xB

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$15,650

starting MSRP

2008 Scion xB

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

1 trim

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2008 Scion xB trim comparison will help you decide.

2008 Scion xB review: Our expert's take

By Bill Jackson

Where once the Scion xB was alone, the field of small, boxy cars has grown to include the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube. To be competitive, cars like these need to carry people and stuff easily and comfortably, and they must be reliable. These are the worker bees of the automotive world. Now, the xB has one major flaw and a few other issues, but overall, it’s an easy car to live with. I also think it’s a decent car for young drivers. Despite the fact that it’s not the newest car in the field, it still sets the standard. It gets the job done.

Scion redesigned the xB in 2008, but precious little has changed since then. (See a comparison of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 models here.) So new- and used-car shoppers for those model years can read the same review and get a sense of the car, no matter the year.

Interior
For starters, the boxy xB is small on the outside but massive on the inside. I did a lot of carpool duty in the xB, all of my friends are tall, and none of us felt claustrophobic. The xB is a natural pick for road trips.

Still, the seating isn’t perfect. By far, the biggest flaw of the car as a whole is that the steering-wheel position is about the worst I’ve experienced in any car. Other reviewers didn’t react as negatively, but no matter how I adjusted my seat, the steering wheel sat way too low in the dashboard, even when tilted upward. It didn’t brush my legs, but it felt as if the steering wheel was sitting on top of them. It was also too far away for comfort, and there’s no telescoping adjustment, either, so I was stuck.

The bad seating wasn’t limited to the driver: All of my front-seat passengers were unhappy that the xB didn’t have an armrest for them. If you carpool, expect to hear about the lack of an armrest — a lot.

On a positive note, when you fold the rear seats flat, you get a massive cargo area: The xB carried a bike and camping gear pretty well. The cargo area was easy to get to, thanks to a rear hatch — as opposed to a swing-out refrigerator-style door. It’s also easy to fold the second-row seats, so it’s no bother to carry a lot of cargo in the xB. Note, however, there is a lack of covered storage space in the xB. Many open bins, yes, but only the small glove box and tiny center console area are covered.

All the switches and dials for things such as the door locks, windows and heating/cooling all feel good. They won’t be confused with a luxury car’s, but you also won’t get the feeling that whatever you’re tugging, pressing or sliding is going to snap off in your hands. They’re also well laid out, so that you can find what you need quickly and use it intuitively.

Finally, visibility is what I’d call a “partial” flaw. There is a decent-sized blind spot over the driver’s right shoulder because of a large rear-roof pillar. It’s one of those things that can be an issue on the highway and in some parking situations. If you’re thinking of buying an xB, I think the one thing you must do on your test drive is include some highway driving/passing/merging and see if the blind spot is an issue for you. The rest of the visibility in the xB — out front, to the sides — was fine.

Driving Around
The steering is good for this class. In some cars, the steering is so light, you feel as if you’re playing a video game — the car reacts almost too quickly. The xB doesn’t have that problem.

While the xB is not a sports car, it moves away from the light nicely and has enough oomph for passing and merging on the highway. Our test model came with a manual five-speed transmission. First and 2nd gear are what car reviewers call “short,” which means two things: One, you have to shift from 1st into 2nd gear sooner than you would in some other cars; and two, 2nd-gear starts are really easy. In winter, a 2nd-gear start can come in handy, so to me, that’s a good trait. On the flip side, this suggests that 1st gear is lower than it needs to be, and having taller gears could improve the xB’s mileage, which is an EPA-estimated 22/28 mpg city/highway. Because of its large, 2.4-liter engine, it probably couldn’t match competitors like the Soul and Cube, but the xB could have better mileage.

What helps all of this is that the clutch is light and picks up nicely. The gearshift also moves well between the gears.

Yet, the manual transmission highlights another xB flaw: You can’t see/use the tachometer. The Scion has center-mounted gauges, which some people don’t like, but that’s not the issue. The issue is the tachometer is the same size and color as the temperature gauge and fuel gauge that sit right beside it in the instrument cluster. It also lacks an actual red line — just a filled-in section of the gauge. I never used the tach, preferring to shift by the sound of the engine or by feeling when the engine was running out of torque. That’s not ideal.

You say you don’t drive a manual? First, shame on you, but second, given that all the gauges are the same color, you’ll find it’s also hard to differentiate between, say, the temperature gauge and the fuel gauge.

Safety and Reliability
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives this generation of xB the highest rating — Good — for both the frontal- and side-impact crash tests. See the list of standard safety features here.

Consumer Reports predicts the xB’s reliability will be much better than average.

In the Market
I’ve driven all of the small, boxy cars, and the Scion is the most capable one in my book. It lacks the new, standout styling of either the Cube or the Soul, but in terms of driving, it’s the best. It’s also the most practical on the inside, offering the most usable space. It’s plenty capable on the highway with the manual transmission, its visibility is mostly good and it doesn’t demand a lot of compromises (assuming you can fit in the driver’s seat, of course).

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Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.4
  • Interior design 4.4
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value for the money 4.7
  • Exterior styling 4.5
  • Reliability 4.8

Most recent consumer reviews

4.9

I've owned this car for 12 years and still love it

My 2008 Scion xb has been an incredibly good car. Nothing has ever needed fixing except new tires, and brakes wore down. Kind of expected in 12 years of daily use! I have hauled a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood (with the hatch open) a dining room table and so many other large cumbersome items it is crazy. Tall people have often commented on how much head room in my car. Two oddnesses that haven't been troublesome but are strange: First, there is only one back-up light. That's how it was designed. Second, there is only one key hole in the entire four-door car and that is in the driver's door. Not things I would recommend in car design but very minor compared to 12 years of worry free driving and 8 years of no car payments!

3.9

Love it but it burns oil

Love the styling. Easy to get in and out of and very comfortable. Kids love the roominess in back. Great on gas and has some punch. Only problem is the oil burning issue. Bought used with 99k. Burned about half a quart between 5k oil changes. Has about 150k and now is burning about a quart of oil every 1000 miles. This is a problem with a design of piston ring but I wasn't aware of it until after purchase and although Toyota acknowledged their design flaw the criteria for repair was set up that I wouldn't qualify. So now I'm stuck with it. So I can't speak on the reliability of the typical high quality of Toyota products but we'll see. I'm just gonna monitor the oil and keep adding it as needed and see what happens. But it runs great for the most part. Idles rough at times during a stop but overall pretty good. Other than the oil burning issue I would highly recommend this vehicle for an affordable economical roomy vehicle.

4.6

Would buy a million times over

Scions are amazing cars. Very roomy, reliable, and has all the comforts I needed. Great cargo space and sound system was adequate. It drives smoothly and never gave me any mechanical issues that weren’t routine maintenance items. My previous car was also a scion XB and I was T-bones by a drunk driver in a Ford F-150 running a red light at 60mph And my car was smashed, but I was totally fine. No major injuries. I credit my life to the car that night. Highly recommend scion.

See all 64 consumer reviews

Compare the competitors

2010

Toyota Matrix

$16,700

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2012

Kia Soul

$13,900

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2012

Scion xD

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See all 2008 Scion xB articles