Everyone has an opinion about the 2009 Scion xB, and it was fun to hear them during my test drive. This distinctive hatchback was compared to a breadbox, a mailbox and other boxes - but people, I loved it. I loved its design, shape and funky style. Go ahead and judge me, I'm not scared.
The xB isn't scared, either. With new competitors coming out all the time in this segment, the xB should be nervous, but it doesn't act like it is. It confidently handles many driving situations; it looks super fresh, even though its redesign is a year old (that's ancient in automotive and teen time). What fascinated me about the Scion xB is how many different types of people drive and love this car.
Driving the Scion was great. It was so much fun that I second-guessed the xB's factory sticker that said it has a four-cylinder engine. The 158-horsepower four-cylinder is incredibly peppy, but the car is loud in terms of engine and road noise. It's most noticeable on the highway and not as bad when driving around town.
In the xB, I found myself acting like a teenager who had just gotten a driver's license: "Do you want me to run to the store for you?" With the xB's phenomenal gas mileage of 22/28 mpg city/highway - I averaged 29 mpg - I didn't hesitate to offer my services. What's not to love about this car? Well...
I respect the xB's daring design. It looks fantastic in its Stingray Metallic paint job, which is a more feminine color than some of the other choices. In case the xB isn't funky enough for you, you can customize it with decals. While test-driving the xB, I saw a white Scion xB with a custom paint job and "Grandpa's Ride" on the side. It was a sweet-looking ride.
The Scion's step-in height is low. The kids didn't have any issues getting in it, and neither did their friends. The doors are lightweight - but not tinny sounding - making it easy for my kids to open and close them. My neighbor's dad also owns an xB, and he gushed about how it's so easy for him - even with his arthritic knees - to get in the car. The roofline is high, so there's no head-bonking when putting the kids in it, that's for sure. I loved checking other Scions to see who was driving them: moms, dads, singles, youths and grandpas. It seems everyone is in on the fun.
You might be wondering if this budget-friendly car would crumble if the chips were down. While driving the xB on a rainy day, I got pinned between two cars on a roundabout (aka rotary). One of the cars was in the roundabout's inner lane and the other was merging onto the roundabout - and into me in the xB. I quickly hit the brakes to avoid being merged into, and the xB came to a quick stop without a single rattle, hesitation or whine. After braking, I had to accelerate out of the way, and the xB responded quickly and adeptly.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove On
The xB shines on the inside because of all its cubbies and storage areas. I wasn't crazy about the xB's weird ribbed-plastic base around the gearshift or its small rear cargo area, but I enjoyed the car's subtle details, simple accents and roomy backseat.
There are lots of little things that I like about the xB, including the armrest on the driver's seat, the awesome cubby to the left of the steering wheel, where I stashed a ton of stuff, and all the grippy surfaces that keep cell phones from sliding or rattling around. I also liked the easy-to-use and shockingly simple stereo system with an iPod jack, too.
While the cargo area is small, there are some cool things about it. There are several cubbies and nooks in the back that are perfect for holding supplies while you wrap a gift or change a baby. They're perfect places to corral all the stuff that generally rolls around. (And don't tell me you actually leave the house with the birthday gift already purchased and wrapped.) The cargo deck's height makes either chore easy on your back because you don't have to hunch over too much. The cargo space can handle an average grocery trip, but you'll need to be cautious with the large run from Costco. You'll benefit from the 60/40-split folding rear seat there.
The backseat space is great. The seats move forward or back, which gives you more flexibility as your kids grow. The Latch connectors are easily accessible, and three booster seats fit back there, as long as they're skinny. Rear-facing infant seats and convertible child-safety seats would fit just fine in the backseat, too. My kids didn't have any problems buckling their seat belts on their own. In case your baby's 6 feet tall, the spacious headroom will keep your young pup happy. A tray under the backseat is a great storage space for that recently wrapped gift you don't want getting smashed.
Can I mention a flaw or two of the xB? The steering wheel doesn't telescope. At first I felt a bit like I was driving an amusement park car, but I got used to it. However, a telescoping steering wheel sure would make this gal a little more comfortable. I also got used to the digital speedometer and instrument cluster that's centered on the dash. That means you have to look to your right to get your vital information. Say it with me this time, "At first it was weird, but then I got used to it!"
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Remember that almost-accident I mentioned? Scion's many safety features, such as antilock brakes, traction control and stability control, all pitched in and kept me safe and sound.
I shouldn't be too surprised by that, since the xB is a 2009 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The xB earned this by getting the highest score - Good - in frontal, side-impact and rear crash tests by IIHS. Qualifying cars also must have stability control.
The xB comes with front-, side-impact and side curtain airbags, too. That's not bad for a car with a base price of $15,750. FAMILY LIFESTAGE
In Diapers: The backseat moves forward and back, which means rear-facing infant-safety seats should have no problem fitting back there.
In School: Low step-in height and lightweight doors makes it easy for kids to get in and out of the xB.
Teens: Teen drivers will be begging to take this car out for a spin.