Scion xB Review

2013 Scion xB Wagon Exterior

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Attracting the coveted 18-to-34-year-old age group is job one for Scion, the youth-oriented division of Toyota, and its xB wagon is the fashion centerpiece of the brand. Although the Scion xB has the body of a miniature delivery truck, even in its second generation this box still casts a distinctive silhouette.

We liked the first-generation xB for its distinctiveness; after all, it was little more than a rebadged version of a Japanese-market Toyota. Scion had the American market specifically in mind when it made the second-generation model bigger and more powerful, though some originality was lost in the process. But overall, a new or used xB is a fine pick for a small and stylish wagon.

Current Scion xB
The Scion xB is offered in two trim levels: base and Release Series 9.0. Standard features on the base xB include full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker Pioneer sound system (with a CD player, HD radio, an iPod/USB audio interface, an auxiliary audio jack, a customizable display and an RCA output for additional speakers). Highlights of the Release Series 9.0 include unique Hot Lava paint and faux suede upholstery.

Options are limited to transmission choice and dealer-installed items such as upgraded audio systems and different wheel designs. Every xB sports a 2.4-liter inline-4 that produces 158 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional.

Inside, the xB's boxy lines translate to a surprisingly roomy interior that allows you to transport three to four friends with no complaints from the backseat. It's so roomy that some cities even employ xBs as taxi cabs. When the time comes to haul stuff rather than people, the 60/40-split rear seats fold flat, revealing an impressive 70 cubic feet of space.

In road tests of the current xB, we found it feels fairly stable at highway speeds, although its slab-sided styling makes it vulnerable to crosswinds. The xB is responsive and confident at lower speeds, though over rough surfaces the ride can get a bit bumpy. We've never liked the centrally mounted primary gauges, and while the climate controls couldn't be any easier to use, the xB's available radio faceplates are clearly intended for a younger generation used to iPhones and other high-tech gizmos. In other words, they aren't exactly user-friendly, but audiophiles should appreciate their extensive range of adjustability.

Used Scion xB Models
The present Scion xB was introduced for 2008, featuring larger dimensions and more power than the first generation. It hasn't changed much since, though Scion added upgraded audio systems for 2010. The following year Scion added a telescoping feature for the steering wheel (previously it was tilt-only) that allows taller drivers to get more comfortable behind the wheel.

The first-generation Scion xB was sold from 2004-'07. Initially it was sold only in California, and Scion gradually rolled it out to other big markets like Florida, New York and Texas. Nationwide sales began for the 2005 model year.

Standard equipment was better than average for a low-priced economy car, as every xB came with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, air-conditioning, an MP3-compatible CD player and power windows, mirrors and locks. Fifteen-inch steel wheels with your choice of plastic wheel covers were also standard, but you could get alloy wheels as a low-cost accessory. Side and head curtain airbags were optional.

The power source in every first-generation Scion xB was a 1.5-liter, inline-4-cylinder engine. In 2004 and '05, it was rated for 108 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque; however, for the 2006 model year, new SAE certification procedures dropped the rating to 103 hp and 101 lb-ft. The xB's engine and acceleration were unchanged, though. We recommend sticking with the five-speed manual transmission if you can, as it gives this xB respectable point-and-shoot capability in freeway traffic. Acceleration however, could be sluggish with the four-speed automatic.

For the 2006 model year, the xB's stereo head unit was redesigned to incorporate an MP3 player jack. Additionally, dedicated iPod owners have the option of purchasing a specialized unit that allows for player control and recharging through the xB's stereo controls. Other accessories to consider include a subwoofer, satellite radio, sport pedals and shift knob, and for the truly bored, backlit footwells and cupholders (in a variety of colors). A limited-edition Release Series 3.0 package for 2006 even provided a rear entertainment system with dual 7-inch LCD screens mounted in the front headrests.

Read the most recent 2014 Scion xB review.

If you are looking for older years, visit our used Scion xB page.

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