2008 Scion xB Long-Term Road Test

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2008 Scion xB: I Hate the Tea Cups

January 21, 2009

My sister and her kids decided to come to LA at the last minute to spend a couple of days at Disneyland. Just because I live in LA doesn't mean I know my way around Anaheim.

I readily grabbed the keys to the xB not only because it was the only car available, but it had a nav system to help me get around D-Land. I know how to get to the park, but how to get to my sister's hotel and places around it I have no clue.

Getting there was a snap. I had a lot of fun and I took a spin on the Tea Cups with my niece after she begged me for a really long time. I'm not a fan of the ride but I couldn't refuse her. After a few nauseating spins the torture was over and I had a great rest of the afternoon. Until I had to leave, that is.

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2008 Scion xB: Functional Lite Brite?

December 08, 2008

2008 scion xB lit sill

With the winter solstice nearly upon us, the short days create more darkness in which to approach the Scion xB, helping its nifty illuminated door sills stand out (a $249 option if you want to pay to help advertise the brand). Our xB has a number of luminous options, but the standard digital speedo turns out to be the one of the few welcome and functional items.

The multi-market friendly, center-mounted gauges mounted high on the church-pew dash puts the digital speedo in a perfect spot for keeping an eye on your velocity. The digital fad that erupted in the eighties thankfully disappeared for a while as real gauges made a comeback. It didn't help that those early fluorescent setups, especially at night, tended to be more blinding than informative. They might find some purchase again if they're half as legible and well placed as the xB's.

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2008 Scion xB: Pointing Fingers

October 06, 2008

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Hop into a Scion (or Toyota, for that matter) and you'll typically find most controls easy to use. But our xB has one annoying misstep -- the trip computer button. Instead of being located on the easily-reached center stack (as in a Ford or GM product), it's next to the trip meter button within the instrument cluster, requiring you to awkwardly reach over the steering wheel to prod with your finger.

Not cool for something you might want to toggle through to see what the outside temp is, what your average mileage is or how many miles you've got left in the tank. Chalk one up for the American car makers here.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 29,290 miles

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2008 Scion xB: I Had No Idea Illuminated Cupholders Were This Cool

September 26, 2008

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A couple nights ago I was busy being all mundane and I treated myself to a bottle of Clearly Canadian (I absolutely love this beverage). The previous driver of our 2008 Scion xB had evidently set the illuminated cupholders to blue, and when I set the bottle down, this is what I saw: Unspeakable beauty.

And at that moment, this scene made me like our xB just a little bit more. If we were all in Europe and could drive around in Renault Kangoos and Fiat Multiplas, the Scion xB would probably be pretty unremarkable. But in the U.S., it's a pretty neat package -- huge space and a reasonably cool shape for not much money. Indeed, the interior is plasticky and the driving experience rather dull, but if you think of it like a utility van, this matters a bit less.

Erin Riches, Edmunds Senior Editor at 28,886 miles

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2008 Scion xB: I Can See My House from Here!

July 09, 2008

As I pulled into my parking garage last night, I was struck by this image on the nav screen. The Toyota/Scion/Lexus system features truly amazing map detail, displaying the outlines of large buildings that Google Maps only recently began doing. Some are more accurate than others, though. That building outline is exactly what my apartment complex looks like, although curiously, the 30-story building located directly south on Wilshire is M.I.A. Also, that blue spot isn't some random rectangular urban lake, it's an apartment -- not sure why they get a special color.

I was also struck by how ridiculously accurate GPS is -- that is exactly where my car was located inside the building (and with four floors above me). Having said that, though, please don't rob me. If you plan on burgling someone, try that long rectangular building north of mine -- Magrath lives there. He drives home much nicer cars and keeps large stashes of gold bouillon in his closet.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 20,444 miles

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2008 Scion xB: Reboot for iPod

June 02, 2008

When I connect my iPod Touch to the xB, I get the above message. If I shut the car off then re-start or connect before the car is switched on, everything works fine. Maybe we need to keep computers and cars separate - just sayin'

Brian Moody, Road Test Editor.

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2008 Scion xB: Car As Accessory

February 21, 2008

2008 Scion xB

One of the best things about our Scion xB is its optional head unit with iPod interface.

You can hook up directly to an iPod connector that will charge your iPod as it plays or if you have another brand of music player, you also have the choice of using an AUX port.

The graphics in the xB's system mimic those on the iPod, that is, the older iPods at the time it was created. The navigation wheel is displayed on the screen... But now, a new generation of iPods look and function differently. I used to have an iPod mini, but now I have an iPod Touch.

I was interested to see how my new iPod would respond to the xB's iPod connection.

Well, both car and iPod were momentarily confused but the xB got over it. When I hooked up my iTouch, the Scion's audio system responded by telling me to check my connection. It took three tries of pushing the iPod button on the xB's display before it gave in and started to play music.

Likewise, my iTouch thinks that I hooked up an accessory to it, like a speaker system. It goes into accessory lockdown and I can no longer control music from the iTouch. I can still advance through songs from the xB display and steering wheel but I'm locked out of my iPod.

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2008 Scion xB: Nav System News

January 02, 2008

Scion xB Nav System Screen - photo by Warren Clarke

I've used our 2008 Scion xB's navigation system a couple of times in the past, and came away pretty impressed. The setup is incredibly intuitive, and I was able to get the information I needed without any puzzled frowns or head-scratching.

When I used the system yesterday, though, it did something weird. I was preparing to leave for a friend's New Year's Day party deep in the unfamiliar recesses of the Valley, and figured I'd use the nav to get a little help... I entered the address and got a message telling me that the street number I'd entered didn't exist on that street. I double-checked the address and tried again, making sure I hadn't mistyped. Got the same message.

I hadn't left my garage yet, so I shut the car off, went back to my apartment, and got my directions the old-fashioned way -- MapQuest. I also grabbed my camera, so I could take a photo of the nav system's screen for this post. I fired up the engine and entered the address again. This time, though, the nav system was able to locate the address.

Strange. Maybe the nav system had too much champagne the night before, and just needed a little break. Or maybe it just needed a reboot, which it got via my having restarted the engine. Anyway, after that initial drama, it worked just fine in getting me on my way.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 11,340 miles

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2008 Scion xB: Time Change Made Simple

November 06, 2007

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Unlike other cars in our long-term fleet, the xB was pretty acquiescent when the time came to set its clock back an hour for the end of Daylight Savings Time. I was fully prepared to have to fritter away my entire morning with my nose buried in the owner's manual, but cracking the manual wasn't necessary with this car's old-school, super-intuitive setup.

See that button labeled "Disp," as in "Display"? All I had to do was tap that button 'til the time display appeared, then hold it down and tap it some more 'til the numbers were changed... Refreshingly simple and straightforward.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 8,669 miles

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2008 Scion xB: Shut the Beep Up!

October 04, 2007

Photo by Caroline Pardilla

Yay! I got it to shut up! After having to endure our Mitsu Lancer's beeping every time I changed the satellite radio station during a five-hour round-trip drive to and from Willow Springs, I couldn't stand it anymore when I realized our 2008 Scion xB had the same annoying feature, too. Fortunately, it didn't take long for me to figure out how to turn it off, and without the manual... I briefly contemplated the other two "beep" options, and, although comical, decided that silence was the best choice. Sweet , sweet silence. Hm, maybe I'm just too old for this car.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 8,022 miles

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2008 Scion xB: iPod interface couldn't be better

September 25, 2007

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I love how the display copies the iPod control wheel. The screen isn't so great in bright sunlight though. Shuffle tracks is the best feature and about the only one I use. I never listen to Podcasts and rarely choose songs manually - although the shuffle albums is a nice feature too... Love the interface overall.

My only gripe is that the speakers seem to be lower quality than the first xB's Pioneer audio system.

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2008 Scion xB: Custom Sound Theater

September 20, 2007

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Scions are aggressively marketed to a young, style-conscious audience. With that in mind, the 2008 Scion xB pays very careful attention to that audience, and offers nearly endless customization of the sound coming from its stereo. The above screen shows several options for sound style. A mere button press on the touchscreen, and your sound can have more bass in the club setting or the boomy characteristics of a high-ceilinged cathedral... But wait. There's more. . .

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2008 Scion xB: DVDs. Cool, But Who Cares?

September 11, 2007

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Our 2008 Scion xB can play DVDs on the nav screen. Okay. So what?

I had the Scion recently and my sons thought it would be cool to try the DVD player. They brought a favorite movie with them called "Blackballed; The Bobby Dukes Story." Of course, the video portion of the movie was blocked out... Since they had already seen the movie a bunch of times they didn't need the visual and laughed at their favorite lines all over again. But when we stopped we couldn't figure out how to make the video play. It was annoying to hear the movie and not get the picture (so to speak). While they were busy button-pushing and menu-surfing I acted like a real dork: I read the manual. That didn't help either.

Turned out, not only do you have to put the car in park, you also have to put the emergency brake on. Presto! There was Rob Corddry shooting people with paintballs. We watched it for five minutes and then went inside and played it on a larger screen.

Still, it's nice to know I can watch "Blackballed" if I get to an appointment early. Of course, that's why I always try to carry a book with me. But I guess that's pretty old school.

Philip Reed, Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor, @ 6400 miles

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2008 Scion xB: iPod Champ or Chump?

September 07, 2007

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I'm addicted to my iPod. I have music from over a 75 artists and a dozen episodic podcasts crammed into my 4-Gig Nano. Since our 2008 Scion xB boasts an all-singing, all-dancing true iPod connection, I made sure I had it for the long weekend. This car is marketed squarely at the iPod generation, so it had better be great, right?

Within 20-minutes of leaving the office, I was swearing at it. I disconnected from the integrated iPod jack and resorted to the generic "AUX" jack provided right next to it.

"You're crazy, Dan," you might be thinking, "The sound quality is much worse from the mini-jack and you have to use the iPod's own control interface instead." True on both counts. I'll take the hit on the first to get the second.

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