In terms of overall quality, value, reliability and space, this car is unbeatable. I should know! I've owned five (yes 5) of them. I've owned a 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2012. Of them all, I still own the 2004 and 2012. Surprisingly, the 2012 is the one I am least satisfied with. Just AFTER the warranty my electric door locks stopped working and Toyota took a "tough luck" position on it and handing a several hundred dollar quote to repair them. This after purchasing 6 Scions and 3 Toyotas over the past 11 years. I love these cars and their value, reliability, ride and overall quality. However, now that Scion has discontinued the xB and Toyota has discontinued Scion, I'm thinking I may have to take a "tough luck" position with Toyota and look toward Subaru or Honda for my next car.
Very recently bought a used 2012 Scion xB Wagon, 2.4L I-4, 16-valve, ohc, 5-spd Manual, to replace my hard-driven '97 Toyota Tacoma Xtra Cab with 221,800+ miles. My Tacoma also had an earlier iteration of the same power plant as the xB. Consumer Reports review for the 2012 xB are all full red dots (excellent) except for Trim/Paint, which was half-a-red-dot (very good). The example I found and bought had been a personal lease vehicle, returned to its original dealership, with only around 15, 586 miles on it; very low for a 2012. I consider myself fortunate to have gotten this car. This is a very dependable, long-used Toyota engine design. Build and assembly quality is very solid. I have yet to put 500 miles on this vehicle, but I absolutely love driving it, and it's getting better as I'm becoming accustomed to the feel and handling.
Positives: Handling: Very quick; sports-car like. Small turning circle accentuates this. Front-wheel drive also accentuates this, tending to understeer because the steering wheels are also the driving wheels. Cornering: like being on rails; flat, little tip; the boxy shape is deceptively stable. Very wide stance plus low profile; a box with a wheel on each corner. Center of gravity is pretty low; not as low as a Subaru or Porsche, which have boxer engine configurations that lay flat, but it's still great. The I-4 engine is tilted back slightly with the weight approximately centered over the front wheels. Most fun I've had since I first drove a '64 VW Beetle 4-speed. Clutch: Moderately light; easy to hold; an advantage in LA traffic. A bit grippy in 1st, shift to 2nd quickly and smooths out. Brakes: As much as I have so far experienced, the 4-wheel discs bring it to a stop really fast. Vented discs in front, solid discs in rear. Gearing: Surprisingly, what seems to me to be a little low; at 70 miles per hour, I'm running 3,000 rpm in 5th (my '97 Tacoma with same engine but rear-wheel drive, ran 2500 at 70 mph). However, I can see the logic of the design, because they've tweaked it to be just under its peak torque curve at common highway speeds. You can still accelerate away pretty well in 5th without downshifting. The tach doesn't show redline until 6500 rpm! If gearing were slightly higher, fuel mileage could probably be improved a bit, but it might not be as much fun to drive!
Interior: Nice fit and finish. Little cubby bins everywhere, cup/can holders front and rear. Driver's seat could benefit from an infinitely-adjustable electric design. While this model features tilt-telescope steering wheel, and a six-way manually adjustable seat, the slightly odd driving position within the confines of the "box" cry out for more adjustability, particularly with the 5-speed, because of active clutching and braking. Automatic drivers won't care. The manual adjustable seat adjusts seat-cushion angle, seat-back angle, and forward-backward seat position. There is no height adjustment The seat adjustments, plus the steering adjustments mean most drivers can find a combination that is CLOSE to what they want, but they won't be able to make it PERFECT. Many Toyota models without electric seats suffer from this problem. Weakest spot, by far, Scion: INADEQUATE SUN-VISORS. The big windows, which contribute to great visibility for most drivers, ALSO puts one's head at a low angle compared to the top line of the windows, thus allowing indiscriminate BLINDING BY THE LIGHT. A simple fix would be to use sun-visors with those slide-out-the-end panels to extend them the full width of the window, thus keeping our eyes functioning. Don't forget to bring your "shades" when you drive, and wear headgear with a bill or brim. Inadequate cargo area lighting: One little light on the left side of the rearmost cargo area. Low, and manually switched. Better placed above, inside the top of the hatch frame to spread light over the area. Flat floor due to front-wheel drive allows for lower placement of space-saver spare, and a "storage tray" which rests on top of the spare, but under the floor panel. And in my particular car, carpeted/monogrammed mat on top of that. Storage cubbies around the spare under the floor panel, and open storage bins on right and left side of cargo floor. There was room for more storage on inside of rear roof support pillars, if it had been utilized. In the molded paneling, there are depressions as if some designer thought about making a storage bin, but just didn't follow through with it. As I said, I haven't had this car very long, but I anticipate driving it for a WHILE, and enjoying every minute of it. So far, have seen very few things to criticize. My biggest disappointment was reading in someone else's review that Scion will not be making the xB after 2016—is that right? That's a shame, because it's a great car. Of course, the up side is, that it'll make mine worth more down the road, because it'll still be desirable!!