Full 2014 Scion xB Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Scion xB sees no notable changes other than an upgrade to the Display Audio system, which features a 6.1-inch touchscreen.
When it debuted a decade ago, the unashamedly boxy Scion xB wagon somehow hit the elusive vehicular trifecta of being practical, affordable and cool all at the same time. The following (current) generation got bigger, more powerful and ostensibly better, yet for many car shoppers, somehow less cool. Whether or not you think the 2014 Scion xB is hip, it's sure to impress you with its space efficiency. Within its small, easily managed and parked footprint, the squarish Scion provides abundant room for passengers and cargo.
Compared to the typical small, four-door hatchback, the xB is clearly a size up as soon as you open a door. Whether seated up front or in back, passengers will have plenty of room to get comfortable. Cargo capacity is impressive, too, as folding down the rear seats yields 70 cubic feet of space. That easily trumps pretty much any small hatchback or wagon and even beats most small crossover SUVs.
Another perk is the ability to customize the xB. Like other Scion products, the xB can be fitted with a varied array of dealer-added accessories instead of traditional factory options. Highlights include performance upgrades (such as lowering springs and a sport muffler), a variety of wheels, exterior accents and even cargo management items. One upgrade we recommend is the BeSpoke Premium Audio system by Pioneer that includes a navigation system and smartphone app integration features like Pandora radio.
The one area where the 2014 Scion xB falls short of its competitors is fuel economy. At 24 mpg combined, the xB rates a few mpg below similar small, style-oriented vehicles like the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube. Many top-ranked small crossover SUVs, such as the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, also get better fuel economy. Overall, though, we think people shopping for compact wagons or hatchbacks will be pretty happy with the 2014 Scion xB, especially if interior space is a priority.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Scion xB is a four-door, five-passenger wagon that is offered in a single trim level.
Standard features include 16-inch steel wheels, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, driver seat height adjustment, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a trip computer and a six-speaker Pioneer sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, a CD player, HD radio, an iPod/USB audio interface, an auxiliary audio jack and an RCA output for additional speakers.
There are no official factory options, but dealer accessories are plentiful. Among them are different wheels (16-, 17- and 19-inch), a variety of performance upgrade parts, foglights, a rear spoiler, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a premium BeSpoke audio system that includes a navigation system, additional RCA outputs and smartphone app integration (Internet radio, social media). A rear-seat entertainment system is also available.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2014 Scion xB is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 158 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is the xB's lone factory option.
In Edmunds performance testing, an automatic-equipped xB hustled from zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, a fairly quick time for this class of car. The EPA's estimated fuel economy is below average, however, at 24 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway) with either transmission.
The 2014 Scion xB comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags.
In Edmunds brake testing, the xB came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet -- an average distance for a small wagon or hatchback.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the xB its highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. The xB's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
Previous versions of the Scion xB have been easily customizable, and this year's model continues that trend. The highlight is the optional BeSpoke sound system. Besides adding smartphone app integration, it also includes a navigation system, and its interface is well suited for younger, tech-oriented buyers.
One downside is that the xB still has its quirky center-mounted gauges, which require too much of the driver's attention to scan easily. Forward visibility is very good, but the view out the back is poor.
Of course, the xB's true draw is interior space. Both front and rear passengers will find plenty of legroom and headroom, and long road trips are a viable proposition, as the front seats are pretty comfortable.
As far as cargo is concerned, the xB boasts 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and an impressive 70 cubic feet with those seats folded. The liftover height can be a bit high when you're loading heavy items into the cargo bay, but this Scion can easily carry a weekend's worth of luggage for four.
The 2014 Scion xB's driving demeanor should please most people. It's easy to drive, and the 2.4-liter engine offers relatively quick acceleration for this class of car. Most consumers will be happy with the performance from the four-speed automatic transmission, but compared to the five- and six-speed automatics available in compact crossover SUVs, it's a drag on fuel economy.
The ride is generally agreeable, but crossovers like the CR-V and RAV4 offer more comfort. In addition, the cabin is not exactly serene, as you'll notice considerable noise from both the tires and the wind. The xB's slab-sided styling also makes it vulnerable to heavier crosswinds.