What's New for 2009
All-new last year, the Scion xD carries on unchanged for 2009.
All three cars in the Scion lineup are sort of deceptive. From a distance, each seems like nothing more than an economy car with a little added exterior style. But look a little closer and it quickly becomes clear that each Scion is surprisingly comfortable, with a nicely assembled interior plus lots of standard and optional equipment.
The 2009 Scion xD is the perfect poster child for the whole lineup, as it's both inexpensive and reasonably refined. This subcompact hatchback distinguishes itself with a lengthy list of standard equipment and dealer-installed extras -- especially the audio options, proving Scion totally understands its customers.
While other automakers have made only auxiliary input jacks standard equipment, Scion has gone one step further with a regular aux jack and a dedicated iPod port that provides power and stereo head unit control. The xD is also one of the least expensive vehicles to currently offer an integrated navigation system.
As expected, the Scion xD delivers good fuel economy but still has adequate power. Even on the highway, the four-cylinder engine isn't excessively rev-happy. If you're about 6 feet tall or more, you might find the xD's interior a little cozy. Lack of legroom is the main problem, but the car can feel narrow, too.
Scion vehicles, with their gen-Y styling, are clearly aimed at younger buyers. However, you'll frequently find retirees driving Scions, as their value is undeniable -- the secret that they are basically low-priced Toyotas is out. Depending on use and personal preference, however, there are a few economy cars that come off a little better than the 2009 Scion xD. Nissan's Versa is roomier inside, the Honda Fit is a better all-around package and the often-overlooked Hyundai Accent has been a longtime favorite of ours.
On the other hand, the xD is a much better car than the Toyota Yaris, even though both cars are built by the same company. Ultimately, the Scion xD is a very good commuter car or first car. It's not the best economy car out there, but it's far from the worst. Anyone looking for an inexpensive, reliable and slightly sassy small car should add the Scion xD to their short list.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Scion xD is a four-door subcompact hatchback available in one trim level. Standard equipment is plentiful and includes 16-inch steel wheels with a choice of three covers, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel and a six-speaker Pioneer stereo with single-CD/MP3 player. The stereo also has an auxiliary MP3 jack and a dedicated iPod port that allows one to control iPod playback through the head unit controls.
Naturally, as a Scion, the xD is available with a long list of dealer-installed extras for those who want to personalize their car. These include multiple alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, LED taillights, a silver-leather-wrapped steering wheel, a variety of shift knobs, a security system and interior mood lighting in a choice of four colors. An optional premium audio system has a more user-friendly control interface that allows for downloading of images and video onto the head unit display. Other options include TRD performance parts, a choice of satellite radio providers and a touchscreen navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
Motivated by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 128 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, the xD has adequate output for its class. Estimated fuel economy is a competitive 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with the five-speed manual and 26/32/28 mpg with the four-speed automatic. In our testing, an xD with the manual went from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds.
The 2009 Scion xD comes loaded with an impressive array of standard safety features including antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front active head restraints. Stability control is optional. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the xD received an "Acceptable" rating (the second-highest score) for its protection of occupants in frontal-offset collisions. In IIHS side-impact tests, the xD received a top rating of "Good."
Interior Design and Special Features
The xD sports a functional, well-built and intentionally stylish interior design. Unlike those in the Scion xB, the xD's gauges are where they belong -- in front of the driver instead of in the dash center -- but the speedometer and tachometer are placed in the same circular pod and run toward each other. Imagine a clock where the minute and hour hands move in opposite directions. The tach in particular is hard to read. Being different can be great, and we get that it's Scion's "thing" but we'd rather it leave the gauges alone. Thankfully, other controls are a model of simplicity.
The optional navigation system makes audio control even simpler (and safer) by utilizing the touchscreen to create crystal-clear functions that mirror those on the iPod itself. The standard speakers aren't fantastic and curiously are not as good as the speakers that came in the original xA, but Scion makes it simple to take them out and replace them with aftermarket units if you want something better.
The xD's seating is upright, but taller drivers will likely find it lacking legroom. Plus, the steering column adjusts only for rake, and when released, drops to its bottom-most position like an anchor. Headroom is quite good, though, and two rear passengers should find plenty of space with a seatback that reclines. Although not as voluminous as other compact hatches, the xD provides enough cargo room (35.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded) for the active lifestyles Scion envisions its customers leading.
The 2009 Scion xD is hardly a hot hatch in looks or performance, but its comfortable ride, solid feel and reassuring stability control make it a good choice for those who don't put a premium on driving fun. The xD's electric steering feels extremely artificial at lower speeds, but it does weight up nicely and offers decent feel at higher speeds.