What's New for 2010
The 2010 Scion xD receives standard stability control and minor audio system tweaks.
Manufactured by Toyota, the four-door 2010 Scion xD hatchback is essentially a slightly more powerful Toyota Yaris, with the same 96.9-inch wheelbase but an extra 4 inches of overall length. As such, shoppers shouldn't commence their xD test-drives with sky-high expectations. However, the xD is certainly a competent compact, and it offers the unique advantage of Scion's extensive dealer-installed options roster and no-haggle pricing. If you like the sound of a customizable econocar right off the lot with an easy buying experience, the xD merits strong consideration.
One clear edge the xD enjoys over the Yaris is a relatively inspired dash design and gauge placement: Whereas the Yaris has maddening center-mounted gauges, the xD's are behind the steering wheel where they belong. The xD also has a larger 1.8-liter engine that provides decent acceleration along with average fuel economy for this segment. One big draw for the xD is its backseat, which reclines and slides fore and aft -- an unusual feature in this segment.
But the best reason to consider the xD is the lengthy list of options that your Scion dealer will happily install. A spoiler, fancy shift knobs, an ambient lighting system with footwell and cupholder illumination, illuminated doorsill logos, TRD performance upgrades, sport pedals, a sport steering wheel ... it's not quite like a trip to the Pimp My Ride garage, but it's as much as you can hope for at a dealership. That's always been the Scion shtick, and it's the xD's only real claim to fame. The car itself is largely forgettable, but yours won't be once you're done customizing it.
If customization and funky styling are indeed important, the 2010 ScionxD is no longer the only game in town, joined this year by the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube. Among affordable hatchbacks, though, the Honda Fit reigns supreme from a rational standpoint. Relative to the Fit, the xD has less passenger space, less cargo capacity and is less enjoyable to drive. Still, the xD is slightly more affordable, and none of the above can match its variety of customization options. If you want to accessorize your econocar to the max without turning to the aftermarket, the xD is where it's at.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Scion xD is a four-door subcompact hatchback available in one trim level. Standard equipment includes 16-inch steel wheels with a choice of three covers, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a six-speaker CD/MP3 Pioneer stereo with an electroluminescent screen, iPod/USB connectivity and a subwoofer RCA output.
The optional Alpine audio system keeps the same speaker components but adds a 4.3-inch color touchscreen and both front and rear RCA outputs as well as Media Expander technology, which is said to improve the sound quality of compressed digital music (i.e. MP3 files). The Alpine system can be augmented with an optional plug-in navigation system that utilizes the color display. Other options include TRD performance parts and a wide variety of custom add-ons.
Powertrains and Performance
Motivated by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 128 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, the xD comes with a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic. Scion's little hatch zips to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds with the manual transmission, a solid performance that even bests the Fit's sprint by a few tenths. Fuel economy is only average, however, at 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with either transmission.
The 2010 Scion xD features antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front active head restraints. In government crash tests, the diminutive xD received four stars for frontal impacts and a perfect five stars for side impacts. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the xD was deemed "Acceptable" (the second-highest score) in frontal-offset crashes and "Good" (the highest score) in side-impact crashes. In braking testing, the xD came to a stop from 60 mph in an impressive 123 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
The xD's interior is at once functional and stylish. The optional Alpine audio system's touchscreen replicates the functions on your iPod, which is a nice touch; however, the standard speakers aren't anything special, and the Alpine system doesn't bring any upgrades in this regard.
In a welcome departure from an unfortunate trend among Toyota's compact cars, the xD's gauges are right where they should be: in front of the driver instead of atop the center stack. However, 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 and you'll get the idea. The tachometer in particular is hard to read. Happily, the car's major controls are a model of simplicity.
The xD's seating position is upright, but taller drivers may complain of a legroom shortage. The steering column doesn't telescope, which will further annoy the longer of leg. Headroom is quite good, though, and two rear passengers will find ample space thanks to the reclining seatback and sliding seat bottom. Although not as capacious as other compact hatches, the xD provides a useful 35.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo space with the rear seats folded.
The 2010 Scion xD won't tempt you to take the long way home, but its 1.8-liter engine offers uncommon zest for this segment. The electric power steering feels artificial at lower speeds, but it's fairly precise and weights up nicely during cornering. While the ride around town is more compliant than the Fit's, the flip side of that coin is that the xD will be no one's first choice for back-road romps. If you want an engaging drive, this isn't it -- but if your priorities lie elsewhere, the xD's driving character should prove satisfactory.