What's New for 2012
The 2012 Scion xD receives a new Pioneer sound system as standard equipment, along with HD Radio and Bluetooth phone and streaming audio. Another limited-edition model, the Release Series 4.0, replaces last year's 3.0.
You've heard about middle child syndrome, the notion that suggests these bookended kids are often overlooked in favor of their older and younger siblings. In the case of the 2012 Scion xD, middle child syndrome appears to apply to automobiles as well. With the funky box xB on one side and the sporty-looking tC on the other, the xD hatchback seems to be relegated to an existence in the shadows.
In many ways that's a shame, because the Scion xD has much to offer. Its 1.8-liter engine is pretty powerful for its class, and the xD's ride quality is agreeable around town and on the highway. Furthermore, this middle Scion comes with plenty of standard features and a dizzying array of customization options. The dealer-installed accessories range from merely cosmetic to genuine performance upgrades. A strong reputation for reliability is another draw for this affordable compact.
But on the downside, the xD falters when it comes to utility, driver engagement and fuel economy. The Ford Fiesta is more entertaining to drive, returns better fuel economy and the Sync voice command system is always a hit. The Honda Fit is also more fun to drive than the Scion and is a class leader for utility. The funky Hyundai Veloster might also be of interest, as would the new Chevrolet Sonic. Among these choices, the middle-child Scion xD struggles mightily to get noticed.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Scion xD four-door hatchback is available in two trim levels: base and Release Series 4.0.
Standard equipment for the base xD includes 16-inch steel wheels with a choice of three covers, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel with integral audio controls, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio and a six-speaker Pioneer CD/MP3 audio system with iPod/USB connectivity and a subwoofer RCA output.
Available only in Blizzard Pearl (white), the Release Series 4.0 trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, matching interior white paint (on the center console, door panels and steering wheel) and unique fabric upholstery with white stitching. Production of this trim is limited to 800 units.
Factory options are not offered in lieu of dealer-installed accessories that include a rear spoiler, keyless remote entry, remote ignition, a sport steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a cargo cover, a center armrest, a navigation system, a premium sound system with touchscreen interface, satellite radio, illuminated door sills and a host of TRD performance parts.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2012 Scion xD is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 128 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. Buyers may choose between a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission.
In recent Edmunds testing, a manual-equipped xD accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, making it quicker than most competing models by about a second. Fuel economy is only average, however, at an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with either transmission.
Standard safety features on the 2012 Scion xD include antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front active head restraints.
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 Edmunds braking testing, the xD stopped from 60 mph in a respectable 123 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Within its cabin, the xD boasts a cool, minimalist look colored in shades of dark gray with lots of matte-finish metal. Entertainment and climate controls are arrayed logically on the center stack and flow down to a nesting space for phones and iPods (with a USB/aux port close by). The optional Pioneer audio system features six speakers and a touchscreen that mimics an iPod's functions, and is also available with navigation.
The xD's gauge cluster is a curious design, divided into three partitions with a disorienting speedometer/tachometer sharing the same circular pod. As the speedo needle spins clockwise, the tach needle climbs toward it from the opposite hemisphere.
The seating position is very upright, and taller drivers might suffer from a shortage of legroom, not to mention a steering column that doesn't telescope. Headroom is generous, though, and rear passengers will enjoy ample space thanks to a reclining seatback and sliding seat bottom. The xD stiffs you on cargo space, since its 35.7 cubic feet falls short of that offered by most rivals; the Honda Fit, for example, offers 57 cubes.
The 2012 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-controlled power steering feels artificial at lower speeds, but it's fairly precise and weights up nicely during cornering. While the ride around town is compliant and comfortable, the flip side of that coin is that the xD will be no one's first choice for energetic cornering. If you want an engaging drive, this isn't it, but if your priorities lie elsewhere, the xD's driving character should prove satisfactory.