2008 Scion xB Consumer Review: Some good, some bad

2008 Scion xB - Consumer Review

Average Consumer Rating

219 Total Reviews

Base Wagon (2.4L 4-cyl. 5-speed Manual)

Build Quality
Reliability Value
31 of 31 people found this review helpful
Some good, some bad
By woodywrkng on


2008 Scion xB 4dr Wagon (2.4L 4cyl 5M)


I bought my 2008 XB used, with 26k miles at around 25 months old.
It's a 5-speed model, and was at a dealership for a very nice price, perhaps because most people don't drive cars with manuals these days.
Most of these Scions are holding their value very well, so it was hard to pass this one up.
I'm a 50 year old guy, who's now more interested in a roomy, economical, and reliable car, than one which I hope will impress people.
I've owned it for over one year now, and have some good impressions, and some not so good.

Driving experience:
The car handles and brakes surprisingly well.
The suspension is very simple and should prove rugged and reliable.
The steering ratio is quick, the turning radius short, and the suspension quite firm without being harsh.
The driving position however seems at odds with the handling prowess of the car.
From the drivers seat, it just doesn't feel particularly sporty.
There are minimal seat adjustments, decent but not well bolstered seats, and a rather high mounted shift lever, with the end result just feeling a bit awkward if you try to drive in too agressive of a manner.
While the seats are indeed better than most I found in this price/class of vehicle, it would be nice for a lumbar control or lower seat angle adjustment.
The drivers seat will raise and lower, but it's pivoted at the front, thus when raised you tip forward.
On the highway it's surprisingly quiet and composed for an econocar.
One odd problem I've found is when wearing my size 11 work boots, my left toe rubs on the clutch pedal lever unless I pull my leg back un-naturally, while my right foot can just barely fit between the brake pedal and the center housing to reach the gas pedal.
There simply isn't much room under there for an average work boot.
My normal shoes don't experience this problem.
There's a sizable right rear blind spot, which makes it a crap shoot backing out of an angled parking space, as well as large side view mirrors which obstruct your view to the side.
If you tend to drive in nice weather with the window down and your arm hanging out, you may want to begin looking for a decent physical therapist since the window opening is quite high and you'll eventually tear your rotator cuff.

Winter driving:
The standard tires are round, and that's about it.
The traction control works very well, asuming it's working (more later) and it's needed, due to the lame tread pattern of the Bridgestone tires, and very low ground clearance of the car.
Many people lower these cars, which should make them a real adventure when encountering a pothole.
Speaking of tires, the spacesaver spare is mounted on a wheel, the color of which should be called puke yellow.
I reckon that's so you won't be tempted to leave it on for long.
There's no discrete vent always aimed at the drivers side window to keep the side view mirror visible on frosty days, so you'll need to aim your dash vent in that direction.
The passenger side has a separate vent.
Perhaps it's the small wheel wells, but ice tends to form in the front wheel wells and rub on the tires, more than in most cars.

Impressive low rpm punch, acceleration, snort, whatever you want to call it.
This thing just plain scoots if you want it to.
I do my own repairs, and the normal maintenance items are easy to find under the hood, with the parts that will eventually fail (alternator, water pump, A/C compressor) easy to see and reach.
There is some chatter on a Scion forum about leaking water pumps, and mine isn't visibly leaking yet, although there is a pink stripe directly above the pump on the underside of the hood.
Gas mileage-wise, I get 23-26 in city winter driving, in the cold state of Iowa, which I feel is fine since my daily commute is only a few miles each way.
In warm weather the number rises to 25-28 in town, and up to 35 on a mixture of 55 and 65 mph roads.
These figures are when the car is carefully driven however.

A smooth but long throw hydraulic clutch, widely spaced gear ratios, and a high mounted shifter without a reverse lock result in a car that doesn't ask to be driven aggressively.
It took me a few weeks of driving to make nice smooth shifts.
People do praise the automatic transmission, but I never drove one.
65 mph occurs at 2700 rpm, which is fairly normal for a car like this, although I do feel the car has the power to be geared higher.

I like the blank dash in front of my face when looking straight down the road.
Having the instruments slightly to the right gives you an un-cluttered view of where you're going, which is a good thing.
A few of the oddities are slightly annoying however.
The only clock is part of the trip computer, which has 8 functions.
You can only view one at a time, so if you're watching the gas mileage, you don't see the clock.
If you could choose which function to view from the steering wheel there would be no problem, but you can't.
The standard radio is actually closer to the passenger than the driver, which is a bit odd, and the climate control's temperature knob is behind the shifter knob when in odd numbered gears.
Speaking of the standard Pioneer stereo system, it's impressive.
I'm an audio nut from long ago, and can honestly say that unless you're a kid wishing to annoy entire neighborhoods with hip-hop, you won't be upset with the sound quality, assuming you learn how to use the various features of the stereo.
Most factory stereos in a car of this price are fairly basic, but this one is a nice surprise.
Well done Scion.
The interior feels cavernous, with easy access (meeting the approval of my 89 year old Mom), backseat legroom like a limo, and enough hard surfaces to create echos.
The center console is a few inches too low to be of any use as an armrest, but its storage area is deep enough to hold CDs.
The drivers seat has a fold down arm rest, that gets in the way of the seat belt when up, so that's a minor annoyance.
There's a storage area under the rear seats, which is a fine idea, except that whatever you put
under there tends to slide around a lot on the hard plastic.
I recently loaded a standard sized kitchen range into the rear and closed the hatch, so there is indeed lots of useful space.

Yeah, it's odd looking, so what?
It would be nice to have a key lock for the rear hatch, just in case.
The only keyhole on the outside of the car is for the driver's door.
The roof is the longest, flattest expanse seen since the early 70's full sized station wagons, which is a good thing since I use an aftermarket roof rack for a canoe or kayak, and the further apart the bars are, the better.
The paint seems to be very thin and dainty.
It's just too easy to scratch, so you'll be needing a container of touch-up paint, which judging from the price at the Scion dealer, contains precious metals and diamonds.

Being the first year for this model, there are indeed some bugs.
Some quite serious and pricy, if they occur after the warranty expires.
In my case, my anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control are now kaput due to a known problem with a rear wheel speed sensor, and being two months out of warranty, I'm looking at a 700 - 900 dollar repair.
And that's only for one of the sensors.
Double that number when the other one fails.
It seems as though they aren't waterproof.
Scion knows about the problem, there's a TSB on it, but chooses not to issue a recall or an extended warranty on this issue.
Since it concerns most of the safety functions of the car, I find that disturbing.
There are also issues with the water pump, electric power steering, windshield cracking, and an assortment of creaks and groans to name a few.

Overall, I'm basically pleased with the car, but disturbed by the reliabilty concerns.
It reminds me of the Ford Fiestas from the late 70's, on a larger scale, but without the simplicity and reliability.

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Comments (2) Post a Comment
By callisto9
on 02/21/12 08:03 AM (PST)

Best review I've read. I'm in Iowa, too. Not loving my xB at the moment! Right now I'm trying to have fixed a knocking in the front passenger's wheel well area and four places have not been able to find the problem. Grrrr.

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By woodywrkng
on 08/31/14 15:55 PM (PDT)

I'm the original reviewer. 3 1/2 years after my initial review I still have this car, so consider this is long term review to be added to the original one. After replacing the rear hub, which contains the wheel bearing and speed sensor, I've had no more problems with the anti-lock brakes. However, something peculiar has happened, twice in fact. I've replaced the rear brake pads twice because they were wearing in a very odd manor. From what I can tell, corrosion of the caliper assembly interferes with the pads moving smoothly to the disc, which cants the pads at an angle. They wear down enough to start screeching. I drive quite gently, have had no issues with the front brakes, and don't drive around with the emergency brake on, so the pads really shouldn't wear down, but they have.....twice. Since purchasing the xB my overall gas mileage stands at 29 mpg. Almost half of my highway miles include a kayak on the roof, and / or a teardrop trailer behind, so the mileage would be higher without the extra load. I use an UltraGauge while driving which shows instantaneous mileage, and drive gently, so most people will use more gas. On the highway fuel use is greatly effected by the wind. Let's face it, the car is shaped like a brick. Assorted observations are as follows. The air conditioning compressor must be pretty efficient since turning on the air has little noticeable effect on mileage or performance. Other than the temperature knob being behind the shifter, it's very easy to use the controls, in direct contrast to the video games present in the dashes of most current cars. I've discovered that when the rear seats are down, I can load as much stuff inside as a full size pickup with an 8 foot bed will hold under a tonneau cover. The car still feels very solid, but it only has ~60k miles. The seat fabric seems tough and stain resistant, while the fuzzier backs of the seats grab onto any particles of dirt and won't let go. If you're handy with a wrench, it's possible to make the front seats more comfortable by tilting the back a bit. If you raise the front of the seat by roughly an inch, where it bolts to the floor, your buns will appreciate it. Other than the rear brakes, the car has been perfectly reliable. The water pump seems to have sealed itself, as the pink stripe never worsened. That's all I can think of right now.

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