The 2008 Scion xB is the very definition of hip. After all, it's the successor of the 2004 Scion xB, which made "hip" and "econobox" usable in the same sentence. And while most manufacturers struggle to create this kind of cult following, Scion's unique box effortlessly draws the dollars of the fashionable and the utilitarian alike.
What we bought
Thanks to Scion's fixed pricing, every xB with a four-speed automatic transmission costs $17,180 with destination, and they all come equipped exactly the same way --; four doors, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive.
Scion doesn't have options per se, but there exists an "Optomize" program that allows buyers to customize (modify) their Scion before it leaves the lot. Think of it as pieces of flair. You do want to express yourself, don't you?
We did. Any xB owner can tell you that the way your xB is accessorized is what determines how cool it looks when it travels in a pack of these boxy things. Checking the option boxes for illuminated doorsills ($249) and the 4-in-1 color interior light kit ($299) is sure to bump our xB into a higher echelon on the chic scale. Besides, it includes lighted cupholders. How have you gone so long without these? If you're thinking "what a waste of money," you're obviously not as ingrained in modern counterculture as we are.
We also dropped $1,950 for the sweet head unit we liked so much when we tested the 2008 xB in May. It has a user-friendly iPod interface, lets us play DVDs and packs a good navigation system. XM Satellite Radio also made the cut for another $449 and a sweet Razo shift knob cost us $74.
For $795 we replaced the steel wheels and hubcaps of the base xB with 16-inch alloys. These won't turn heads like the gigantic optional 19-inch TRD wheels, but they won't realign necks and lower backs, either. Carpeted floor and cargo mats cost $155 and the cargo net is another $65, which brings our out-the-door total to $21,216.
For color we went with Hypnotic Teal Mica. We're not sure why; none of us like it much. Although since we've bought the car, two staffers have stopped smoking.
Why we bought it
Scion's little boxes turn heads quicker than our long-term Ferrari 308. To own an xB is to be part of an underground cult --; to know the secret handshake, bypass the bouncer and skip the cover charge.
This was all true of the first xB. But having noticed the success of its first box, Scion upped the ante with the 2008 xB. A completely redesigned "Want 2b Square" viral marketing campaign is designed to specifically target the nation's counterculture elite. The campaign draws users to an interactive Web site in which everything is square, like the xB --; but pays no mention of the car, or for that matter, Scion.
But nothing's harder than making a good sequel --; just ask the Wachowski brothers about The Matrix Reloaded. Much of the original xB's appeal was its uniqueness in a sea of anonymous sedans and minivans. The xB isn't nearly as rare anymore, with at least 60,000 units populating the streets annually. Seems the uncool have started to catch on.
On the other hand, being trendy in 2008 no longer means compromised ride comfort and gutless acceleration. In our full test, we added, "It's actually quiet inside the cabin of the 2008 xB, and the new cruise control makes for an effortless ride on the freeway."
So maybe Scion doesn't care whether the xB retains its cult following. The band that "sells out" by going mainstream isn't thinking about its most loyal fans when the big checks start rolling in. Has the kooky club kid become an over-the-hill suburbanite who enjoys the occasional Zima? Over the next 12 months, we'll find out if the 2008 xB is still as cool as it once was.
Current Odometer: 1,324
Best Fuel Economy: 27.1 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 21.8 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 24.1 mpg
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.