To appeal to young drivers, Toyota launched a complete line of vehicles in 2004. This new brand is called Scion. Their hope was to repeat the Lexus success story with the Scion. Don’t ask me what Scion means or where it comes from, but after only 4 years in the US, you will have a hard time to find a teenager who doesn’t know or want a Scion.
Scion has three models: the xD, the tC, and the xB. The xB, however, is the Scion flagship. It represents what the brand is all about in that is unique, a definite attention grabber and intentionally different. Isn’t this what every teenager tries so hard to be?
The xB received a facelift in its 2008 model. It was completely redesigned to fit the American market with its square soap box now a little wider (3”), longer (1”) and as any good American product, 600lbs heavier! To keep up with its extra weight, the engine received an additional 48hp and upgraded from its 1.5L to a 2.3L (taken from the 4 cylinder Toyota Camry).
The Price starts at $16,600. Not bad for a car offering all the security features that mom and dad will want their kid to have, such as 6 airbags, ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, traction control and side impact door beams.
The exterior looks better than ever. Even without any options it looks very stylish with LED lights integrated in the side mirrors, chrome exhaust tip, a single rear tail light and the bulkiest form you can see on the road today. With its high profile door line, the xB has the same kind of ‘chop top’ and the almost vertical windshield that made the Hummer H2 a success.
The first time you get inside the xB, you will need a couple of hours to adjust to the space and the controls. The windshield is mounted very far from the driver and the instrumentation cluster is aligned with the central console. This brings a whole new meaning to the word spacious. There is so much space between the steering wheel and the windshield that I could open my full size laptop on top of the dashboard.
The steering wheel is made of cheap quality plastic, but at least it offers 5 buttons to control the stereo. The system not only it accepts mp3 disks and offers an input jack, it also comes with a dedicated plug for your iPod. As soon as your favorite player is plugged in, you will see the Scion logo appear on your iPod screen. How cool is that! You can also skip songs from the stereo and the steering wheel controls. The only problem is that the plug exposed and not in a storage bin as it should be. Should you forget to unplug your iPod, it will be laying down in the open, screaming for someone to break in. The seats are very comfortable and offer surprisingly good support. It is just too bad that the space between both seats was not filled with a decently sized size armrest. Instead, Scion is offering a razor thin armrest that is a better fit for anyone weighing less than 100 lbs.
The 2nd generation Scion xB is a pleasant drive. The handling fits perfectly for its intended audience. It is an easy drive for beginners, but can also satisfy the advanced driver with its high rev engine. The engine will push nicely all the way down to the red line, but after 4,500 rpm the coffee grinder sounds the car makes will get more and more annoying.
The gear box is the most successful piece of engineering in this car. It really makes everything come together for your driving pleasure. Even though it could shift a little faster, it really transforms the Camry engine into a fun instrument. The best feature is the manual mode. It will automatically shift down one gear as soon as it is engaged and it will stay that way until you switch it back to fully automatic. Pure genius!
The sport suspensions, Mc Pherson struts in the front and torsion beams at the rear, are doing a superb job transmitting road information to the driver while still remaining a relatively comfortable ride. It is not the smoothest ride, but that is the price to pay to avoid boredom. Even when you floor it, there is never any tire squeals or torque steer. And thanks to a low center of gravity, you can also take some serious corners. Of course, the standard tires are a little too narrow and too high profile to make the Scion a real racer. However, it would be really easy to turn this microbus into a mean machine. Simply switch the factory tires and rims for larger, low profile tires and the car will certainly be able to handle a lot more power. Lucky for you, Toyota Racing Development (TRD) now offers a dealer mounted supercharger that will boost the power up to 200hp. We haven’t had the chance to drive this version yet, but I bet it is a lot of fun.
We believe the Scion xB will please their owners. Although, the engine can get a little noisy above 75mph or at higher rpms, so make sure you are fine with that when you test drive the car.
The 2nd generation Scion xB is not so little anymore. It is grown up in size and handling, it is even better looking. The xB will please anyone looking for an affordable car that looks cool and is fun to drive.
Rev happy engine
IPod + line in
Cons: Small trunk
No proper armrest
IPod plug exposed
Loud engine at high rpm