Now in its second generation, the latest Scion xB hatchback trades a measure of the original's funky style for increased practicality and cargo space. While it can't match the fuel economy of more modern competitors, the xB does offer a high level of utility in an inexpensive and compact package.
For the latest model year, Scion has updated the aging xB with a minor refresh that consists of mild cosmetic tweaks. While the same basic boxy style remains, several details have been revised: the front bumper gets a new look and now incorporates a glossy black lower grille and LED accent lighting. The rear end is spiced up with an imitation diffuser, and Absolutely Red and Nautical Blue Metallic exterior colors are now available.
No changes have been made under the hood, where a 2.4-liter dual overhead-cam four-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) can still be found. The engine produces 158 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Shifting duties fall either to a standard five-speed manual or a dated four-speed automatic. Regardless of transmission choice, fuel economy comes in at an SUV-like 22 city, 28 highway miles per gallon.
Climb aboard the xB and things will mostly look familiar, including the durable materials and polarizing center-mounted instrument cluster. New elements include light bronze metallic trim, chrome accents on the air-conditioner register and revised seat fabric. For audiophiles, Scion has added an available BeSpoke Premium sound system.
The xB's standard 160-watt maximum output Pioneer audio system features iPod connectivity and a mini-jack port. This standard head unit integrates track, artist and album information from the iPod into a one-line display on the head unit's screen. Connectivity is achieved by simply plugging the iPod into a port via a connector cable, providing optimal sound quality through the car's stereo system and constant power to the iPod.
The xB also comes with 16-inch steel wheels, and customers can choose from three standard wheel covers, which are shared with the xD. The xB has 10.83-inch ventilated discs in the front and 10.98-inch disc brakes in the rear - which are more than two inches larger than the first generation xB.
Like all Scion vehicles, the xB is mono spec. Customers only need to choose exterior color and transmission type. The xB comes with generous and upscale standard features including power steering, windows, door locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; air conditioning; four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA); driver and front passenger dual stage airbags; front seat-mounted side airbags; front and rear side curtain airbags; Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with Traction Control (TRAC); first-aid kit; and tilt steering wheel with audio controls.
All Scion models come with complimentary factory-recommended maintenance services at the first 5,000 mile and 10,000 mile intervals, to be performed by an authorized Scion or Toyota dealership.
All xB models are fitted as standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
The xB is aimed at those wanting a compact car or crossover with room to haul their stuff, friends or family. As such, look for the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube to be high on the list of alternatives, while other compacts such as the Jeep Compass, Nissan Juke, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 may also be cross-shopped - although most come at a higher price than the xB.