Scion held a launch event in San Francisco for its updated xB and all-new xD. Scion cars rolled into showrooms across the country only three years ago, and the unique shape of the xB gave the new brand immediate iconic status. For the 2008 model year, the xB gets a significant remake. Scion also dropped its xA model completely, replacing it with the xD. The new xB is hitting showrooms now, while the xD rolls out in a few months.
Scion extended the xB by almost a foot and smoothed over the body. The front and sides are simpler, while an overlarge D-pillar extends from the rear side window to the back of the car. In our drive, we didn't feel the rear visibility was compromised much, as the rear window is still sizable.
The back of the xB is as boxy as ever, while the reverse light gets offset to the left of the bumper. The car appears tall, but it handles reasonably well. Antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution, and brake assist are all standard.
The rear seat in the xB offers a surprising amount of room. One attendee at the launch event suggested it would make a good taxi. The 2008 model gets standard 16-inch wheels, 1 inch bigger than the previous generation.
The new xB gets a 2.4-liter engine producing 158 horsepower at 6,000 RPM, and 162 pound-feet of torque. The car we drove had a four-speed automatic, and showed good acceleration. A five-speed manual is also available.
The dashboard gets a makeover in the xB, with a digital speedometer, tachometer, and other gauges moving to the center. Checking our speed required a glance to the right, which wasn't entirely convenient.
The all-new xD is built on the Toyota Yaris platform. It's a big departure from the xA, so Scion gave it a new model name. This car's more conventional look makes it less of a statement, but still a high-quality compact car.
The xD has the same large roster of accessories as the xB. We drove one that sported a few Toyota Racing Development upgrades, which improved greatly on the shifter, which was mediocre with the standard five-speed manual. The car's standard 1.8-liter engine is adequate but unexciting.