2008 Scion xD review: 2008 Scion xD

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.8
  • Cabin tech: 8.0
  • Performance tech: 7.0
  • Design: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The 2008 Scion xD combines a peppy, fuel-efficient drive train with bold exterior styling and as-standard iPod connectivity. Its cosmetic and performance customization options are second to none.

The Bad Other than its iPod connector, the xD has very little as-standard cabin technology for a car aiming to appeal to digital-age drivers.

The Bottom Line The 2008 Scion xD is another snappy-looking boxmobile from the tuner crowd's favorite carmaker. In its base trim level it has precious few cabin-tech features, but the extensive options list will satisfy nearly everyone's desires.

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Scion's marketing people like to refer to the new 2008 Scion xD as a "Little Deviant," portraying it as car for those who refuse to follow the crowd. The xD's exterior styling does break the mold of the rounder Scion xA that it replaces. Its large, facemask-like front end gives it a stocky, aggressive profile, while a strip of mesh and two faux air inlets struggle to suggest that the car has some performance credentials. A high beltline and Scion's signature boxy styling treatment at the rear end ensure that no one is going to mistake this for a four-door Toyota Yaris liftback. Mechanically, the xD fits between the Yaris and the newly redesigned Scion xB with a 1.8-liter four cylinder plant. For all its appeal to the tech-savvy generation, the xD comes with precious little in terms of standard cabin gadgetry apart from an as-standard full speed iPod adapter, which allows drivers to browse and select songs using the car's stereo controls. The options list, however, is long and varied, giving would-be tuners plenty of options for deviating in their own way.

iTunes on the highway
Along with the latest Scion xB, the 2008 xD is the only car we have seen with an as-standard full-speed or "intelligent" iPod connector. The system makes use of a socket buried deep at the foot of the car's central stack, which uses a proprietary cable (included with the price of the car) to connect to a standard 30-pin iPod port. Unlike the xB test car we had earlier this year, our xD tester did not come optioned up with an in-dash navigation system, meaning that we had to do without a touch-screen virtual iPod interface. Instead, all control of the iPod was transferred to a double-DIN sized Pioneer-branded in-dash stereo with a simple, single-line black-on-green monochrome LCD display.

With iPod selected as the source, drivers are presented with a top-line menu comprising all the standard iPod categories (playlists, artists, songs, albums, and so forth), which can be browsed through using the jog dial on the right-hand side of the head unit. To make a selection, just push the dial in and you are taken to the next menu level for each category, where pushing the jog dial to the left or right enables you to search between entries. Pushing the jog wheel up takes you back to the top level menu.

The xD comes with as-standard iPod connectivity in the form of a socket at the bottom of the central stack.

Despite its basic appearance, the stereo's display shows enough characters (around 16) to provide useful information on tracks, albums and artists. We are less impressed with the jog dial's ability to let drivers search through long lists of songs or tracks in a particular category. While the controller can be used to scroll through FM and AM frequencies, there is no such facility with iPod menu entries, meaning that you are going to have to push down hundreds of times if you want to get to your ZZ Top tunes on your 30GB iPod. We also found it frustrating that the system does not allow drivers to back up one menu level at a time, instead forcing users to return to the top-level menu (and the default playlist category) every time they want to make a new selection. This is particularly annoying for those of us who have more than one album by a particular artist on our iPods.

The jog dial on the right of the stereo can be used to browse songs and albums, but pressing up takes you right back to the top-level menu.

For all its usability glitches, the as-standard iPod interface in the xD is at least better than the one we tested recently in the xB, which, for some bizarre reason, required the car to be stationary before drivers could browse or select iPod tracks.

In the cabin
If the Little Deviant deviates anywhere, it is in its cabin layout and design. Upon getting into the driver's seat, the xD owner is faced with a curious instrument arrangement in the form of a single dial, which doubles as a speedometer and a tach. This design is particularly disconcerting when accelerating, as the two needles move in opposite directions in a pincer-like motion. Other than an electroluminescent bar chart for a fuel gauge, the instrument cluster is otherwise unremarkable apart from its lack of instruments. Less, in this case, being very much less.

The xD's sole instrument dial acts as both a tachometer and a speedometer.

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Where to Buy

2008 Scion xD

Part Number: 100903480
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Trim levels Base
  • Body style Hatchback
  • Available Engine Gas