2008 Scion xD review:

2008 Scion xD

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Scion is well known as a brand that attracts the tuner crowd and it is therefore not surprising to see a standard sized (read "replaceable") factory stereo head unit. However, options abound for those who want to upgrade the xD's cabin straight from the factory. For $389, drivers can option up the Pioneer premium audio system, which, in addition to its color screen and larger control dial, builds on the audio tweaking capabilities of the base system with an automatic sound levelizer and sound retouch. It also features an extra SSP setting for external amps. Those who want even more cabin tech can invest $1,950 in the Alpine-branded Scion navigation system with a 7-inch LCD touch screen and built-in DVD player that we saw in our review of the 2008 Scion xB.

The xD may never win any beauty contests for its external appearance, but its passengers do get to reap all the rewards from its boxy exterior profile. Headroom is plentiful for both front and rear occupants, and legroom was sufficient to comfortably accommodate your 6-foot-4-inch correspondent in the driver's seat and his equally statuesque soccer teammates in the back. For those who want to personalize the cabin of their xD, there are a number of factory-installed options including customized gear-shifter knobs, illuminated door sills, and a "4-N-1" light kit with cup-holder illumination.

Under the hood
Customization options are also plentiful for those with a performance bent. While the 2008 Scion xD comes with a single engine option in the form of a 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder plant with Toyota's dual VVT-i variable valve timing, there are a host of options from Toyota Racing Department (TRD) for souping up the car. Some of these additions (rear sway bar, performance oil and air filters, shocks and strut kits) will have a material effect on the car's performance, while others (sport muffler, forged oil filler cap, selection of alloy wheel sets) are more ornamental than useful.

The xD's 1.8-liter engine is smaller than that in the tC and the new xB.

Our test car, alas, came with none of the above, and so we spent our week in decidedly unsouped driving. We did at least get the five-speed manual transmission (rather than the four-speed auto), which gave us the opportunity to put the Deviant through its paces around the streets of San Francisco. The xD's 1.8-liter engine is surprisingly torquey off the line and in downshifts, and we found our front wheels losing traction more than once. On the other end of the scale, we found the xD's brakes to be far spongier than we'd like.

We can also see why a sway bar is the first line item on the available options list, as the unmodified xD demonstrates noticeable body roll--and understeer--in cornering as it wallows through turns. On the freeway, the xD performs adequately but does admit a lot of road and wind noise, the latter perhaps due to its less-than-aerodynamic profile.

Aerodynamics? What's that?

According to its new 2008 fuel economy ratings, the EPA estimates that the Scion xD will get an admirable average gas mileage of 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. In our week of mixed city and freeway driving we found this to be right on, observing an average of 29.8 mpg over 200 miles.

In sum
Our Nautical Blue 2008 Scion xD tester came with a base price of $14,550 and precious few additional extras, including $650 for Vehicle Stability Control, $155 worth of floor mats, and $469 for an alarm and remote key access. All told, our tester rang in at $16,440 including delivery.

For that price, the 2008 xD finds itself up against some stiff competition in the subcompact segment, including the Volkswagen Rabbit, the Nissan Versa, and the Honda Fit. In its base-model form, the xD lacks the performance of the Rabbit but measures up well against the Fit and the Versa in terms of standard cabin amenities. For those who want to pimp their ride, however, the xD blows its competition away.

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