Scion xB

The 2015 Scion xB comes in just one trim. The xB sports a 2.4L 4-cylinder gasoline engine standard that utilizes variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i). The same engine is found in the Scion tC and Toyota Camry, and produces 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. All xBs are front-wheel drive and available with either a standard 5-speed manual or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission.

The xB delivers a good, well-controlled ride combined with responsive, nimble handling. MacPherson struts are used in front and a torsion beam suspension is used in the rear.

All xBs come with 4-wheel antilock disc brakes standard. Electronic stability control, traction control, brake assist, performance tires and a full array of air bags are also standard. In federal government crash tests, the xB earned four out of five stars for both driver and passenger in frontal impacts and a perfect five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the xB its highest rating of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side impact crashes.

The xB interior offers a surprisingly roomy back seat for two adults or even three in a pinch. The 60/40 split seat can fold flat to expand to 21.7 cu. ft., with total passenger volume equaling 100.8 cu. ft. There are several storage bins and trays throughout the car that can hold laptops and other equipment. The front seats can fully recline, and a multi-information display with trip computer is accented with orange backlit gauges.

Standard equipment on all trims includes air conditioning, cruise control, power doors, windows and mirrors, privacy glass and steel wheels. The standard 160-watt Pioneer audio system features HD radio, Bluetooth, a touchscreen interface and smartphone integration.

Scions are sold differently from most car brands. The xB comes in a single specification with no factory options (except manual or automatic transmission). There are, however, a variety of dealer-installed options for customizing the vehicle as desired, including 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, a rear spoiler, remote ignition, ambient multicolor lighting, a selection of shift knobs, an auto-dimming mirror, a short-shift kit, DVD entertainment and satellite radio. A navigation system can be added to the Pioneer sound system.

Editors' Review

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Our last taste of the Scion xB came more than two years ago, when we reviewed a 2005 model and came away favorably impressed with the package despite a lack of available tech options for the interior. One of the two models (with the xA) that led Scion's 2004 entry into the U.S. market, the first-gen xB was sized for the city but with a surprisingly large interior and a cheekiness that helped it outsell the other Scions handily.

For 2008, predictably if unfortunately, the xB has gotten bigger, thirstier, and pricier in its second iteration. The lovable ugly-duckling styling that made it noteworthy at its original launch has given way to rounded edges and a less blatant two-box shape. Whether these nods to convention attract a wider swath of buyers or alienate the model's devotees remains to be seen, but some of the different-drummer attitude has been sacrificed, and we miss it.

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The Good The 2008 Scion xB is a tech-laden bargain wagon with a nice standard iPod interface among its many cabin electronics, plenty of space inside, and an easy-to-drive nature.

The Bad Bluetooth cell phone integration is glaringly absent, and overall the new xB is bigger and less stylish than its urban-chic predecessor.

The Bottom Line The new Scion xB has lost its bold exterior creases and some of its character, but has also grown up a bit and now represents one of the best tech values we've seen in a new car.

Editors' Rating
  • Cabin tech 8
  • Performance tech 6
  • Design 7

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