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2010 Scion xB: Bring your own cabin tech

The 2010 xB is a solid performer, with good handling and confident acceleration. However, its poorly integrated cabin technology is a bit five-years-ago, lagging behind that of other OEMs and the aftermarket.

The bigger, rounder Scion xB
Our time with the Scion xB was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Josh P. Miller/CNET

With funky styling and a reputation built around heavy involvement from the tuner crowd and the sound-off set, we expected our Stingray Metallic 2010 Scion xB to be a technological powerhouse. Perusing the spec sheet before embarking on the first of many test drives, we were excited to see features such as Bluetooth hands-free calling, standard iPod connectivity, premium audio with navigation, and rear-seat entertainment. Yes, we were all grins.

However, by the end of that first test drive, we were ready to drive the xB off of a bridge. Nearly every bit of cabin tech was a source of disappointment, from the tacked-on and overly simplistic Bluetooth system to the crappy sounding "premium" audio system with its maddeningly slow iPod search. We're glad to see Scion even offering these options, but infotainment should have been the xB's strongest asset. Instead, it turned out to be the weakest point.

So, should you avoid the xB? Of course not. It's still a very cool little ride. It's a small car with a lot of interior volume for your friends and your things. While the xB is nobody's sports car, it handles quite nimbly at city speeds; and its Camry-sourced 2.4-liter engine should provide thousands of miles of peppy acceleration. Oh, we like the xB; we just hate the tech.

But the xB isn't a tech car. It's a low-cost blank canvas on wheels. Skip the crappy, overpriced dealer-installed tech and pick up a nice aftermarket all-in-one receiver (like our Editors' Choice-winning Pioneer AVIC-Z110BT or the Eclipse AVN726E) and at least a powered sub and the xB begins to make more sense.

Check out the full review of the 2010 Scion xB for more details and driving impressions.