Scion, Toyota's ultrahip brand, used the second morning of the Chicago Auto Show to launch the second incarnation of its hugely popular Scion xB. The boxy urban utility vehicle gets a makeover inside and out for its 2008 model year, with an all-new external profile, a bigger engine, bigger wheels, and some nice-to-have interior tech features. With rounded corners, wraparound headlights, and more sheet metal than its predecessor (1 foot longer, 3 inches wider, and 1 inch shorter), the 2008 xB has nearly eight more cubic feet than the previous-generation xB. To move its newly sculpted carcass around, the 2008 Scion xB borrows the 2.4-liter four-cylinder mill from the Scion tC, endowing it with 158 horsepower--55 more than the first-generation xB. This is mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed sequential-shifting automatic gearbox.
Inside, Scion continues to appeal to the tech-savvy driver: the standard 6-speaker, 160-watt Pioneer audio system features a dedicated iPod adapter as standard, which transfers track, album, and artist information onto the stereo's display and gives drivers full control of their iPod through the head-unit and steering-wheel buttons. The stereo handles digital audio discs in MP3 and WMA formats, and it panders to xB customers' love of customization with a user-programmable welcome screen. The xB has become the car of choice for the aftermarket-tech crowd and Silicon Valley corporations alike, and the new xB acknowledges this, with the inclusion of standard rear head unit outputs for those wanting to plug in to an external amp. An optional premium audio system (also 6 speakers) gives drivers the opportunity of uploading personalized images and movies, as well as a choice of "skins" for the LCD faceplate, which have to be downloaded from Pioneer's Web site.
Other notable interior features include a row of circular gauges in the center of the dash, including a "combination meter," which lets drivers toggle through a range of information, including instantaneous MPG, average MPG, distance to empty, and average speed.
Just like the legions of Scion fanboys out there preparing their subwoofers, amps, TVs, and Xbox 360s for a new home, we look forward to getting our hands on one of these new xBs soon.