For better or worse, the Scion xB has from its inception been an inexpensive, attention grabbing, cubist dream car. So as a follow up to the first generation version, Scion has done some rather unpopular things to the xB for 2009. Specifically, raising the price and smoothing out the edges.
Without a doubt, the new xB will be more attractive, if only marginally, to those turned off by the previous version’s “designed only with a ruler” styling. Unfortunately, the slightly more curvaceous 2009 xB comes with a significant price increase to a base price that is over $16,000 as well. Even so, the xB is still relatively inexpensive and does not seem overpriced. Besides the rounding off of the corners, the xB is also bigger, and more powerful than the original. Only one engine is offered for the 2008 Scion xB, a 2.4-liter 158 horsepower in-line four cylinder. With more power, the xB has unfortunately lost some fuel efficiency. The EPA rates the xB at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Weight has increased by about 600 pounds which does not help its fuel economy. Additionally, the xB’s new engine is still as noisy as its predecessor, which adds to the wind, tire and transmission sounds that are at least partially the result of the stilll-boxy aerodynamics.
On a positive note, the interior is spacious inside the deceptively small-looking xB. Naturally the general shape lends itself to a generous amount of headroom and seats four passengers in relative comfort and five in a pinch. Not surprisingly the Scion utilizes mostly plastic materials, inside, but Toyota has mastered the art of making them feel at least marginally upscale. One of the draws for Scion owners is vehicle upgrades and customization. Even so, the list of standard equipment includes a six-speaker stereo system with a standard auxiliary input jack and a second input jack specific to iPods, audio controls on the steering wheel, power windows, and remote keyless entry. To keep the cost down, most other things, including GPS, can be added at the dealership or through aftermarket means. Perhaps most importantly, the interior provides a large amount of interior space, almost 70 cubic feet of room with the rear seats folded down in which to utilize for hauling cargo. In the final analysis, even as a slightly quirky, noisy and more expensive vehicle, the xB is deserving of consideration for inexpensive and practical basic transportation.