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Published on Fri, Feb 1, 2008
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Doug Stokes Clichéd, but true: Not to be caught flitching the quarters off a dead man’s eyes, but to nevertheless blatantly recycle the ancient Oldsmobile tag line: “This IS your father’s Scion xB, especially if you’re a twenty-something who bought one of the original Scion xB boxes. Bigger For Everyone: What this bigger “box” amounts to is everything that I loved in the original only more of it. Room, reliability, good handling, and a utilitarian sense of bearing that (at least this time) defies age, income, gender, and any other orientation that “should” make you interested in one particular machine or another. I’m Getting Loaded: Of course the kind folks at Scion handed this AutoLooks test version over flat laden down with every nicety in the book, which included at $1,599, a double DVD player with twin headrest 7” screens (!) and their premium (iPod-capable!) AM/FM/CD player ($389). A foursome of really nice alloy wheels added another $795 to the ticket, and a (built-in and fully integrated) Scion Security system bumped the sticker by $495. That and a $580 delivery processing and handling fee launched the $16,600 base price into near-Earth orbit at a “click” (more like a “crunch”) over 20K a $20,587.
Standard Stuff: But let’s backtrack a bit on what you DO get for your 16K, and that, my friends, is quite a bit! First there’s a snappy 2.4liter engine with twin cams and 158 horsepower. Behind that, a great 4-speed automatic transmission (with sequential shifter for you racers out there). Electronic power steering (this and the Mini have got this deal right), Disc brakes all around with 4-wheel anti-lock (remember when ABS was a $600+ option?). Add in electronic brake distribution, vehicle stability control, a direct tire pressure monitoring system, power door locks/remote keyless entry, and projector beam halogen headlights and you might even start thinking that I’m talking about a Corvette or some other exotic, but this is a Scion. Fuel Call: Uncle Sugar says (on the taaa-dah: “New, Far More Honest-Real World” Mulroney sticker) that you, my friends, are going to see 22 city and 28 highway in this machine and I have no doubts as to the veracity of that statement. Pending Personalization: I really don’t think that there will be as much “customizing” of the new xB as with the first, the machine already has a smoothed-off look that doesn’t seem to need much primping. And, at the above price, the youngsters who would do something are not going to have a bunch of extra money laying around, and us more “mature” types will most likely like ‘em just as they come off the showroom floor. Plain, but not painfully so like the first iteration of this “box”.
Duty Cycle: During our week with this Scion, it fell to us to make a banzai run (On a Friday afternoon? Are you nuts?) down to a hotel near LAX to retrieve a fairly large quantity of “stuff” that had been left behind in a hotel room at a big trade show earlier in the week. It was quite a load, and two people went (not because of the work, but because of the ability to use HOV lane). With the rear seats folded flat everything fit beautifully and the trip was accomplished in record time. Roomy is as roomy does here. Inside Edition: This is a clean-crisp interior that fits with the outside look perfectly. Here’s a machine that’s brimming with utility but in now way ever rubs your nose in it. Handling: near sports-car like. Brakes: perhaps the best in class. And acceleration through the gears: feisty with sharp throttle response and precise gear-changes. This is a “little city car” that can hit the open highway hard, any day, any time. Double Take: After dropping the xB off I ran into Dave Illingsworth in the parking lot. I told Toyota’s Senior VP of Planning how much I liked the new version and then reminded him that he had once asked me to wear a hat (to cover my graying hair) and sunglasses (to obscure my old, tired-looking eyes) when he saw me driving the first gen of this machine. He smiled whimsically (perhaps remembering the early days of Scion marketing when they acted as if they would only sell one to you if you were under the drinking age). What Color Would You Like?: Of course all of the above changed pretty rapidly when “seniors” (the people who remember where they were when JFK got shot) starting buying the little darlings in droves. Anyhow, he smiled and clapped me on the shoulder. As we both hurried off he called, “… We’ll have to get you one now.” Hey I’ll take it Dave! (Even without the twin headrest DVD players!)
SUMMARY JUDGMENT One Word Road Test: Delightful! For more information on Toyota products, go to www.toyota.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2008 Scion XB Automatic Price: $15,650 (base) $16,600 (with automatic transmission) EPA mileage estimates (city/highway): 22/28 miles per gallon Engine: 2.4L 16 Valve Dual overhead cam
Horsepower: 158 hp @ 6000 rpm Torque: 162 @ 4000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / Front-wheel drive Transmission type: 4-Speed Sequential AT Suspension: Front: L-Arm Type Macpherson Strut Rear: Torsion Beam Wheels and tires: P205/55R16 All season tires on steel wheels with full 16 inch wheel covers Brakes: Front: Ventilated Disc Rear: Solid Disc Standard Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction control Overall length: 167.3 in Overall width: 69.3 in Overall height: 64.8 in Curb weight: 3086 lbs