Xb for Xmas?
By Ron Amadon
BETHESDA, MD – Scion’s little box on wheels really came into its own during a last minute, or some might argue early, Dec. 19th Christmas shopping blitz.
It was pleasant to listen to holiday music on satellite while stuck in traffic and then, “Do you see what I see” – yes, a parking space!!!
As drivers of large SUV’s tried to wedge their rides into tight close in mall parking spaces and eventually settled for the back 40, the little xB slipped in with ease just to show off.
After my plastic cards started sweating, it was a no brainer to lower the two rear seats and create a class leading almost 70 cubic feet of cargo capacity – great if you’re buying for a large family or stocking up on ice melting material in time for the next big storm. The total experience was so pleasant I almost went looking for a Rudolph red nose for the hood.
When the 60/40 split rear seats are up, there is an abundant amount of stretch out room for two passengers but it is a little cramped for three.
Exterior style gives the xB a bit of a bull dog look, but in real life the design proves something that I have written about in the past – that there is nothing better than a box for carrying large amounts of everything from kitty litter to bulky parka wearing adults.
The downside of the xB lurks inside. First off, the place to put the gauges that matter is in front of the driver and not in the center of the upper dash panel. The middle two gauges of four were not illuminated as well the two on the outside, a rather curious omission.
Out on the highway, the xB, (that name raises cane with my spell check), needs additional sound deadening and visibility to the right rear could be improved.
Test period fuel economy came to 25.8 mpg in city, country and interstate travel. It is EPA rated at 22-28 mpg with the four speed automatic transmission that does its best to extract what power there is from the 158 horsepower four. But most of the competition has moved on to a five or six speed tranny and that would improve highway mileage.
With that accommodating transmission, the xB feels faster than the figures show, with a 0-60 run over the ten second mark. Yet it cruised rather nicely up the steep grades on I-70 holding its own in the left lane around slow moving semis. The test car’s optional $2,150 19” black alloy wheels and wider tires, up from 16”, should take care of concerns about the little car’s stability on windy days. Yet Scion notes that these “performance tires” may wear out more quickly “and maybe be substantially less than 15,000 miles …”
The test car came with a nice list of standard equipment including a fine Pioneer 160-watt audio system with controls on the tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Keyless entry, a tire pressure monitoring system and center console arm rest were nice touches. There are lots of options that can be added to the xB, and the test car had some of them. But they also drove up the price, in this case to $22,074 from a base of $17,750.
I would pass on the silly looking $423 rear spoiler, and the $220 automatic dimming mirror that really didn’t dim much. However, I would include the $184 carpeted floor mats and cargo mat and the $429 satellite radio.
Yet at the end of a week’s test, I came away with the feeling that like many in the Scion lineup the xB is car in need for a total modernization. That was only underlined when the 2014 Kia Soul made its appearance in the test driveway with a richer looking interior, lots of toys, and the same sticker price more or less. We will have more on the Soul later.
Yet the xB is well worth a test drive for its cargo carrying capacity, excellent build quality and promise of long life. But also take a spin in the Mazda5 and the Kia Soul. And if you are drawn to the design, the Nissan Juke
And allow me be so bold as to wish all, where apropos, Merry Christmas!