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2008 Scion XB Compact 5-Door Wagon

2008 Scion XB Overview

The Scion XB returns in its second generation with styling (interior and exterior) and engine changes. Built in Japan, this compact, five-door hatchback is produced by Toyota for its youth-oriented Scion brand, with its first generation version introduced in 2004 and capturing the hipper American market with its quirky styling. Launched at a time when Toyota was concerned about losing younger American buyers, the spin-off Scion brand carried the first XB with a daring square-ish look, standing out among other economy cars that all looked the same.

Now, the new XB is out, and though it is curvier (a slight deviation from the former look that gained a particular following), it has a more powerful engine, substantial standard features, a good range of options for customization, a bevy of safety and security features, and a spruced-up audio system. The new XB has emerged as the more substantial car, with a roomier interior providing more comfort, ease of loading and unloading stuff, and just the right legroom for those who are keen on space but do not want to purchase an SUV. Aside from value for your money, it also boasts good mileage (City MPG/22, 18 - 26 expected range, Highway MPG/28, 23 - 33 expected range), which is a great bonus for those who are looking to match hip styling with a practical purchase, and some fuel economy.

This family and pet-friendly hatchback has an MSRP of $16,600.00. For this test, we drove an XB with a 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine (that's a lot more power compared to the first XB's 103-horsepower, 1.5-liter engine) mated with a four-speed sequential automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Standard features included are 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, mirrors, and locks, and an impressive Pioneer audio system with six speakers, an AM/FM stereo with a single CD player and MP3 playback, an auxiliary audio input jack, and a dedicated iPod jack (with iPod integration). The XB comes only in its base trim level, with carpeted floor/cargo mats (a five-piece set) which cost an additional $155.00, Scion Security ($469.00), and delivery ($580.00), the total price amounted to $17,804.00. Competing cars range from the Suzuki Forenza wagon to other four-cylinder crossover SUVs such as the Hyundai Tucson, Honda Element and Kia Sportage. It is also comparable to other hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Rabbit and the Mazda 3.

The 2008 Scion XB Exterior

The current XB is less boxy - having rounder, less squared off edges - than the previous version. It is also somewhat larger - it is three inches wider, one foot longer, and two inches shorter (height) than the former version - and we liked it better. It is heavier, its size is more suited to American tastes, and it's practical for everyday use. The styling is advanced, but can be polarizing – meaning that either you like it a lot, or not at all. The new XB isn't as cute as the previous one, although it's still one of the more radically styled cars on the market. While the styling is subject to personal tastes, it's worth mentioning that this version's asymmetrical bumper (which also houses a single tail light) and pug nose-shaped front deliver a very distinct, if more aggressive, look.

The 2008 Scion XB Interior

The Scion XB is perfect both for the active adult who wants to carry lots of stuff and for people with kids and/or pets. This model is very functional, very roomy, well-equipped and is much improved over the previous version. In fact, much of what you'd want in a vehicle of this kind is included in its standard features. It has an exceptionally spacious luggage and backseat area, considering its size and class - fold down the 60/40-split rear seatback and you'll get even more space. Unlike the previous version, this hatchback won't make you choose between hauling more stuff or seating more passengers; chances are, you'll be able to do both. On the "cons" side, the steering wheel only tilts up and down, as a telescoping steering wheel isn't available. This means that you could end up in a seating position that is either too near or too far from the steering wheel. Still, this can be solved just by adjusting the position of the driver’s seat. The center-mounted gauges are back, and the cluster is even bigger. Again, this styling is subject to personal tastes, although the digital speedometer is conveniently easy to read.

The 2008 Scion XB Performance

The Scion XB now comes standard with a 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. That's a tremendous improvement over its predecessor with a mere 103-horsepower, 1.5-liter engine. While the power is vastly improved, we personally feel that this XB could still use a little more horsepower, although we don't want it to go too far and lose the high gas mileage advantage.

Due to its bigger engine, fuel economy is not as efficient as it was in the previous model, although it is still competitive with other vehicles in its size and class. And with 162 pound-feet of torque now available, this XB has more low-end power than its previous version.

The 2008 Scion XB Performance Ride and Handling

This XB could use better acceleration, although the ride is smooth and has the comfort of a larger car; it is not tinny-sounding or cheap-feeling at all. It also feels more stable than the previous model and has a fine-tuned suspension that is a standard among Toyota products. While not designed to be a performance vehicle, it rides confidently and has good response when steering and cornering.

The 2008 Scion XB Safety

The Scion XB has is more than fully equipped with safety and security features. This is one of the "pros" of buying this vehicle - all these features are standard, whereas your typical American car would probably have you pay for all these additional safety features. Among the safety features included are a four-wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), emergency braking assist, an engine immobilizer, turn signals mounted on the mirrors, stability and traction control, front and rear head airbags, and dual front side-mounted airbags. This hatchback is also child-friendly, as it is equipped with child seat anchors and rear door child safety locks. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2008 Scion XB a top score of "Good" for frontal-offset crash tests.

The 2008 Scion XB Conclusion

The current XB is a substantial product. This is a great value, especially taking into consideration all its standard safety features. This is better than an SUV if you don't plan on going off-road - its even has better gas mileage than an SUV, much better! The Scion XB is certainly well-equipped for its price tag, and we particularly like that it has an iPod connection and auxiliary audio jack (which many more people need nowadays) - features that are usually add-ons in other vehicles, but are standard on this model. It also comes with basic (3 years/36,000 miles), powertrain (4 years/50,000 miles), and rust (5 years/unlimited) warranties.

The 2008 Scion XB is better than its previous version in every way. It has good ride and handling, has an impressive list of standard features, and is bigger and roomier. It is very functional, yet still provides that sporty, hip look that younger people or extroverts might like. Its full safety features are also a big plus for us.

Pros: Provides very good value for the money, a great size ideal for daily use, and good gas mileage considering carrying capacity.

Cons: A bit lacking in acceleration, given the gas mileage and weight. Styling can be a turnoff to some - but others love it.

Ratings: (1-10)
Style: 8
Performance: 7
Price: 8
Handling: 8
Ride: 8
Comfort: 8
Quality: 9
Overall: 8