Strengths and weaknesses:
- cargo capacity
- cheap interior
- noisy at hwy speeds
Special release xB makes a prettier box
"Despite the Scion brand being targeted at younger buyers, the xB’s best traits are those you’d look for in a family-friendly hauler."
Do you ever pay attention to the age of people driving Scion’s boxy xB whenever you happen to pass one of the vehicles on the road? If you don’t, keep your eyes peeled next time you see one. I dare you to find an xB driver who looks younger than 45 years old.
The reason I bring this up is because despite the Scion brand being very much targeted at younger buyers, the xB’s best traits are those you’d look for in a family-friendly people hauler like a minivan.
This even applies to this week’s tester, which is a limited edition Release Series 9.0 model. Each year, Scion brings out Release Series vehicles throughout its line-up, each of which adds things like funky exterior colours, body kits, special badges and upgrades, and more.
The xB Release Series 9.0 offers, among other things, an eye-catching “Hot Lava” orange paint job, and a unique grille with big, bold “Scion” lettering. The front and rear exterior Scion badges even light up in a cool white hue when you lock or unlock the vehicle, helping you to find your ride in a packed parking lot.
There’s no doubt this thing looks the part of unique, stylish transportation for a young person wanting to stand out from his or her friends’ cookie cutter compact sedans. The second you look beyond the exterior, though, this vehicle plays a very different tune, even if it is on an upgraded audio system.
As you can probably guess from the xB’s cube shape, this is a vehicle that can easily handle a lot of cargo, even with the rear seats in position. Fold them down, and you have a cavernous area to store whatever you need to transport, and more.
Move up to the cockpit, and there’s no shortage of pockets and cubbies to store all sorts of odds and ends.
Just as many compliments can be made regarding the space for passengers. There’s a reason xBs are used as taxis in cities like Chicago, as it’s dead simple to step in and out, and there’s oodles of headroom, as well as a ton of legroom, even with the front seats pushed far back.
Even with the easy ingress and egress, you sit high up for a commanding view of the road from the driver’s seat, and there’s lots of glass to make visibility even better.
As spacious as the xB is, its soft ride adds to the comfort factor. Tall vehicles sometimes tend to be a little jittery over broken pavement, but I have no issues in this respect while traversing city roads in disrepair.
With all this talk of comfort, you might be thinking performance may have been sacrificed, and you’d be absolutely correct. As I say to just about everyone who asks about the vehicle, it’s fun to look at, but it isn’t much to drive.
The xB gets a 2.4-litre engine that’s great for keeping fuel consumption down, but lacks any sort of fun factor. While the vehicle doesn’t feel underpowered per se, it really never acts particularly spirited in any way.
Even when I hold shifts for a long time and get the engine revving high, the rapid acceleration I hope for never presents itself. It’s easy enough moving through gears with the five-speed manual transmission, and the clutch is nicely weighted, but I’d love something that I can really get involved in.
As it is, shifting is a yawn-inducing affair that melts into the background; I get more excitement out of reading electronic updates on passing highway signs.
It’s a shame the xB isn’t as fun to drive as it is to look at. Maybe that’s why so many older people are buying - they want the comfort and spaciousness, while staying as far away as possible from the minivan look.