By Brian Armstead
It’s model year 2004, and youth-oriented brand Scion rolls the dice with the boxy but hip xB. It had flavor, but flavor you either loved or hated. A few small “boxes” have followed, including the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube. The Soul has been popular, thanks in no small part to their cheeky “Hamster” advertising campaign, but the originator, the Scion xB, continues to be my favorite “box.”
Why? Well, I like the Soul, but in true Hamster fashion I feel like I should be nibbling on sunflower seeds as I drive along, or drinking from a side window-mounted water bottle. The Cube is wanting when it comes to styling.
Which brings us back to the second generation xB. With a $17,750 base MSRP, it’s certainly priced right. Even modestly optioned at $22,074 (including $755 destination fee), the price will not cause you reach for Prilosec to curb heartburn.
Base xB’s are well-appointed with some key standard features. Mechanically, a 2.4-liter, 158 horsepower four provides ample scooting power. A sport tuned MacPherson strut front and Torsion Beam rear suspension smooth out city roads. Ride quality is excellent, and the xB is remarkably quiet given its less-than-luxury-car pricepoint.
Creature comforts include air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and door locks with remote entry, six speaker AM/FM/CD/HD radio with optional XM Satellite Radio ($449), sport seats and a multi-information display. I like that when you are in reverse gear, the letter “R” in the gauge display has a flashing icon around it to remind you that you are in reverse. Nice touch.
My only major interior dislike is the Pioneer aftermarket radio. Scions have always had these radios, and I don’t understand why they have not been dumped in favor of a head unit that integrates audio, navigation and does not require you to spend an additional $449 just to get satellite radio.
The xB is now in its second generation, and styling is pleasantly evolutionary. “If it ain’t broke …”
The 2013 Scion xB does everything well at a low price. Hopefully, the next generation model will address minor shortcomings.