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Scion xB

The original small box on wheels.

The ultraboxy xB was the car that really launched Scion in the United States. Its funky anti-style resonated with the young and hip. But with the car’s first redesign, the xB grew and changed in some unfortunate ways. Significantly larger and embarrassingly heavier, the xB lost its edginess. It was never a ball of fun to drive, and the new model retains the previous version’s numb, electrically assisted power steering and rather stiff ride. Handling is decent, but it could never challenge a Mini Cooper’s — or even a Ford Fiesta’s. Buyers seeking better handling can spring for various TRD (Toyota Racing Development) chassis elements, including lowered springs, performance shocks, a rear antiroll bar, and a front strut-tower brace, but the items are not cheap. The four-cylinder engine is now a rather substantial 2.4 liters and makes 158 hp, but the extra oomph is negated by the car’s nearly 600-pound weight gain. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; the optional automatic is only a four-speed. All that helps explain the subpar fuel economy, which is worse than that of most mid-size sedans. The xB’s interior features an odd, centrally located gauge cluster. Getting into and out of the xB is easy, and the interior space is generous, particularly in the rear seats — there’s even an available rear-seat DVD player.

COMPETITORS

Chevrolet Sonic

Honda Fit

Kia Soul

Nissan Cube

new for 2013

The xB’s latest Release Series special edition is the Hot Lava Release Series 9.0. The bright orange exterior is further amped up with “Scion” spelled out in the grille; inside, there are suede-upholstered seats in black. The neatest item, though, might be the front and rear badges that light up when you hit the unlock button on the key fob

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are ABS, stability and traction control, and tire-pressure monitors.

MPG

CITY 22

HWY 28

PRO

Roomy back seats

Highly customizable

CON

Four-speed automatic

Awkward dash layout

Subpar fuel economy

Base Price Range: $17,300–$18,200 (est.)

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: xB, Release Series 9.0

BODY STYLE: Wagon, 5-passenger

ENGINE: 2.4L I-4, 158 hp, 162 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 110.9 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up) 11.6 cu ft

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