"Quirky raised to a new art form." That's how technical editor Kim Reynolds praised the new, second-generation xB during our 2008 Car of the Year competition -- in which the xB reached the finals (January 2008). But quirky is tricky. Would the Scion's playfulness wear thin as the miles rolled on? Can a car be quirky and reliable? Is the youthful Scion division still as edgy as it claims to be?
Many devout fans of the original xB -- a cheeky, chiseled chunk of modern art -- hate the new edition, which has grown into a softened and, they say, forgettable blob stretching a foot longer and weighing 600 pounds more. For sure, the new xB is less outre than its predecessor, but that's relative-like calling one of the Baldwin brothers "the normal one." The 2008 xB isn't as new and cool as the outgoing model, but it still exudes a goofy/industrial/from-the-land-of-Godzilla vibe.
It's also got a lot more space and refinement than before. The thing is darn near huge inside, with honest room for five adults plus their gear. And instead of the previous xB's bantam-weight 103-horsepower four, the new version gets the Camry's impressively smooth, 158-horse 2.4-liter unit with variable valve timing; it can nail the sprint to 60 in 8.5 seconds. We added the optional four-speed automatic (a five-speed manual is standard), and it serves up torque as expertly as a butler carving the roast. After almost 6000 miles on the odo, though, we're averaging 23.5 mpg. A fifth or, even better, a sixth gear would undoubtedly improve that figure considerably.
A lot comes standard in the xB's box, including electronic power steering, front and rear disc brakes, stability and traction control, six airbags, a tire-pressure-monitoring system, remote keyless entry, air-conditioning, and a six-speaker Pioneer audio system with aux jack. We added navigation, XM Satellite Radio, and 16-inch alloy wheels, pushing the sticker price to $21,103. (Like Mini, Scion also offers a bevy of dealer-installable items-body kits, special pedals, shift knobs, etc.-to personalize your xB and grossly inflate its price tag.)
Comfortable, fun, and-yes-quirky (we love the center-mounted gauge cluster), our xB has put on miles fast. Scion picks up the tab for the initial, 5000-mile service (oil and filter change, tire rotation), and thus far all else is fine. Quirky, but fine.
| Our Car |
| Base Price || $16,270 |
| Price as tested || $21,103 |
| Vehicle layout || Front engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door wagon |
| Engine || 2.4L/158-hp/162-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 |
| Transmission || 4-speed automatic |
| Curb weight (dist f/r) || 3091 lb (63/37%) |
| Wheelbase || 1102.4 in |
| Length x width x height || 167.3 x 69.3 x 64.7 in |
| 0-60 mph || 8.5 sec |
| Quarter mile || 16.4 sec @ 82.6 mph |
| Braking, 60-0 mph || 126 ft |
| Lateral acceleration || 0.78g (avg) |
| MT figure eight || 28.5 sec @ 0.57 g (avg) |
| EPA city/hwy econ || 22/28 mpg |
| CO2 emmisions || 0.80 lb/mile |
| Total mileage || 6429 |
| Average fuel economy || 23.5 mpg |
| Unresolved problem area || None |