Step 1: Cut a whole new box
When it launched Scion back in 2003, Toyota claimed the founding tenet of its new, youth-oriented brand would be surprise. Surprise in the look of the vehicles, the low price, and the high level of content. Surprise in its gamechanging plan for short vehicle life cycles and regular rollouts of specially equipped, limited-edition models. Surprises that wouldn't be limited just to the products, but would infiltrate the entire brand experience-from Scion's nontraditional, underground marketing campaign to its no-negotiating, "Pure Pricing" policy.
In retrospect, it should surprise no one that such a well-conceived and thoroughly executed plan worked as well as it has. In 2006, though just three years old and boasting a lineup of only three models, Scion sold 173,034 vehicles. That's 50,000 more than Volvo and 70,000 more than Suzuki over the same period. More important to Toyota is the average age of the people who are buying: At 30, Scion tC buyers have the lowest median age in the industry, and the Scion brand isn't far behind.
With success like this, loyal owners and industry watchers alike waited anxiously to see what Scion had in store for the next generation of vehicles. Maybe a racy crossover or mini SUV? Perhaps some shocking futuristic Japanese minicar that defies traditional American classification?
Nope. Though all-new and substantially upgraded, the surprise is that the new Scions are nowhere near as groundbreaking as the old ones.
Step 2: Put new tricks in the box
One look at the second-gen xB confirms this. Though designed in conjunction with Toyota's Southern California CALTY studio and its Kanto Auto Works subsidiary in Japan, the 2008 xB is clearly an American derivation of the first-generation box van.
Most notable is how the xB has been supersized. It gains a foot in overall length, 4.0 inches of that between the wheels. Overall width is up 2.8 inches, yet height increases only 0.1. A wide and low stance, sculpted wheel arches, and a long front overhang give an appearance of visual mass and menace-a look supported by the addition of 600 pounds of real weight. The cute little box is little no more; equipped with the four-speed automatic, the new xB weighs a portly 3086 pounds.