New & Used Scion xD: In Depth
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The Scion xD is a compact five-door hatchback with a reasonable price, decent fuel economy, and exceptional functionality. It competes with the Kia Soul and its sibling, the Scion xB.
Technically, the xD launched in 2008 replaced a smaller Scion hatchback called the xA. The Scion xD has a unique style, with a taller body and stance led by front styling that's more menacing than cute (many liken it to the face of a bulldog). It sits tall on standard big-for-its-class 16-inch wheels (with even more striking 18-inch wheels as an option), the xD, which was first introduced for 2008, has a different look altogether than other small hatches its size.but it also offers more equipment for its price than some of those competitors.
Underneath, the mechanical aspects of the Scion xD is related to those of the Toyota Yaris hatchback. With the Toyota Corolla's 128-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, the xD can move plenty quick with either the four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. It's powerful enough to perform well with a full load of people and their goods. Fuel economy is only so-so, however, at 27 mpg city, 33 highway; Consumer Reports consistently rates the xD (and its xA predecessor) as among the most reliable new cars.
Considering the xD's very affordable price, the interior appointments are quite impressive. The instrument panel is nicely styled and, even if it does heap on the hard plastic, switchgear and controls have a good, tactile feel. Plenty of bins and cubbies are included, along with a dual-compartment glovebox.
Although much of what you get mechanically with the xD is standard-issue, the features list is where it gets interesting. Air conditioning, cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls, a trip computer, power windows, and a first aid kit were all standard, as were a USB input (for 2010). The Alpine premium audio option also had an odd interface but added HD radio and a touch-panel display.
Accessorizing is a major part of the Scion sales process, with more than 40 dealer-installed accessories possible on the Scion xD, including special wheels, trims, and air dams, along with serious performance enhancements like a sport exhaust, quick shifter kit, and brake upgrade. Special Release Series models of the xD—including the RS 1.0 and RS 2.0—have been offered each model year; they combine special colors with a few other extras and have been available in a limited run of 2,000 or less.
About the only surprise on the Scion's feature list was that even by 2010 and 2011, when electronic stability control was standard on the less-expensive Toyota Yaris, it remained optional on the xD (it was included for 2012). The 2012 model year also brought Bluetooth plus much-improved sound systems with improved interfaces and impressive integrated displays. For 2013, the xD received a number of aesthetic tweaks inside and out, including a new smoked headlight housing, available two-tone exterior metallic paint, and a white gauge face for the speedometer. New equipment for 2013 includes an additional driver and front passenger seat cushion airbag, and improved one-step force limiters for the seat belts.
Although the xD isn't quite as lean and fuel-efficient as its predecessor, the Scion xA, the xD is more settled at highway speeds as well as more surefooted on a curvy road. Low points of the package for many model years included the base Pioneer sound system, which though considered an upgrade from Toyota's own systems in sound quality is a confusing mess with respect to function and display.