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The car experts at TheCarConnection.com read a wide range of professional road tests of the 2008 Scion xB to compile this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com’s editors also drove the 2008 Scion xB and offer driving impressions and more details, where they help you make a better new-car decision.
The 2008 Scion xB is the second generation of the popular four-door hatchback sold by Toyota's youth-oriented brand. It's larger and more "sinister" in styling than before, Toyota says.
Most reviewers, including those at TheCarConnection.com, feel the 2008 Scion xB has strayed from its roots as a Japanese domestic-market runabout. Moving up in size, the xB now is roughly the same dimensions as the Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Chevrolet HHR. It's picked up nearly a foot in length, a few hundred pounds in girth, a couple grand in sticker price, and 55 more horsepower. The Scion xB looks thicker, and it's grown into something that's not so different from domestic retro-wagons. Inside, the xB has center-mounted gauges that are illogically placed, but there are plenty of interior bins and storage areas, and the dash design itself is squared-off and thick, just like the exterior shell.
The boost in size endows the 2008 Scion xB with more storage room. The front passenger seat folds back flat; in the second row, there's now enough room for adults. Storage room under the second-row seats is useful, but the chairs themselves, front and back, get uncomfortable after an hour. The seatbacks are merely fabric stretched over a frame. The cost-cutting is a little too obvious here.
The 2008 Scion xB is outfitted with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. It's worth an extra 55 horsepower, now at 158 hp total, over the former four-cylinder. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual or four-speed sequential automatic. The combination of good shift quality, the smooth revving of the big four, and good clutch uptake make the powertrain a big improvement on the last version. However, fuel economy has plunged from 30/33 mpg to 22/28 mpg.
Sixteen-inch wheels and a lower ride height have created better ride comfort. In terms of handling, though, the Scion xB's front struts and a torsion-beam rear, with electric power steering, keep the xB decently responsive, if a little pitchy. Dramatic moves make the Scion xB bobble it on its corners a bit. It's forgiving but no longer exciting, and electric power steering is artificial in feel.
Anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, and stability control are standard equipment. The 2008 Scion xB gets a "good" rating for front-impact protection from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.