2009 Scion xB Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 9, 2008

The 2009 Scion xB has polarizing looks, a no-haggle dealer experience, and a long safety features list. It provides good value for those on a budget.

The car experts at TheCarConnection.com read a wide range of professional road tests of the 2009 Scion xB to compile this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com's editors also got behind the wheel of the 2009 Scion xB and offer driving impressions and more details to help you make a better new-car decision.

The 2009 Scion xB is in the second year of its love-it-or-hate-it design introduced as a 2008 model. The bigger, rounded-off box design has become more passenger-friendly, but a bit less trendsetting in the process.

Roughly the same dimensions as the Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Chevrolet HHR, the 2009 Scion xB is larger, longer, heavier, and more expensive than the first generation. 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 if you opt for the $279 overhead console, and the dash design itself is squared-off and thick, just like the exterior shell.

The 2009 Scion xB's larger dimensions translate to more interior room. The front passenger seat folds back flat; in the second row, there's now enough room for adults. Foot space is good under the front seats for second-row passengers, and the high seat position makes for easy entry and exit. 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, and the cost-cutting is a little too obvious here. This is not a vehicle for long-distance cruising comfort.

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A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine powers the 2009 Scion xB; it's worth an extra 55 horsepower, now at 158 horsepower total, over the former four-cylinder. Unfortunately, the new engine has to move more than 600 additional pounds, so the xB is still no tire squealer, unless you take an off-ramp too quickly. 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. Another complaint is that the 2009 xB has few performance accessories available from the Scion customization catalog.

The increased weight and softer springs leave the new xB less tossable than the original one. Sixteen-inch wheels and a lower ride height have created somewhat 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. If Toyota is trying to attract younger customers, they might find xBs going to their target market's grandparents instead.

With a long list of standard safety features, such as anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, and stability control, the 2009 Scion xB sets a high standard for its price class. The 2009 Scion xB gets a "good" rating for front-impact protection from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and four and five stars for front and side impact protection, respectively, from federal government.

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