- Roomy backseat
- Standard safety features
- Cargo capability
- Sequential shifting automatic transmission
- Impractical central instruments
- Not-very-good gas mileage
- Driver's seat ergonomics
The 2010 Scion xB has a lot of space, polarizing looks, and lots of safety features. It provides good value for those on a budget, trendy or not.
The 2010 Scion xB is in the third year of its love-it-or-hate-it redesign, introduced as a 2008 model to replace its tiny predecessor. Compared to that iconic vehicle, the 2010 xB is bigger, rounder, and friendlier to passengers. But all those qualities make it less striking, less special, and far less a trendsetter than it was.
Enlarged to about the same size as a Chrysler PT Cruiser or a Chevrolet HHR, the 2010 Scion xB has grown longer, heavier, and more expensive. The slab-sided shape looks thicker through the waist, and it's surprisingly close in function to the domestic retro-wagons. Inside, it retains the illogical center placement for its gauges, but the dash design itself is now squared-off and thick, just like the car itself.
The 2010 Scion xB is outfitted with a 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine similar to the one in the mid-size Toyota Camry sedan. Unfortunately, the xB is hardly a tire squealer, unless you accidentally 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 big four, and good clutch uptake make the powertrain pleasant to drive. However, fuel economy is far from impressive, at 22/28 mpg. And its weight and softer springs leave the handling of the new xB less much less rewarding than its predecessor. The Scion xB's front struts and a torsion-beam rear, with electric power steering, keep it decently responsive, if a little pitchy. Dramatic moves make the xB bobble in corners a bit. It's forgiving, but it's no longer exciting, and the electric power steering has an artificial feel. Ride comfort is good, due to 16-inch wheels and a lower ride height. But if Toyota is trying to target younger customers, the 2010 Scion xB feels like a misfire that could rake in their grandparents instead.
The 2010 Scion xB's larger dimensions translate to more interior room. The seats themselves, both front and back, grow uncomfortable for most occupants after an hour or so. Seatbacks are only fabric stretched over a frame, which gives the impression that cost cutting went a little too far. Sadly, this is not a vehicle for comfortable long-distance cruising. It is, however, capacious and adaptable. The front passenger seat folds back flat; the second row now offers enough room for real live adult human beings. Foot space under the front seats for second-row passengers is good, and they sit high for easy entry and exit. Storage room under the second-row seats is useful too. Passengers will find plenty of interior bins and storage areas if the buyer opts for the $279 overhead console.
The 2010 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 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The 2010 xB comes with a long list of standard safety features, including anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, and stability control, setting a high standard in its price class.
The 2010 Scion xB sports an impressive and vast array of standard equipment. The all-important sound system is a 160-watt, six-speaker Pioneer AM/FM/CD model with MP3 and satellite-radio compatibility. For 2010, the xB adds an organic electroluminescent display and a USB port, as well as the standard Aux port. The optional Alpine Premium Sound System adds a 4.3-inch touch-panel display and HD radio, and it provides for up to three amplifiers: subwoofer, rear, and front. Buyers who want to personalize their 2010 xB can order from more than 40 dealer-installed upgrades and accessories, plus literally hundreds of parts from third parties. Many of the dealer customization options for the 2010 Scion xB are purely cosmetic, but they include a handful of performance accessories from Toyota Racing Division.