- Styling makes a short, stubby hatch look sporty
- Perky performance and good fuel economy
- Vast standard-feature list
- Bargain price
- Small seats inadequate for some
- Rear headroom too limited for adults
- Premium sound system doesn’t sound premium
At a bargain price that’s not much more than stripper econoboxes, the 2008 Scion xD is a pretty hot little hatch.
The all-new xD model replaces the xA model as the smallest model in Scion’s lineup. The 2008 Scion xD shares some of its underpinnings with the latest Toyota Yaris but offers a sportier driving experience and more aggressive styling inside and out.
A new 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is standard on the 2008 Scion xD. It pairs especially well with the five-speed manual transmission but also works quite smoothly with the four-speed automatic; overall, the engine has plenty of pep to move the xD along quickly and keep up with traffic even with a full load. Yet the 1.8-liter gets fuel economy that’s comparable to the old 1.5-liter engine, at 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway under the new EPA standards.
From the outside, the 2008 Scion xD has a very aggressive style, with flared wheel wells filled by standard 16-inch wheels or optional alloys that range up to 18 inches. The very upright profile affords a lot of space inside. The xD’s front seats are quite comfortable and supportive, but the lower cushions are just too short for taller folks, a common complaint in small cars. In back, the seat slides fore and aft six inches, depending on the size of your backseat passengers or cargo, and the 60/40-split rear seatback (with three adjustable headrests) can recline 10 degrees—which might be necessary as headroom is tight in back. There’s only 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the backseats up, but that can be greatly expanded with the seats folded.
As with the other Scion models, the interior styling in the 2008 Scion is very flamboyant. The gauge cluster is styled like a large watch face. But it’s otherwise quite functional, with a large, two-compartment glove box and plenty of storage cubbies. A trip computer that can display range and fuel efficiency is standard.
The standard-equipment list is vast compared with that of rivals in the same price range. Conveniences like air conditioning; cruise control; steering-wheel audio controls; a 160-watt, six-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system that’s MP3 and satellite compatible; a rear wiper; a first-aid kit; and power windows, locks, and mirrors are all included in the base price. In competing vehicles, some of these items are only available as part of expensive option packages. Major stand-alone options on the 2008 Scion xD include a Pioneer Premium Sound system that actually doesn’t make very good use of the xD’s acoustics, and an in-dash navigation system.
But that’s just the start. Scion prices its car low so as to invite shoppers to customize their vehicles with an extensive array of dealer-installed accessories. Many for the 2008 Scion xD are cosmetic enhancements, but there are also a wide range of TRD performance accessories, including a quick shifter kit, limited-slip differential, cold-air intake, and sport muffler.
And for the first time, there’s a complete body kit available through dealerships. Supplied by Five Axis, the urethane kit for the 2008 Scion xD includes front, rear, and side lip spoilers that bring an even racier look.
Side-curtain airbags, active front headrests, and anti-lock brakes are standard on the 2008 Scion xD, and electronic stability control—a feature usually not at all offered on cars this price—is optional. The xD has received four-star ratings for frontal impact and great five-star ratings for side impact from the federal government. Insurance-affiliated IIHS results agree, with "acceptable" results for frontal impact and top "good" ratings for side impact.