2009 Scion xD Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 11, 2008

The 2009 Scion xD is one of the most substantial and feature-laden vehicles for the money, and the opportunity for customization helps mask any econo-car cues.

In order to bring you this comprehensive review of the 2009 Scion xD, the automotive brain trust at TheCarConnection.com consulted with a wide range of review sources, then included the driving experience of TheCarConnection.com's editors.

The 2009 Scion xD replaced the xA in 2008 as the smallest model from Scion, Toyota’s line of small cars aimed at young buyers. The 2009 Scion xD shares some of its underpinnings with the latest Toyota Yaris but offers more aggressive styling inside and out.

A 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is the only choice on the 2009 Scion xD. It’s slightly more powerful (and slightly more fuel-efficient) engine than the smaller one used in the Yaris, and 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. Unfortunately, the automatic doesn't have a manual shift mode, and it lacks the refinement of the Honda Fit's, which features five gears and returns better economy.

From the outside, the 2009 Scion xD has a slightly menacing style, with flared wheel wells filled by standard 16-inch wheels or optional alloys that range up to 18 inches. Some liken it to a bulldog-meets-Mack-truck look, others have likened it to blocky footwear. The very upright profile affords a lot of space inside at the expense of more wind noise. The xD's front seats get mixed reviews and, while supportive for short drives, 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. Toyota makes efficient use of the space with storage bins and cubbyholes. The front doors feature molded-in bottle holders, and there are bins forward of the gear selector and to the left of the steering wheel.

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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. Unlike some Scions, it's situated in front of the driver and moves with the tilt steering wheel. A trip computer that can display range and fuel efficiency is standard. Seating and interior finishing materials are better than expected at this price point.

Compared with that of rivals in the same price range, the standard-equipment list is vast. Conveniences such as 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 2009 Scion xD include a Pioneer Premium Sound system that doesn’t sound so premium to TheCarConnection.com’s resident audiophile, and an in-dash navigation system―a rarity in this class.

But this is a Scion, and that means access to over 40 dealer-installed upgrades and accessories, in addition to hundreds of aftermarket parts. Many for the 2009 Scion xD are cosmetic enhancements, but there are also a wide range of TRD performance accessories, including a quick shifter kit, lowering springs, cold-air intake, sport muffler, and big brakes.

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 and rear impact protection. Side-curtain airbags front and rear, active front headrests, and anti-lock brakes are standard on the 2009 Scion xD, and traction and electronic stability control―a feature usually not at all offered on cars this price―is optional. Do note, however, that the brakes are front disc/rear drum, while some models offer more fade-resistant four-wheel discs.

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