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Experts from TheCarConnection.com drove the Scion xD to write this firsthand road test summary. TCC has also compared the 2010 Scion xD with other small people movers to give you alternatives as you shop for your next vehicles. For the companion full review, TheCarConnection.com studied a wide range of expert-written reviews from other sources, to bring you a comprehensive look at the Scion xD. High Gear Media drove a manufacturer-provided Scion xD to produce this hands-on road test.
For 2008, the Scion xD replaced the xA as Scion's smallest model. In its third year, the 2010 Scion xD shares some mechanical parts with Toyota's subcompact Yaris, but befitting a line of cars aimed at young buyers, its styling is more aggressive inside and out.
From the outside, the 2010 Scion xD can seem slightly menacing. Some liken it to a bulldog-meets-Mack-truck look; others have compared it to blocky footwear. Such an upright profile provides lots of interior space, but the wind noise is notably higher than in sleeker hatchbacks. The standard 16-inch wheels sit inside flared wheel arches, with alloys ranging up to 18 inches offered as options. Inside, all Scions go to town. The gauge cluster of the 2010 xD resembles a clock face, and it's mounted on the steering column and moves as the wheel tilts.
The 2010 Scion xD has only one engine option: a 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder. It offers both more power and better gas mileage than the smaller engine in the Yaris, and it works well with either the four-speed automatic or the five-speed manual transmission. The xD has plenty of pep to keep up with traffic, even when hauling a full load of people and gear. And its fuel economy is on a par with that of the smaller, slower engine in the previous xA: 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway. The xD's automatic isn't quite as fuel-efficient as the five-speed automatic in the Honda Fit, and it forgoes a manual shift mode, a strange omission.
Given the price range of the Scion xD, the seating and interior materials are nicer than expected. While the front seats are supportive for quick drives, taller drivers will find the lower cushions just too short, a common complaint in small cars. The backseat slides six inches back and forth, and the rear seatback-which is split 60/40-can recline 10 degrees. That feature helps with headroom, which is tight in back due to the stadium seating that raises rear riders above their front-seat counterparts. With the rear seatback up, there's just 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space. But folding the seats expands the volume to almost minivan size, an impression reinforced by the numerous interior 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.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2010 Scion xD four stars for front impact, and the maximum five stars for side impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concurs, rating the 2010 xD "acceptable" in frontal crashes and "good" in side and rear impacts. The 2010 Scion xD includes side-curtain airbags in the front and rear, active front headrests, tire pressure monitors, and anti-lock brakes as standard. Electronic stability and traction control systems-rarely offered on cars this low-priced-can be ordered as an option. The rear brakes are still drums, however, rather than the disc brakes that resist fade better.
The 2010 Scion xD proudly sports a vast array of standard equipment. It starts with conveniences like air conditioning; cruise control; a trip computer; audio controls on the steering wheel; power windows, locks, and mirrors; and a rear screen wiper. More unusual is the standard first-aid kit. The sound system that's vital to attract younger buyers is a 160-watt, six-speaker Pioneer AM/FM/CD model that's MP3- and satellite-compatible. New for 2010 are an organic electroluminescent display and a USB port as well as the standard Aux port. The optional Alpine Premium Sound System adds HD radio and a 4.3-inch touch-panel display, and it provides for up to three amplifiers: front, rear, and subwoofer. A major option is an in-dash navigation system, rare indeed in this class of car. Being a Scion, these items are just the start, though. Buyers can order from more than 40 dealer-installed upgrades and accessories, as well as hundreds of aftermarket parts. Many dealer add-ons for the 2010 Scion xD are cosmetic enhancements, but they also offer a wide range of TRD performance accessories, including cold-air intake, sport muffler, a quick shifter kit, lowering springs, and big brakes.