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It may share some of its hardware with the Toyota Yaris, but the 2012 Scion xD has a completely different reason for existing. The Yaris (which is new for 2012) is aimed mostly at those who need an inexpensive commuter appliance, while the xD aims at younger buyers on a tight budget, but in love with the idea of high style, and a high level of features and accessories--while still pocketbook and parking-space restrained.
The xD delivers a good answer to that equation. There's something tough and aggressive about this small hatchback's design. It can even look a little menacing, which its bulldog-like, blunt front end. The spoilered tailgate looks like the back end of a sport shoe, and in all, the xD has a squared-off stance that's the opposite of the svelter European-influenced Yaris.
Inside, the xD's upright profile pays off in lots of interior space. The front seats are a sore spot, though: they're supportive enough for short drives, but because their bottom cushions are too short, the seats aren't comfortable for longer trips. It's a common complaint we have with many small cars, but it's very noticeable here. There's better news in back, where the small amount of available room is mitigated by a seat that slides back and forth on a six-inch track, increasing the utility of the hatchback. The seat also splits and folds 60/40, and it reclines 10 degrees, so smaller adults who squeeze in back can probably find a reasonable amount of comfort. Once the seats are folded down, the hatchback space opens into a nicely sized cargo hold, accompanied by the xD's numerous cubbyholes and storage bins.
It's targeted at younger buyers, and has tuner overtures and cues built into its profile and its accessories sheet, but the xD isn't that entertaining to drive, at least not in stock form. The powerplant's a 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder with plenty of power for city tasks. It works well with the five-speed manual or the four-speed automatic. The automatic's relative lack of gears are one of the main reasons the xD feels perky in urban driving--it's usually turning higher engine speeds--and that's also the reason why its gas mileage falls to the back of the subcompact class, at 27/33 mpg, no matter which gearbox you choose.
Electronic stability control is finally standard on the xD, and its performance in crash tests has been good, but not top-notch. In other respects, it has a surprising amount of standard equipment, from air conditioning to power features to a new Pioneer sound system with HD radio, Bluetooth and a USB port for iPod connectivity. As with any Scion product, that's just a starting point. 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 2012 Scion xD are cosmetic enhancements, but they also offer a wide range of TRD performance accessories—including items like quick-shifter kits, larger brakes, shorter springs, or a performance exhaust system.
- A good value
- Lots of standard features
- A long list of accessories
- More stylish than its Yaris cousin
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- Front seats are short, uncomfortable
- Not much rear-seat headroom
- No telescoping steering wheel
- Premium sound doesn't sound premium