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Now seven years old--an eternity in the fast-moving field of small cars--the 2014 Scion xD gets only a handful of upgrades from previous model years. And it looks entirely the same on the exterior, unless you order one of the handful of new two-tone paint options. Otherwise, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display audio system has been made standard and the xD otherwise continues apace.
Sadly, the Scion xD appears increasingly old and tired against a variety of new competing models. There's an all-new 2015 Honda Fit now on sale, the Ford Fiesta was updated for 2014, and the Chevy Sonic, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris are all much-newer models--with the upgrades in refinement, standard equipment, and safety features you'd expect.
Back in 2008, Scion marketed the xD to buyers who wanted style and attitude in their subcompact--at a time when the mediocre Chevy Aveo was a main entrant in the field. Now, while the 2014 xD still offers a lavish set of features and accessories, it lags the field in interior design, power, and gas mileage. It's based on the previous-generation Toyota Yaris, which was replaced after 2011, and it shows.
The bulldog, almost menacing, look of the front end leads into a boxy, slab-sided shape with a squared-up stance. The roofline is extended by the spoiler mounted at the top of the tailgate, and the shape has worn well even if it's nowhere near dynamic or fluid. The sit-up-and-beg profile provides a lot of interior volume, but the inside is grimmer now than many of its competitors. The front seats--while supportive--have very short bottom cushions. Drivers of even average height may find them uncomfortable on longer trips, and tall drivers surely will.
The back seat doesn't have a huge amount of room, but unusually for the class, it slides 6 inches back and forth--meaning you can trade off cargo space for legroom when needed. The seat back also reclines up to 10 degrees, splits 60/40, and folds down to increase the cargo hold from minimal to a very usable volume. The xD also gets points for having multiple bins, trays, and cubbies for storage of odds, ends, mobile phones, sunglasses, and everything else you find yourself stashing in the car.
Showing its age in the area of safety, the Scion xD was one of the last new cars in the U.S. to be fitted with electronic stability control as a standard feature--only in 2012, when it became mandatory. It has the usual array of safety features--anti-lock brakes, a tire-pressure warning system, and active front headrests. It has front and front-side airbags, along with full-width side-curtain bags. The NHTSA has never crash-tested the Scion xD, but the IIHS rates the xD as "Good" (its highest rating) for moderate-overlap front crash, side impact, and roof crush tests. It has not been rated in the new IIHS small-overlap front crash test--and it's no longer a Top Safety Pick either.
The butch looks of the Scion xD aren't backed up by the powertrain, a 1.8-liter engine that produces a mere 128 horsepower and powers the Scion box through a five-speed manual gearbox or an ancient four-speed automatic. It's perky enough in urban cut-and-thrust driving, but on the highway, the engine turns at far higher speeds than more relaxed competitors that offer five- and six-speed automatic transmissions. You don't make it up in gas mileage, either, with a combined rating of just 29 mpg either either transmission (27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway).
The standard equipment list is less impressive now than it was seven years ago, but includes air conditioning, a Pioneer sound system that includes a USB port, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth pairing, and HD radio. While the steering wheel tilts up and down, however, it doesn't telescope--which can make it hard to find a comfortable driving position.
Like every Scion, the list of more than 40 dealer-installed accessories is long and varied, meaning every xD can be customized to the buyer's taste. The bulk of them are cosmetic enhancements, but the Toyota Racing Division (TRD) is well represented by performance upgrades as well--from tuned exhaust systems to bigger brakes, shorter springs to quick-shift kits.
- Good interior space
- Strong value for money
- Base model well equipped
- Lots of personalization options
- Sturdier, tougher style
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- Aging, unchanged shape
- Unimpressive gas mileage
- Rear-seat headroom is tight
- Short front seat cushion
- Minimal rear cargo space