For the 2009 xB, Scion stays with the same 2.4-liter engine found in the tC, a suspension tuned for comfort over sport, and numb steering.
There's no pretending that the 2009 Scion xB is a sporty van, but at least the 2009 models allow for respectable acceleration during normal driving situations. ConsumerGuide observes that "acceleration is good from a stop, even with the automatic transmission." Car and Driver agrees, claiming that "none of the little boxes [they've] tested recently is such an animal at the strip except for the turbocharged PT Cruiser GT." Edmunds also chimes in on engine performance on the Scion xB, saying that "there is now plenty of low-end power—something the previous xB didn't have." Kelley Blue Book concludes that the 2009 Scion xB's engine is "a definite improvement, producing 55 more horsepower than available in the previous xB and giving it some extra power on hills and freeways."
In day-to-day driving, Kelley Blue Book feels that the "xB...seems to be most at home on urban roads," while "on rural roads the xB seems a little sluggish." "Low-speed maneuvers feel quick and confident," notes Edmunds, but "with a relatively high center of gravity, the xB rolls significantly during cornering." Realistically, though, few drivers of the xB Scion will be taking their cars to the drag strip, which is just as well since the supercharger available in the tC is not available for the 2009 xB.
Putting power to the asphalt is either a "five-speed manual or a neat sequential-shift, four-speed automatic," according to Popular Mechanics. The available transmissions on the 2009 Scion xB receive generally negative reviews, with Automobile Magazine finding that "rowing through the five-speed gearbox is like churning butter" on the manual and ConsumerGuide adding that "the automatic is sometimes slow to downshift." In performance testing, Edmunds "hustled an automatic-equipped xB hustled from zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds."
How else does a slab-sided "toaster-on-wheels" drive? The verdict, based on reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, is that the 2009 Scion xB drives much like you would expect of a box—that is, without much zest. ConsumerGuide finds that although "there is moderate body lean in fast turns...a tight turning radius and light steering feel aid low-speed maneuverability." Car and Driver probably describes it best, saying that they "never fell in love with the sitting-on-a-tipsy-bar-stool feeling that arises on twisty roads." Popular Mechanics agrees, stating that "the new xB rides smoothly and quietly" around town, but it "certainly doesn't have the taut suspension and sporty soul of, say, a Honda Fit." Stopping this box are larger disc brakes on all four wheels that Kelley Blue Book notes stop the vehicle "more quickly."
"Shoppers expecting high fuel economy will likely be disappointed," says Edmunds. The car's ratings have dipped from the low 30s on the previous generation into the low 20s for 2008. EPA estimates show that the new xB checks in at 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway for both transmissions.