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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
its torque curve is robust compared to that of engines in most twerp-class runabouts
the xD is more boring than its predecessor
Car and Driver
plenty of front-wheel drive understeer at freeway speeds
The automatic transmission can be slow to downshift
Though the 2009 Scion xD might be sold as a fun, youth-oriented model, most say that it performs more as a transportation appliance.
"The xD gets a 128-hp, 1.8-liter four with variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts," remarks Edmunds, who finds engine "is neither particularly loud nor particularly quiet about its work." Reviewers appreciate its power, with Car and Driver posting a "7.9-second 0-to-60 time," a big improvement over the xA's mill. The engine develops 128 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, but this is mitigated somewhat by "a car nearly 300-pounds heavier," comments Kelley Blue Book, "so the difference isn't very noticeable." The New York Times proclaims the "engine feels perky and frenetic." MyRide.com notes "the xD's acceleration isn't going to set the world on fire, [but] the xD is capable of getting up to speed at a comfortable pace for every day driving."
The 2009 Scion xD may be paired with a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. "The automatic transmission can be slow to downshift. The manual transmission has a smooth clutch and shifter," notes ConsumerGuide. "Those who want ample acceleration from stop lights and on freeway on- and-off ramps," warns Kelley Blue Book, might want to eschew the optional four speed automatic, which MyRide.com finds "lacks a manual sport shift mode." Edmunds points out that while the shift action of the manual "isn't particularly clean, it helps make the xD feel a bit quicker than the Honda Fit."
"Another feature not carried over from the xA to the xD is the chuckable, fun nature of the first-generation Scions," laments Car and Driver when discussing the xD's general verve and chassis dynamics. "The steering, for example, is more isolated, lacking feel to the point of numbness," they continue, and Automobile warns, "Above 65 mph, the suspension is floaty." ConsumerGuide notes the "somewhat floppy suspension tuning" and attributes the "early onset of tire squeal and plenty of body lean in fast turns" to the suspension's soft damping." Still, if driven appropriately, Road and Track finds "it's a nimble car with a strong emphasis on daily usability." Brakes are a bright spot, with various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com describing them as "strong" and "responsive." With damning praise, Car and Driver concludes, "[Scion] has done the same thing to the xD that it had done to the xB: made it competent, composed, and mostly dull. In other words, they've turned it into a Toyota."
Car and Driver shows some leniency when referring to the 2009 Scion xD's middling fuel economy ratings, lower than those of the old xA. They point out the cause is likely because of the "revised fuel economy standards" that the EPA enacted in 2008. The EPA rates the Scion xD at 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway with the manual transmission, and 1 mpg less with the automatic. "In ConsumerGuide testing, manual-transmission xD models returned 28.8-29.2 mpg in mostly city driving. An automatic version averaged 28.8 mpg in city/highway use."
The 2009 Scion xD's performance is configured more for commuting; it will, without much excitement, competently get you to where you're going.