Little Boxes, They're Not All Alike
Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand offers two, two-box cars: xB and xD. Most people are aware of the former but unfamiliar with the latter. Here’s an xD primer.
Start with a Toyota Yaris platform, wrap it in a five-door hatchback cab-forward body, give it a sliding rear seat and presto you’ve got an xD. Under the hood is a 128-hp four cylinder engine that’s attached to a four-speed automatic transmission on my tester. Wimpy. It’s overwhelmed by Chicago’s I-294 mass-exodus mania. The light-touch throttle pedal stirs an unpleasantly noisy mill. The upside: fuel economy, 35 mpg shuttling between Chicago and Milwaukee. The EPA ratings: 27 city, 33 highway.
Most drivers will find the xD’s front seats dreadful. The bottom cushion is too short. This perch and skimpy legroom mean the xD is uncomfortable. If one could alter seat bottom tilt, this might help. Another shortcoming: ride quality. It’s bouncy. Vertical tosses punctuate travel on all but the kindest pavement. Front passenger toe space is limited. Open the rear side doors, and two adults can enter sit and relax in the reclining chairs.
Scion’s designers placed the speedometer/tachometer dial in front of the driver rather than the dash center, as found on the xB. And they created a center stack that looks like Maidenform constructed it for Volvo. It’s a curvy float-effect glossy panel that’s both whimsical and practical. Knobs for the climate control, for example, jut out like a woman’s buttons that intrigued Charley Chaplin in Modern Times. Interior trimmings, however, are decidedly low rent. Bodywork: smooth easily besting Nissan’s tortured Versa.
Shaped by Maindenform?Enlarge Photo
A Pioneer brand HD radio fills a rectangular slot and adds a colorful LCD display. It tunes HD radio broadcasts including sub channels. While HD radio promoters claim their digital signals offer CD-quality audio, it’s more accurate to describe HD radio as comparable to compressed-sound formats such as an MP3 player. Regardless, the Scion’s sound reproduction is only fair; it’s masked by the Scion’s prominent road roar, wind racket and engine drone.
On the highway, steering action estimates vehicle placement. Brake pedal effort is soft too. This would lead you to conclude the Scion handles sloppily. It doesn’t. The standard stability control and antilock brakes aided my accident avoidance maneuver: dodging a raccoon that jumped onto I-43 north of Milwaukee. Binders are effective and the car stayed firmly planted. Unfortunately, the inevitable raccoon impact clobbered the Scion’s bumper, inner fender and underbody metal.
An xD’s cargo hold can swallow fairly large objects though its rear lid. With the back seats slid forward, backrests dropped and floor panels adjusted, it hauls about 21 cubic of everyday stuff. Depth isn’t quite as good as expected due to the slanted under-floor spare tire. Nevertheless, interior space is a compelling reason to go Scion rather than Yaris. Base price: $16,000; $17,114 as tested.
If the xD’s seats fit, you’ll find it suited to plying smooth suburban strips, urban jungles or college campuses.
Branded xDEnlarge Photo