2010 Scion xD Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

John Voelcker John Voelcker Senior Editor
November 24, 2009

The 2010 Scion xD is a substantial, feature-laden choice in the econobox class, and buyers can customize to their heart's content.

Experts from TheCarConnection.com drove the Scion xD to write this firsthand road test summary. TCC has also compared the 2010 Scion xD with other small people movers to give you alternatives as you shop for your next vehicles. For the companion full review, TheCarConnection.com studied a wide range of expert-written reviews from other sources, to bring you a comprehensive look at the Scion xD. High Gear Media drove a manufacturer-provided Scion xD to produce this hands-on road test.

For 2008, the Scion xD replaced the xA as Scion's smallest model. In its third year, the 2010 Scion xD shares some mechanical parts with Toyota's subcompact Yaris, but befitting a line of cars aimed at young buyers, its styling is more aggressive inside and out.

From the outside, the 2010 Scion xD can seem slightly menacing. Some liken it to a bulldog-meets-Mack-truck look; others have compared it to blocky footwear. Such an upright profile provides lots of interior space, but the wind noise is notably higher than in sleeker hatchbacks. The standard 16-inch wheels sit inside flared wheel arches, with alloys ranging up to 18 inches offered as options. Inside, all Scions go to town. The gauge cluster of the 2010 xD resembles a clock face, and it's mounted on the steering column and moves as the wheel tilts.

The 2010 Scion xD has only one engine option: a 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder. It offers both more power and better gas mileage than the smaller engine in the Yaris, and it works well with either the four-speed automatic or the five-speed manual transmission. The xD has plenty of pep to keep up with traffic, even when hauling a full load of people and gear. And its fuel economy is on a par with that of the smaller, slower engine in the previous xA: 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway. The xD's automatic isn't quite as fuel-efficient as the five-speed automatic in the Honda Fit, and it forgoes a manual shift mode, a strange omission.

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Given the price range of the Scion xD, the seating and interior materials are nicer than expected. While the front seats are supportive for quick drives, taller drivers will find the lower cushions just too short, a common complaint in small cars. The backseat slides six inches back and forth, and the rear seatback-which is split 60/40-can recline 10 degrees. That feature helps with headroom, which is tight in back due to the stadium seating that raises rear riders above their front-seat counterparts. With the rear seatback up, there's just 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space. But folding the seats expands the volume to almost minivan size, an impression reinforced by the numerous interior storage bins and cubbyholes. The front doors feature molded-in bottle holders, and there are bins forward of the gear selector and to the left of the steering wheel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2010 Scion xD four stars for front impact, and the maximum five stars for side impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concurs, rating the 2010 xD "acceptable" in frontal crashes and "good" in side and rear impacts. The 2010 Scion xD includes side-curtain airbags in the front and rear, active front headrests, tire pressure monitors, and anti-lock brakes as standard. Electronic stability and traction control systems-rarely offered on cars this low-priced-can be ordered as an option. The rear brakes are still drums, however, rather than the disc brakes that resist fade better.

The 2010 Scion xD proudly sports a vast array of standard equipment. It starts with conveniences like air conditioning; cruise control; a trip computer; audio controls on the steering wheel; power windows, locks, and mirrors; and a rear screen wiper. More unusual is the standard first-aid kit. The sound system that's vital to attract younger buyers is a 160-watt, six-speaker Pioneer AM/FM/CD model that's MP3- and satellite-compatible. New for 2010 are an organic electroluminescent display and a USB port as well as the standard Aux port. The optional Alpine Premium Sound System adds HD radio and a 4.3-inch touch-panel display, and it provides for up to three amplifiers: front, rear, and subwoofer. A major option is an in-dash navigation system, rare indeed in this class of car. Being a Scion, these items are just the start, though. 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 2010 Scion xD are cosmetic enhancements, but they also offer a wide range of TRD performance accessories, including cold-air intake, sport muffler, a quick shifter kit, lowering springs, and big brakes.

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2010 Scion xD

Styling

The 2010 Scion xD stands out in the crowded compact box crowd, but is less polarizing than the bigger xB.

The 2010 Scion xD is both smaller and less boxy than its deliberately bricklike brother xB. Its distinctive shape mixes rounded, wedgelike, and boxy forms. From outside, the 2010 Scion xD can seem slightly menacing. Some liken it to a bulldog-meets-Mack-truck look; others have compared it to blocky footwear. Such an upright profile provides lots of interior space, but the wind noise is notably higher than in sleeker hatchbacks. The standard 16-inch wheels sit inside flared wheel arches, with alloys ranging up to 18 inches offered as options. Inside, all Scions go to town. The gauge cluster of the 2010 xD resembles a clock face, and it's mounted on the steering column and moves as the wheel tilts.

Car and Driver believes "anyone who remembers the rounder version of the bean-and-box duo that launched Scion in the U.S. will be hard pressed to see the xD as anything but a replacement for the xA." Automobile Magazine approves, saying "sharper styling, a wider stance, and tighter wheel-to-fender clearance eliminate the jellybean comparisons that plagued the xA." The 2010 Scion xD "stands out in a good way from other cars in this segment," asserts MyRide.com. Edmunds calls the 2010 Scion xD "pugnacious and utilitarian," commenting it has the "Bulldog Look." Critics generally like the departure from the xA's rather generic duds, with adjectives such as "polarizing" (Car and Driver), "sharper," (Automobile Magazine), and "dramatically styled" (Road & Track).

Edmunds says the interior is "avant-garde" and "nothing if not distinctive." MyRide.com notes, "The center stack also has some contouring instead of just a flat front." The awkward center-mounted speedometer of the xA is gone, replaced by "a more traditional driver centered dash layout," though it does have a nontraditional arrangement of speedo and tach in the same circular housing, "with their respective needles fluttering independently," remarks Automobile Magazine. The "dash is simple and easy to navigate," according to Kelley Blue Book.

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7

2010 Scion xD

Performance

The 2010 Scion xD's performance is less exciting than you might hope, but it will get you to your destination competently.

The 2010 Scion xD may appear to be a fun, youth-oriented model, but while it has plenty of pep to get people and gear around, something may have been lost in the refresh; many reviews say it performs more as a transportation appliance. The 2010 Scion xD has only one engine option. It offers both more power and better gas mileage than the smaller engine in the Yaris, and it works well with either the four-speed automatic or the five-speed manual transmission. And its fuel economy is on a par with that of the smaller, slower engine in the previous xA: 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway. The xD's automatic isn't quite as fuel-efficient as the five-speed automatic in the Honda Fit, and it forgoes a manual shift mode, a strange omission.

Edmunds finds the engine, "a 128-hp, 1.8-liter four with variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts," to be "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. While the engine develops 125 pound-feet of torque, more than its predecessor, the higher torque fights "a car nearly 300-pounds heavier," comments Kelley Blue Book, "so the difference isn't very noticeable." 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 New York Times proclaims the "engine feels perky and frenetic."

"The automatic transmission can be slow to downshift," notes ConsumerGuide, while "the manual transmission has a smooth clutch and shifter." Edmunds points out that while the shift action of the manual "isn't particularly clean, it makes the xD feel quicker than the Honda Fit." Ignore the automatic option if you "want ample acceleration from stop lights and on freeway on- and-off ramps," warns Kelley Blue Book. And MyRide.com observes that the automatic "lacks a manual sport shift mode."

"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 of the 2010 Scion xD's general verve and chassis dynamics. "The steering, for example, is more isolated, lacking feel to the point of numbness," they continue. 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." But when driven appropriately, "it's a nimble car with a strong emphasis on daily usability," according to Road & Track, though Automobile cautions, "Above 65 mph, the suspension is floaty." Brakes are a high point, with reviews read by TheCarConnection.com describing them as "strong" and "responsive." Car and Driver bestows the 2010 xD with backhanded praise: "[Scion] has done the same thing to the xD [it did] to the xB: made it competent, composed, and mostly dull. In other words, they've turned it into a Toyota."

The EPA rates the Scion xD at 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway with the manual transmission; the ratings fall 1 mpg 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."

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6

2010 Scion xD

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Scion xD might be more appealing if its front seats were as good as the rears. Cargo space is good, but its primary competitor, the Honda Fit, does better.

Given the price range of the Scion xD, the seating and interior materials are nicer than expected. While the front seats are supportive for quick drives, taller drivers will find the lower cushions just too short, a common complaint in small cars. The backseat slides six inches back and forth, and the rear seatback-which is split 60/40-can recline 10 degrees. That feature helps with headroom, which is tight in back due to the stadium seating that raises rear riders above their front-seat counterparts. With the rear seatback up, there's just 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space. But folding the seats expands the volume to almost minivan size, an impression reinforced by the numerous interior storage bins and cubbyholes. Fit and finish is typical Toyota, which is to say that assembly quality is top-notch and materials are respectable. The front doors feature molded-in bottle holders, and there are bins forward of the gear selector and to the left of the steering wheel.

The front seats, finds MyRide.com, are "mediocre," and while seat firmness "seems just about right, lack of thigh support and [a] low seating position made it less than ideal." In fact, they continue, "lower back pain set in after an hour on the road." Perhaps as a concession for the lack of headroom in the rear of the xD, the backseats "slide six inches and recline up to 10 degrees," observes Automobile Magazine, which gives the xD's interior a demerit for "limited headroom." Still, ConsumerGuide is not impressed: "The seat is high set, but entry and exit suffer from fairly narrow door openings. Limited legroom means even smaller passengers will be cramped." Car and Driver, in a subcompact comparison where the Scion xD placed eighth out of nine, reports that the xD suffers from an "Asian-shop-girl driving position" (whatever that means) and "the driving position is too buslike, the seat cushion feels like a dome." Edmunds reports "84.5 cubic feet of passenger volume."

Edmunds notes "there's slightly more cargo room in the Honda Fit, but the 2010 Scion xD offers enough for most people...Some hidden cubbyhole storage beneath the load floor in back is also available." MyRide.com details the little things: "The front doors have a storage bin with bottle holder. Things get a bit more spartan in the back: only one cupholder at the back of the center console." Kelley Blue Book appreciates its "storage for odds and ends up front, including an upper and lower glovebox on the passenger's side."

ConsumerGuide complains that "the engine buzzes under acceleration, and there's lots of tire noise on all except smooth asphalt." Automobile Magazine, too, finds fault with the xD's refinement: "All of the xD's square edges don't help with wind noise, which at speed competes with road noise that's translated through relatively wide 195/60HR-16 tires." MyRide.com sums it up nicely: "Small economy cars [won't] compete with big luxury sedans on noise, and the xD is no exception."
The 2010 Scion xD's fit and finish are generally praised by reviewers. "The sport steering wheel had a nice heft," asserts MyRide.com. "The tilt function moves the wheel and the instrument cluster, keeping the view of the gauges unobstructed." Car and Driver joins the chorus: "Its doors close with a reassuring think, and bumps don't rattle through the cabin," adding that the interior plastics are "more upscale" than its competitors'. Edmunds remarks, "There isn't a surface on the xD's interior that lacks the feel of nicely textured quality."

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2010 Scion xD

Safety

The 2010 Scion xD may be small, but it protects its occupants well and offers some surprising safety options.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2010 Scion xD four stars for front impact and the maximum five stars for side impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concurs, rating the 2010 xD "acceptable" in frontal crashes and "good" in side and rear impacts. The 2010 Scion xD includes side-curtain airbags in the front and rear, active front headrests, tire pressure monitors, and anti-lock brakes as standard.

Unlike some cars costing thousands more, the 2010 Scion xD boasts a long list of standard safety features. Edmunds calls the xD's roster of standard safety features "impressive." This includes anti-lock brakes with brake assist, traction control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and front active head restraints, which Kelley Blue Book notes "push the occupants back into their seats in the event of an accident." Visibility is "bad to the rear corners due to thick roof pillars but is OK otherwise," declares ConsumerGuide. Not standard (but available together as an option) are traction control and an electronic stability system-rarely offered on cars this low-priced-according to Cars.com, who also point out the brakes "use a disc/drum setup, not the stronger four-wheel-disc type."

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2010 Scion xD

Features

The 2010 Scion xD costs more than some competitors, but it comes with better standard equipment and a huge list of custom options.

The 2010 Scion xD proudly sports a vast array of standard equipment, including (unusually) a first-aid kit. The sound system that's vital to attract younger buyers is a 160-watt, six-speaker Pioneer AM/FM/CD model that's MP3- and satellite-compatible. New for 2010 are an organic electroluminescent display, a USB port, and the standard Aux port. A major option is an in-dash navigation system, rare indeed in this class of car. Being a Scion, these items are just the start, though. 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 2010 Scion xD are cosmetic enhancements, but they also offer a wide range of TRD performance accessories.

Kelley Blue Book describes Scions as "truly practical and affordable modes of transportation that don't loudly scream 'budget'." Even in its sub-$15,000 base format, the xD comes with cruise control; power windows, locks, and mirrors; and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, notes Road & Track. Other standard fittings are air conditioning, a trip computer, and a rear screen wiper. Of the 2010 Scion xD, Kelley Blue Book contends, "It's an affordable, well-built vehicle with more standard equipment than a Honda Fit or a Nissan Versa."

Various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com describe the single-trimmed Scion xD as "monospec." Car and Driver explains: "you choose color, stereo, transmission, and wheel covers-with accessories providing all the tasty flavor." All audio systems offer an iPod hookup and an auxiliary jack. The New York Times finds the base Pioneer head unit, a 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with six speakers, a bit frumpy in its design, although they say it has "plenty of expandability" with hookups for amps and bass speakers and "sounds fine for a car at this price." The premium stereo "and its multifunction knob" infuriate Car and Driver editors, except for their "youngest part-timers, who were keen on the programmable OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display." Kelly Blue Book notes the display can showcase "skins" that can be "created and downloaded on a special site created by Pioneer just for Scion owners." The optional Alpine Premium Sound System adds HD radio and a 4.3-inch touch-panel display, and it provides for up to three amplifiers: front, rear, and subwoofer. Several reviewers feel the upgraded system "does not improve the speakers, which lack clarity" (Car and Driver). Beyond Pioneer, "aftermarket companies like Lund, Sparco and Yakima are also committed to making personalization of the new Scion easy," Edmunds points out. A DVD navigation system and Sirius Satellite Radio can be added as well.

An xD can be optioned from mild to wild. "With available accessories from TRD," notes Road & Track, "you can turn it into a very hot little 5-door." Buyers have a choice of wheel covers or alloy rims in sizes ranging from 16 to 19 inches. And functional upgrades include "a quick-shift kit, big brakes, shorter springs, an exhaust system, a carbon-fiber engine cover," according to Edmunds. Other available options consist mostly of items that are geared toward customizing the 2010 Scion xD's appearance, like illuminated door sill enhancements, sport pedals, a carbon fiber engine cover, and a cargo cover, points out Kelley Blue Book. The optional navigation system can play DVDs while the car is parked.

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