2011 Scion xD Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 1, 2011

The 2011 Scion xD offers an impressive list of features and sporty accessories, but it's not as much fun to drive as its image suggests.

The 2011 Scion xD shares some parts with the Toyota Yaris, but it has an entirely different reason for being; while the Yaris is aimed at those who want a cheap commuter device, the xD focuses toward fashionable young buyers who are on a tight budget but want a high level of features and accessories—and a more aggressive look inside and out.

The xD succeeds in delivering those parts of the equation. It's a small hatchback, but there's something a little taller and tougher about its design. 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. The standard 16-inch wheels sit inside flared wheel arches, with alloys ranging up to 18 inches offered as options.

The payoff of the design is inside; such an upright profile provides lots of interior space. Front seats are a weakness, though; while they're 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. And there's impressive cargo space in back; folding the seats expands the volume to almost minivan size, an impression reinforced by the numerous interior storage bins and cubbyholes.

Review continues below

While the 2011 Scion xD is Scion's youth-oriented model, with definite tuner and aftermarket cues, it's surprisingly not very exciting to drive. A 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder provides plenty of power and works well with either the four-speed automatic or the five-speed manual transmission, with the combination providing plenty of pep to keep up with traffic, even when hauling a full load of people and gear.

Electronic stability control isn't yet standard on all 2011 Scion xD models, and its performance in crash tests has been good, but not top-notch. Otherwise, the 2011 Scion xD sports a vast array of standard equipment, including quite a few features that aren't usually included in this class. 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. But as with any Scion product, that's just a starting point. 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 2011 Scion xD are cosmetic enhancements, but they also offer a wide range of TRD performance accessories—including items like quick-shifter kits, larger brakes, shorter springs, or a performance exhaust system.

Oddly, considering the xD's extensive features list, it doesn't include a Bluetooth hands-free interface, and there's no factory Bluetooth option; it's only available as an add-on.

7

2011 Scion xD

Styling

The 2011 Scion xD is less controversial than the larger xB, but not everyone will like the blockier look.

The 2011 Scion xD is a small hatchback, but there's something a little taller and tougher about its design. 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. The standard 16-inch wheels sit inside flared wheel arches, with alloys ranging up to 18 inches offered as options.

The payoff of the design is inside; such an upright profile provides lots of interior space, but the wind noise is notably higher than in sleeker hatchbacks. 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. Likewise, the dash is quite upright and almost like the designs used in SUVs, while the interior uses an unusual mix of glossy and matter surfaces.

Review continues below
6

2011 Scion xD

Performance

Performance is adequate in the 2011 xD but less exciting and inspiring than Scion's tuner image might suggest.

While the 2011 Scion xD is Scion's youth-oriented model, with definite tuner and aftermarket cues, it's surprisingly not very exciting to drive. A 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder provides plenty of power and works well with either the four-speed automatic or the five-speed manual transmission, with the combination providing plenty of pep to keep up with traffic, even when hauling a full load of people and gear.

That said, the Scion xD comes with no manual shift mode for the automatic, and this small car simply lacks the crisp, responsive handling and tossable feel that distinguish the fun-to-drive small cars—like the MINI Cooper, Honda Fit, or Ford Fiesta—from the rest of the crowd. The xD is quite maneuverable, but when pushed hard its rather soft suspension wilts, with a rubbery, not-confidence-inspiring steering feel. The xD also feels heavier than you might expect such a small car to be. Inferior rear drum brakes also cement the impression that this is a sporty car only with respect to appearance and marketing.

Review continues below
6

2011 Scion xD

Comfort & Quality

Short, hard front seats spoil an otherwise well-appointed, well-designed interior.

The Scion xD has a well-designed interior that's quite roomy, but its seating isn't all that comfortable. 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. What's more, the padding is hard, and flat, making them feel a bit like barstools. Furthermore, while the backseat slides six inches back and forth, and the rear seatback-which is split 60/40-can recline 10 degrees—which helps with headroom as the elevated, stadium-style position will push taller passengers' heads up against the headliner.

But there's impressive cargo space in back; 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, though there's a lot of hard-and-hollow (though textured) plastic. 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.

Contrary to the sportiness you might expect, the xD comes with some pretty soft suspension settings; that helps keep the ride comfortable and also seems to keep road noise at bay.

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6

2011 Scion xD

Safety

With imperfect crash-test ratings and stability control not standard, the 2011 Scion xD is far from class-leading.

Electronic stability control isn't yet standard on all 2011 Scion xD models, and its performance in crash tests has been less than impressive.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests, the xD achieved just 'acceptable' for frontal impact, with 'good' scores in side and rear impact. And while it hasn't yet been tested in revised federal tests phased in for 2011, it earned four stars for frontal impact and five for side under the old system.

The Scion xD includes a good set of standard safety features: side-curtain airbags in the front and rear, front side airbags, active front headrests, tire pressure monitors, and anti-lock brakes.

Review continues below
8

2011 Scion xD

Features

The 2011 Scion xD offers ample standard equipment and affordable upgrade possibilities; but a few connected-age basics, like Bluetooth, are missing.

The 2011 Scion xD sports a vast array of standard equipment, including quite a few features that aren't usually included in this class. A first-aid kit is one of them; other standard features included in all xD models are power windows, mirrors, and locks; cruise control; a rear wiper; and a trip computer. The steering wheel tilts but doesn't telescope. All xD models also include a 160-watt, six-speaker Pioneer AM/FM/CD model that's MP3- and satellite-compatible and has an 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. But as with any Scion product, that's just a starting point. 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 2011 Scion xD are cosmetic enhancements, but they also offer a wide range of TRD performance accessories—including items like quick-shifter kits, larger brakes, shorter springs, or a performance exhaust system.

Oddly, considering the xD's extensive features list, it doesn't include a Bluetooth hands-free interface, and there's no factory Bluetooth option; it's only available as an add-on.

Review continues below
8

2011 Scion xD

Fuel Economy

The 2011 Scion xD is green—but not very green for a small car.

Because of its larger engine and higher stance, the 2011 Scion xD doesn't get mileage that's quite as impressive as other subcompacts this small. With either the manual or the automatic transmission, the xD is rated an EPA-rated 27 mpg city, 33 highway.

But to put it into perspective, versus models like the Kia Soul or Nissan Cube, those numbers are better.

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6.6
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Styling 7
Performance 6
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Features 8
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