Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB

Initially aimed at youth market, boxy people-carrier also appeals to older folks - though lacking character of first-generation model

by James M. Flammang

2011 Scion xB

When Toyota's youth division, named Scion, arrived on the scene for 2004, its first product was the boxy little xB. Though that xB lasted for only four seasons, it captured the hearts of a surprising number of owners - including plenty who were far beyond the youthful demographic that was supposed to make up the primary list of xB buyers.

As soon as Toyota/Scion abandoned that initial xB, rumors began to emerge about a replacement. That second-generation xB arrived as a 2008 model, but not every fan of the initial xB was happy with its successor. Considerably larger this time, thus more roomy inside, the 2008 xB was more powerful but also less economical to drive.

For 2011, the second-generation Scion xB got a mild freshening, inside and out. A new Release Series 8.0 version became available.

Power comes from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 158 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, driving a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission. All xB models have front-wheel drive.

Estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway. The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) has not released crash-test data for the 2011 Scion xB.

Like most Toyota products, the Scion xB delivers a pleasing overall experience, led by a comfortable ride and competent handling, coupled with a reputation for reliability - despite Toyota's recent recall problems with various models.

Easily maneuverable, the 2011 Scion xB provides good steering feel, but rides a little bit harsher than some rivals. Slight engine growl on acceleration seems a bit out of character, though not troublesome by any means.

Orange-lit gauges are excellent, even though they're positioned in the center dashboard, and the digital speedometer is a plus. Some controls are too cryptic, including those for the radio.

Perhaps most important, in its current translation the xB lacks the character of the original, which is still recalled fondly by many first-generation xB fans. Mainly, the current xB is a sensible people-carrier with merits of its own, which tries a little too hard to be youthful.

Scion xB pricing starts at $16,730 (including destination charge) for a manual-shift base model. A base xB with automatic stickers for $17,680. The most costly 2011 Scion xB - a Release 8.0 edition with automatic - goes for just over $20,000.

Attention Editors: This complete 2011 Scion xB review is available now for your publication. Please contact us at JF@tirekick.com for details.

© All contents copyright 2011 by Tirekicking Today
Text and photos by James M. Flammang