A year after the smaller, boxier 2006 version was discontinued, the new 2008 Scion XB adds a little flair to the original design. Toyota is marketing their Scion cars to Generation Y, a consumer group that wants fun, comfort, low mileage, and originality – all at a low enough price tag. The new XB delivers.

Design Review

The Scion XB is a box on wheels. Apparently it’s hip to be square these days, because this quirky design frequently gets rave reviews (although those who dislike it really dislike it). But there are benefits besides the cool factor. The boxy shape allows for greater interior volume on a small footprint; the XB is quite compact but has the legroom, headroom and storage capacity of a larger vehicle.

The interior feels comfortable, classy, and practical. The back door allows access to considerable storage space for a compact vehicle, especially when the bench seat in the back is folded down. Around the spare tire, extra space is used as storage compartments for knick-knacks. The dark gray seating won’t show dirt. The gauges are at the center of the dashboard, which makes them easier to view than in their traditional place behind the steering wheel.

Power windows, mirrors, and locks, as well as ABS and front and side airbags, all come standard with the XB. The starting model is a manual (an automatic costs about $1000 more), but most other add-ons, such as a rear spoiler, an exhaust tip, or video screens in the headrests, are mostly cosmetic.

The XB drives well but is no hot rod. A few online reviews mention that the car becomes loud on the freeway, but a test drive shows that this is only at the high end of freeway speeds. The XB is a safe car to drive; the US government crash tests give all its safety aspects 4 or 5 out of 5 stars.

Potential Buyers

Scion cars are clearly being marketed to Generation Y and young members of Gen-X. However, the XB’s innovation and practicality appeals to a wide variety of buyers. It is best suited to single people or childless couples, city-dwellers, or as a second family car.

The XB is not the best primary family vehicle. It may have an edge over other compacts as far as storage is concerned, but the XB cannot compete with SUVs for family road trips, driving groups of kids on a field trip, or storing large amounts of sport gear (while still fitting the kids in the car).

Selected Specs

Horsepower – 158 hp at 6,000 rpm

Torque – 162 at 4,000 rpm

Standard Vehicle Stability Control

Standard Traction Control

Front Wheel Drive

Brakes (Front/Rear) – Ventilated Disk/Solid Disk

Standard ABS Brakes

Power Steering – EPS

Length – 167.3 in

Width – 69.3 in

Height – 63 In

Tires – 16 in 6.5J Steel Wheels + Temporary Spare

Seating Capacity – 5

Fuel Capacity – 14 galons

Mileage – 22 city/28 highway

Curb Weight – 3020/3086 lbs

Safety – Driver & Passenger Front Airbags, Side and Curtain Side Airbags, First Aid Kit

(Specs researched at the <href=”#xB”>Scion website)


All new Scion cars are marked with a no-haggle price tag. The XB starts at $16,270 for a manual and jumps to $17,220 for an automatic. Your Toyota or Scion dealership will offer a variety of accessories at an additional cost, but most are only added to the base model at the buyer’s request. Instillation costs may not be included in the accessory price.

Competitive Car Models

Scion XD – The 2008 Scion XD lacks the XB’s original looks and interior spaciousness, but makes up for it with great mileage (27 city/33 highway).

Honda Element – The Element shares the Scion XB’s quirky box shape. However, it is categorized by Car and Driver‘s 2008 Buyer’s Guide as an SUV, while the XB is a compact car. The suicide doors and 4-person seating, uncomfortable in the back, may pose problems.

PT Cruiser – Despite it’s sleek, retro lines, the eight year-old PT Cruiser was a precursor to the XB’s boxy frame. Like the XB, the PT Cruiser packs a lot of storage and headroom into a small car.


If the XB sounds like an interesting car to you, give it a test drive. Many people will know immediately if they like it or dislike it, due to the opinion-polarizing box shape. If you like it, you’ll love it – the XB is a fun, practical car for a low price.