2008 Scion xDPosted on June 4th, 2008
Scion’s newest hatchback is a super value at the gas pump.
By Nina Russin
Bad news at the gas pump is good news for Scion. Toyota’s youth-oriented brand specializes in small, fuel efficient cars with edgy, urban styling. Now that the xA is out of production, the xD is the smallest Scion.
Scion makes the buying process simple with monospec pricing. The buyer chooses the transmission, color, and orders the car from a kiosk at the dealership. Dealers don’t keep a lot of inventory on the lot, but have access to a large inventory of cars, which can be delivered in a timely manner from various storage facilities.
Base price on the xD is $14,550. The subcompact hatchback meets all of our ALV safety requirements: antilock brakes, side curtain airbags and a first aid kit are standard equipment. The simple interior includes most of the comfort and convenience features buyers look for: cruise control, air conditioning, an iPod compatible audio system, remote keyless entry, and a tilt steering wheel with redundant audio controls.
Buyers can add a few factory-installed options, including a navigation system ($1950), satellite radio ($449), and vehicle stability control ($650). I’d recommend the vehicle stability control for anyone who travels along wet or icy roads: it controls wheel spin-out and excessive yaw to help the driver maintain directional control.
Average fuel economy for the xD with a five-speed manual transmission is thirty miles-per-gallon. Engineers maximized power from the 1.8-liter engine by keeping weight off the chassis. Curb weight is 2625 pounds: slightly more for the automatic. Buyers willing to push a clutch are rewarded with better gas mileage and better power.
The advantages of a small footprint
Its compact size makes the xD an excellent choice for city dwellers, who will appreciate the maneuverability on crowded streets and highways. The xD’s turning radius is 37 feet, allowing it to make the occasional U-turn with ease. The xD can slip in between two large trucks into a slightly undersized parking spot.
Though it’s no race car, the xD’s power and performance should satisfy the needs of most drivers. I found the car to have ample acceleration in the twenty-to-fifty mile-per-hour range, critical for merging into highway traffic. Cruising at speeds of seventy to seventy-five miles-per-hour, which is average for highways in and around Phoenix, is not a problem.
The xD rides on standard sixteen-inch wheels, giving the car a stable footprint. Steel wheels with wheel covers are standard. Buyers can upgrade to factory alloy wheels ($795), and add wheel locks ($65) to protect the wheels from would-be thieves.
The MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension provides a fairly supple ride. A standard front stabilizer bar keeps the car flat while cornering. An electric steering pump reduces weight under the hood, and provides good response at all speeds.
Visibility to the front and sides of the car is quite good. The side view mirrors compensate adequately for blind spots to the rear when driving, but thick rear pillars make parallel parking more difficult. A standard rear wiper keeps the back glass clean in rain and snow.
On the whole, the xD interior meets the needs of buyers in its target market. There are three cupholders in the center and floor console, one of which is large enough for a water bottle. Map pockets in the front doors are designed to fit bottles as well, but they were too narrow to hold any of the water bottles I tried in them.
Designers simplified the gauge cluster by combining the speedometer and tachometer in one gauge: it takes some getting used to, but is fairly easy to read. A digital fuel readout displays the fuel level in the car’s eleven-gallon tank. A larger tank would have given the xD better range, but it would also add to the car’s curb weight.
Toyota is known for making quiet cars, which makes the xD’s noisy interior surprising. Road noise is obvious at all speeds, and is loud enough to interfere with the audio system.
The standard audio system includes an AM/FM radio, CD player, MP3 and iPod plug-ins.
a 12-volt power point at the base of the center stack recharges electronic devices and a small shelf next to the plug in is the perfect size for holding cell phones or PDAs.
Heating and air conditioning controls on the center stack are easy to reach from both front seating positions. Cooling the car’s black interior down in Phoenix summer weather was a good test of the air conditioning system, which it passed with ease.
The xD has no center console bin: designers substituted a two-piece glovebox in its place. While the top bin is large enough for compact disks, maps and paperwork, it is too small to hold a purse or small pack. Three small bins beneath the cargo floor are large enough to conceal valuables at the trailhead.
The back seats have plenty of hip and legroom for two adults, though taller passengers may find headroom lacking. The second-row seats fold flat to give the xD a large functional cargo space that meets our bicycle-friendly standards. I was able to load in four large cartons of running shoes and still see out the back window. Luggage and camping gear should not be a problem.
Though it won’t meet the needs of all athletes, the xD is as well suited to active lifestyles as any car of its size could be. In a time of shrinking budgets and burgeoning fuel prices the xD is a practical, affordable alternative for athletes who need a versatile cargo area, but can’t afford the expense or upkeep of a larger sport-utility vehicle.
The xD is currently on display at Scion dealerships nationwide.
Likes: An affordable subcompact car with exceptional fuel economy and a configurable cargo area that meets our bicycle friendly standards. The xD has a high level of standard safety, including antilock brakes, side curtain airbags and a first aid kit.
Dislikes: All but one of the cupholders are too small for water bottles. Visibility to the rear is restricted due to extremely wide D pillars.
Base price: $14,550
As tested: $16,444
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 27/33 mpg city/highway
Comments: MSRP does not include a $620 delivery charge.
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