Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB scion car test drives
Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB scion car test drives
Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB scion car test drives
2011 Scion xB. Click image to enlarge

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Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB
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Scion Canada

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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Photo Gallery:
2011 Scion xB

New to Canada for the 2011 model year, the Scion xB is one of three Scion vehicles now available in this country, those being the small xD hatchback, the compact xB hatchback, and the compact tC sporty coupe/hatchback. The two-seater Scion iQ micro-car will arrive this Spring.

Scions have been available in the U.S. since 2003, but the cost of establishing a new automotive brand in Canada, a much smaller market than the U.S., deterred parent company Toyota from making that decision until last year. Still, given Canadian’s preference for smaller, more affordable cars, particularly hatchbacks, Scion seems like a natural fit for this country.

With their sub $30,000 pricing, unique styling and available sporty accessories like premium audio systems and sport mufflers, Scion’s cars are designed to appeal to younger buyers. This strategy has been working in the United States where Scions have the lowest average buyer’s age of 38. The Scion dealership experience is also less traditional with computers set up in the showroom to help customers build their cars the way they want them and trained advisors to help customers through the buying process.

However, one drawback for Scion in Canada is the cars’ limited availability. At the moment, Scions are only available at Scion/Toyota dealerships in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

The second generation xB, which was redesigned in 2007 and “refreshed” for 2011, is based on the compact Toyota Corolla/Matrix platform. It’s a larger car than the first gen xB (which was never sold in Canada) that was based on the subcompact Echo platform. Though there are some styling similarities, the new xB lost some of its sharp edges but gained more power, better handling and a larger interior.

Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB scion car test drives
Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB scion car test drives
Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB scion car test drives
Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB scion car test drives
2011 Scion xB. Click image to enlarge

Starting at $18,270, the xB comes with a 158-horsepower 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine and a standard five-speed manual transmission or optional ($1,020) four-speed automatic. Official fuel economy numbers are (L/100 km) 9.5 city/7.2 hwy when equipped with either manual or automatic transmissions.

The xB’s boxy shape gives it some practical advantages over rounder, more traditional hatchbacks like the Matrix and Mazda3. For a compact car, the xB’s interior feels roomy, offering generous headroom and legroom for front and rear passengers. The xB’s four doors are large and allow easy access to the raised seats. Though the driver’s seat has a high hip position, entry is easy thanks to a very low door sill and a tall roof. The manual height adjuster for the driver’s seat is largely useless as the seat cushion is already very high. For rear passengers, the raised front seat cushions provide plenty of footroom for those with winter boots or big feet. The sturdy rubber mats in my test car also proved water and snow-proof.

The driver sits upright with the steering wheel almost in their lap, and has a good view of the road ahead. There is a small blind spot at the right rear corner because of the C-pillar. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes for proper positioning and the shift lever is mounted high on a raised console for easy reach from the driver’s seat.

Bright, orange-backlit instruments in the centre dash, including a digital speedometer, and analogue tachometer, are easy to read at a glance, even though they’re further away than traditional gauges behind the steering wheel. There’s also an information display with average fuel consumption, instant fuel consumption, driving range, average speed, and estimated trip time. At night, the radio and heater controls are illuminated, but I was disappointed that some controls such as the power door lock buttons, power mirror button, and audio controls on the steering wheel, are not. An illuminated button for activating hands-free Bluetooth telephone is located on the left side of dash.

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