Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB  videos car test drives scion reviews auto articles
2011 Scion xB. Click image to enlarge
Related links
Scion xB on Autos.ca

Manufacturer’s web site
Scion Canada

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

Photo Gallery:
2011 Scion xB

New models come to the Canadian market all the time, but it’s not all that often that we get an entirely new brand. One of the most recent to hang out a new shingle is Scion, the entry-level marque offered by Toyota.

Scion was initially launched in the U.S. in 2002. The brand was developed specifically for the North American market, using rebadged Japanese models, and all built in Japan, as they still are. Introduced to Canada for the 2011 model year, the lineup consists of the xD hatchback (based on the Yaris platform), the tC coupe (the European Toyota Avensis) and my tester, the xB hatchback, which shares its underpinnings with the Canadian-built Matrix. The iQ, coming for 2012, is badged as a Toyota in most other markets – and will also be fancied-up to become the Aston Martin Cygnet, which is undoubtedly the strangest sentence I’ve ever had to write.

The xB is probably the best-known of the three models south of the border, where its boxy proportions have earned it the affectionate nickname of “Toaster,” and where its blank-canvas customization possibilities made it very popular with younger drivers. It’s taking a little longer to find its footing in Canada, where it’s being aggressively marketed through social media to younger buyers and is available through a limited number of outlets in selected markets, most of them separate areas in existing Toyota showrooms along with a couple of stand-alone stores.

Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB  videos car test drives scion reviews auto articles
2011 Scion xB. Click image to enlarge

Toyota will probably have my hide for this, but given the xB’s low price, functional interior, the parent company’s customer loyalty rate and – most importantly – a door and seat setup that makes it ridiculously easy to slide in and out, I can see many older Canadians purchasing it, rather than the throngs of Gen-Yers that the company is so heavily targeting. Hey, it happened to cars like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Honda Element and even the Matrix, which bypassed the younger target buyers and went instead to their parents and grandparents. Canadian buyers don’t always purchase the way their American counterparts do, and so the demographics might well turn out to be upside down up here.

So here I am, the 50-plus-year-old in the Toaster, and I might well be Scion’s core audience. It’s a mixture of good and bad in here, but overall, I can see the appeal of this funky little box. I’m a bit disappointed in the design, which was restyled from the 2010 U.S. model. It’s meant to be softer and more mature, but the in-your-face blunt edges of the old one had more character. Still, despite the fact that the tC coupe is a sportier driver, I like the xB most of all of the three.