Test Drive: 2012 Scion xB Release Series 9.0 car test drives scion reviews
2012 Scion xB Release Series 9.0. Click image to enlarge

Comparison: Compact Cars, Version 2.0
Test Drive: 2012 Kia Soul 4u
Test Drive: 2011 Scion xB
Test Drive: 2010 Nissan Cube Krom
Test Drive: 2011 Nissan Juke

Manufacturer’s web site
2012 Scion xB

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2012 Scion xB

I feel sorry for the rest of the Scion lineup. What was only a fresh, young brand a year ago is now a collection of second fiddles to the show-stealing FR-S. Credit where credit is due though—the FR-S deserves all of the attention it is getting and more, and it is an excellent halo car for this brand, with the rare circumstance that it might also lead the brand in sales.

However, the purpose of a halo car is also to draw in customers to showrooms, and then to send customers home in one of the company’s more practical appliances. Scion’s most practical appliance is the xB, which is short for ‘box’. Okay, that’s not really what it stands for, but I doubt it was an accident that the xB shares two letters with the shape that so obviously inspired it.

The Scion xB that we see here continues the tradition of the über-boxy first generation, though much more sleekly, the front bumper wrapping around tall (and fake) intakes into fenders that seem bubbly relative to the rest of the vehicle. The headlights are angular, and not perfectly parallel to the ground. The front windshield is slightly raked and rear pillar is canted slightly forward, and the rear bumper seems almost rounded in profile. It is funky design that takes the boxy first generation and evolves it into a less extreme geometric shape, with more design nuances that might attract a broader range of customers.

Test Drive: 2012 Scion xB Release Series 9.0 car test drives scion reviews
Test Drive: 2012 Scion xB Release Series 9.0 car test drives scion reviews
Test Drive: 2012 Scion xB Release Series 9.0 car test drives scion reviews
2012 Scion xB Release Series 9.0. Click image to enlarge

Okay, who am I kidding? Those of us that like our vehicles to look like two bricks stacked one atop the other are few and far between. I met with mostly derision in our offices every time I tried to espouse how cool this vehicle is. Oh well, I’ll just console myself with the idea that it is hip to be in the minority… curiously, several brands have a take on the boxy look in various sizes, Nissan offering the practically subcompact Cube all the way up to Ford’s Flex crossover that serves as a hip minivan replacement. Long live the box.

While the aesthetic benefits are debatable, the practicality should be obvious. The rear cargo space in the xB is wide and square, and although it measures only 329 L as per Scion Canada estimates, it looks about the equal of cargo bays in the Hyundai Elantra GT (651 L), Mazda3 Sport (481 L), or Toyota’s Matrix (561 L). Perhaps the best-in-class 964 mm of rear legroom cut into that cargo space, but the rear seats split 60/40 and fold flat, leaving enough space for medium-sized appliance, though Scion Canada. As far as compact hatchbacks go, the cargo area seems highly functional, and the rear seats are generous for legroom, but more than two passengers is a squeeze.

The front seats are also reasonably comfortable despite limited adjustability, though this vehicle had unique seats courtesy of the Release Series 9.0 package added to this vehicle. They featured suede-like inserts with leather bolsters and ‘colour-tuned’ (matching the body colour) contrasting stitching, with RS 9.0 stitched into the seat sides and the Scion logo embossed into the seatback leather.

Other perks of the $1,930 Release Series 9.0 package included glowing Scion badges on the grille and tailgate, giant SCION lettering on the lower front grille intake, and badges with the series number of this limited edition run. Mine was number 966 out of 1500. Missing from the Release Series package is a set of decent alloy wheels, something I would expect on a car packaged as ‘tuned’ right out of the box, and the wheel covers looked a little pathetic in contrast to the cool glowing badges.

Connect with Autos.ca