Review and photos by Steven Bochenek
Scion makes the auto-purchase mating dance easier. You can customize the dickens out of your choice at the dealership, but the basic Scion xD price option is black and white: you choose the standard or automatic transmission.
This tester came with the four-speed automatic, an extra $900 and thief of fun. Choosing it adds the punny ‘4A’ suffix to the final model title 2013 Scion xD 4A. (You know the sort of shtick that tabloid editors and marketing hacks love. “Make this your first 4A into the urban jungle.”)
Like the entire Scion lineup, it’s aiming for a young city dweller. And for the most part, it’s a decent choice. However, there are so many, many other decent choices in this segment, you’ll have a helluva time deciding. Having rated it a B already, I’ll provide you a list of the Scion xD’s pluses. These include the goodies that come with the basic model, courtesy of that simplified purchase process. Getting all this without sticker shock is probably how celebrities feel when they leave an awards ceremony weighed down with their grab-bag.
2013 Scion xD 4A. Click image to enlarge
First, air conditioning included in a car under $20K is a pleasant surprise. We didn’t need it in April but a few more weeks into spring and things will get sticky out here.
There’s a litany of safety devices and crash protection, which you’ll want because the xD’s curb weight is a very light 1,209 kg. (Sure, the much taller Nissan Cube without stick shift weighs 1,286 kg, only slightly more, but the Audi A8L 3.0 TFSI Quattro, which is also designed to seat five, is 2,000 kg.) Lightness helps with velocity and fuel efficiency but ain’t much for protection. Fortunately, for 2013, Scion added two more airbags, bringing the xD’s total to eight. You’re well cocooned.
It also comes with 16-inch steel wheels on all-season tires, plus a temporary spare tire cached beneath the trunk. It’s front-wheel drive – no surprise there – so you’d be wise to purchase winter tires. Personally, I’d choose them over ten more airbags.
You get a fairly good warranty that lasts 60,000 km or three years with roadside assistance and 100,000 km or five years for the powertrain. (Powertrain? Gearhead speak for the whole family of parts that take power from the source to road. That includes primarily the engine and transmission, and some other bits like drive shafts and differentials.)
The basic price also includes a fairly decent stereo with six speakers that plays all your extra formats beyond radio and CD, courtesy of the auxiliary jack and USB port. And of course, Bluetooth. It’s all controllable from the steering wheel buttons. Yes, that’s pretty much price of entry these days, but cool nonetheless. It’s always worth taking a step back and considering how far technology’s come over the past few years.
Turn that stereo up loud, though, because – remember the discussion about lightness above – they didn’t weigh the Scion xD down with sound baffling. Listen closely in traffic and you can hear other people’s stereos too.
Which sparks an interesting segue. The doors are neither hefty nor balanced to close with a light touch. So be sure you consciously thrust them shut. Beeps will remind you if you don’t, but even the beeps cease eventually.
What about its looks? Will you want to be seen coming out of it? Does it have curbside cachet? Well… to some, yes. Personally I wasn’t inspired by the ‘magnetic grey metallic’ (aka grey) exterior or ‘dark charcoal’ (aka black) interior but the Scion website lets you futz with colours early in your online experience. So you can switch it up. Careful, though. They know that when you start painting it in your head, you’re more likely to buy.