Review by Justin Pritchard

Vehicle Type: Compact crossover wagon minivan thingy

Scion xB 2004–2013
Scion xB 2004–2013
Scion xB 2004–2013. Click image to enlarge

History/Description: In 2003, Toyota launched its Scion brand with two vehicles: the xA and xB. The xB is the boxy-looking mini ute van type machine that’s styled not to fit into any specific genre. It’s typically the model most folks unfamiliar with Scion associate with the brand. Initially, the xB was only available in the USA, though many copies wound up on Canadian roads as owners set on an xB imported them into the country.

The Japanese brand had youthful and expressive shoppers in its sights. Since that shopper demanded uniqueness, customizability, and a sense of community to go with their thrifty little car, these were included with all Scion models. And sure, these traits are far from the ones sought out by the typical Toyota shopper, but Scion has experienced some success in tailoring the brand specifically to a more youthful and dynamic clientele.

The first generation xB was on sale from 2004 to 2006, during which time it rode on a modified Toyota Yaris platform with modifications to make it more appealing to North Americans.

The gen-two xB got a facelift and a new North American-specific platform to help it better meet the needs of shoppers on this side of the pond. It was wider, longer, and much heavier than the first-generation car. Accordingly, the engine was up-sized to provide adequate performance in light of the added portliness.

Engines / Trim: First-generation xB models were all powered by a 1.5L four-cylinder engine with just over 100 hp. All models were front-wheel drive, and a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic could be specified. No surprises in the powertrain department.

For the second-generation xB, engineers specified a 2.4L, 158-hp mill to replace the 1.5L unit in the original car. Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmission options remained.

Power windows, mirrors, locks and air conditioning were on board, and available options included a long list of cosmetic upgrades, satellite radio, a subwoofer, alloy wheels, mood lighting and more. Numerous audio head-units were available, and Bluetooth became standard later in the current-generation model’s life.

As an added bonus for tuner types, there’s plenty of aftermarket support for the xB in terms of body kits, performance parts, wheel upgrades and the like. All told, if you’re after a vehicle you can customize and make your very own, the xB should do the trick.

Several “RS” (Release Series) versions — which wear an RS badge followed by a number like 5.0, 6.0 or 9.0 — were available in limited numbers, combining exclusive colours, options, and cosmetic upgrades into high-value packages.

Scion xB 2004–2013Scion xB 2004–2013
Scion xB 2004–2013. Click image to enlarge

What Owners Like: Many Scion xB owners have taken to the web to share their ownership stories and experiences, which include praise for cargo and passenger room, visibility, ride comfort, utility, and mileage. Other owner-stated pluses include surprising handling and stability, as well as a powerful stereo system and overall looks. At-hand storage levels and a “just right” ride height for comfortable entry and exit round out the positives.

This is a machine, in either generation, that seems to hit the mark where a balance of price, economy, style, and utility are concerned. The key differences between the first and second-generation machines, functionally, are increased power and increased interior space.

What Owners Dislike: Complaints tend to deal mainly with meagre performance from the original xB’s tiny 1.5L engine, as well as wide gear spacing with the automatic transmission, which doesn’t appear to do any favours for the vehicle’s performance. Shoppers after maximum driving pleasure should strongly consider a manual transmission where possible. Note that the added power and torque of the second-generation model seem to have reduced these complaints.

Other owners mention a noisy engine, and some low-quality parts and materials throughout the cabin. Road noise and insufficient output from the dome light round out the gripes.

Here’s a look at some owner reviews of the Scion xB

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