By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/30/2011
Much is made in the press about funky little cars such as Nissan's Cube and Kia's Soul. But it was the Scion xB that introduced Americans to the shoebox-on-wheels concept. Now in its second iteration, the 2011 Scion xB isn't as sharp-edged as the original, or as underpowered. In fact, next to the Cube and Soul, the xB looks a bit conservative, a strong testament to how rapidly consumer tastes change. Unlike its competition, however, the xB's list of optional accessories is unusually long, allowing an owner to personalize the xB with everything from carbon-fiber trim pieces to TRD performance parts.You'll Like This Car If...
The 2011 Scion xB is not much bigger than most compact cars and SUVs, yet its versatile interior and miserly fuel economy give it the best attributes of both. Numerous add-on accessories allow for the kind of vehicle personalization once reserved for pricey custom shops.You May Not Like This Car If...
With its low ground clearance and lack of a V6 engine option or all-wheel drive, the 2011 Scion xB's usefulness beyond the paved road is pretty much nonexistent.What's Significant About This Car?
Changes for the 2011 Scion xB are limited to some minor exterior revisions and a new trim: The Releases Series 8.0 Sport Wagon. To make the Series 8.0 even more special, Scion will spray Voodoo Blue paint on a limited run of just 2,000 cars. Also new this year is the addition of a tilt/telescopic steering wheel.Driving It Driving Impressions
Perhaps because of its wide stance and long wheelbase, the 2011 Scion xB seems to be most comfortable cruising along newly-paved freeways and urban side streets. Small cars are usually not as smooth-riding and quiet as the xB, but additional sound proofing and a competent suspension allow the xB to shield its occupants from rude jolts and noisy goings on. With only 158 horsepower on tap, the xB can't be expected to perform like a sports car, and the car's tall greenhouse and narrow tires conspire to make it feel slightly top-heavy in curves and corners. While we love the feeling of the manual shifter, we imagine most owners will opt for the four-speed automatic which, while adequate, could really do with another gear.Favorite Features
Scion Accessories Catalog
With so many cool things to add to the xB, one can easily push the price well beyond the $20,000 range. From audio, to suspension parts, to interior and exterior enhancements, the xB's accessories list is the ultimate car junky's play toy.
Where many cars offer only an auxiliary audio input jack, the xB also features a standard iPod interface. Plugging an iPod into this port allows it to be operated through the radio head unit. The plug also simultaneously supplies power to the iPod.
The 2011 Scion xB's boxy interior helps create a huge interior, one that can easily accommodate four adults or two people with a whole lot of gear or groceries. With the rear seats folded, the xB offers an impressive 70 cubic feet of cargo space; with the seats in place, there is still more than 21 cubic feet of usable storage space. While we like the xB's interior layout, the plastics feel a bit hard and cheap and there isn't much in the way of additional color or contrast, as there is with the exterior. Available options, such as the 200-watt Alpine navigation radio, add a bit of color to the xB's dash as well as a rich sound to its cabin.Exterior
The 2011 Scion xB artfully blends 90-degree angles with soft, rounded edges to create a practical economy car with maximum interior volume. Up front, a rectangular grille separates multi-reflector-beam headlamps with low-beam housings that curve along the car's sides. Around back, wide C-pillars create a look of solidity and strength; unfortunately for the driver, the xB rear pillars also create two large blind spots. In its most base guise, the xB runs the risk of appearing simple and, frankly, unattractive. But load on the available wheels, trim, paint and other Scion-sanctioned accessories and the xB transforms itself into one very cool ride. It's a neat trick no other car in the category can replicate, and one that makes the xB such a great find.Notable Standard Equipment
With only one trim level, the xB comes pre-loaded with many features that make it particularly attractive for the asking price. Inside, some of these features are air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a Pioneer audio system with six speakers, tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS), vehicle stability and traction controls and a first-aid kit. For music lovers, the lower dash houses an iPod interface and auxiliary audio input that allows song information and manipulation through the main unit via the steering-wheel audio controls. Gracing the exterior, a chrome exhaust tip and the choice of three wheel-cover designs are included as well.Notable Optional Equipment
Since the 2011 Scion xB comes with so many features already, many of the options are geared more toward personalizing the car. Such interesting options include color-customizable interior lights with matching cup-holder illumination, sport pedals, illuminated door-sill enhancements, in-pillar storage, a subwoofer, 17-inch alloy wheels and a color-keyed rear spoiler. There are a few more practical options that people may choose as well, such as carpeted floor and cargo mats, a navigation system, remote engine start, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, Alpine audio upgrade, fog lights and an auto-dimming mirror.Under the Hood
The xB shares its 2.4-liter dual overhead-cam (DOHC) four-cylinder engine with its Scion sibling, the tC. Buyers have the choice of a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic with sequential shifting. Both transmissions help the xB get slightly better gas mileage than the similar Honda Element, but not quite as good as the Nissan Cube and Chevrolet HHR.
2.4-liter in-line 4
158 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
162 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 (manual), 22/28 (automatic)
Well equipped as a base model, the 2011 Scion xB with manual transmission currently has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and Fair Purchase Price starting just under $17,000. An automatic transmission adds about $950. Since prices can differ substantially over time and from region to region, be sure to check Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price to see what people are actually paying in your area. Overall, the xB costs noticeably less than the Honda Element or Chevrolet HHR, but about the same as a comparably-equipped Nissan Cube. In terms of resale value, the xB is expected to hold its value in similar fashion to the Honda Element and Kia Soul, do better than the Chevrolet HHR and fall a few points behind the Nissan Cube.