By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.4
The Scion xB is the vehicle that started the rolling-box renaissance a decade ago. Now, nearly 10 years after its introduction and five since its last major revamp, the xB is starting to show its age while competing with vehicles such as the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube. In addition to those fresher rivals, the xB faces stiff competition from scads of crossovers such as the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. The xB 5-door hatchback isn't made for off-highway use and doesn't have the most powerful engine out there, but what it continues to do well is pack a lot of space in a small package. The xB also retains its youthful attitude, strong resale value, and the quality build that comes from having Toyota as Scion's parent.
If you want the interior room and versatility that comes with a compact SUV but not the tall ride height or marginal fuel economy that often comes with them, check out the 2013 Scion xB. The xB also appeals to the tuner set and those who like to customize their ride with distinctive wheels and body work.
If you need all-wheel drive for extra traction in foul weather or the ability to tow, look to one of the many competent compact SUVs out there, such as the xB's cousin the Toyota RAV4. The Kia Soul, meanwhile, has a fresher powertrain, lower starting price and longer warranty.
For 2013 the Scion xB receives minor exterior and interior tweaks that include a redesigned front bumper and new seat fabric. Available as an option is the BeSpoke Premium Audio system that is compatible with iPhones and can run apps such as Facebook and Yelp, and stream Internet radio stations.
Driving Impressions The 2013 Scion xB is neither a tarmac burner nor mountain-road carver, but it's relatively comfortable and nimble, and – because of its compact size – easy to park. The...Scion xB is front-wheel drive, and its sole engine is a 4-cylinder. The engine's 158 horsepower is adequate for getting this carryall up to speed, and fuel economy of 22 mpg city/28 highway are pretty good, but not quite as high as what you can get from a Cube, Soul, or Mini Cooper Clubman. In a world of 6-speed automatic transmissions and CVTs, the xB's 4-speed automatic is antiquated. A 5-speed manual is also available, and it's enjoyable to use. We appreciate that the xB is well insulated from road noise. Its suspension does a good job soaking up road imperfections. A height-adjustable seat and tilt/telescoping steering wheel, meanwhile, help drivers of various shapes and sizes find a suitable position behind the wheel.
The idea behind a boxy vehicle is the same as, well, as box: Sharp angles maximize interior space, and thus what you can put in it. If you regularly carry passengers in the rear seat, they'll appreciate ample room in the xB. Or, fold the rear seats and presto – you've got SUV-like storage space for your gear.
Scion's lineup is aimed at more youthful drivers, and that demographic takes particular care in making sure they stand out. Why should their car be any different? With that in mind, Scion offers numerous options for personalization, from carbon fiber window trim to hardware from Toyota's TRD performance division.
Despite the 2013 xB's tidy exterior dimensions, there's no lacking for interior space thanks. If you or your friends are tall, all parties should feel at ease in the xB. When not holding your buddies, the Scion's 3-person rear seat folds in a 60/40 split to open up a tremendous amount of cargo space – nearly 70 cubic feet. Back up front, controls are simple to see and use. There's little complexity here: If you want to adjust the fan to blow warm air on your feet, you can do it in about two seconds. With lots of hard plastic material and flat, simple surfaces, you won't confuse the xB for a Lexus. One interesting visual is the gauge cluster mounted at the top center of the dash.Exterior
Hunkered and squat, the xB is more like a low-rider wagon than the typical utility vehicle. With its blunt 90-degree angles and massaged edges, the 2013 Scion xB is akin to a rolling bread box. Above the high and broad side doors are windows whose blocky shape mimics that of the xB as a whole. The xB's wide C-pillars just aft of the darkened rear windows convey a powerful image in the aesthetic sense, but in the pragmatic one create blind spots. Along with the redesigned front bumper for 2013 xB models come a glossy black grille and LED accent lighting.
The 2013 Scion xB comes in just one major trim level and with a choice of manual or automatic transmission, making the selection process simple. Thankfully this car is pretty well equipped for the price. All xB models come with remote keyless entry, cruise control, and power windows. The standard audio system has six speakers and a 160-watt Pioneer AM/FM/CD player with HD Radio, USB/auxiliary inputs, and Bluetooth compatibility. On the safety front, the xB has traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, and a bounty of airbags. Also included with new xB models is complimentary maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles and two years of roadside assistance.
Most options for the xB have to do with personalizing the car or bettering its performance with parts from Toyota's racing division, TRD. Among them are sport muffler, lowering springs, a high-performance brake kit, and a limited-slip differential that works with the 5-speed manual transmission. Wheel options include 17-inch alloys or, for those who really want to roll big, 19-inch versions. New this year is the optional BeSpoke Premium Audio system that pairs with iPhones to harness app-based features including navigation and Internet radio. Twin screens mounted in the front headrests, meanwhile, can bring entertainment to rear-seat passengers. A limited-edition Release series offers enhanced interior and exterior treatments.
The 2013 xB uses a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower and runs on regular unleaded. Transmission choices are a 5-speed manual or rather a antiquated 4-speed automatic. Both transmissions help the xB get good gas mileage, but not quite as good as the Nissan Cube or Kia Soul.
158 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg
The 2013 Scion xB has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of $17,530 for models with a manual transmission. For those with an automatic transmission, likely the choice of most buyers, the price rises to a still-reasonable $18,480. With options, an xB can reach into the low $20,000 range. For comparison, the slightly smaller Kia Soul starts at just over $15,000, while the Nissan Cube nearly matches the xB's base price. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the xB. In terms of resale value, Scions enjoy above-average figures, and the xB is no exception, with its long-term value expected to be higher than that of the Soul and Cube.
By sci-fi on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 140,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great acceleration and handling"
Cons: "Interior is a little cheap and develops rattles"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I owned my Xb for 6 years and have driven it all over the country (including some rough roads it wasn't designed to drive on)and it has been mechanically bulletproof. All I've ever done is change the oil and rotate the tires. The little boxcar handles like its on rails and I love the acceleration! Only downsides is it sits very low to the ground and being an avid hiker I often hear the undercarage draging over rocks on unpaved roads and because its so low to the ground I've had to replace the windshild numerous times, seems if theres a rock or bolt flying off a big truck it will find the Xb's big windshield. The only other complaint I could have is it has developed a number of interior rattles, which is unusual for a Toyota product. My old Tacoma had over 200K hard miles and didn't rattle at all. Still I'd highly recommend this car to anyone who needed space to haul a lot of stuff but still wanted to feel like they are driving a high performance sports car."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Meko's Ride on Saturday, March 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 89,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roominess, fun to drive, good on gas, solid!"
Cons: "needs a standard passenger side arm rest"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have had for 4-5 years and shes still the goods! I needed to get a vehicle for my job as a gardener. I can carry a 6 ft orchard ladder, small backpack blower, long handled tools and all my various hand tools, plus up to 3 sacks of clean green debris! the car doesnt even flinch at all that!! Oh, plus my little dog in the front seat with all this going on. (I go to the car wash a lot!) I have little to no maintenance issues, I keep up on all the preventative maint., and she just keeps going! Still feels solid to drive, like when I first got her! She does quite well in snow with the anti-skid button, but keep it under 13mph or it disengages back to normal drive, but I can feel her gripping the road pretty well! She drives well on the mountain passes here in WA and doesnt struggle. People are always amazed with the room. If you put the passenger seat all the way back and take head rest off, you can sit in the back seat and put your legs up and kick back! Its nice for when you have someone who has a leg cast on or something and they need the room, just make sure they put the seat belt on while in that back seat! The same model in Japan, the BB, has back seats that recline too!! I love that its a well made Japanese car, it may be on the economy side but its high-quality economy! Plus all the fun add on options you can get. I feel like its a well made car with reliable origins being a "scion" of Toyota! I trust this car to be with me for a long tome!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Breezy on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,400overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Interior digital gauges, Pioneer receiver, USB AUX"
Cons: "Transmission is dated (poor MPG), creaky dashboard"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I love the Scion xB. Used to have a 1st generation 2006 xB in 5-speed manual that was tastefully modified (I promise). It was my favorite car I owned. I outgrew it, and wanted something a bit more mature, and sleek. I also wanted to go for a VIP-style luxury-look this time around, and you can’t be VIP and shift your own gears! ;) That led me to pick up a big-body 2011 xB in automatic. The 2nd generation xB in manual is pretty silly, anyway, but that’s just my opinion. It’s just too big for a manual. In any case, I do love the car, but I’m not in love with it. It lost it’s groove, and seems as though the Kia Soul is the newer version of the 1st generation xB—it has all the funk that the new xBs lost. I still like the 2nd generation xB more than the Soul, but just saying, it definitely lost it’s funk. I’ll start with pros for the 2nd generation—I do appreciate the larger body, surprising to myself, as I’ve always driven the smallest cars. Tastes change, as expected. I also appreciate how it’s more sleek in curves, while still being boxy. It comes with a myriad of features you come to expect from Scion—Pioneer receiver (head unit) and factory USB and AUX inputs, which are so important to me, and a super-cool dashboard setup, just like the 1st generation—only this time, it’s fully digital, including the speedometer! Why all cars are not digital is beyond me, but I digress. Other than that, it’s a very simple car with not much else in features. It does have a very nifty store section under the rear seats, which I appreciate. Now, my least favorite bit: the AWFUL and dated 4-speed automatic. It’s unacceptable, and very dated. This dated transmission is the cause of unacceptably low gas mileage. Moving on, the automanual function is laughable. It doesn’t respond the way you want it to—if you want to go into 3rd gear at 10mph, it doesn’t care—it’s going to do what it wants and eventually get to 3rd. Or, if you’re at a red light and put it in 3rd or 4th, it accelerates in 1st, then 2nd, then 3rd, then 4th—all while the digital gauge says you’re in 4th the whole time. Very frustrating, so I don’t even use it. It also goes into 3rd automatically (no pun intended) when you move it from D. Even at a stoplight, if you move it from D, it goes into gear 3. I’ve driven manual transmissions my whole life, and the only thing that comes decently close is a true, proper single or double-clutch auto with paddle-shifters that actually shift quickly and respond to the driver instantly, doing exactly what the driver wants. Long-story short, this automanual is the worst I’ve driven. When it listens, it shifts quick, but it doesn’t listen the majority of the time. Very hard to explain without showing you. In any case… Next, there is this strange, creaky noise/rattle from the dashboard, and it comes right off the assembly line. I know this for certain that all 2nd generation xBs have it because my father’s 2008 model has it at 36,000 miles, and mine at only 4,000 miles had it (I’m not the original owner). It’s very unacceptable, and quite sad that it comes on a brand-new car. This type of noise you expect to hear on an aging car, if so. A very aging car. I still love the car, and xBs will always have a place in my heart. What I’m saying is that I feel that Scion fell off on the 2nd generation. I understand next year, the 3rd generation xB is expected—I’m really curious to see what comes of it. I am expecting a lot from Scion this time around—they can’t afford another mediocre xB. They need to bring back the funk, or else the Kia Soul will continue to reign."
By cechank on Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Size, Load cap.(Interior), Handling, Gas Mileage"
Cons: "Minor disappointment on interior quality."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Interior needs a little nicer finish, everything works well but visible interior doesn't match the rest of the cars quality. Haven't checked out new models since I plan to put 250k on mine."
By L'l Red Toaster Owner on Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great cargo space for treasure hunts"
Cons: "Too few arm rests and visor mobility is poor"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great driving. Great pick up. Great vision all the way around. Great cargo capacity. Great look and color. Having driven a Gen 1, bought and driving a Gen 2, I could see buying another one down the road. I really enjoy getting into this car, turning on some tunes and heading out to an errand or a 5 hour trip. The power gives me the capability to maneuver around the slow pokes. The handling and large windows allows me to stay out of the way of others stupid moves. Put the back seat down and move an apartment! Seriously, this car can take on the same cargo as a medium size SUV. I have put a patio table (large) and 4 chairs in there. Boxes and bags, you name it, I have loaded and hauled it. Snappy! An old word, maybe but a good way to describe the color and the look. The 6.0 Release with the Toyota Absolute Red and the boxy look are just about perfect. In case you have not figured it out, I really really like my xB, aka The L'l Red Toaster."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By JavaCat on Monday, December 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun and funky"
Cons: "Could use a couple more cup holders in"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I can't say enough about this scion xb. I put dandy snow tires on it, and it does as well as any mountain car that I have ever driven. Cars sliding off the highway, sometimes sliding backwards down the high mountain pass because of the ice on the highway - and my little road warrior just crawls along. It also has good power climbing not one but TWO high mountain passes - I have driven this car for 49,000 miles in less than two years - and this car rocks. It has the power to climb the passes at 75 mph, it does great in nasty weather."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful