Road Test - SCION xB

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 9, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Another Toyota youthmobile that’s likely to score with the ‘not so young.’

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    BY TONY SWAN
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY AARON KILEY
    September 2003

    What you see here, young people, is yet another manifestation of Toyota's reaching out to you. We're talking to all you echo-booming Net-Gen millennials who think a Toyota badge equates with a paunch, TV golf, and crab-grass anxiety. Never mind Toyota's enviable car-biz record for value and durability. To you, Dad's Camry or Mom's Sienna is the automotive equivalent of sensible shoes, and the antithesis of body piercing.

    This generational schism is thoroughly traditional. Kids reject the styles and values of their parents because nothing their parents espouse could possibly be cool, and also because kids are essentially immortal: Getting old couldn't possibly happen to me. Not exactly new, although the widespread use of one's skin for artistic self-expression is new, at least in this country.

    Toyota doesn't necessarily endorse the self-mutilation that passes for personal adornment today, but whatever young people do to their bodies—nose rings, tongue studs, tattoos—is okay by the company's marketers, provided those young bodies transport themselves in Toyota products. But that's not happening. At least not to the extent Toyota would like.

    Toyota Division general manager Don Esmond says, “Toyota's future success lies in its appeal to young buyers looking for something new, different, and affordable.” Esmond said that four years ago during the presentation of a new car designed to address the “new, different, affordable” imperative.

    That car was called the Echo. And it flopped. Sales fell short of the 50,000 annual target, but the real failure was demographic. Instead of 20-somethings, the Echo attracted adults—median age 45 years, 67-percent women, 47-percent married, with a median income of $42,400. Toyota's response was a two-fold strategy: repackage and rename. And the Scion brand was born.

    Regular readers already know Scions come in two shapes, the less expensive xA, and the bigger xB. Measured against the current U.S. traffic mix, they certainly meet the “different” criterion, particularly the xB, which looks like a toolshed on wheels. They also qualify as eminently affordable, at least in terms of base price. The xA starts at $12,965, the bigger xB at $14,165.

    As to the “new” part, to borrow from the biblical, it's old wine in new skins. The sheetmetal is clearly unlike anything in Toyota's U.S. portfolio, but it surrounds hardware that is, as they say, proven, thanks to the Echo. Yup, it's the same stuff—same bones, essentially, and same powertrains: Toyota's thrifty little 1NZ-FE 1.5-liter DOHC 16-valve four mated to a five-speed manual (standard) or four-speed automatic ($800). The “essential” bones caveat applies to the xB, which has 5.1 more inches of wheelbase (98.4 versus 93.3), although front and rear track dimensions are the same as the xA's at 57.3 and 56.3 inches. So is the suspension—front struts, trailing arms and twist-beam axle rear, with front and rear anti-roll bars (Echos make do with a front bar only).

    Spring rates, bars, and damping are stiffer than in the xA. The xB is 4.4 inches taller and almost 90 pounds heavier, and the chassis team wanted more roll stiffness. More wasn't quite enough. Pushed hard into a turn, the xB heels like a sailboat rounding the windward mark. Still, the door handles don't quite scrape pavement, and Toyota's stability-control system (it's standard), plus progressive understeer, make this car as predictable as political campaign rhetoric.

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    Something else that's predictable is forward progress, which qualifies as deliberate, particularly with the automatic transmission feeding power to the front wheels. Our test car was so equipped and managed to achieve 60 mph in 10.6 seconds and the quarter-mile in 18.2 seconds at 75 mph. That, you might observe, isn't much of an achievement, but the xB's street performance feels better than the test-track numbers suggest and would be better still with a manual transmission. And that choice makes the car $800 cheaper.

    The xB rides on P185/60TR-15 Goodyear Eagle LS all-season tires. Grip is modest—0.75 g on the skidpad. The stopping distance provided by the front-disc, rear-drum braking system—200 feet from 70 mph—is comparable to that of other small sedans, but it's abysmal when compared with something like a Mazda Miata's. Why automakers give small cars short shrift in the brake department is an ongoing mystery to us, but at least we can give Toyota credit for making ABS standard on both Scions.

    There is much to like here. If the xB's responses are just adequate, its manners are superb. Although firm, the ride quality is supple enough to soften Michigan's warty pavement, and interior noise is remarkably subdued, particularly for an inexpensive car poking a square hole in the air. Remarkable also applies to rear-seat legroom, as well as maximum cargo capacity. Driver sightlines are excellent, augmented by a surprisingly high seating position. The seats suggest long-haul comfort for four (although they seem snug for five), and interior materials and textures suggest a level of quality that's uncommon at this end of the price spectrum.

    Style is what this vehicle is all about, and we think it works. Yes, it looks as though it were designed by a guy using nothing but a T-square and a triangle, and yes, it suggests a Ford Econoline van whose owner ignored the washing instructions. The $758 Exterior package, including fake carbon-fiber trim (imagine: a synthetic copy of a synthetic) leaves us cold, and the $774 Sound package's Bazooka Tube subwoofer is mounted squarely in the middle of the rear cargo area. Also, we're still not sold on center-dash instruments, although we note the xB's pod has migrated closer to the driver than the one in the Echo. Hey, we told ya.

    But for all these niggling little caveats, this small-scale two-box runabout scores well here at chez C/D. It's bulldog cute, its performance exceeded our admittedly limited expectations, it's surprisingly useful, and without some of the accessories, it's almost impossible to beat for the price.

    However, no member of the C/D test staff has a tattoo or a navel ring, or even a pierced ear. Only a couple of the guys remember being a 20-something—we had to recruit some of those —and none of us represents the kind of buyer Toyota would like to see driving Scions. The significance? Instead of cargos composed of mountain bikes or snowboards, we think it's more likely Scions will be trundling around with groceries, bags of topsoil, and crab-grass killer, driven by folks in their 40s. Oh, well. Next?

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    Highs: High utility index, sweeping driver sightlines, quiet interior, smooth ride.

    Lows: Faux carbon-fiber trim, center-mounted instrument binnacle.

    The Verdict: A useful little vanlet that may miss the Scion target market.

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    COUNTERPOINT

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    AARON ROBINSON
    Okay, I get it. The joke, I mean. It's a box, both square and hip. Is it a good car for the money? Dude, you have no idea. The xB is big inside, blimp-parking big. The rear seat has enough room for your band's drummer and his drums. Drop the seats flat, and you can load in half the amps that travel with the Who. The xB rides more quietly, tracks with more stability, accelerates more smoothly, and comes loaded with more standard gadgets than it is entitled to by its dinky price. Pass on the pricey options ($350 for fog lights?), and this washing machine will make you feel as if you'd taken Toyota to the cleaners.

    DANIEL PUND
    This is the first time I've driven a marketing program on wheels. And you know, it ain't so bad. Of course, neither was the Echo—the heart of which beats under the billboard panels of the xB. I'll leave to others the fruitless argument over whether the xB or the xA will appeal to kids. Of greater concern is whether that Bazooka subwoofer taking up precious cargo space can kick out the bass. So I slide in the most bass-heavy CD I have, Morphine (I ain't that young), and out pours a dirty puddle of low frequency. I can't distinguish a bass drum from a bass guitar from a sleazy saxophone. The kids couldn't prefer bombast to clarity, could they?

    BARRY WINFIELD
    There wasn't an xB model available in L.A. when I requested it, so I drove the hatchback xA instead. The mechanicals are similar, even if the appearance is not, and I found the 1.5-liter engine a usefully torquey unit for urban driving. The Scion is quite capable of leaving the inattentive L.A. traffic in the dust from stoplights, and it runs comfortably at the unofficial freeway speed of 80 mph. The xA also rides well for a small car and has pretty good isolation. Although fit and finish is good and the materials do not feel cheap, the hard textures on the doors and dash are prone to scuff damage. Central driver's instruments don't work for me, but otherwise, it's a great deal.

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    C/D TEST RESULTS

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    ACCELERATION (Seconds)
    Zero to 30 mph: 3.5
    40 mph: 5.4
    50 mph: 7.8
    60 mph: 10.6
    70 mph: 15.0
    80 mph: 20.9
    90 mph: 29.0
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 11.1
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 5.5
    50-70 mph: 8.0
    Standing 1/4-mile: 18.2 sec @ 75 mph
    Top speed (drag limited): 103 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 200 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.75 g
    Understeer: moderate

    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 30 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 34 mpg
    C/D-observed: 27 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 46 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 73 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 69 dBA

    SCION xB
    Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door wagon
    Price as tested: $18,656

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    ENGINE
    Type: 4-in-line, aluminum block and head
    Bore x stroke: 2.95 x 3.33 in, 75.0 x 84.7mm
    Displacement: 91 cu in, 1497cc
    Compression ratio: 10.5:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection
    Valve gear: chain-driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters, variable intake-valve timing
    Power (SAE net): 108 bhp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 105 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm

    Redline: 6400 rpm

    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 4-speed automatic
    Final-drive ratio: 4.15:1

    Gear ... Ratio ... Mph/1000 rpm ... Max. test speed

    I ... 2.85 ... 5.8 ... 37 mph (6400 rpm)
    II ... 1.55 ... 10.6 ... 68 mph (6400 rpm)
    III ... 1.00 ... 16.4 ... 103 mph (6250 rpm)
    IV ... 0.70 ... 23.5 ... 103 mph (4400 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 98.4 in
    Track, front/rear: 57.3/56.3 in
    Length/width/height: 155.3/66.5/64.6 in
    Ground clearance: 6.1 in
    Curb weight: 2508 lb
    Weight distribution, front/rear: 58.9/41.1%
    Curb weight per horsepower: 23.2 lb
    Fuel capacity: 11.9 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction
    Body material: welded steel stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 59 cu ft
    rear seat: 50 cu ft
    cargo volume, seats up/down: 21/43 cu ft
    Practical cargo room, length of pipe: 118.0 in
    largest sheet of plywood: 43.5 x 57.0 in no. of 10 x 10 x 16-in boxes, seats up/down 11/39
    Front-seat adjustments: fore and aft, seatback angle
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts, driver and passenger front airbags rear manual 3-point belts

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, strut located by a control arm, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    Rear: ind, trailing arms integral with a transverse member, coil springs, anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion, power-assisted
    Steering ratio: 17.1:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 3.3
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 36.0 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with anti-lock control and electronic panic assist
    Front/rear: 10.0 x 0.9-in vented disc/ 8.0 x 1.3-in cast-iron drum

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 5.5 x 15 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Goodyear Eagle LS, P185/60TR-15
    Test inflation pressures, front/rear: 29/29 psi
    Spare: high pressure compact

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  2. Buick Muscle

    Buick Muscle Guest

    Negative ghostrider/
     
  3. dan

    dan New Member

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    Wow I'm drivign a box. What a piece of shit.
     
  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Wow, so versatile.... so gay... your mom will love it!
     
  5. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    :ugh2:

    Saw a bunch of those in LA last month. Not much better looking in person either.
     
  6. Jericho

    Jericho Active Member

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    damn that is ugly. what the fuck is wrong with the designers?
     
  7. vikingen

    vikingen OT Supporter

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    it looks like a toaster :ugh:
     
  8. quzur

    quzur Active Member

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    I still like it...for what it is.
     
  9. d0nk3ypunch

    d0nk3ypunch New Member

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    I wish I could total my fucking echo :wtc:
     
  10. Nismo4090

    Nismo4090 Back in Black

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    yea its a very nice PIECE OF SHIT
     
  11. Mobile

    Mobile Guest

    that thing is so fucking pimp. id love to have one
     
  12. Steve Kerr

    Steve Kerr 6 Time NBA Champion OT Supporter

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    horrible
     
  13. Mobile

    Mobile Guest

    a simple minded american cant appreciate that car
     
  14. Antistatic

    Antistatic New Member

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    Toyota trying to copy the Element? :dunno:

    Either way the're both fucking ugly as hell. :ugh:
     
  15. Mobile

    Mobile Guest

    ib hisxlnc
     
  16. Echo Hatchback>that
     
  17. glide

    glide primer

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    :bigok:
    Boxy cars rock.
     
  18. mucky

    mucky .

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    :eek: :ugh: :rofl: :ugh:
     
  19. viper966

    viper966 Eat a Bag of Dicks

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    Earth To Car Manufacturers You Are Only Gonna Attrack Young Buyers With A Decent Amount Of Hp!!!!!!!!!!
     
  20. Mobile

    Mobile Guest

     
  21. coronet

    coronet Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?

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    Haha, yesterday you fuckers were talking about how sweet it looks...

    ...so the xA is all that's left. ;)
     
  22. Mobile

    Mobile Guest

    werd

    its such a simple design, yet its probably one of the most distinct cars on the road
     
  23. Johnny*MacBlayze

    Johnny*MacBlayze wassup? shut up!

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  24. glide

    glide primer

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    ***Disclaimer***

    I am also fond of the late Chevy Astro/GMC Safari.

    Price for the one tested is way up there. :down:
     
  25. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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