In recent months I’ve been looking at getting a new car. Actually, at first, I was looking at used cars, but, eventually, I ended up looking at new hatchbacks. I was replacing a sports car and the point of the exercise was to get a vehicle that would save me gas, and be a little more utilitarian without totally giving up the fun factor. After doing tons of research on the Internet, I ended up buying a special edition of the 2008 Scion xB – the Gold Rush Mica Release 5.0.
The Scion xB was redesigned in 2008, becoming both wider and longer than the first generation xB. It also got a bigger engine – a 2.4L 158HP powerplant that is also used in the Scion tC and the Toyota Camry. The result is a more refined vehicle with a smoother ride, more power, and more space than it’s predacessor, but also a vehicle with reduced gas mileage. The xB comes in at an EPA estimated 22MPG, 28MPG highway. So far, I’m getting a combined average in the 25-26MPG range, but I’m not heavy on the throttle.
To be fair, the xB isn’t a sports car and doesn’t have the power of the Chevy HHR SS that David reported on a while back, but, it does alright for itself and still offers plenty of power entering onto the highway and even costs several thousand dollars less than the HHR – just don’t expect to go racing anytime soon!
This particular Scion is part of a special edition of only 2500 called the Gold Rush Mica Release 5.0. It came in a special color, along with a Kenstyle body kit, special wheels, premium radio, special number badging, an optional (but functionally pointless) wing, power sunroof, and a special black/gold interior. It’s really an odd vehicle, and the vivid color makes it stand out even more, but that, quite frankly, is really part of it’s appeal!
I’ve been driving this around for about a week now and I absolutely love it. It has some really cool things going on. To start, the gadget freak in me love the iPod connector in addition to the auxilliary audio jack. That means I can jack in an iPod, or a Zune, or nearly any audio source. The iPod integration is especially nice since it allows me to control my iPod from the radio or steering wheel controls, including accessing my playlists!
The backseat is huge with all doors providing easy access to the vehicle, not making you climb up or down into the vehicle. Additionally, with the back seat folded down flat, the xB has a really large carrying capacity for a vehicle of it’s size, listed at nearly 22 cu ft, although I admit I’m not certain if that’s the back cargo area only or the cargo area with the back seat folded down. The passenger area is just shy of 101cu ft.
There’s a lot to love with the xB, but it does have a few quirky things as well. The instrument cluster, for example, is nearer to the center of the car, just like it is on the Saturn Ion. It takes a little getting used to, but I’m getting used to it even after only a few days of driving.
Within the instrument cluster there is a multi-function display on the left that shoulw things like the time, the outside temp, your avg/inst MPG, etc. There’s really too many functions (7 in all) tied to this one button, meaning you have to toggle and toggle to see what you want. Additionally, I can’t see any 2 things at the same time. If I want to watch my average MPG, for example, I have to give up seeing the clock or the outside temp. And that button is just far enough away to make it inconvenient to press, especially while driving.
The rear C pillars are pretty thick and provide a pretty significant blind spot. It’s easily overcome by proper side mirror usage, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.
I mentioned before how much I’m enjoying the iPod integration into the radio, I do wish they hadn’t chosen to use this sort of volume dial/joystick combo they call the multi-selector as the main radio controller. It is a little clumsy to use, and pressing the center correctly (as opposed to sliding off into one of the 4 directions) for a selection takes a little effort, especially while the vehicle is in motion.
And on the topic of the audio system, a little better speaker effort from the rear speakers would have been nice. They’re a little weak compared to the front speakers. While investigating this online I did discover one interesting things – the audio system has a setup option for each of the Scion models and that setup is incorrect in many vehicles which will affect the audio performance. Mine is (and was) set correctly, but for many folk I saw online, it was not.
Overall, though, I really am enjoying this vehicle. It’s so easy to get in and out, which, if online forums are any indication, is making waves in the over-60 demographic. Interestingly enough, I read that the Scion xB, while targeting toward a younger market, actually has an average buyer age of 39. I think a lot of that has to do with the face that the Scion xB offers a nice, well-loaded vehicle at a really good price. And with Scion, you don’t really negotiate the priced since they use a fixed-price model they call “true pricing”. xB pricing starts in the mid $16,000 range. Mine came in at just over $21,000.
If you’re looking for a small hatchback with standout features and a cool and funky “look at me” appearance and excellent resale value, then I suggest you consider taking a look at the Scion xB!