Compact car; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,200 – $8,500*


2004 Scion xB


2004 Scion xB


2005 Scion xB


2004 Scion xB

Pros:
  • Fuel economy
  • Passenger room
Cons:
  • Acceleration

The xB melds hip-hop style with box-on-wheels practicality in a solid, pleasant little wagon with the bonus of Toyota’s reputation for reliability, durability and quality workmanship. As such, this Scion appeals as much to older folks as to the young trendsetters it was designed for, an irony that also applies to the Honda Element and other similarly calculated “lifestyle” wagons.

Overview

This square-lined 5-door wagon launched Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand for model-year 2004 together with the xA 4-door hatchback. Both were five-passenger compacts sharing a basic platform, a 108-hp 1.5-liter 4-cyl engine, 5-speed manual transmission and optional 4-speed automatic. The main differences were external. Where the xA had conventional small-car styling, the xB was a literal “two box” design standing longer and taller on a 5-inch longer wheelbase.

With its unusual appearance and wagon versatility, the xB symbolized Scion’s mission of drawing younger, “active lifestyle” buyers to Toyota dealers with “cool” vehicles that would presumably keep these customers coming back to Toyota. Marketers decided this group wanted affordable compacts they could easily personalize, so Toyota/Scion dealers stocked a wide range of performance and dressup accessories, which only added to dealer profits. Even so, the xB was no “stripper,” arriving at around $14,000 with two major safety features: antilock brakes and traction/antiskid control. Unlike the xA, though, it was not available with front torso side airbags or curtain side airbags. Other xB standards included air conditioning, power windows/mirrors/door locks, tilt steering wheel, split folding rear seat, rear liftgate wiper, dark-tint rear privacy glass, and a good-sounding single-disc CD audio system with MP3 playback. Regular” factory options included satellite radio, fog lights, rear spoiler, alloy wheels to replace the standard 15-inch steel rims, and upgraded sound systems from various brands well known to the youth market.

Helped by its funky image and wide press attention, the xB promptly outsold the xA by some 2 to 1 in Scion’s first two seasons. Still, not many used Scions of any kind are yet on the market. It’s worth noting that Toyota’s slightly larger Echo sedan was a kissin’ cousin of the inaugural Scions, using identical powertrains and the same basic platform. Echo, however, was one of Toyota’s rare sales duds, and was dropped after model-year 2005.

Yearly Updates

2005 xB
Virtually unchanged from 2004.
2006 xB
The base audio system gained a plug-in for listening to digital music players through the vehicle’s speakers, and a new optional system added dashboard control and program display for Apple iPod players. A dual-screen DVD entertainment system joined the options list. Due to a change in rating method, horsepower was restated to 103, torque to 101 lb-ft, though the engine itself was unchanged.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

The xB was offered only with a 1.5-liter 4-cyl. engine and a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic. Horsepower was listed at 108 for 2004-05, then restated to 103 for 2006 models, due to a change in rating method; the engine itself, however, was unchanged.

dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.5/91
Engine HP 108
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 105
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
30/33
30/34
24.6
26.3

1. hp and torque re-rated on 2006 models to 103 hp, 101 lb-ft

Road Test

The xB is more about turning heads than neck-snapping performance, so acceleration is sedate. A manual-transmission test car clocked 9.8 sec 0-60 mph, and automatic transmission adds a second or so. With that, xB drivers must plan ahead when merging onto fast-moving expressways, passing on crowded two-lane roads, and even making turns against fast oncoming city traffic. Still, the little box doesn’t feel that slow, and both transmissions are slick and responsive enough. But because it is somewhat underpowered, the xB isn’t as economical as some small cars. We averaged 24.6 mpg with manual transmission in a test that included gas-eating acceleration runs; a test automatic version averaged 26.3 mpg in a less-strenuous city/highway mix.

Road manners are typical small wagon. Body lean seems marked in tight fast corners, a function of the car’s elevated seating, and the skinny tires both limit grip and allow mild wander along road grooves and in gusty crosswinds. Otherwise, the xB feels stable yet nimble. It really shines in the urban crush with its tidy size, compact turning circle and quick, low-effort steering. The standard ABS gives competent routine stops, but distances were a bit long in our simulated 60-0 “panic stop” test. Ride comfort is average with standard-size tires. Washboard surfaces induce minor jiggle, especially at freeeway speeds, and there’s occasional bucking over sharp bumps and big humps. Beware of used examples modified with larger wheels or non-standard suspension components, as your teeth will likely rattle except on the glassiest pavement. Noise levels are class-typical, with noticeable engine roar at full throttle, about equal parts engine and tire hum in gentle cruising. Wind rush, though, is surprisingly modest for such a bluff box.

But a box is a practical shape, so the xB has fine interior space for its exterior size. Despite sitting fairly high off the floor, all occupants enjoy near top-hat head room and plenty of leg space, plus airy views out and no-strain entry/exit. Seats are comfortable for the economy class, but the rear bench is too narrow for three adults. As in the sister xA, gauges and warning lights sit in a dashtop pod that puts style over function, though it’s livable. At least the audio unit is handy just right of the steering wheel. The climate panel is directly below. Both have large, simple controls. Assembly and cabin materials are more than up to the price, and the cloth trim is quite classy, but available LED lighting for the front floorwells and even cupholders may seem like overkill to over-30s. Buyers of all ages will appreciate the usefully cubic cargo hold, easy-fold rear seats and large liftgate opening. Still, this is no minivan, with just 21 inches of floor length behind the rear seat and 43.4 cu. ft. maximum load volume, though most all that space is useable. Interior torage includes a small well next to the spare tire beneath the cargo floor and assorted slots and pockets up front, but rear-seaters get nothing.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2005 Scion xB, man.

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
70%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 57

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
98.4 155.3 66.5 64.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
43.4 11.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
46.1 45.7 45.3 38.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 Scion xB 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Rear Passenger Injury - 3
60%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Fuel pump
Description: May be difficult to refuel because nozzle keeps clicking off, requiring installation of an improved fuel tank with filler pipe. (2004-05)
Audio system
Description: The CD player may stop or pause intermittently and a revised unit with a new microprocessor was released as a correction. (2004) The Bazooka bass tube may rattle unless a revised hardware mounting kit is installed (2004-05)
Steering problems
Description: Damage to the steering angle sensor by an electrical connector in the column causes the ABS/VSC warning light to come on. (2004)
Water leak
Description: The passenger side floor may get wet because the A/C condensate drain hose comes off the housing. (2004-06)
Transmission problems
Description: Vehicle may have a sloppy (loose feeling) shift lever, requiring service to adjust the shift cable. (2004-05)

Recall History

2004-06 Scion xB
Description: Certain combination headlamp assemblies sold as replacements may have side reflectors that do not conform with federal standards. Manufacturers will contact owners and replace the assemblies free of charge; the manufacturers are Anzo USA, Inc.; AAI Motorsports, USA, LLC; and Tradesonic.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.