2009 Scion xB 5-door


This week we’re looking at the 2009 Scion xB 5-door small wagon. Like me lots of people I talked with about the Scion felt the early versions were really ugly. The sharp boxy edges just didn’t do it for most folks. Today’s more rounded edges soften the look and less like a gang bangers car. The gay community adopted the Saab for unknown reasons and it is interesting how cars have become an integral part of our lives and how they often define us.

The Scion has blended into the competition a little more with the 2009 and in fact it is much like its cousin the Honda Element. It sits even lower than the Element and in part the low to the ground design of both is what puts them in the Wagon category rather than an SUV class.

What surprised me from the outset with the two vehicles is the broad acceptance of the design. Young and old alike have embraced the look. I believe for different reasons however. Young people like to be different – period! Older folks like the practicality of the design. When the Element came on the scene Honda felt it would appeal to the older buyer since it was easy to get in and out of. It was simple and could even be hosed out for easy cleaning. Just open the doors on both sides and the ‘suicide door’ configuration make it look like you could drive a truck thru it.

I guess the generations are not as far apart as you might think.

General Info:

Parts –  Japan

Assembly – Japan

Class:  – Small Wagon

Cars: – tC, xB, xD


As car companies come and go cars have always been repaired and maintained. The history of the automobile should help us to get a grip on the fact that losing dealerships may in fact be a Good Thing. Have you ever experienced the cost to do anything at a dealership? Not a pretty picture at the check out counter. Bring more than one credit card because you shouldn’t carry that much cash around on your person.

As some of you know I experienced first hand the difference between the dealer and the independent repair facility. Why – because I was an owner of an independent mostly foreign and some domestic repair shop. We also had a body shop and I learned how BMW, Jag and Mercedes Benz owners would drop in as if we were an Oasis in the desert.

The point is simply this. If you have any trepidation about buying any car because they may not be around next year forget the worry – buy the car you want or need and know with confidence independents have been fixing cars abandoned by their parents for a hundred years now.

Handling & Performance:

The Scion is comfortable and has good stability in part because of the lower center of gravity. It is fast and because of its smooth ride you tend to drive faster than you should. That fact is sufficient reason why you always include ‘cruise control’ when you buy a car. Simply set the speed and forget it and you’ll avoid your, not so friendly, highway tax collectors.


Another comparison where the Honda Element is more thoughtfully crafted than many similar vehicles is the rear ‘theater seating’. Scion doesn’t incorporate that design feature, and although it may seem like a small thing, when you try it you will love it. Correction – your passengers will love it.

Some Curb Weight comparisons: Scion 3026 lbs; Element 3352 lbs; PT Cruiser 3070; Kia Rio 2568 lbs; Chevrolet HHR 3155; Dodge Caliber 3052;

Small and large SUV examples: Ford Escape 3229 lbs; Cadillac Escalade 5511 lbs.

In the style department however the winner has to be the PT Cruiser from Chrysler. It simply stands out in the crowd and if you ask ‘mirror mirror on the wall…’ it is the prettiest one of all.

Fit and Finish:

Not bad and for this price point car it is quite good. You expect exceptional assembly from Japanese car makers and because they have set the bar so high the competition has met the challenge and none are really poorly assembled. To get to the really ‘exceptional’ level you must triple the price point, so I can’t get too excited about looser tolerances for the purchase price in this class.


Very good car for the money.

Conveniences and comfort:

Very good.

Consumer Recommendation:

Nice selection to choose from in this economy class of small wagons. I’ve tested most but have not been in the Ford Transit Connect or the Nissan Cube. Good stuff.

Recognized Competition:

Scion xB $16-17,000, Pontiac Vibe $16-21,000, Mazda 5 $18-23,000, Chrysler PT Cruiser $18-25,000, Honda Fit $15-19,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $16-19,000, Kia Rio5 $13-14,000, Kia Rondo $17-22,000, Nissan Versa $10-16,000, Kia Soul $13-17,000, Dodge Caliber $16-25,000, Ford Transit Connect $21-22,000, Nissan Cube $14-19,000, Chevrolet HHR  $19-25,000, Toyota Matrix $17-22,000.

Good News:

Good fuel economy, nice ride and well priced.

Bad News:

Light weight class that concern many.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 158 hp 4 cylinder engine, 4-speed auto trans, electronic power steering, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes with brake force distribution, sport tuned independent MacPherson front strut and rear torsion beam suspension, stability control with traction control, front – side and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring, power mirrors, front and rear washer wipers, front bucket and rear split fold flat seats, cruise control, air conditioning, audio with CD, 6 speakers, iPod connector, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, privacy glass and tilt steering wheel with audio controls.

Gas Stats:

$2.43/ Gal avg. May 14, ‘09


for more information.

22 City and 28 Highway MPG


MSRP $16,700.

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