The name Scion means ‘a descendant or offspring' and is pronounced 'sigh-on'. Produced as a cheaper model for the younger generation, the Scion was created by Toyota for those that wouldn't touch their parents Toyota. A box-shaped, 5-door compact station wagon, the Scion xB was a rebadged subcompact Toyota bB. Due to their large numbers, approximately 78 million, Scion xB's marketing is aimed directly at Generation Y, American's that were born between 1978 and 1990.
The first two models, the bean and the box, were two of Toyota's Japanese home-market hatchbacks that share the Toyota Echo's chromosomes. Sharing the strut and twist-beam suspension of the Echo, they also feature the 108-hp, 1.5-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine, with variable valve timing on the intake cam. While Japan had several years to become used to the box shape vehicle, it took the American market a bit more time to warm up to the vehicle. Riding on a longer wheelbase than the xA, 98.4 inches, the interior of the xB features more passenger room and an additional 21 cubic feet behind the rear seats for almost anything.
One of two models that entered the North American market under the Scion brand name was the Scion xB. The Scion xB was basically an Americanized version of the Japanese Toyota bB that was introduced July of 1999 as a new-for-2000 model. A huge success, the Japanese bB was updated in for the Japanese 2003 model year. While largely unmodified for the American market, the Scion xB did convert to left-hand drive and underwent equipment changes to conform to USDOT safety and emission standards. The xB was sold for $13,880 at the base manual level, and $14,680 for the auto.
Debuting at the 2003 New York Auto Show, the xB was originally introduced to America as the Scion bbX concept, which was a near-production version of the Scion Xb released to the California market in June, 2003. The bbX shared a 108hp 1.5L VVT-i engine with the Scion xA and the Toyota Echo. To keep dealership quality control fine-tuned and to spark demand in the rest of the country, the bbX was sold exclusively in California for several months.
The Scion brand hit both the east coast and the south in September of 2003. Dealerships began to pop up along the southern border states from Texas to Florida and along the Atlantic almost instantaneously. By June of 2004, the rest of the country was finally introduced to the Scion dealerships, now integrated into Toyota dealerships, though separate showrooms that featured high-tech flatscreen devices kept them apart.
Significantly upgraded for the American market, the Scion xB featured extra steel reinforcement, along with sound-damping material, tighter suspensions and a longer list of standard accessories. These included four-wheel disc brakes with antilock in the xA, and disc brakes with ABS, traction control and skid control in the xB.
The Scion xB also comes with standard power windows and locks, a Pioneer single-disc CD with six speakers, and a first-aid kit. The dashboard in the xB flowed data from a centrally mounted pod, while the speedo sits on top of the dash much like a mantel clock, offset towards the driver and much easier to read.
The xB featured two front buckets seats and a shifter mounted on the floor, rather than the front bench seat and a column-mounted shifter for the automatic transmission of the bB. While the bB was available with either the 1.3 L 2NZ-FE engine or the 1.5 L 1NZ-FE that was mated exclusively to a 4-speed automatic transmission with available all-wheel drive, the xB is only available with 1NZ-FE, but offers both a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission. The xB does not offer all-wheel drive.
While the Toyota bB held a temporary spare tire that was stored under the rear cargo floor, the Scion xB held its compact spare tired under the left side of the rear cargo floor. A storage compartment was added to the right of the spare tire since the spare tire raised the cargo floor by several inches and reclaimed some of the lost storage space. The xB also holds a jack stored under the driver's seat. Under the passenger seat is a pull-out storage tray.
For the final year of production, 2006, minor changes were undergone that included interior seat fabric changes, along with a new steering wheel with integrated audio controls. The addition of two new colors further enhanced the line with ‘Salsa Red' replacing Black Cherry Pearl and ‘Shadow Mica' replacing Camouflage Metallic. The manual base model now cost $14,030 and $14,830 for the automatic.
A limited-release option package was offered in March, 2004 and began with the Scion xB RS1 and continued with the Scion xB RS2 in March of 2005, the Scion xB RS3 in February, 2006 and the Scion xB RS4 in November of 2006. The Release Series line of Scion vehicles featured a plaque mounted inside the vehicle that stated the edition number, while each release received its own exclusive special color not found on another xB. The RS1 featured Hot Lava, while the RS2 showcased Solar Yellow, the RS3 was featured in unique Envy Green, and the RS4 was painted in a color-shifting MAziora Torched penny.
Introduced at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, the second-generation xB was manufactured for Toyota by Central Motor Co. This new xB was larger than the previous model and featured a more rounded shape and is styled as a 5-door version of the t2B concept that was unveiled at the 2006 New York Auto Show. 3' wider and 1' longer than the first generation xB, the 2008 xB is powered by a 2.4L engine shared with the tC and the Camry. Carrying all of the standard features from the 2006 xB, the newest model also includes VSC, ABS and others. Cruise control and six airbags are standard.
On all 2008 Scions, a choice from three new head units will be available, along with south systems that feature six speaks and standard iPod connectivity. While the base unit has MP3, WMA, and AAC CD compatibility and Scion's SSP equalizer presets, it can also be set to any of three Scion model presets, xB, xD, or tC. The base until also features an ‘Automatic Sound Levelizer' feature that automatically increases the volume as the vehicle speed and ambient noise increases. In addition to the features on the base unit, the Premium head unit features a small LCD that can display pictures and moves downloaded from Pioneer's website. In addition to GPS functionality and the features of the base system, the SNS 100 system can play DVD movies, aside from the backlit color choices.
The only factory options aside from the color and stereo are a five-speed manual and a sequential-shift four-speed automatic. The newest Scion xB weighs over 600 lbs more than the previous generation. Not a rebadged Toyota bB like the first-generation modele, the second-generation Scion xB is a captive import sold in Japan under the Toyota Corolla family as the Corolla Rumion.
The 2008 Scion xB has been rated as one of the top ten safe vehicles under $25,000 by Car and Driver magazine.By Jessica Donaldson