2008 Scion xB


$3,101 - $5,862

2008 Scion xB Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2008 Scion xB was new.


Performance: 7.3

The redesigned 2008 Scion xB is larger and more powerful than the previous model, and reviewers mostly find it an enjoyable (albeit noisy) way to get around town. "Fun, peppy and cheap," says Car and Driver, "the xBox is a great car for short hops."

The xB has a new engine with 50 percent more power than the previous model, although the redesign added 600 pounds to the car's curb weight. However, reviewers generally  agree that the new Scion is zippier than its predecessor. "This engine is significantly larger and more powerful than the one in the previous xB," says Cars.com, "and it contributes greatly to the xB's frisky personality."

The Scion xB is generally regarded as a fun ride, but quite a few reviewers complain that it's also a noisy one. Possible culprits include wind noise, tire noise and engine noise. Edmunds is bothered by the " harsh engine noise and screaming transmission that boom through the cockpit, a definitive reminder that you're driving an econobox, and it would really rather you just stop being so aggressive." And USA Today found that "[r]oad and tire noise on coarse pavement can grow to a roar."

Acceleration and Power

Only one engine is offered for the 2008 Scion xB, a 2.4-liter 158 horsepower in-line four cylinder. Reviewers like that this engine is 50 percent more powerful than the one it replaces. MSN feels that "the 2008 xB feels peppier than its predecessor, especially on hilly roads. The new powerplant, with peak torque of 162 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm, moves the car along with more verve." That torque improves the xB's performance at lower speeds, but some reviewers complain that the new engine doesn't perform as well on the highway. Consumer Guide feels that the xB has "[g]ood low- and mid-speed passing punch, but highway passing power disappoints." However, some reviewers note that the engine is, as Road and Track puts it, "raspy." MSN says they "still heard the buzzy 4 cylinder when it was hard pressed." The downside of this new engine is that gas mileage has taken a hit: "Fuel economy -- for all of those of us who care -- has dropped like a rock," says The Car Connection. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the xB at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Reviews of the xB's manual and automatic transmissions are mixed. Several reviewers note that the manual transmission is, in the words of both the MSN and Cars.com reviewers, "notchy." Consumer Guide feels that "clunky shift action takes some of the fun out of using the manual transmission." But Road and Track likes the manual transmission, suggesting that it "feels like it belongs in a much more expensive car."

AutoWeek dislikes that Scion chose to use a four-speed rather than five-speed automatic transmission: "The four-speed automatic transmission comes up short compared with the five-speeds in the Honda Civic and Mazda3." New Car Test Drive feels that the "automatic shifts well, but with only four speeds it kicks down a lot, especially from fourth to third." Consumer Guide seems to have had the opposite experience: "The Automatic is sometimes slow to downshift for more power." Edmunds, however, thinks that the automatic works well: "Though some of the xB's competition come with five-speed automatics, the xB's four well-chosen ratios never leave the 2.4-liter engine feeling inadequate."

Handling and Braking

The revamped Scion xB is heavier, and thus less agile, than the last model, though most reviewers still think it's fun to cruise around in. The xB is "still a minor hoot to drive," says the Los Angeles Times. "It's quite nimble and fun to drive around town," says New Car Test Drive. Automobile Magazine praises the xB for being "fun to pitch through corners despite its weight gain." Car and Driver isn't having quite as much fun: "Shed a tear if you were a fan of the old xB's nimble, tossable handling. The new xB loses that."

More than one reviewer finds the Scion xB's MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension stiff, though this isn't necessarily a bad thing. "Ride quality is stiff but well composed over bumps," says Car and Driver. "The xB's stiff suspension held me tightly through each curve," says the Detroit News. "Its squared-off body, which looks much bigger than it drives, hardly rolled through the winding road that cuts through the Hollywood hills." New Car Test Drive suggests that some buyers may want to take advantage of the xB's customizability and tune up the suspension a bit themselves: "[I]f you plan to drive the corners hard, you'll want to invest in TRD suspension components from your Scion dealer. The xB wasn't made for that. The wheels jounce around on bumpy surfaces."

Reviewers generally like the Scion xB's electric power steering. "The electric power steering did an exceptional job keeping the xB pointed straight ahead without those continuous little adjustments that tire you on a highway trip," says USA Today. "And it felt fine swinging the front wheels just so in abrupt maneuvers." A few reviewers complain that the steering doesn't provide much in the way of feedback. "There's not a lot of road feel in the steering wheel," says Cars.com.

There are generally no complaints about the xB's standard disc antilock brakes, which Consumer Guide calls "strong" and "responsive." The Los Angeles Times says that "the brakes have good pedal feel." However, New Car Test Drive does have a complaint about the xB's Brake Assist feature, which applies extra braking power in an emergency, suggesting that it "gives more braking than you asked for. Basically, sensors read your foot and overrule your brain."

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