$6,578 - $7,181

2012 Scion xB Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Scion xB was new.


Performance: 7.4

The xB’s engine has a good amount of power for the class, but many reviewers complain that its boxy exterior leads to noticeable body lean. Shoppers should also keep in mind that the xB’s fuel economy ratings are low for the class, but are good for a model with as much interior space as the xB has.

  • "If you're looking for something to tear up curvy mountain roads, the 2012 Scion xB hatchback isn't it.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The main drawback to the 2012 Scion xB is its fuel economy relative to other small cars such as the aforementioned Kia Soul and Nissan Cube." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Scion xB's only engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 158 horsepower. It has ample power for the class, though some reviewers find that it is underpowered when passing and merging on the highway. The EPA rates the xB at 22/28 mpg city/highway with either the optional four-speed automatic or standard five-speed manual transmissions. Considering the amount of cargo and passenger space the xB offers, some reviewers are pleased with these figures, though others complain that they are too low for an affordable small car.

Of the two transmissions, reviewers prefer the manual, even though it doesn’t shift smoothly. By comparison, the automatic transmission seems outdated because other models in the class have Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) or six-speed automatics. CVTs have infinite gear ratios to help improve fuel economy, and automatics with more gears offer better performance.

  • "Acceleration is spirited from a stop, even with the automatic transmission. Low- and mid-speed passing punch are fine, but highway passing power disappoints. The automatic is sometimes slow to downshift for more power. Somewhat clunky shift action takes some of the fun out of using the manual transmission." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "That said, the xB's 158-horsepower four-cylinder is surprisingly punchy and achieves fuel economy that's about the same as or better than crossovers like the Chevy Equinox." -- Edmunds 
  • "While we love the feeling of the manual shifter, we imagine most owners will opt for the four-speed automatic which, in a world of CVTs and 6-speed automatics, seems a bit antiquated." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Test drivers find a lot of faults in the xB’s handling abilities, but its brakes don’t receive any complaints. When turning, reviews have discovered that there’s noticeable body lean, which is a result of the xB’s boxy shape. One thing reviewers can’t agree on, however, is the xB’s ride quality. Some say it composed on bumpy roads, while others think bumps can be felt throughout the cabin.  

  • "There is moderate body lean in fast turns, and the steering response is slightly vague. A tight turning radius and light steering feel aid low-speed maneuverability. The brakes are strong and responsive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 2012 Scion xB feels fairly stable at highway speeds, although its slab-sided styling makes it vulnerable to crosswinds. Due to a relatively high center of gravity, the xB rolls significantly during cornering, but it feels responsive and confident at lower speeds. … Over especially rough surfaces, the suspension transmits impact harshness into the cabin, and road and wind noise are constant companions at high freeway speeds. All in all, though, Scion's youthful target demographic should be pleased with the xB's driving demeanor, as should older folks simply looking for a space-efficient runabout." -- Edmunds
  • "We like the way this Scion rolls, namely because its interior is pretty well insulated from outside road noise, and because its suspension does a nice job of absorbing rude road imperfections (also known as the San Diego Freeway)." -- Kelley Blue Book

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