2004 xB New Car Test Drive
Toyota wants to draw a new age into its showrooms, a younger crowd that, once there, will return over time as faithful buyers of Toyota products. But the brand name Toyota doesn't click with this crowd. Neither does the present line up, starting with the Echo and closing with the Avalon. Toyota figures the solution is a new brand, one carefully researched to appeal to the next generation of car buyers.
Scion is that new brand. The Scion xB is one of three all-new models wearing the new badge and can now be found in about 80 percent of the Toyota showrooms in California. In February 2004, Scion will expand to the South and East Coast. Scion is expected to complete its national rollout in spring 2004.
The success of the Scion xB depends in part on how it stands out in the market. There's no question it stands out visually. The Scion xB is a box on wheels. Built by Toyota to high standards of quality, durability and reliability, the Scion xB feels tight and quiet, with little wind noise and no squeaks or rattles. It rides smoothly and is easy to drive with good brakes and a smooth clutch. It's no hot rod, however, so shifting into lower gears is needed for quick acceleration. Inside, it's roomy and has a nice interior with controls that are easy to operate. The driver and passengers sit upright in chair-like seats and enjoy excellent visibility. As its looks suggest, the xB offers better cargo capacity than your average compact car.
Scion xB ($13,680) comes in one body style and is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Buyers choose between two transmissions, a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic ($800).
Scion xB comes standard with power windows, mirrors and door locks; tilt steering wheel; tachometer and trip meter; 60/40-split folding and removable rear seat; remote keyless entry; and a six-speaker, AM/FM/CD Pioneer sound system engineered to read MP3 files and wired to accept an XM satellite radio receiver.
And it comes well-equipped with active safety features: antilock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist (which increases braking pressure in emergency situations) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (which apportions braking force to the tires with the most traction); Vehicle Stability Control (which attempts to restrain a vehicle from spinning out of control by adjusting the application of throttle and brakes); and traction control.
Other than the choice of transmissions, Toyota offers no factory-installed options for the xB. Instead, a buyer selects from some 40 accessories to be installed either by Toyota at the port of entry or by the dealer. These comprise both appearance and functional items. Among the eye-candies are clear tail lamp lenses, rear bumper applique, body side graphics, LED interior lighting, carbon fiber shift knob, sport pedals and instrument panel applique. Adding function are a leather-wrapped steering wheel (red or gray), front strut tower brace, fog lamps, cup holder illumination, removable roof rack, 6-CD changer, satellite radio tuner and antenna, cold-air induction system and an assortment of handling and performance goodies from Toyota Racing Development. Accessory prices range from $49 for a shift knob to $665 for aluminum alloy wheels.
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