First Drive: 2008 Scion xB


Scion's probably not going to want to hear this, what with its obsessive drive to gain the hearts and minds of this country's youth, but the lasting image I have of the xB is of a gray-haired woman in my neighborhood who drives one, complete with a sticker on its side touting AEM performance parts. Doesn't quite align with the image Scion wants, does it? No matter, because here at KickingTires we think that if a car fits your needs, it doesn't matter if you're 17 or 70 years old.

The redesigned 2008 xB, which is on sale now and has a starting price of $15,650, is the second generation of Scion's successful mini-box first introduced for the 2004 model year. The new xB remains as distinctive as its predecessor, even though the edges have been rounded a bit here and there. It rides on an all-new platform, is 12 inches longer than before and features a more powerful four-cylinder engine borrowed from the company's tC sports coupe. Scion lent me the keys to the new xB for a brief drive recently, and I came away impressed with its overall execution and pleasantly surprised by its fun-to-drive nature. A full review will be forthcoming, but here are some initial impressions.

Scion xB Scion xB Scion xB

The xB has firm suspension tuning, but wasn't harsh on the suburban Detroit roads I drove it on. Steering-wheel responses are quick and lively, and the brake pedal has a natural, reassuring response when stopping.

The xB's larger and significantly more powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 158 hp and teams with either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. The xB scoots easily in and out of traffic and accelerates up to highway speeds with ease. The center-mounted tachometer is a bit difficult to read at a glance, though owners will likely get used to its location over time. I tested a manual-transmission xB, and even though the shifter is a bit notchy at times, it's precise and easy to move through the gears quickly.

The previous xB's 30/34 mpg (city/highway) rating with the automatic wasn't especially thrifty considering its small 1.5-liter four-cylinder and modest curb weight. The new model gets 22/28 mpg using the EPA's tougher fuel economy tests for 2008, but it's also considerably heavier (about 600 pounds) and then there's that bigger engine.

Scion xB Scion xB Scion xB

The front of the cabin is airy, and there's plenty of headroom for tall drivers. The seats, while basic-looking, were comfortable during my short drive, but we'll have to see how they hold up during a longer trip. Rear-seat room is impressive, with lots of legroom and a nicely angled backrest. This is a deceptive little car in terms of space efficiency because it has a lot more room inside than its diminutive footprint suggests.

So far, Scion's new xB seems like a worthy successor to the first model, and I imagine it will continue to attract buyers looking for a distinctive small car, regardless of how old they are. If you have any specific questions, leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer them there.

By Mike Hanley | June 1, 2007 | Comments (40)




There's still missing specs on the 2008 Scion Xb on this site.


I own a 2004 xB. From day (1) all I have had is great things to say about it.

New 2008 xB has again shown that Toyota is on their game. The key word is "Value". So much standard equipment, along with extreme quality. What else compares to this car? Side & curtain air bags, ABS, traction control, vehicle stability control, cruise control, windows/locks, high output Pioneer stereo, Ipod hook-up, air, steering wheel radio controls, keyless, tilt, & more. Plus large interior space with reclining seats.

O.K., I know it looks different. Why have the same style car that everyone else has? That is the idea.

My '04 still runs like new otherwise I'd be in a new one.


Is Toyota serious? A 'new' car with a four speed automatic.


Funny story I read in the best (IMHO) print car mag out there (the initials are AW) about the new xB. The head designer was asked by someone in the press at launch why they stuck with the much maligned center gauges in this new redesign, to which he replied, "Because I like them, OK?" Not sure if this is true or not, but I was LOL at that one.


I sold my 2006.5 xB becasue it was underpowered. Looks like the 2008 addressed that issue. I think I'll take a test drive for myself when one is available at my local dealer.


Dave T.
When you go to the compare there's nothing listed for the MPG or the interior dimensions as well as some other specs.

I was trying to compare the 2006 and 2008 Scion Xb passenger and cargo volume to see if there's much of a difference.

There's actually little difference in cargo room behind the second-row seat. The 2008 xB has 21.7 cubic feet while the 2006 xB has 21.2 cubic feet. However, there's a significant difference in total cargo room with the rear seat folded; the 2008 xB has 69.9 cubic feet compared to the 2006 xB's 43.4 cubic feet. Passenger volume is also up from 90.1 cubic feet to 122.5 cubic feet for 2008.


Hard to believe that they could introduce something more toad-ugly than the previous model, but here it is in all its bricklike glory.


The new xB seems like a larger version of the Matrix for the same price...


An 11-gallon fuel tank, and only 22/28 MPG?

And I thought *I* fueled up too many times in my 11.9-gallon tank, 25/32 MPG Civic!

08 xB on order

Is your Civic a 2008? If not, try lowering your Civic's EPA MPG estimate to 23/30 mpg for a more accurate comparison. 22/28 mpg isn't too bad under the 2008 EPA test guidelines.

I do agree that the xB's 11 gal tank is too small.


On the Scion homepage they say it comes with a 14 gallon tank.


No, I drive a '97 Civic, and that mileage was according to the new EPA standards, or so I read.

I got the 11-gallon statistic from the link above by Dave T.

The 2008 xB's tank is 14 gallons; we'll have to get that spec fixed on the site.


Sounds like all the old xB needed was an electric motor to mate to the 1.5L drive line for the extra boost. It would have boosted the fuel econ. vs. dropping it with the new 2.4L. I still think it looks like a badly designed Payless shoe.


Nice car for the money.Mr.ed needs help probably looked at his Pinto after his Friday night beer burping contest.I thought that the gas tank was a 11 gallon too. Found out it is a 14 gallon will give you between 300 and 340 range depending on city or highway.Never mind Ben above he seems confused and probably buys his favorite shoes at payless since that was the first thing that came to mind.People need to stop judging cars when they are stopped beside them at a redlight.If you still feel you have to do this take a look at GM's minvan line.Yes they have a square look too.The new Tahoe is more square. So nothing is wrong with square. It is becoming the new thing for suvs,minivans, ect.which the Scion xb falls between.


Just bought the new 08 Scion Xb and am LOVING it! MY husband is 6'3",14 yr son is 6'2" and thery are extremely comfortable in it. Stero has great sound and what a comfortable ride. Lots of extras for not a bad price! I do wish the gas tank was just a tad bigger though. Definately would recommend this car!

Wow...If all people can find to complain about the 2008 xB is the backup-light and gas-tank size, I'd say Scion has as success on their hands. I bet GM and Ford wish criticisms of their products were so trite.
But let me join in on the silly fun - I'd like to criticize the front end for looking like a freight train...or, maybe that is a compliment.
Boink! Boink!


Has anyone driven it on dirt/rock roads? We have plenty of hilly, dirt roads in NH. I loved everything about the xB except for the jarring ride over country roads, which is why we did not purchase it. Has the rough ride improved any in the 2008 model?

not even 30mpg AND its ugly?? No thanks


Added too much weight. There's a complaint.


Does anyone know how well Toyota has succeeded in attracting younger buyers with the Scion brand?
I guess what I'm asking is, what is the average buyer age for a Scion versus a Toyota versus the industry average for the most recent year?

scion is still at 36 years of age which is the lowest in the industry I believe. Toyota, 54. Not sure what the overall avg is.

Nancy Roper

I just bought a 2006 Scion XB in December 2006 and loved it for the most part but, wanted more power, cruise control, more cargo space. I just traded in my XB for the new 2008 XB yesterday and love it!! We have already removed the black tape around the windows and bought new 17" rims and tires. Trying to bling it out a little. I say as far as looks go to each his own. There are a lot of cars on the road I think are ugly but would never tell the owner. PS I'm 45 and my husband is 50. Guess we are too old to drive Scion!!


I have a 2008. Its been in the dealer 6 times. Auto trans is problem. Scion green team tech has been scrambling to avoid a HUGE tech issue with car! Clunk in trans due to design. Loosens as mileage racks up (11,041). Clunks in downshifting lots of play. Dealer authorized new axles. Did not fix problem. Dealer tried again because they could not get rid of problem. Scion world headquarters has case file opened and scion techs and design team were sent in. They had car all day. They found that this car has no problems. The dealer disagrees. It is being talked about that there is a very big problem with the autos. They have had many complaints. Im going to get this fixed or never buy a toyota product again. Ive own them all my life.

My 1st gen. xb has plenty of power & with a heavy foot it still never gets less than 30 mpg. At almost 10 mpg less and nowhere near as good looking as the 1st gen, the only way I ever see myself getting behind the wheel of this monstrosity that is "designed for the American market", & only sold here as well is if they were to significantly up the mpg with a hybrid or (more desirably) offer a diesel engine. Until then, I'll go for a used 1st gen xb or import a real 2nd gen xb (Toyota Bb) from Japan!, if I ever wear out my 167,000 mile '05. What the hell were these idiots thinking?! Compared to the "rolling music player" Bb the U.S. xb seems a bad joke.

Gillian Bottrell

My 2008 is getting 28 on its overall mpg average, mostly city driving. On a 700 round trip down the coast it averaged 33 mpg.
One of my favorite features is that you can get current tank average vs overall lifetime mpg by pressing the display button.
I realize that as the car is driven more (it is at 10,400) the average may drop. Considering its standard features, power, excellent handling and large and comfortable interior I think its mpg is great and fills up for less than I expected. The XB is a great car.
I admit the design was what drew me to a Scion, but its handling and power was a definite selling point. I frequently drive an old curvy old two lane highway through the mountains. I finally do not have to lean into curves.

I own a 2006 xB. I haven't tried the 2008.

2006 xB:
New EPA: 26/31 (all mpg's are for auto. trans., from unless otherwise stated)
Old EPA: 30/34
Engine: 1.5L (Peppy, even with 4 people, to me anyway!)
Space: so much of it!
Visibility: Outstanding; a great touring vehicle!
Offroad: NOT! But it clears dips and cracks, which surprised me.

2008 xB:
New EPA: 22/28
Old EPA: 26/31 (my extrapolation)
Engine: 2.4L (I guess some people told Scion they wanted to spend more on gas!)
Space: so much of it!
Visibility: I don't know. Toyota tapered the windows and took out the cargo area side windows entirely!!
Offroad: Not so much.

2008 Rav4:
New EPA: 21/27
Old EPA: 24/30 (based on 2007 model)
Engine: 2.4L
Space: Great.
Visibility: Great.
Offroad: Yep.

Conclusion: They took out some of the great things about the xB--the efficiency and some of the visibility--without giving anything back in return. If I'm going to get 25/30ish instead of 30/35ish, I should get something out of the bargain and get a real SUV that can really offroad, like a CRV or RAV4! Oh yeah, not that I car that much, but it's still ugly on the outside.

Once again about the MPG

If they needed to put something more in the xB for 2008, they might have just moved up to the 1.8L Corolla engine. That would have maybe lost 1MPG, which they might have made up for (on the highway at lease) by putting the nose in the wind tunnel a few more times. But noooo, they had to put a small SUV/luxury sedan engine in there!

Barbara Hayes

I have had the 2008 XB for approximatley 4 months. The mileage is hideous. I started getting 17 mpg and am now down to 13-15 mpg; the sticker says 22/29. My sales person said to take 10% off the sticker. No way is 10% from 22 city 13-15mpg. The car died after sitting in my garage for 2-1/2 days and I've had problems with the keyless entry for the hatch. I am going to arbitration with this as I didn't buy a car that gets so little mileage.


How does the XB'06 do in the mountains? There are some steep ones in the Smokies that we need to go over.

Sue H L

My husband and I (59 and 52) bought a 2009 xB 2 months ago; brother in law (35+) had xA then upgraded to xB, his wife (35+) bought xB because she loved his, and our parents (74 and 78) bought one for the room and ease of sitting rather than climbing up into or down into.
We bought the new body style in a manual transmission for the value (have you priced used Scion xB's??) and have been very pleased.
The two best stories were when my sister evacuated all the belongings (including china; glassware; chatchkes; and personal belongings from my parents' home before a hurricane in her xB; and my husband and I coming home after a day of errands with 240 lb of top soil, 12 cubic feet of mulch, a week's groceries and the dog, all very comfortable and with good pep and handling.
I have driven on gravel, asphalt, city streets and interstate without any handing issues other than it took two weeks for me to be able to start in first gear without squealing the tires. Something about the difference in the response from the accelerator compared to my old 8-cylinder 3.05 l, do you think?
The Toaster's mileage is better on city driving than the Chevy was on interstate. We are happy campers. My husband wonders about the one back up light, but we haven't had any problems with it. I wonder about them hitting their planned demographic, but then I did see three at one intersection just two weeks ago and one of the drivers didn't have white hair!


The 2006 xB would bottom out coming out of restaurants and other driveways about 10% of the time.

And then there was Colorado when I followed the signs to town instead of returning the same way I came from. Much too long of a story for here.


I have a 2010 XB auto and it has a clunk in the trans
when slowing down below 15mph. Is this a problem in this car? Dealer herd the clunk sent a sound file
to SCION have a case file now. This happens with a/c off and vehicle has been driven over 5 miles.
I bought the XB because I have a bad back and it is easy to get into.

Mario Pavon

I'm thinking of getting a scion xb 2008 automatoc with about 30000 to 40000 on it, my only concer is the gas milage. Currently I have a civic 98 and I get 300 miles with a full tank driving city and highway combined. How many miles are getting with your 2008 xb auto?


I own a 2008 xb auto and get 24.5 mpg from mostly city with a mix of highway.
Does anyone know if the cargo space and rear passenger space is bigger in the 11 or the 12?


I.have a 2008 scion.xb its got the icw racing wheel i like the car but god help u when u got to change a battery shake rattle and roll try unplug fuse to reset dont work i firgure out the problem to unplug the wire harness to rest computer when fuse pulling dont work to reset computer computer fuse under hood surpose to reset computer after u unplug for a while if that donr work u got three wire harness that plug on side of the fuse box under hood one of the three harness plug that got the grey connector will reset computer hope this help some lost people that ownthe scion.xb 2008


I went to ks 1325 one way i had to fill up 9 times its sucks on gas going long distance on the 2008 scion xbwhen i only should of had to fill max 4 or 5 times geting.its said 28 to 30 mpgyea right u know that a lie i drove threw the mountains in.west va va and kentucky itsnot bad at all going threw mountain handle well i got the 5spd stick shift dont know about a auto going that far and in mountains

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