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2012 Scion xB Review

The 2012 Scion xB is tricky car to categorize. And I assume that’s exactly what the sporty arm of Toyota wanted when they designed it.

It’s not a traditional hatchback because it’s too big and too boxy in the traditional of ancestors like the Land Rover Defender. It’s not an SUV because it’s built primarily for street driving and lacks the ruggedness to venture off-road.

In fact, as with its rival vehicles (like the Nissan Cube and Mazda 5), the xB is an urban transport vehicle that can haul people and limited cargo in a civilized modern environment. To match that purpose, Scion’s external styling pushes for a sleek, futuristic line that should draw the eye of young drivers – while driving older generations to look over at bigger, pricier SUV selections. Since Scions are consistently marketed to a younger audience. we’re assuming all of that fits precisely with the automaker’s master plan.

We had a chance to do a road test of the new xB and were first struck by the subtle improvements to the external styling. The xB of the not too distant past seemed boxier and more rigid, sitting awkwardly upright on its wheels. The vehicle’s external line no longer seems to bolt upright into the atmosphere. A subtle, if admittedly unnecessary rear roof spoiler adds the illusion of added length.

One upside of the tC’s upright design are the excellent sight lines front and back. An urban people mover and cargo carrier like the tC needs to afford clear vision to dodge the legions of feeble drivers populating our nation’s streets.

Inside, the xB is comfortably, but not luxuriously, appointed. Luxury is an unreasonable expectation in a car selling at a base MSRP of $16,300. For that money, you get a Bluetooth link up, iPod input, side curtain airbags, stability control and traction control.

We had a run around in the kitted out, full-option version with the included satellite navigation system and a DVD players in each of the front head rests for the enjoyment of the backseat passengers.

On the engineering side, the xB rolls with a 2.4 liter, 4-cylinder engine that gets “up to 22 city/28 hwy mpg.” There’s a bit of a snag. If you’re going to tolerate a four cylinder engine – which is not an intolerable sacrifice if you’re shopping for a hatchback – you should at least hope for fuel economy north of 30 mpg. Admittedly, the xB aspires to be a mini SUV crossover, but it falls a little short in the fuel economy department.

The ride is stable with amble quickness for urban driving. But, the xB also has that harsh suspension found in many Scions. Since the Toyota spin-off specializes in affordable rides that are sportier than the parent company’s Camrys and Corollas, that firmer suspension makes sense in the sport coupe tC. But, it doesn’t feel quiet right in the xB.

In the end, even though the tC comes with some complaints, it provides an enjoyable drive for its reasonable price tag. And, if you find that you like the signature styling, you’re not likely to find as distinctive a car for less than $17,000.