2008 Scion xB (Review) – Still Ugly, but not Ugly Enough

Expert Reviews Scion

2008 Scion xB


I just got used to the quirky styling of the old xB, and it will probably take me another few years to get used to the new one. It’s got a bulbous nose, a goofy-looking windowless C-pillar and just a general appearance that its trying really, really hard to be mainstream. It wants so badly to be run-of-the-mill like every other mini-box, but it can’t escape its unique roots, which takes away from the exterior appearance. It’s like this thing is pulling a reverse Pearl Jam; cool and anti-bandwagon at first, but now totally mainstream and sellout. Maybe some MG-inspired plaid seats like Eddie Vedder’s flannel shirts would spice it up a bit?


Undeniable. Crazy value. What other vehicle can offer Toyota reliability, 0-60 speeds of 8 seconds, 70 cubic feet of cargo space, A/C, power doorlocks and windows, a thumptastic stereo with iPod integration, anti-lock disc brakes and traction control all for a base of $16,270? I mean, the only thing that might be better would be to take the VVTi engine out of the new xB and swap it into the featherweight first generation model. Uh oh, did I just write that? I can already hear the gears turning inside the heads’ of Scionites everywhere. Although it’s gone the path of the sellout, motor swap or no, the new xB still a value unlike any other vehicle.

2008 Scion xB

Who Should Buy It?

Well, if you asked me a few years ago, I would have said a blind man. But as time grew my appreciation, I retracted my crass sentiments. The original xB is the perfect first car for someone with an active lifestyle that carries a lot of gear with them and likes to stand out in a crowd. But with the new model, I’m not so sure anymore. I mean, it’s still a great deal for a first car and carries even more gear than before, but the xB is far less flavorful. And really, for Scion’s target market, that’s one of their primary purchasing hot buttons. Now that it’s more mainstream, the xB is really for anyone seeking a subcompact minivan. Ho hum.


Let me just state that I’m a big Toyota fan. A big one. But just like having a dog, sometimes the relationship between a car guy and his favorite brand can drive him to drink. Leave it to Toyota to boring up an otherwise edgy and controversial vehicle. People either loved or hated the xB. That was what made it a hit. Scion even admitted it with their recent print ad campaign that read, “Pros: Boxy, Ugly, People will Stare; Cons: Boxy, Ugly, People Will Stare”. Well, I can assure you, people aren’t going to stare as much as they used to.

Scion xB ad

RATING 4.0 3.5 3.0 3.0 2.5 5.0 3.5/C


2008 Scion xB Photo Gallery

2008 Scion xB

Scion xB Specs

ScionOfficial website for Scion – www.scion.com

An appreciative thank-you goes to Stevens Creek Scion for graciously providing the Scion xB demo car. This review would not have been possible without the support and help of Moris, Mike, and the team at Stevens Creek Scion.

stevens creek scion

stevens creek scion contact

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  • Derek says:

    @Alex – Thanks for mentioning the tight turning radius and the multitude of compartments for stashing your stuff. We can’t cover everything in our reviews, so I really appreciate the feedback and insights from the people who use their cars everyday.

  • Alex says:

    I’ve had my 2009 xB for almost two years. And I still get a bit giddy thinking about how practical this box is. Being an instrumentalist, I find myself dragging around an upright bass and/or a cello much of the time and this thing can hold its own with any SUV. I don’t think that this article mentions that the 2nd generation xB has a tighter turning radius than a corolla! This article also failed to talk about the cars neat compartments littered throughout the car. If you’re looking for a practical car but one that is sporty and fun at the same time, go take a look at a xB.

  • Heidi says:

    I just bought a 2011 Sizzling Crimson Mica XB and I love it! To be honest, I’d never even heard of it. I was dead set on buying a Jeep but my dad insisted I take a look at it and once I did, well, let’s just say that Jeep or any other SUV/minivan/car/truck doesn’t hold a candle to it! I also can’t wipe the smile off of my face! I love my new pug!

  • Anne says:

    I have one (an original, not the softened new version), and the chief joy of owning it is getting to whine about how ugly it is. I get to whine a lot, because people do stare, even now that it’s pretty old. It’s perverse, really, but ragging on this car is a pleasure. Oh, and for great effect you can watch people boggle when you call it an SUV. Ha. No complaints about how it drives though… very smooth and quiet ride, relatively high off the ground, visibility is great, safety seems good, fits into tiny parking spaces.

  • Nancy says:

    3 weeks ago a drunk driver going 65 miles an hour plowed into me in my 2008 Blackberry Crush XB. After getting my bearings and making sure my passenger was alright, we both climbed out of the vehicle and were back at our normal rountine the next morning, my car is totalled and my biggest problem now is convincing the other driver’s insurance company what this car is worth to me, as I will have nothing but another one. I just read the XB was added to a list of top cars for saftey; they don’t have to convince me!

  • Derica says:

    i LooVeeee thiss car is my favorite

  • andy says:

    This is an increadible upgrade from the older style. Bought my 2008 over last Christmas and will drive it until the planet runs out of oil. Toyota/Scion did a remarkable job making a niche vehicle even better. Took it to 111 mph (I know, that’s illegal), and the ride remained completely smooth with the engine just humming along. Felt like it could go 5-6 mph more if I pushed it. Superior car, wonderful dash and interior.

  • lori says:

    I love my brand new 2009 scion xB. It is too cool and definitely is an eye catcher. I thought that I was originally an older model person until I test drove a 2005 and a 2009 all in one day. The old model doesn’t even compare!

  • steve says:

    I bought my XB 2008 out in NH and drove it back to Michigan via Vermont and NY. I love this car. You can’t get a better car anywhere for the money. I was getting 30-32 mpg on the expressway at 70-75 mph. Windows up, air off, cruise control on. Flat roads. Around town I get about 24 to 26 mpg,if I drive it easy. It is a real nice cruising vehicle, and I could pull over anywhere and take a nap in back with all the room, if I needed after driving for hours. I’m in love with my XB, especially after I put the cool wheels on it.

  • morbius14468 says:

    Things I love about my 2008xb
    Lots a room , very good mileage, not great but close to the 28mpg
    gauges in the center seem much more practical once you actually drive it a few days the stability control feature is usually found on more expensive vehicles and sorry to the earlier purists but I prefer the aesthetics of this version
    The engine is quick and powerful it seems as if your driving an v-6. So far its been fun and reliable and fits in well with its big brother (honda Pilot)

  • JanMann says:

    Back in May 2007, I bought the second 2008 Scion XB automatic sold at one of the Toyota dealerships in Northern Virginia. I added the rear roll bar, fog lights, the front strut stiffener, and carpets. It currently has 9,800 of mixed miles on it, is averaging 39.8 MPH and getting 28.7 MPG. This yoogly thing corners almost as good as my 1970 Mullholland-race-suspension-equipped Datsun 240Z, and, although it definitely doesn’t meet my Datsun’s O-ring-headed, Crown-turbocharged, acceleration times, it’s just about as zippy as a non-modified 240Z was. The shifter is not as responsive as a real manual, but it works well enough to have some solid fun, and you don’t have to row yourself to death in the heavy local traffic. Add to that, the B holds bushels of stuff, has every modern safety feature, is cheap, and HAS THE GAUGES WHERE THEY BELONG — IN A LOCATION WHERE I CAN SEE THE DARN THING INSTEAD OF THE NORMAL RIDICULOUS LOCATION IN FRONT OF THE STEERING WHEEL. THIS MEANS THE ADJUSTABLE STEERING WHEEL DOESN’T BLOCK THE GAUGES, AS IT DOES IN EVERY OTHER CAR THAT I HAVE EVER OWNED THAT HAD AN ADJUSTABLE STEERING WHEEL! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU TOYOTA – DO NOT LET THESE CLOWNS TALK YOU INTO CHANGING THE GAUGE LOCATION!

  • ciroman says:

    Normally, I prefer the reliability of public transportation in San Francisco, but after getting a new Scion XB I haven’t had as much interest in riding the bus. Infact, I’ve found more excuses to drive. I wasn’t even in the market for a new car, but test drove one of these 3 weeks ago and bought one. WHAT A RIDE!! I really like the 0-60 in 8 seconds. The handling is superb too. I’m over 6’4″ and can get in out of my 2008 Scion Xb comfortably. There’s no more of that Fred Flintstone head hit the ceiling effect with this vehicle. The safety features are nice, and I also take advantage of the mp3 connection over the jammin’ stereo.

    It’s just too fun to drive!

  • Majik says:

    I’ve owned the 2008 xB since October. I used to own a 2 door late 1980s BMW and the handling of the xB is comparable. That’s impressive for the price. The auto shifting logic is way ahead of other cars. I can beat an automatic 2008 Mustang from a dead start. My only complaint so far is that the shift guide makes it too easy to accidentally shift into Neutral from drive.

    As far as gas mileage, the live mpg calculator allows you to maximize fuel effeciency if you wish to. Just look at it while you’re driving and you’ll learn mpg saving techniques. My last car was a Land Rover that only got 14MPG in the city. I don’t mind getting 23-28 in the city now.

  • Derek says:

    Looking at my notes, the Scion xB got 23 MPG during our test drive around the SF bay area. Sorry for the omission. Usually I have a spec sheet that includes MPG and other errata. Safety ratings for the 2008 xB can be found on autos.msn.com or autos.yahoo.com.

  • Hugh Curran says:

    I’m bemused by reviews that say nothing of importance about a car. What is MPG and what is the safety record. Any family man or woman would ask these simple questions about the Scion xb but the reviewer decided to ignore the obvious question that the average person would be interested in whikle extoling appearances. Amazing!

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