The 2011 Scion xB is unabashedly boxy, and while to some that's what makes it such a stylish, fashionable urban device it's what makes it, to others, look a little too much like a delivery truck—or a refrigerator. In any case, the passenger-friendly xB excels for those who need a roomy interior in a vehicle that will fit in a relatively small parking space. The Scion xB was last redesigned for 2008, gaining a much higher beltline, slightly larger dimensions to fit U.S. wants and needs, and more of a rounded armored-truck look than its predecessor, which was originally intended mainly for the Japanese market and boxy to a cartoonish extreme. For 2011, the xB gets a few minor appearance changes: The headlamp design is slightly different, there's a new honeycomb grille pattern, backup lamps have now been integrated into the taillamps, and perhaps most noticeably, the front bumper fascia now includes larger lower air intakes. Overall, the xB's interior layout—which gets a slight spruce-up this year, too—is either functional or a fashion victim, and you're best to make that decision by looking at pictures and the layout in person. While the design itself is straightforward—building on Toyota and Scion small-car design, but with chunky details galore—the instrument panel itself retains the illogical center placement for its gauges, which could be a deal-breaker for some.
The engine in the Scion xB is a familiar unit from the Toyota lineup—a 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, used until recently in the Toyota Camry and RAV4, among other models. While this large, rather torquey four seems like it would have plenty of power to move the city-savvy xB with authority, it's surprisingly sluggish, and the xB is by no means a tire-squealer unless you accidentally take an off-ramp too quickly. With front struts and a torsion-beam rear, and electric power steering, the xB is decently responsive and confident at low speeds—and of course quite maneuverable—but its weight and soft springs cause it to feel clumsy in any faster maneuvers. It's forgiving, but not exciting. Strong disc brakes haul the xB to a stop quickly, but again plenty of nosedive remind you that the standard xB makes no sporty claims.