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.
The 2011 Scion xB looks like a box on wheels—and it delivers a roomy, versatile interior—but if you've shopped around in the class you might find the xB isn't quite as roomy as you'd expect given the exterior. That said, passenger space is quite good for around-town use, and the 2011 xB is capacious and adaptable. The front passenger seat folds back flat, and the second row now offers enough room for real live adult human beings. Foot space under the front seats for second-row passengers is good, and they sit high for easy entry and exit. Storage room under the second-row seats is useful too. Passengers will find plenty of interior bins and storage areas if the buyer opts for the overhead console. Seats have been one of the low points of the xB interior, though they've been improved for 2011, and ride comfort, while good around town, can be a little pitchier on the highway.
With a vast array of standard equipment—including all the must-haves that you can't take for grants in a small car, like air conditioning and power windows—for a no haggle price, the 2011 Scion xB remains one of the highest-value vehicles for those who want a small car with van- or SUV-like utility. Buyers who want to personalize their 2011 xB can order from a long list of dealer-installed upgrades and accessories, plus literally hundreds of parts from third parties. Many of the dealer customization options for the 2011 Scion xB are purely cosmetic, but they include a handful of performance accessories from Toyota Racing Division such as suspension and shift kits. Other conveniences include LED interior lighting and a nav system.
The Bottom Line
Whether you see the 2011 Scion xB as trendy or odd, it packs a lot of space and versatility into a compact space.