The 2009 Scion xB is a small, no-frills economy wagon big on interior room and fuel efficiency. Compared to the original xB, the 2009 model is a little larger and rounder, and a lot more powerful. As compact cars go, the xB is accommodating, especially to taller passengers riding in the rear seat. Fold the rear seat down and the xB transforms into a mini U-Haul. With nearly 70 cu ft of cargo space and a tall ceiling, the xB can swallow items that won't fit into the average compact car. Cool interior features such as a Pioneer stereo with iPod interface and dealer-installed interior lighting upgrades help the xB curry favor with a younger crowd.

Another plus for the xB is that it holds its value well, though we can't say it has the same bulletproof reliability and repair history of early Scion vehicles. Common complaints registered with owner satisfaction surveys include excessive oil consumption (Scion issued a Technical Service Bulletin regarding this problem), engine cooling problems and premature brake wear. Although most xB owners have not experienced problems, there are enough instances to warrant mention.

What We Like

Good fuel economy; a roomy back seat; big cargo area; smooth ride; customizable interior lighting options; strong resale value

What We Don't

Watered-down styling; drab interior; noisy at highway speed; not much in the way of passing power; awkward center-mounted instrument cluster

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Scion xB is powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 158 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy with the 5-speed manual is rated at 22 miles per gallon city/28 mpg hwy. The 4-speed automatic transmission returns the same 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy figure.

Standard Features & Options

The xB comes in one nicely equipped trim level.

Standard equipment on the xB includes power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, Pioneer AM/FM stereo with six speakers, single CD player and iPod interface, tilt steering wheel, plastic wheel covers, chrome exhaust tips, remote keyless entry, six airbags, electronic traction and stability control and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Options for the xB include touchscreen navigation, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, powered rear subwoofer, 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite radio, fog lights, a rear spoiler, upgraded audio interface and customizable in-car color lighting for the footwells, cupholders and door sills.

Pricing

Don't look for much in the way of bargain basement pricing, as the 2009 xB holds excellent resale values. However, the xB started well under $20,000 when new, so a low-mileage used model should still fit into most used-car budgets. To get an idea of the xB's price range, we suggest the used-car values at KBB.com. You also can search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see which models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2009 Scion xB:

  • A possible master power window switch that could overheat and catch fire
  • Improper load-carrying capacity labels
  • In the optional sport grille, a possible defect could result in the hood opening while the vehicle is moving

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The xB earns good marks in NHTSA's crash tests, posting four out of five stars in the front-end crash test, five stars in the side-impact test and four stars for rollover roof-strength test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the xB its best marks in the moderate overlap, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

The Scion xB has a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Extended warranties purchased when the car was new are transferable, so be sure to inquire if the vehicle you are buying has an extended plan. Scion also offers a line of certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles through its dealerships. If you purchase a CPO xB, the warranty coverage for the powertrain is extended to seven years/100,000 miles from the vehicle's original in-service date. CPO cars also come with a 12-month/12,000-mile comprehensive warranty, one year of roadside assistance and a free CARFAX report. Best of all, CPO customers are eligible for standard new-car financing rates. Vehicles that qualify for the CPO program cannot be older than six years or have more than 85,000 miles on the odometer.

Other Cars to Consider

Honda Element -- The Element costs more and is less fuel efficient than the xB, but it offers a bigger interior and the option of all-wheel drive.

Chrysler PT Cruiser -- The PT Cruiser's resale value is far below the xB, as are its repair and reliability ratings. But the PT's unique styling and versatile cargo area rival that of the xB.

Nissan Cube -- The Cube's styling is more distinctive than the xB, and its interior is more youth oriented. The Cube also gets better fuel economy but has less horsepower.

AutoTrader's Advice

With only one model to choose from, we suggest an xB with all the bells and whistles. Keep in mind that many of the xB's options are dealer-installed, so if you can't find what you want on the used-car lot, you can always upgrade later. Those seeking the best performance should opt for the 5-speed manual model, while those seeking the best fuel economy can go with either transmission, as the mileage numbers are identical.

author photo

Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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