There is a type of vehicle that is popular on the Continent (also known as Europe) called the “supermini.” These cars are small on the outside, surprisingly big on the inside, very frugal and always intensely cute. The French and Italians really specialize in making these types of fuel efficient hatchbacks and while they are high on style they are often times low in build quality.
While we here in the states are denied most superminis because we allegedly only love SUVs, you can see the “supermini effect” in the immensely popular Mini Cooper and Clubman. But what if you want a more practical four door supermini that affords you a driving experience that is very Mini-like yet also gives you bulletproof reliability? Well, Scion may have your surprising answer in its stylish, simple, frugal and solidly built Scion xD.
While the xD isn’t as big inside as, say, the Honda Fit it also doesn’t share that five door hatchback’s mini-minivan styling cues. The xD, stylistically, looks like the four door hatchback that Mini should be selling. The xD shares the Mini’s squat, “puppy ready to attack” styling cues. It is cute yet angularly macho at the same time. With the big wheels and rear spoiler found on my test vehicle the xD looks positively menacing. What I suppose I am saying is that the 2010 Scion xD looks like an adorably menacing bulldog puppy.
Interior Styling, Features and Build Quality
The interior of the xD is surprisingly spacious affording plenty of room for four with room for five in a pinch. There is enough legroom in the back for a six footer to sit behind another person six foot tall. The cargo area is roomy enough at 10.5 cubic feet for weekly trips to the grocery store and if you put the rear seats (which fold flat) down you have enough cargo room to move the contents of any dorm room.
Plastics quality is first rate and the seat fabric is above average for the class. The interior of the xD really does feel built to last. That is probably why this model so often ranks at the top of its class in a number of quality surveys. The xD really would make a perfect car for a first time driver who plans on keeping this high utility hatchback for a decade or so.
The dashboard is very simply designed with a high fashion speedometer/tachometer gauge built into one perfectly sized circle right in front of the driver. The effect is very cool, especially at night, and is a design that you will soon be seeing again on the upcoming Fiat 500 supermini. Did the Italians copy Toyota or did Toyota copy the Italians? Who cares when it all looks this cool?
The controls for the standard air conditioning are simple knobs that are a short reach from the steering wheel and the standard six-speaker Pioneer audio system returns clear sound and an easy iPod interface. Some of the buttons are small on the standard Pioneer head unit but that can easily be fixed by upgrading to the Alpine 200-watt unit or one of the Scion navigation/audio systems. All are affordably priced and can be installed by the dealer. Check the Scion.com website for details.
In addition to the aforementioned features, all Scion xD models come with power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, six airbags, traction control, halogen headlamps and much, much more. All Scion models also come with a 3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty and a 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty.
Pricing, Options and Economy
Scion is sort of like Saturn used to be in that its dealers have fixed pricing so you don’t need to worry about having to negotiate prices when buying your new car. That is why the prices are so affordable because there is no “negotiation buffer” built into the MSRP of a Scion. The price you see on the sticker is the price you pay.
The same goes for Scion’s huge array of accessories. For appearance purposes, I highly recommend a set of any of Scion’s TRD alloy wheels, the awesome looking rear spoiler and probably a center armrest (which is not standard). To truly make the xD a great road trip car you just have to make sure to have a comfortable armrest ($155). Also, I would probably at least option up the more powerful 200-watt Alpine 200-watt system for a highly reasonable $449. The Scion navigation units are also very reasonably priced, as well.
The 2010 Scion xD returns 27 city/33 highway according to the EPA. With my much larger 18″ tires and my ledfoot driving style I still returned an average of 30.4 miles per gallon. The gas tank holds 11.1 gallons and the xD only requires regular unleaded.
Although you might think a four speed automatic mated to a 128 horsepower 1.8 liter 4-cylinder engine wouldn’t equate to driving thrills you would be wrong. I had an absolute blast driving the xD for a week and the engine never felt breathless even going up the steep hills in Laguna Nigual, California near my home.
The engine also positively thrives on revs giving out a throaty growl as it delivers an incredibly linear amount of power up and down the rev range. Steering feel gave a good impression of what the front wheels were doing and impersonates the rack in the Mini Cooper rather nicely.
I am sure the large tires on my model improved the handling but all I can tell you is that tight corners were always tackled with aplomb and very little body roll. There was a slight ride trade-off thanks to the larger rims when going over speed bumps but it is nothing worse than you feel in a Mini.
I have one problem with the Scion xD and it is the cheesy plastic wheel covers that come as standard. It ruins the looks of this stylish hatchback. I hate to say it, but those wheels make the xD look dorky. They would make a Mini, a Ferrari or a Lamborghini look dorky.
If you are in the market for a Scion xD make sure you option up one of the stylish optional alloy wheels. I got so many complements not only on the car but on the very stylish optional TRD multi-spoke alloys on my tester.
How Dog Friendly is It?
Tough seat fabrics, durable plastics that are scratch-resistant and a roomy cargo area with the seats folded all conspire to make the xD a terrific car for those of us with dogs in the family.
I have a soft spot from affordable, economical and zippy four door hatchbacks with a high fun quotient. If you are in the market for such a vehicle (and you should be considering the fact that gas prices are inching ever higher) then put the Scion xD on your shopping list. It is the closest thing I have yet driven to a four door Mini Cooper.
2010 Scion xD
Base Price: $15,570 (5-speed manual)
$16,370 (4-speed automatic)
Accessories on Test Car: Rear Spoiler-($385)
TRD 18″ Split Spoke Alloy Wheels (with tires)-($1,999.00)
Engine: 1.8 liter 4-Cylinder (128 horsepower/125 lb. feet of torque)
EPA Economy: (27 city/33 highway)
Economy During Test: 30.4 Miles per Gallon
Cargo Volume with Rear Seats in Place: 10.5 Cubic Feet
0-60: 8.4 seconds (Manual-Estimated)
0-60: 10 seconds (Automatic-Estimated)