Test Drive: Scion xD

The Scion brand has somewhat fallen through the cracks in the face of all the big things going on in the economy and at Toyota.? That?s unfortunate, because the three cars Scion builds are impressive and proven.? Consumer Reports even gives the Scion tC, xB and xD all ?Recommended? checkmark? and the top reliability ratings of ?much better than average.?

We recently drove the latest Scion offering, the xD, which is labeled as a five-door urban subcompact.? Now in its third year in the market this car is still impressive and timely, especially considering the new interest in smaller cars.

The xD is a little smaller than the Honda Fit, but feels quite spacious inside, but don?t count on three adults in the back seat, it?s best suited for three younger children or two adults. ?The cloth seats are a harder finish that appears durable.? The controls and instruments are simple and easy to use.? The one pod speedometer/tachometer is a novel treatment with both instruments on different sections of the same dial.

Designed to appeal to younger drivers, the Scion is sporting a fancy Pioneer radio that annoyed us with graphics flashing on the screen.? We knew it could be changed, but the controls were confusing so we put up with it.? Another sign of the trendiness was the optional 4-in-1 Color Interior Light Kit with cupholder illumination and adjustable ambient lighting ($299).

Getting down to business, yes, the car has some youthful distractions for old timers like us, but it is a nice solid and responsive small car.

The 128-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission runs a 0 to 60 mph time of about 8.5 seconds, and it will take a little longer when equipped with the four-speed automatic transmission.? Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.? We actually averaged 27.5 mpg.

The xD is certainly no sports car, but it does handle well and is even fun to run through the mountains, shifting the short-throw shifter.? It rides on a MacPherson strut front suspension and has a torsion beam setup in the rear.? The brakes are disc in the front with drums in the rear and anti-lock all around.

Scion planners didn?t skim on safety equipment to keep the price down. ?Standard safety equipment includes Vehicle Stability control, traction control, electronic brake force distribution, six airbags, force limited pretensioners on the seat belts, active front headrests, and tire pressure monitors.? In case you get a ?owie?, there?s even a first aid kit included.

This littlest Scion comes in two flavors, one with a five-speed manual transmission and a base price of $15,470, including the destination charge, the other has a four-speed automatic for $800 more.? That low price includes features like cruise control, air conditioning, power windows and locks, keyless entry, tilt steering wheel with redundant audio controls.

There are no other models or variations in the engine, however these little front-wheel drive cars have a plethora of accessories available to allow buyers to ?individualize? their ride.? Radios, lights, covers, overhead consoles, remote engine start, knobs, wheels, exhaust tips, appliqu?s and more are added at the factory and dealership to make each Scion unique.

Our test car had 13 different additions including Bluetooth, mats, armrest, audio, spoiler, alloy wheels, carbon fiber shift know, covers and even an appliqu?, which combined added $3,857 to the base price.

The Scion xD is an entertaining ride — comfortable, economical and a good value, especially in this market.

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