A decade ago Toyota realized they had an image problem on their hands. Despite being one of the largest car companies in the world, in contemporary North America Toyota is viewed as, well, a car for old people. I can’t disagree, as my 76 year old father in-law has owned his faithful Camry for years. Discontent with their image as a car company for older buyers, Toyota created the Scion division in an attempt to distance themselves from staid Toyota. Unlike Lexus, which Toyota sells through exclusive, high end dealers, Toyota and Scion cars sit side by side on the same dealer lot.
The Scion xD is no spring chicken, as it has been sold here in the US since 2008, and 2011 when Scion opened up shop in Canada. Since its introduction in 2008, the xD has received very little attention in terms of updates from Scion. For a brand that was created to appeal to today’s youthful car buyer, the xD’s exterior styling hardly projects that attitude. Yes, the xD is tastefully styled, but in terms of being hip, the car falls flat on its face. With cars like the MINI Cooper, Fiat 500, and even the Kia Rio looking far more interesting to look at, the xD’s toaster oven appearance does it no favors to draw appeal to the savvy young buyer Scion hopes to lure.
The interior of the xD is stark, and very utilitarian. The driver is faced with a three pod instrument cluster, but only the center one contains any useful information, with a speedo and tach incorporated in one. Acres of black plastic prevail throughout the interior. For a brand created to appeal to younger buyers, the xD offers nothing in terms of style. The driving position is extremely upright, and I was disappointed the steering wheel only tilts up and down, but cannot be moved forward and back. As expected, fit and finish is excellent, and the xD provides an airy cabin with exceptional visibility. The cupholders are a joke. Not even driving the car hard I would take a corner and my water bottle was sent hurling into the passenger side footwell, so you can forget about tooling around town with a latte without it spilling out. Trunk space is on the small side, and cannot even come close to the Honda Fit. Scion’s only nod to their target buyer is a nice sound system. But with such dark colors, bolt upright seating position and ho hum styling, the xD hardly seems appealing to the young hipsters it wants to attract.
The xD comes in one flavor only, with a 1.8L four cylinder engine rated at 128hp. Buyers have a choice of a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. Our test car had the ancient four speed automatic. Acceleration was good, with a 0-60mph time of 8.3 seconds, with a top speed of 120mph. Driving the xD was smooth, and despite the antiquated four speed slush box, was unobtrusive. The ride was comfortable overall. However, buyers in this class want and expect superb fuel economy, and here, the xD falters. With an EPA rating of 27/33 MPG city/highway, the xD is far behind its peers.
The Scion xD comes in one trim model only. Buyers have the option of adding their own personal touches from dealer installed options. Our automatic xD started with a base price of $16,720USD. Standard equipment included LED turn signals, rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tip, 6.1″ touch screen Pioneer with six speakers, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth. Options on our test car included a rear bumper applique, center armrest, BeSpoke premium audio, and 16″ alloy wheels. Including destination charges, our xD rings in at $19,876.
Looking at the sales numbers of the xD, the car is a dud. And living with the car for a week, I was not sad to see it go. If Toyota is so concerned about its image as an older persons brand to the extent they create a sub-brand like Scion, for Pete’s sake build a youthful car with a statement. With forgettable styling, a depressing interior and non-competitive fuel economy ratings, it’s hardly a surprise the xD is not selling. For a car company that once gave us the MR-2, Celica, and Supra, we know you can surely do better than this.