Re-Thinking the Box
by Joe LaMuraglia
Have you ever met someone and immediately disliked them only to become BFFs later on? It was a similar story with me and the new 2008 Scion xB. Like a good looking guy that you see across the bar only to be let down when he starts talking, the newest Scion’s larger, more rounded mobile box impressed me from afar but my initial interaction with it left me wanting more.
Immediately after delivery to Gaywheels.com’s global HQ, I jumped in the Scion to run errands around Atlanta. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of the yet-to-be reviewed luxury SUV I was driving before it but the Scion felt light, tinny and downright skittish. My initial impression was magnified when I made the drive to Nashville later that day. While the new 2.4L, 158 HP engine was a welcome upgrade from the old xB and provided good performance, the car was susceptible to side-winds on the highway, loud at speed and in-need of an additional gear in the 4-speed automatic transmission to keep from the incessant down shifting when traversing the large hills between here and Music City. On top of all that, I only averaged 24 MPG – not much better than some large SUVs I’ve recently reviewed.
What a difference a few days make. As I spent more time in the xB, I realized that at an as-tested $17,878.53, it wasn’t a bad car. Furthermore, for the people that Scion designed this vehicle, it was probably an awesome car. Scion was created as a division of Toyota to appeal to the younger generation. They came out of the gate with the original xB and the now-defunct xA thinking that the xB would be the less-popular vehicle. The reality was the funky little boxlet appealed to the younger driver and they bought the xB over the xA in droves. What appealed to them? The funky styling, the killer stereos, room for all their friends and the seemingly endless customization potential. Oh yeah, it is affordable too.
The new xB maintains all the attributes of its predecessor and adds the aforementioned engine upgrade along with a larger, arguably more mainstream body style. What bothered me as a 39-year old, balding, slightly overweight, stressed-out entrepreneur wouldn’t even register with the 18-25 year old target customer. Any noise would be drowned out by the music playing from their iPod through one of the three available stereos via the integrated jack in the center console . They’d likely have their friends with them most of the time which would negate the bouncy ride and statistically, the target customer doesn’t make long road trips on a weekly basis so MPG and cruising comfort isn’t high on their importance list.
The turning point in my relationship with the xB was during the first stage of moving my possessions to TN. As usual, I underestimated the amount of “stuff” I’ve accumulated in the 2 years of living in Atlanta. When my partner and I started to group things to move to the new abode, I quickly realized that more than one trip was required and that we needed to take advantage of the xB’s cargo capacity in addition to that of his Infiniti FX35. An executive decision was made and we set out to pack the vehicles and head back to Nashville a day early. As I folded the front seat back and the rear seats forward, I quickly came to terms with the best feature of this vehicle – it can carry a LOT of stuff. What fit in the Scion simply dwarfed the cargo capacity of the Infiniti and I had visions of being twentysomething and heading out with friends for a weekend. On top of the amazing about of crap we fit in the xB, the return trip to TN was smooth, quiet and I actually averaged 30 MPG. You’ve heard of method acting right? Well, from now on, I’m going to practice method driving – doing my best to do what the target customer would do. In the case of the Scion xB, it definitely made me re-think the box.
Scion is a gay-friendly company.