Monday, June 30, 2008

Scion xD is Surprisingly Sporty


I’m a firm believer in the idea that appreciating the little things in life makes all the difference. You know, like when you find a twenty-dollar bill in a jacket you haven’t worn in months. Or, how about that first sip of coffee in the morning? These are the pleasant little surprises that make slaying the dragon each day a little easier. This week, while I wasn’t fortunate enough to find any missing twenty-dollar bills, I did experience great surprise in my Scion xD tester. Frankly, I expected to be driving a slow, ill-handling, awkward-looking, egg on wheels. Rather, what I found was quite the opposite. This little five-door, which is built on the same platform as the Toyota Yaris, features sporty handling, alloy wheels, and decent horsepower.


I know what you’re thinking. What’s decent horsepower for a car that goes for under fifteen-grand? That is a perfectly legitimate question. In this case, decent is a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder that offers up 128 horsepower. Before you scoff, consider two things. First, this little scrapper only weighs in around 2600 lbs. So, its power to weight ratio isn’t bad. Second, and maybe more important, its 128 horsepower is better than the Nissan Versa, Chevy Aveo, and Honda Fit. However, those familiar with this review may recall my excitement about the AWD Suzuki SX4 crossover, which makes 143 horsepower. Still, the xD is powerful relative to the majority of its competition. Also, my tester came with TRD exhaust that gave it a throaty sound that, while louder than most, stopped short of obnoxious.


Taking the xD around corners is where it really won me over. This short wheelbased wonder just loved being tossed around the twisties. Like last week, I have to rate it on the pregnant wife scale. For example, my level of enjoyment is directly correlated to the number of times my pregnant wife screamed for me to slow down or let her out of the car. Let’s just say she has no idea how dangerously close she came to getting a little more exercise, if you know what I mean.


While I like the look of the xD, something about the front fascia struck me as a little awkward. However, awkwardness aside, it’s a reasonably attractive five-door. Plus, it came with 16” alloy wheels, which are a big bonus in this class. Its interior had a decidedly aftermarket-style feel to it. What I mean, is that one of Scion’s big selling points is that it can be highly customized from the factory. This tester featured piano black plastic trim, and a stereo that had a lot of moving animation on its main screen. It was a little too Fast and the Furious for me, but at least it doesn’t look cheap.


The xD has some good attributes, and some great attributes. I would rank it a very close second to the AWD Suzuki SX4.

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