2008 Scion xD review: Fuel thrifty in a peculiar wrapping

2008 Scion xD

2008 Scion xD

Take a good look at the 2008 Scion xD. Now look again. Then think and look again.

Why all the looking? Because those not sold on the styling—if that’s the right word—need not continue. There’s no further deliberation required. On the other hand, some will examine at the Scion xD and want to pet it and take it home. Like a Boston terrier.

In fact, the xD looks something like a Boston terrier. It’s small, compact and appears that it was precrashed, already stuffed square into a brick wall. At least one doesn’t have to worry about that first scratch. Heck, the entire front end comes previously smunched.

Truth is, however, that short snout makes the Scion xD more space efficient and more city friendly, able to leap into small parking places in a single bound and still have a reasonable amount of room for four people. Indeed, the xD has five seatbelts but using them all puts the three in the back dangerously close to a ménage a trois.

Into the fold The rear seat folds, of course, or what’s the point of a hatchback? With both sides folded, the cargo area totals 35.7 cubic feet, particularly usable with the vertical rear door and the flat floor, albeit with a sizeable gap between the regular cargo area floor and the folded seatbacks. With the seat back up, there’s officially 10.5 cubic feet of space, however by actual test we discovered that it neatly contains one standard size laundry basket crosswise, and a trumpet case set lengthwise will just fit in. That’s something that trumpet players with dirty clothes will want to know. Everyone else can say, “Hmmmm.”

The Scion xD’s rear seat also slides forward, or actually hops, but it’s a fairly worthless feature, as it eliminates rear legroom from the knees down. Perhaps it makes more sense with a child safety seat installed.

2008 Scion xD speedometer tachometer

The 2008 Scion xD has a peculiar speedometer/tachometer, with the speedo dial going clockwise and the tachometer counterclockwise.

Not that the driver should care because that’s not where the driver sits, and the front seat is actually rather roomy. The front seats, like those in the rear, are noticeably firm, enough so to draw complaints, but that’s a matter for personal tush-o-meters to decide.

Outside and inside At least the interior styling isn’t peculiar as the outside. The dash looks like non-skid rubber molded to a dash with rather novel contours but it’s actually hard plastic. The instrument panels cozies up under a trapezoidal hood with two wings for supplemental features, including the fuel gauge, in orange LCD rectangles. A trip-meter is on the right, with fuel economy and related data. In the center, however, is an odd “”radar-like”—Scion’s words—tachometer/speedometer. The speedo, with white numerals on black, sweeps around clockwise from about seven o’clock to one o’clock. The tachometer needle has almost the same axis but sweeps up counterclockwise from about five-thirty and has orange numerals. It’s odd. It’s unconventional. It doesn’t matter.

The center stack is rather nifty, or cool, or whatever a Gen X’er might say. It’s a glossy black panel with a “raised” look, as if it’s floating above the rest of the dash. No doubt there are other interior designers saying to themselves, “I wish I had thought of that.”

Our test Scion xD came with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is the other choice. Because of the chair-height seats, the shifter is rather long so it has a relatively long throw, though the slots are close laterally. We never missed a shift, however, even when occasionally skipping gears. The clutch uptake was light and smooth.