2015 Scion xB Review – My New Car (UPDATED)

Toyota Scion xB

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Reviewing My New 2015 Scion xB

When my 2004 Nissan Sentra with 188,000 miles needed more work than what the car was worth, it was time to start car shopping. I knew this day would be coming and had been doing some research for quite some time. I narrowed it down to a few choices, all for different reasons.

  • 2016 Ford Fiesta: I’ve been super impressed with Fords lately, and this would be a perfect little car with great gas mileage that I could use for my 100 mile a day commute. If I could get this in orange that would be a major plus.
  • 2016 Toyota Corolla: I wasn’t really a huge fan of this car but it was practical, safe, and got great gas mileage. It was available in a slightly less-boring green.
  • 2015 Scion xB: A car I always loved, this would be perfect for our growing family but not so much for me going to work as the gas mileage wasn’t as great. I loved the look of the Army Rock color.

Pre-Review and Explanation of Purchase (that sounds so official!)

Obviously I went with the 2015 Scion xB. But before I get into the meat of the review, I’ll explain some of my through process on what I chose a car which a lot of people don’t really like, and why I went with a new car instead of a used.

This is my first ever new car. Heck, it’s the first car where I actually had much of a choice. My uncle gave me my first car for free, a 1988 Ford Tempo in which I vastly overpaid for. Then when that died I was given my parents ultimate bore-mobile, A 1990something Chevy Prism. Then the first car I bought myself was just the best thing I could find for a budget $6,000, when happened to be the 04’ Sentra with 60k miles. So a 2015 Scion xB was a huge step up for me in every possible way.

I know a new car loses value the moment it drives off the lot, but I’m ok with that. I intend to drive it until it dies, hopefully a good 10+ years from now. I’ll eventually sell it for whatever scrap is worth, so I don’t mind if it doesn’t have the value right now that it did a week ago.

I also love that there is NO prior history with this car. We suspect that my wife’s last used car was found a flood car from Hurricane Katrina. We didn’t know that until a couple years after she bought it and started to notice that the entire frame was rusting out. Sure, you can get reports on used cars, but they don’t always show that one day the owner decided to throw it in reverse at 70mph, or that it was once used to carry 1000 more pounds than it’s supposed to.

We got a few good perks from the dealership as well, but it was a quote from my mother-in-law that gave me the mental “ok” to go new over used. She said “I’ve never regretted buying a new car.” Pretty simple statement, but the other unspoken side of that is “but I’ve regretted buying used cars many times.”

Ok, time for the review of the 2015 Scion xB.

2015 Scion xB Review

Space

We went with the2015 Scion xB for a number of reasons, but the biggest was that it was the best fit for our family. We have 2 boys, one 9 years old and the other just over a year. Our sedans were cramped, tight, and uncomfortable. Add a few more years to each kid and we’re looking at a very smooshed ride. The Scion offers great room for them to actually move.

The seats are large and comfortable. There’s an abundance of headroom… enough to where I have to stretch to adjust the rear-view mirror. We can move the front seats back and still have plenty of legroom for the kids and space for the car seat. In our old cars, the car seat in the back was right up against the back of the driver’s seat, and if you wanted more leg room you were out of luck.

Storage

Another one of the biggest draws of this new xB model is the amount of storage space: 69.9 cu ft, at least according to the Scion website. Of course, don’t expect to haul people and tons of cargo at the same time, unless you really like sitting on each other’s laps in the front seat.  The majority of the cargo space comes from folding down the back seats and/or folding down the front passenger seat.  They fold flat, which makes it much easier to haul larger items and means I don’t have to borrow my parents minivan anytime I want to move something bigger than a chair.

Let me pause here and talk about how awesome it is that the back seats fold flat and create a huge, and I mean HUGE open area. Ok, actually I better not expand on that too much, but I’ll just say it’s an awesome area to …haul things.

There is also a storage tray under the rear seats that comes in handy for keeping your car organized. It’s also a great place to store your tools or other small objects to keep them from rolling around under your seats. We use them so that the kids can keep books in the car without them ending up ripped to pieces on the floor or shoved under the front seat.

Features

The 2015 Scion xB has an abundance of customizable features. Even if you don’t want to customize your ride or wait to order one from the factory, the stock xB model comes with a ton of extra features, including:

  • Backup camera: This is my first time with one of these and it’s so nice for parallel parking. I now want to back into spots wherever I go. There’s no reason not to now that I can see behind me. As an added bonus, the video feed from that back up camera shows up on the high-definition audio display screen rather than as a grainy moving picture on your rearview mirror.
  • Pioneer Audio Display (Which has a fantastic touch screen!): This is pretty nice as well, even though I’ve never been a fan of touch screens. I have a feeling that if I ever get into an accident, it will be right after I’m done messing with something on the screen. However, I absolutely love that I can control the stereo with buttons on the steering wheel. That remains one of my favorite features ever.

The audio is good but not great. You can get a high end system installed, which I’ll add to my list of things I would love to do but probably never will. It has options to preset 36 different radio stations, as if you would ever need that many. It also has a feature that allows you to search for styles of music on the radio, but in the couple times I’ve used it, it hasn’t worked very well.

The touchscreen itself has a day mode and night mode, but doesn’t switch to them automatically. I’d recommend keeping it in day mode the whole time. It responds to touch ok but could be better, as I’ll often try to press one button and end up pressing a different one. I don’t have fat fingers, either.

  • Bluetooth connectivity: As more and more states outlaw handheld phone devices, this is a must have. Right now Pennsylvania allows handheld devices, but I always say “hang on” and quickly drop my phone if I’m ever going past a cop in case the laws have changed. I don’t have to worry about that any more, and it’s so nice to have the sound come through the speaker instead of holding a phone up to a sweaty ear.
  • Cruise control: I can’t say much about this other than the xB has it, and in previous cars it’s become a must-have feature. I drive 100 miles a day on the interstate so I’m on cruise control whenever there’s not heavy traffic. For some reason we’re not supposed to use it until it gets to 5,000 miles, so right now we drive it like some sort of peasant. I’m kidding, it’s perfectly fine driving without it.
  • Power everything (windows, door locks, seats, etc): You don’t know how nice this is unless you’ve had a car without it. I had to reach across the passenger’s seat in my wife’s car yesterday to roll down a window so a guy could ask me to tell the truck in front of him that he had a flat tire. I have no idea why he couldn’t tell him himself, but I do know that it was a huge pain (and not very safe) to reach all that way while driving.

The instrument panel mounted in the center of the car, and to be quite honest, it’s a little strange and will probably take some getting used to.  Instead of placing your speedometer, tachometer, and other information directly behind the steering wheel, this new 2015 Scion xB has moved all of those panels to a center location just above the audio display. I like that you don’t have to look through, above, or below the steering wheel, but it does seem a little off sometimes. It also has a digital speedometer that shows the numbers numerically instead of with a dial. This is cool, but makes it way too easy to speed. Instead of having that visual cue that tells you “oh wow my I’m my gauge is getting really high,” it’s very easy to look down and realize you’ve been going 80 instead of 60. I’m also worried that one of these days I’m going to run out of gas because I don’t see the gauge right in front of my face. Hopefully the low fuel light will come on before that, but I hate to ever get to that point.

There are also a fantastic number of features for the car and its engine that you can choose to add, for a price, including performance engine parts, high-end music systems, custom rims and tools to help organize your cargo area. I don’t know about you though, I can’t see myself spending $65 for a cargo net or $29 for an ashtray cup. You may want to consider stopping by your local parts store for those goodies. The cargo net is probably the first thing I’ll get so I can make better use of the trunk space. It will be nice to open the hatch without having groceries spill out. This car has tons of space when the seats are down, but not as much as a typical sedan’s trunk when the seats are up.

Power

Most people expect a lot of pep but not a lot of power from a 4-cylinder engine.  The xB does lag a little bit behind, with  a 3000lb car being moved by a little 2.4L 4 cylinder engine, but it doesn’t slow the car down so much that I’ve noticed it when driving it around town.  The 4-speed transmission, which you can get in automatic or manual, shifts smoothly and gets me where I need to go. I merge onto a busy interstate at least twice a day and if I ever need to floor it, it has enough pick-me-up to get me up to speed and into my lane safely. My previous car would practically throw a hissy fit when asked to accelerate, which is never fun when there’s a semi quickly closing in on you. The engine gets 158 horsepower, which is enough to do everything I need it for. I’m not going to beat anyone off the line at a stoplight, but wouldn’t do that with my kids in the back anyway.

Driving

The ride is remarkably smooth. It coasts easily, and your speed can creep up pretty high without you even noticing. In my experience the ride has been very quiet, even when accelerating. Others have complained at the engine noise but I have zero issues with it. It corners fairly well, but obviously isn’t meant to whip around a track or tight turn. It can handle anything you’d see in daily driving, and is even fine for driving through twisty mountain roads.

The smooth ride and space makes this the perfect car for a family road trip. That’s one of the reasons we bought it, but the more I drive it, the happier I am with it. It’s extremely comfortable on a long drive, and makes the thought of taking a one year old on a nine hour car ride seem almost tolerable. I’m not looking forward to the first time someone explodes a juice box in the back or has to climb in after a sweaty soccer game, but that’s life and I know this car won’t stay spotless forever.

So far I’ve only driven in rain and on dry roads, and the handling has been great on both. I will update this again once I drive it in the snow a few times.

Visibility

You’re sitting up a little bit higher than a sedan but not towering above people like you could be in a pick-up truck or even minivan. The large, somewhat upright front windshield seems far away at times but gives you a great view looking forward. Another common complaint of the 2015 Scion xB is the blind spots. However, so far I’ve never had an issue with them. I can see just fine merging on the highway, and the backup camera takes care of everything else.

The headlights are awesome. I’m colorblind and my eyesight gets worse by the day, and lately I’ve found it harder and harder to drive at night. The xB has fixed all of that. The visibility is great when the normal headlights are on, but once you turn on the brights it’s like broad daylight. The difference is incredible. You can see super far ahead and just as far to the sides. You’ll be able to see pesky deer on the side of the road long before you they jump in front of you, giving you plenty of time to slow down or stop. This is a huge difference from my last car and it makes driving at night fun again. The wipers do a great job in the rain too.

Gas Mileage

The biggest downside to this car, and the only reason we were hesitant to pull the trigger is the poor gas mileage. The 2015 Scion xB barely gets 22 mpg in the city, and 28mpg highway. This may be due to Scions decision to stick with the 4 speed transmission that just isn’t’ as efficient as some of the 5 or 6 speed models that they could have chosen.

This is a bummer, not only because of the cost of gas, but it also means I won’t drive it as often. I drive on the highway every day, my wife drives in town. So the majority of the week she’ll have the xB and I’ll have the Colbalt, which gets better highway mileage. This is probably for the best anyway, as my 100 mile a day commute would rack up the miles on the xB pretty quickly, and I want to keep this car around for a long time.

Safety

Face it; no one buys a car without checking out all the safety features and the crash test rating anymore. Especially if you have kids. You never know when you’re going to be in an accident and I don’t know about you, but I want to drive something that will protect me rather than leave me squished in the middle of a steel accordion after a crash. I witnessed the aftermath of a fatal crash on the day before Thanksgiving, and I am even more glad that the xB has great safety ratings after seeing in person what can happen. That image of a dead body sticking out of a windshield is one I will never forget. Sure, no car can keep you completely safe, but this one lives up to Toyota’s high safety standards.

The xB has 8 airbags, total, including front and rear head curtain airbags designed to protect the driver and passengers, as well as the standard front-mounted airbags.

In terms of preventing crashes, this car has a ton of features that may help keep you on the road and out of other vehicle’s trunks, like traction control for wet or snowy roads, antilock brakes (of course), Smart Stop Tech and Brake Assist.

Looks

I totally understand the common hate towards the “toaster” cars. I can’t stand the look of the Kia Soul, Nissan Cube, Honda Element, or any other boxy car. Some of the earlier xBs don’t look that great in my option. However… there’s something about the looks of this car that I just love. Yes it’s boxy, but it’s a curvy boxy, if that can even be a thing.  The hard lines from the first generation xB have been replaced with softer, smoother ones. The windshield even has more of a curve. The LED foglights at the bottom are a nice tough and look great both in daylight and at night.

I am absolutely obsessed with the color. The 2015 Scion xB comes in Absolutely Red, Army Rock, Black Sand Pearl, Classic Silver, Nautical Blue, Sizzling Crimson Mica, and Super White. When got ours in the Arm Rock, and I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s a color I never knew existed and never knew I needed. I’m not sure if it could be called a green, or a brown, or what. We call it a mushroom color, and have even taken to calling our car “The Mushroom.” This new nickname has officially stuck, as that’s pretty much the only way I refer to it these days. “Which car are you taking?” “The Mushroom.”

Price

The 2015 Scion xB has an MSRP of $18,865, which in my opinion is fantastic for the amount of car and features you get. We got it for about $2,500 below that, which is even better. There are cheaper competitors out there, like the Kia Soul which starts at $15,690, and the Nissan Cube started at $16,900. In my opinion, you get quite a bit more for the extra two or three grand that will really only effect your monthly payment by $20 – $30. Those other competitors were never an option for us anyway, as were comparing it to the similarly priced 2016 Toyota Corolla and 2016 Ford Fiesta.

Final Verdict

I love this car. I know it’s not for everyone. I like that about it. I like that I walk into the target parking lot and spot it immediately. I don’t see a million of them around… very few actually. I originally really liked the new Ford Fusion, but I see about 500 of them everywhere I go and it’s gotten to the point I’m starting to hate them. Not so with this car. It stands out and has some personality. It’s not something that everyone will like, and that’s ok with me. At least it doesn’t blend in.

The biggest pros:

  • Space
  • Storage
  • Drivability
  • Safety

The biggest cons:

  • Gas mileage
  • Lack of trunk

I didn’t write this to tell you to buy the 2015 Scion xB. I wrote it to say that I’m extremely happy with it. I turn around and look at it every time I park, and look out the window to admire it in the driveway. Heck, it’s even got me motivated enough to attempt to fix our garage door so I can park it inside during the winter.

TL/DR: The 2015 Scion xB isn’t perfect for everyone, but it’s darn near close to being perfect for me. Have 2 kids? Get this instead of a minivan.

UPDATE – 10 Months After Purchase

It’s been 10 months since we got our 2015 Scion xB, so I figured it was about time for a little update! You may have heard that shortly after our purchase, the entire brand of Scion got the ax by Toyota. Boom, gone. What does that mean for me? Not a whole lot. It’s now just Toyota and no Scion, but it looks like at least for awhile that parts will still be available. It’s also not clear if Toyota will keep the xB, rebrand it with a different name, or get rid of it altogether. I can’t see them totally getting rid of it but we’ll see.

Anyway, what have I learned after 10 months of ownership?

First of all, I still love it. Every time I drive it I think about how much I like it and how easy/smooth it is. I drive it 2 or 3 times a week, and my wife uses it the rest of the time. She thinks the same thing though, and it hasn’t lost that “new car feeling” for either of us yet.

My first main complaint of the car was the off-set display on the dash. As expected, I got used to it pretty quickly. As long as you set the display to show miles left in the tank, you won’t make the mistake of letting the fuel gauge (which is tough to see) get too low. I also don’t think it makes a noise when the gas gets low, so pay attention to that. It’s really nice at night not to have the display lights right in your face though.

I’ve also learned that no matter what you do, a new car will not stay clean. We kept our “no food” rule for about 3 months until it became too inconvenient. Now there are permanently frosted mini wheat and pretzel crumbs in the back seat, which can be expected with a 2 year old and 10 year old.  We still keep the front pretty clean and wash the outside as much as possible though, so it still looks pretty new. It also holds up very well to all the abuse of kids climbing around in it.

As for the drive, I have no complaints. It handles well, has decent pickup, and doesn’t have any weird quirks. It’s been great for long trips and easily survived a 1100 mile trip to Michigan during the summer, driving just quick enough to get me home in time to see my Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup.

Visibility is great too. I don’t know how I ever survived without a backup camera, especially for parking on the Harrisburg streets.

So to sum things up, again, this car is even better than I expected after close to a year of ownership. It’s also been fun to meet other xB owners and share stories and experiences. So far every single xB owner I’ve met has loved their car just as much as I do. Hopefully I own this one for many more years to come.

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