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2011 Scion xD. Photo by David Arnouts.
ART DIRECTOR TARA KLEIN: Well, you definitely get what you pay for with the 2011 Scion xD--maybe even a little less. Even though quality wasn't quite in the forefront of this vehicle's benefits, there were some characteristics that were well carried out.
The exterior of the xD is boxy yet stylized, appealing mostly to a younger crowd. There's a lot someone could do with this car by customizing, but as it sits now, it's a sad halfway (or not even halfway) point between cool and drab, being closer to drab. The bare bones are at least there, however.
I did find the interior to be nice, considering its economical approach. The metallic upholstery on the door panels gives a throwback look, and the stamped plastic breathes new life into what could be a monotonous hard surface. The center-stack design could use some refinement, even though I do like the shape of its profile, jutting the temperature controls out toward the front seats. An armrest would have been useful, since I constantly found myself placing my arm in its empty place, only to have gravity pull it down to the console. I did have to push my seat pretty far back to find a position where my foot reached the pedals comfortably. I wonder how a tall person would sit in the xD, considering my impressive five-foot, five-inch height.
On the road, this car is suitable and capable of getting you from point A to point B, but that's about where it ends. It felt very similar to the Nissan Cube in this respect, as it roars with loud engine noise when getting up to speed. This, paired with the overall wind and road noise, created a slightly annoying cabin experience. The acceleration rate wasn't exactly impressive, and I really had to push to get it up to speed, especially when merging on the expressway.
Considering other small cars out there such as the Ford Fiesta or the Hyundai Elantra, I'd easily look elsewhere for another option.
INTERACTIVE ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: There are several reasons I'd look elsewhere for a small car, but the main one is refinement.
The engine noise is loud in the cabin--especially when you're trying to get the car up to speed. The acceleration isn't terrible when you put your foot down, but it won't take any autocross trophies, either. Again with the Scion, the four-speed transmission helps off the line.
The storage spaces feel a bit inexpensive. There are many of them, but both gloveboxes and the change drawer on the left side of the steering wheel are coated in thin plastic--not pleasing to the touch.
The seats are not good for a longer drive. There isn't enough bolster, the driver's seat is not height adjustable, and after a few hours of driving on Saturday, my backside was quite numb. Like the xB we had, I felt like I was sliding forward the whole time.
I'm not sure what's up with the window cut. But at anywhere past 60 mph on the expressway, the wind blowing by the side mirrors makes a whistling sound. I poked and squeezed panels, moved the mirror--nothing helped. When both windows are open it gets loud, and very annoying.
The radio isn't as good as the upgraded unit we had in the last Scion, which cost an extra $450. This one could barely keep the wind noise at bay. It did accept my iPod, though.
The driving dynamics are fine, but nothing exceptionally exciting. There isn't a ton of body roll, the steering wheel feels connected to the wheels adequately, and I had no problem with the brake feel.
Forgetting about those complaints for a moment, I don't think the xD is a bad-looking car. My mom thought it was cute. As Tara said, with a little customization, a few tweaks, bigger wheels and a lower stance, this might be an actual looker. Unfortunately, it'll probably never be an actual driver.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: I'm discovering I don't like Scion automobiles. Granted, I'm also not exactly the target audience, but I love a good pocket rocket. This is just not one of them. I do have an easier time swallowing the 2011 Scion xDs raison d'etre, given its price (especially against the xB we had in the fleet last week), but I expect more from a $17,000 car these days. The Ford Fiesta, the Honda Fit and other B-segment vehicles offer more actual driving fun for the dollar and don't give up much in space.
Driving the xD, my first thought was, “Wow, I didn't know anyone still made cars like this anymore.” It reminded me for all the world of a friend's Toyota Corolla back in the late 1980s, with a tinny, resonant structure, a buzzy I4 and a rubbery four-speed automatic. That Corolla was a perfectly nice car in 1988. This just happens to be 2011.
Handling was still quite good; even with inexpensive base tires and stamped steel wheels, the xD didn't mind being flung around a corner. The problem was that I didn't generally fling it for the entertainment value; it was more akin to the old Volvo Amazon ad begging owners to “drive it like you hate it.”
2011 Scion xD
Base Price: $16,565
As-Tested Price: $16,565
Drivetrain: 1.8-liter I4; FWD, four-speed automatic
Output: 128 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 125 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Curb Weight: 2,665 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 29/30.8 mpg
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