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Avg. Price Paid:$7,860 - $7,876
Original MSRP: $14,550 - $15,350
MPG: 27 City / 33 Hwy
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2008 Scion xD Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Scion xD was new.

Although the 2008 Scion xD's performance is considered better than its predecessor (the xA), it's not up to the standards of other small cars or hatches. Still USA Today writes the xD should still fit the subcompact driver's needs: "Urb or burb, the new car seems pretty good transport for those who don't need big, nor want brawny, nor care much about brisk."

During an Edmunds drive, the xD's engine allowed it to "out-accelerate competing subcompacts from Honda and Nissan while also returning similar fuel economy." Car and Driver finds "an adequate amount of off-the-line oomph when paired with the standard five-speed manual, and the four-speed automatic isn't half-bad in that regard, either." But USA Today reports the xD is "neither sporty nor cushy: Body leans around corners, car jumps and hops over undulations."

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers are appeased with the new xD's 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, and Automobile Magazine explains that the 128 horsepower is "a welcome increase" over the outgoing xA engine's paltry 105 horsepower. USA Today says the xD "is now freeway-adequate and causes little anxiety as it merges, hustles through traffic, even passes." The same review also states, "On the rural parkways, the xD showed its new, bigger engine to good advantage, taking the worry out of the hurry."

The engine features dual variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which improves fuel efficiency, emissions and reaction time. It also means "you don't have to rev the engine into its upper range to access the power needed for demanding urban driving situations," as The Car Connection discovered. Unfortunately, the VVT-i does not squash noise. Edmunds says the engine "is neither particularly loud nor particularly quiet about its work," and MSN finds that it "can sound buzzy when pressed."

To many, the xD's five-speed stick shift is competent, but nothing more. About.com thinks the "five-speed manual felt sluggish, particularly on steep hills where I frequently had to downshift to 4th (and sometimes to 3rd to keep up with traffic." The Washington Post says operating the stick "was like dancing with someone who was all rhythm and fire on the right side of her body, but who was completely absent of passion and timing on the left." According to the EPA, the engine paired with the five-speed manual transmission should achieve 27 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway.

Several writers prefer the four-speed automatic's performance. USA Today describes the four-speed transmission's shifts as "smooth and, generally, without delay. Leg the throttle hard, and the automatic will fully wring out the engine before shifting up." Car and Driver's writers found "the autobox provided a lot more refinement -- there's less time explain. The EPA predicts that the 2008 xD's engine and automatic combo will deliver 26 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway.

Handling and Braking

About.com's reviewer captures the general opinion of the 2008 xD's handling well, calling it "competent and responsive, though not quite thrilling." With the same suspension as its platform-mate, the Toyota Yaris, the xD has an L-arm MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar in the front, and torsion beam for the rear. This contributes to "jiggling and hopping over bumps, though no more than is typical for the subcompact class," Consumer Guide states. But USA Today says the xD's suspension is one its "worst features, but probably not a deal-breaker, depending on where you drive."

The 2008 xD's electric power-assisted steering has some shortcomings, but is well-tuned. Consumer Guide says it "lacks road feel" but "combines with a tight turning radius, meaning low-speed maneuverability is good." USA Today admits that the steering is firm, "so a sneeze doesn't wind you up in a ditch," as well as quick in the parking lot, "to avoid arm-wrestling matches with the steering wheel while docking in slim spots."

The xD's anti-lock disc brakes hold up well. The Chicago Sun-Times describes them as "more responsive" than those of the xA, while The Car Connection adds "there's plenty of stopping power and a good pedal feel." During testing, Edmunds negotiated a stop from 60 miles per hour "in a short 123 feet."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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