scion


Using vehicles to create student interest in math and Language Arts
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

Using vehicles is an excellent way to motivate students and to help ready them for real life buying decisions. The following links deal with the various manufactures where students can write for information, obtain pricing information and to harvest compare and contrast data for Common Core related essays.

A listing of all DMV offices.
Finding the office that deals with your state and others can provide information on how old one needs to be to drive as well as the various license fee data that could be used for Common Core math problems. I have used driver manuals to motivate students to read.
http://www.dmv.org/

Data on fuel economy
This federal site would enable students to select a variety of vehicles and there fuel mileage. This could be used for math as well as to provide statistics for an essay on the best or worst type of vehicles in terms of fuel costs.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

A link site to manufacturers who sell cars in America
http://search.ezilon.com/united_states/business/automotive/auto_manufacturers/

A listing of vehicle websites worldwide
http://autopedia.com/html/MfgSites.html

National Motorists Association
A great source of information on driving and the law.
http://www.motorists.org/

A listing of car value prices
A good place to find statistics for math problems about the prices of cars and motorcycles.
http://www.nadaguides.com/

Where cars are made by location
Great way to teach geography.
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/a-graphic-representation-of-whats-really-made-in-america-feature

Box Cars: Perfect for Hauling Coal for Stockings

by The Car Family

For more reviews: http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/home/most-reliable-vehicles/

Looking for the best vehicle to haul that coal for the undeserving one’s stocking this holiday season? Well it might not be that simple since there are five main types of coal. Of these, Anthracite, which is an environmentalist nightmare, has significant carbon content, but high heating value. Bituminous, the most common, is used mainly for generating electricity and casts a large carbon footprint, too. There is also Subbituminous, which gives less heat, but also has less carbon, and Lignite, a younger coal with less potential.

So which coal to buy is the question, but equally of note is which box car to tote home the combustible sedimentary rock? Fortunately, this holiday season there are three fairly newly minted vehicles that provide good fuel mileage, room for four adults as well as a few bags of coal within their squared off exteriors. The box cars are the Scion xB the Kia Soul, and the Nissan Cube and they are as different as Bituminous is from Lignite despite their similar Lego-like looks.

Mom’s view: The most conservative of the trio is the fairly “spacious” Scion xB with nearly 70 cubic feet of interior space and a lengthy list of options from stereo upgrades to an integrated navigation system. There is an abundance of standard features, especially considering the mid-$15,000 price range. Acceleration is PCH brisk, which means it can get you to 40 mph in a hurry, but after that no rush. The engine is eager to please while still yielding above 30 mpg in mixed driving. The interior is quaint, but legroom is tight. Safety features include antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front active head restraints. Crash scores have been above average. Overall, this is a handy rig, but the bus driver type seat and steering wheel angle were obviously designed for a younger dudette.

Dad’s view: If you are into a bit more sport and a whole lot more fun the Kia Soul is worth a tug at your purse strings. Starting under $14,000, this cool coal hauler has a great seating position, good handling, although it can be harsh on tax deprived roads, and offers 53 cubic feet of cargo space or about room for 40 bushels. Besides its looks, the Soul has such standard features as a four-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, and auxiliary input jacks, as well as 12-volt power outlets. An enormous number of options can help give the Soul more soul, but definitely check out the glowing upholstery options and get the larger engine. The base engine and local canyons don’t make a good mix. Safety features include antilock brakes. stability control and front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A bit noisy, but with the excellent stereo it really doesn’t matter. Overall, a worthy utility machine that is loaded with value. However, a safety reminder is in order. Never, ever start the Soul after a member of the younger generation has driven it without first turning off the stereo first. You heard me, didn’t you?

Young guilty male driver’s view: Priced around $15,000, the Nissan Cube is an oxymoron, a round box. Every inch of this vessel has been exposed to the French curve and the result is, well, French like. Perhaps this is owing to the fact that Renault has controlling shares. Nevertheless, this is a compelling machine and practical, too. It has just over 58 cubic feet of cargo space and the rear hatch can be accessed through the side-hinged door. The interior is interesting, especially with the optional 20-color interior lighting and distinctive instrument panel. The easiest to park and maneuver, the Cube is full of fascinating features and doesn’t short change the buyer on safety equipment as front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, stability control and antilock brakes are standard. Cool, but the stereo is n’t as sick as the Soul.

Family conference: All of these diamonds in the rough are great coal haulers, but after the season is over they are also ideal for driving the kids to the therapist and still have room in back for the peace making dog in the process. And if you are into positive reinforcement and don’t cater to the Sicilian tradition of coal in the stocking, or perhaps want to substitute Carbone Dolce, these three boxcars are great fun and attract more attention than a Maria Shriver with a cell phone.

For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

The Best 2010 Vehicles

By The Car Family

For vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

After a long look at the 2010 vehicles it becomes clear that this is not a stellar one. The Audi Q5 is the best of the SUV/Trucks and the Kia Forte sedan is the best of the vehicles, although we found the Toyota Prius terrific. As for our best family vehicle, we would go with the Ford Fusion hybrid. And for the rich family vehicle, the Lexus RX 450h/RX 350 are useful, frugal, and hold their value.

Mom’s view: The Toyota Prius is great, but I just like to slide into a vehicle and so the Lexus RX is my favorite. I also enjoyed the Kia Soul more than I would like to admit. Comfortable and handy.

Dad’s view: The new Jaguar sedan with the supercharged engine is fun and dominating. You can run with the best sports cars and still enjoy the comforts of a large sedan. I also liked the Lexus RX and the Kia Soul.

Working woman’s view: The Nissan Cube is cute.  But what stole my heart was the Mercedes GLK with a diesel engine.  Awesome, and I probably am going to buy one in the future. That says something.

Young working male’s view:  I’m still making open source hardware for http://www.eracks.com and they are the most quiet units on the market. As such a treasure my comfort and so the Mercedes E Class and the Subaru Legacy and Outback are my choices

Alfa Romeo

This model year tends to reflect the down nature of the economy with a few bright spots for those with dough and risk takes. For example, Alfa Romeo is back with three Italian beauties. The Alfa Romeo 159 Sedan is a BMW 3 Series fighter with a 260 horsepower 3.2-liter V6 engine stunning looks and standard all-wheel drive all for about $35,000. Adding to that Italian Flair is the Alfa Romeo Brera 2 plus 2 Coupe that is really attractive and carries the same drive train as the 150 sedan. As usually, you have to pay more for something beautiful so the sleek two door should run a couple of grand more. Of course, going topless is the sole purpose of the Alfa Romeo Spider which should cost over $40,000 probably with the same V6 engine. We suggest wait and see.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin has more expensive eye candy for anyone to own who has a couple of hundred thousand dollars to spend. The Rapide has four door, a first, a first for this newly purchased company, and a 470 horsepower. For a hundred thousand dollars more you can own a smaller vehicle, the DBS Volante 2+2 and sit on 510-horsepower. That is the same horsepower you can feast upon in a Jaguar sedan that costs $80,000. There is also the One-77 for two million, a V12 with 700 horsepower and it is built to the owner’s specifications, more or less. Oh, the name? They are only going to build 77 of them. Hurry. You can get a lot more for a lot less.

Audi

Whether Audi’s winning streak lasts is in the hands of four new Audi vehicles. The A5 Cabriolet does away with the A4 in appearance only as most of the drivetrain is the same. Look for some more technology and a price a little over forty grand. You can also order supercharged version for a few thousand dollars more. Finally, the Audi S4, at around $50,000, is going to have a 3.0-liter  supercharged six-cylinder engine making about 335 horsepower and all wheel drive.  A BMW with a softer image.

BMW

BMW continues its quest to build some pretty strange looking vehicles, but they continue to succeed. The  Z4 well have a retractable hardtop and its excellent  twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine as well as a base model sans the induction help starting in the mid-$40,000 range. For $80,000 you can harvest a large BMW 7-Series with a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 with 400 horsepower. Again, less horsepower than the Jaguar sedan, but it has more backseat room. Back to strange looking BMWs and the X6 M. For nearly ninety thousand dollars you can drive a very fast SUV that can rival the Porsche Cayenne in everything, including depreciation. Look for 550 plus horsepower from a twin-turbocharged V8. The base 3 Series is still the best BMW.

Buick Lacrosse

We don’t recommend General Motors products at this time. The Lacrosse is priced at about $28,000 and for that you can get a slightly used Lexus RX still under warranty for that price. Remember that General Motors only allows select people to test drive their vehicles so watch for bias in reviews.

Cadillac

We don’t recommend General Motors products at this time. Cadillac has a new sports wagon and more powerful engines in most of its products. The SRX and sports wagon cost nearly the same, about $34,000 and they both do essentially the same, with the wagon being more sprightly. We don’t get the pricing strategy, but we also don’t understand why GM hired back a leader who helped create the bankruptcy in the first place. Stick to the base CTS.

Ferrari

Ferrari California is offered at about $195,000. For that you get a retractable hardtop convertible, a 4.3-liter V8 that produces 460 horsepower, a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, and a Ferrari that makes the overpriced and poor riding Bentley look like yesterday. No wonder Bentley sales and resale are suffering.

Fiat 500

When it comes buy it. Pricing is fairly high for such a small machine, just below $20,000, but it is cute, rides well, and you can order it with a fuel sipping 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 100. We recommend you delay your gratification until the more powerful engine becomes available.

Ford Mustang

It isn’t getting old and it is getting better, The Mustang looks much sharper this year and the handling has been smoothed. A myriad of engine choices. For about $20,000 you can have a car that makes the weird looking Chevrolet Camaro and bulking Chrysler Challenger like bad styling exercises.

Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

Expensive, high riding, and expensive, the F-150 Raptor is meant to destroy off-road obstacles and pass most everything except a gas station. $39,000.

Ford Taurus

We highly recommend the Ford Fusion. However,  if you need more leg and cargo space, the new Taurus is a darn good vehicle to consider, especially with a $26,000 asking price. Good fuel mileage, a six-speed automatic transmission and a 3.5 engine are standard. If you need more power and want to spend nearly $39,000 you can stuff your Taurus with the SHO turbocharged, 365 horsepower engine.

Ford Fusion

A bargain and fun to drive, the Fusion is now available as a hybrid that can easily get mid-30 mpg. Well priced at just over $20,000, the Fusion is just as good as the competition from Asia and the hybrid is one of the best family vehicles you can possess that offers exception fuel mileage.

Honda Insight

Priced below $20,000, the Insight is less expensive than the Toyota Insight, but you get a lot less. Fuel mileage in the low 40 mpg arena. Look for Toyota to offer a stripped Prius to offset the Honda’s price advantage. However, it won’t have the Honda handling.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Wow, for those who like a slick looking coupe that goes fairly well, the $23,000 Genesis coupe is a must drive. The turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and the 3.8-liter V6 produce 210 and 306 horsepower respectively. Why pay more?

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Jaguar XJ Series

This stunning sedan is available with an extended-wheelbase and potent powertrains from the base 5.0-liter V8 and its 385 horsepower, to the .XJL Supercharged 470 horsepower version, to the Supersport’s 510 horsepower engine. Safety wise the Jaguar offers ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain side airbags, and front side airbags. Add to that Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics adjustable air suspension and you have a sweet riding sedan. You can also add a dual-screen DVD entertainment system. The Supersport is a bargain for those who like their sedan to truly leap. One of our favorites. Priced just under $70,000.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee

As the much anticipated Chevrolet Volt is said to be the most important vehicle to General Motors, the Grand Cherokee is even more vital to Chrysler. To this end they are offering extended warranties on the drivetrain and a less ancient styling. Pricing is expected to be just over $30,000, but more importantly, you are going to own a vehicle with a nicer interior and better handling than any previous model.  Well worth the late for those that need the Grand Cherokee’s legendary off-road ability.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited

Kia Soul

A real surprise, the Kia Soul can be bought for under $15,000 and you get a very useful and fun car to drive. It has a high seating position and both the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine and 142 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder get good gas mileage. The large tires give a sturdy ride, but that is the sole concern with the Soul. Another one of our favorites.

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Kia Forte

Yet another bargain from Kia, the Forte is a sedan that has an available 173 horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and room for five all for under $15,000. Kia is on a roll, pun intended.

Kia Forte Koup

A two door version of the Forte for under $20,000.

Kia Sorrento

The Sorrento is leaner, but still not nearly competitive with the other crossovers at this time. However, Kia dealers are willing to deal and the new engine choices might make this a thrifty hauler. Well under $25,000 and look for good deals.

Lexus IS C

This convertible relies on the Lexus name and stunning interior to gather new customers. The base engine is barely adequate, and the larger engined IS 350C and its 3.5-liter, 306 horsepower V6 drives up the price thousands. Look to pay over $40,000 and for that you get a retractable hardtop and Lexus service.  Watch for those bulging side panels in parking lots, though.

Lexus RX 450h

Another giant leap forward for the best crossover in the land, the Lexus RX. This time Lexus has improved the performance and offers a plethora of new technology treats for those who want the $42,000 smoothmobile. You can easily get over 30 mpg and there is plenty of pep, but the reality is that the base RX offers nearly the same mileage for much less. Drive them both.

Lexus HS 250h

Not the best Lexus when it comes to styling, the HS 250h is a larger Prius with the Camry hybrid’s 2.4-liter engine. Rides well and is pretty perky, but it is priced in the mid-$30,000 range and the fuel mileage isn’t that much better than the terrific Toyota Corolla.

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Lincoln MKT

We like Lincoln, but we don’t always understand their attraction. They seldom are different than the base Ford they are based on, but that may all be in the past as the MKT comes online. A stunning interior, an attention getting exterior and ample power. Priced in the mid-$40,000 range. Our advise, buy the turbocharged engine with its 355 horsepower.

Mazda3

More versions of this poor man’s BMW, the Mazda3 in the form of a four and five door and a souped-up sizzler, this fun and frugal winner has seen its interior expanded, but not its powertrain.  Prices start around $17,000. The Speed version threatens the pavement with a 2.3-liter engine creating 263 horsepower. Can you say torque steer?

Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

For nearly $90,000 you can own the luxurious S Class Mercedes that combines the power of the base engine with that of electric motors to give a big push to a big car without sacrificing too much fuel. Personally, we think the Bluetec diesel is the best offering, but it does not come in the S model.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

A very large coupe at a good price, the $54,000 E-Class is available with an optional 382-horsepower V8 to provide a lot of go in this attractive two door.

Mercedes-Benz GLK

An optical illusion, this SUV is actually small on the outside, but large on the inside. Available with the diesel, which would make it perfect, it also comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a potent 268 horses. Priced below $35,000. The best MB SUV.

Mercedes-Benz M-Class Hybrid

Priced around $50,000, this SUV combines a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a continuously variable transmission and two electric motors to make it seriously fast and still get fuel mileage above 20 mpg. In reality, this is better than the General Motors products in the form of the Cadillac Escalade hybrids, but lacks the polish of the Lexus RX 450h. Stick with the M-Class.

MINI Crossman

A MINI on steroids, the all wheel drive Crossman is a tall, stubby, attention getting version of the MINI that uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with 172 horsepower to push it through the considerable turbulence its design creates. For about $30,000 you can drive something different.

Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback

Sporty in appearance and handling, this Lancer can be ordered with all wheel drive and the station wagon styling makes it very family friendly. The hot rod Ralliart version is also planned. Priced under $30,000, the Sportback is the most utilitarian of the Lancers, but look for dealers to offer some good pricing.

Nissan

The 370 Z convertible is here and this two-seater is a hoot to drive, especially considering its base pricing of just over $40,000 well equipped. For a lot less you can have the hard top version with the same engine, transmission, and suspension. With prices starting around $30,000, the 370Z comes with a 332 horsepower V6,  six-speed manual transmission and the must have SynchroRev Match system that automatically matches engine speed to your selected gear on downshifts. A real bargain, but there is a lot of competition in the sporty car field now with the upgraded Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Chrysler Challenger, and Hyundai Genesis coupe.

Nissan’s Cube is a box with a little style and a lot of utility. The poster car for funky, the Cube has an asymmetrical rear glass and a side opening rear hatch. For about $14,000 this eye catcher can do your daily chores without much fuss thanks to the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine with 122 horsepower. There is a lot of competition in this niche once dominated by the Scion B and D. Now the pressure comes from the Kia Soul.

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Porsche Panamera

This is a four door Porsche that comes in two forms, fast and faster. The 4400 pound sedan comes in either two or four wheel drive, but with engines pushing from 400 horsepower to 500 horsepower version. Certainly usable for a family, but at $125,000 plus it is best left to those who enjoy the status of owning this unusual vehicle.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

Why bother. Another Rolls gas hog that serves no purpose that a vehicle half its cost does not provide. A good way to spit in the face of environmentalists while getting the best parking spot at upscale restaurants.

Saab 9-5

Probably due much later in the model year, the new Saab 9-5 is a knockout. Nothing else much new from Saab due to its sale, but used Saabs are a bargain and the 2006 anniversary edition convertible remains one of the great undervalued and automobile collector bargains with only 400 produced. (see photo)

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Smart fortwo ED

We love the Smart cars, except for the jerky transmissions. They are a hoot to drive and with this version you even get good gas mileage thanks to its electric motors. Another of our favorites.

Subaru Legacy

Bigger and sort of better, the $20,000 Legacy is larger and better looking, but the weak base engine still is challenged in mountain driving even with the new 6-speed manual transmission. We highly recommend the more expensive 3.6-liter flat-six engine option. Another one of our favorites.

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Subaru Outback

Essentially the same as the Legacy, but with fancier exterior parts, the one to own is the
2.5 GT.  Priced under $25,000

Suzuki Kizashi
The Kizashi is a totally new direction for Suzuki to grow with a appealing exterior, a 2.4-liter, dual overhead cam four-cylinder engine mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT, all wheel drive option, and the promise of more power to come. Lots of promises from Suzuki such as upscale audio systems, lots of safety equipment, and a price not much over $20,000. If you are interested in smaller vehicle this is a must drive.

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Toyota Prius

Another winner from Toyota. The new Prius is much superior to the previous generation in every way from better fuel mileage to improved cargo room. Prices start about $23,000.  Awesome, but the tires are noisy and the handling is for the slow goers. Easily one of the best cars of 2010. Another one of our favorites.

Volkswagen GTI

It looks the same, but the GTI I much improved, although the powertrain remains virtually the same with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 200 horsepower and 6-speed manual or dual-clutch gearbox. Not inexpensive at $26,000, the handling and versatility of this VW might just spark new interest.

Volkswagen Golf

A well priced Volkswagen; the Golf is essentially the old Rabbit with a 2.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine or the highly desirable 2.0-liter diesel pushing the wind aside. Excellent fuel mileage and a $17,000 price tag make this a good vehicle for those who like to drive, but still enjoy passing a gas station.

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Volvo XC60

The Volvo wagon remains one of the best you can buy for safety and room, especially the XC 70. However, the pricing on these big wagons is steep and so Volvo is offering the XC60. This smaller, Volvo wagon has an abundance of safety features and the  3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with its 285 horsepower has just enough power to move this crossover. The all-wheel-drive unit and better handling make this a better choice than its longer brother. Look for prices around $38,000. This is the best Volvo.

For vehicle reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/home/most-reliable-vehicles/

Scions xD and xB: Bigger and Bolder

by

The Car Family

For links to all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

For more reveiws go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

In a nutshell: The Scion xD replaces the Scion xA. It is larger and more powerful. The Scion xB has also been restyled and given a larger engine. They are similar in appearance, but quite different in use. They have different dash arrangements as well. Unless you love to shift, get the automatic version, as there is no gas mileage penalty, Finally, the dealer has hundreds of customizing options to make your Scion toaster look different than others. Fun, responsible, and affordable, the new Scions may appeal to the youth market, but we feel they are for the young at heart as well.

Scion has abandoned the shoe looking xA in favor of the shoe box looking xD and the result is a bolder new little brother for the xB. We drove them both and found that the xD was the most cost effective. It was not as quiet and certainly not as powerful or roomy as the larger xB, but we liked its good-natured tossability, pricing, and fuel mileage. If you need a bigger box the xB is a good choice, but its pricing not places it against the much larger Honda Element, Chrysler’s PT Cruiser, the HHR from Chevrolet, and even Toyota’s own Matrix, all which are dandy, economical, family oriented vehicles.

The big news, pun intended, is that the xD had its wheelbase stretched nearly four inches longer than the car it replaced, the xA, and a it is also a bit wider. A more enthusiastic powertrain comes from the well-proven Toyota 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder that has 128 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. We tested both the four-speed automatic and the five speed manual and found them plenty playful, but neither could be classified as spine tingling. We would go with the automatic as the fuel mileage is the same and it is more comfortable in day-to-day commuting.

Handling is better than we expected seeing the box like physical dimensions of the xD and the 16 inches 195/60 tires. Braking was pretty good, too, as the ventilated front discs and rear drums were up to the task of slowing this toaster on wheels.

We like the interior of the xD better than the xB. The gauge cluster is now in front of the driver instead of being mounted in the center of the dash as the latter. The xD’s cluster isn’t all that easy to read, but at least you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to check your car’s statistics.

Being slanted toward the youth market means being unique and having a good stereo. Thus the xD has a lot of storage spaces and the Pioneer stereo works well. However, we suspect this will be the first item replaced by owners. There are also two input jacks; one for IPod and another for an MP3 player. The sound quality for both units was average, despite the well-regarded Pioneer stereo with a single CD player in the dash and six speakers with 160 watts of power. There are a lot of adjustments on the stereo, but we doubt that any buyer is really going to be happy with it as the sound of the tires and wind make a better quality unit almost mandatory.

Mom’s view: Very nice. Handy, easy to maneuver, enough power to stay out from under the wheels of the illegal to drive in residential wheels of Hummer H2s, Lincoln Navigators, and Ford Excursions. Yep, that is right. These road destroyers weigh over three tons, which is the limit on most roads. Personally, I find them offensive, but if you have a large ranch and need to tow everyday they have an off road reason to exist.

Anyway, there is plenty of standard equipment with the Scion xB, especially safety wise. There is ABS, front-seat side airbags, a full-length head curtain airbag system, and optional stability control.

What I also liked about the xD is that is has become invisible. Thanks to the ubiquitous xB the boxy xD no longer generates much visual interest. That is a real plus, but also gives dealers who sell a myriad of options a real pathway to profits as there are so many ways to make your xD your own the mind boggles. I found that they confused most people, as they do look similar now that Toyota has redone its exterior treatments. However, the xD isn’t nearly as large as the xB. For about $1500 more the xB offers a lot more car. It is wider, taller, and over a foot longer. That shows up in the interior with the xB having considerably more front shoulder room and more rear headroom. However, with either the xD or xB there is an abundance of headroom with 30 and. 40 inches for each respectively. Cargo space is dramatically larger in the xB with more than the double the room available in the larger xB at about 22 cubic feet.

I quite liked the xD. The electric steering was well weighted, the brakes felt firm and linear and the front seats were comfortable. On the road there was a bit much road noise, especially offer roughed up roads. The Nissan Versa that costs less has a quieter ride, but than again it isn’t a box on wheels. Acceleration is in the 0 to 60 in over ten seconds category as the 1.8 liter four cylinder and its l6 valves are kept busy by double overhead cams that help make 128 horsepower at a high 6000-rpm. When loaded and traveling against a stiff wind the 125 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm of torque is tested. However, it is much better than the xA that it replaced. The xB has more horsepower, but it doesn’t feel that much more peppy due to the extra weight it touts.

I like the ride of the large xB better, but I felt in control at all times in the xD. In either car the ride is not soft and you have to work the engines hard to get thrust due to the fact they both need a lot of revs to produce propulsion. That is also why the gas mileage isn’t as great as one would think based on their compact size. I’d take the xD, keep it to a minimum of options, and scoot around town with aplomb taking parking places those owners of those horrible large SUV drivers can’t even get their pollution mobiles into.

Dad’s view: The ride quality of the xD isn’t up to the standards of the xB and rugged roads can clearly give you the shakes, but it is ready to romp and playful in both appearance and utility. I enjoyed my time with the xD and it would be my choice of all the Scions based on its pricing and extensive standard feature list that includes air conditioning, a trip computer, and rear seats that can slide forward or back. Very creative packaging.

We tested both the manual and automatic transmissions and see no need for the stick shift unless you want to feel you are in control. The linkage for the manual transmission has a very amount of twists to go though, but feels tight and the throws are easy to make. The clutch is soft with a low take up and you’ll need it because both engines need to be kept on boil to gain an advantage. The four speed automatic transmission works just fine.

I found it most unusual to see a seat belt latch hanging from the rear ceiling. It is for use by the person riding in the middle seat. I never got used to it, but it is nice to know that the Scions can hold five people.

The xD is based on the chassis of the Toyota Yaris and it has the same front wheel drive layout, although it is heavier and not as swift. However, we like the Scion much better even if it is not recommended for towing.

There is little doubt that the xD is going to have its hands full trying to eke out a niche with against the larger and not much more expensive xB, the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevrolet’s HHR, and the French looking and roomy Nissan Versa. However, none of those can get a dealer option list that includes B pillar appliqués, a spoiler, wheels or wheel covers, overhead consoles, and even a quick shift kit not to mention a navigation system XM or Sirius satellite radio and a upgraded stereo to go with the standard air conditioning. Cruise control, tilt steering wheel with redundant controls and even a tire pressure monitor and first aid kit.

On the highway the diminutive size of the xD dissipates quickly you have a reasonably high seating position that offers good visibility in all directions, but beware those large C pillars can hide a semi truck. Acceleration is best below 60 and you are going to have to keep the accelerator down to generate two-lane highway passing with safety.

The xB is slightly friskier, but has more weight to tout around. It has a smoother ride and has more usable room even with the back seats up. So I would go with the large xB and spend the extra money for the additional engine power and room.

Young working woman’s view: Okay, so I am unemployed at this moment even with a MBA and MIS and an Ivy League Bachelor of Science degree. But hey, that’s life and why I don’t have a new car payment either. Despite this the Scions are not my type of boxcar. I did like the xD’s interior with its very nicely designed dashboard and the place to plug in my iPod. The stereo monitor was a bit much and the stereo controls for the Pioneer unit and its joystick manipulator out of my age range. Seating is comfortable, but only over short distances. The seats lack enough cushion for my nerve center, but they are easy to adjust. The backsets have a 60/40 split and can be slide forward or back and have two position recline to provide the passenger more foot room. The headrests are easy to move out of the way, too. Despite this the Honda Fit has more utility in its cargo hold and is easier to drive enthusiastically. It does not have the panache of the xD.

I much preferred the xB with its larger dimensions even with the center mounted gauge cluster. I also found it more fun to drive and had superior equipment such as ABS with a panic brake assist feature, stability and traction control.

College going male’s view: You get a non-locking glove box, lots of storage bins, a center console and pockets in the front doors as well as a heaping vastness of cargo space when the rear seats are folded flat with the xB. The front MacPherson struts and a rear torsion beam axle are controlled by anti-roll bars and this box feels well connected to the road if you can learn to live with the lean and the saving grace of the stability control system. Stopping is fine as the xB utilizes ABS disc/drum brakes with Electronic Brake force Distribution and Brake Assist circuitry to reign in this showy shoebox. I would opt for the larger rims and tires if you want to test your driving skill and also gain some needed ground clearance.

Pioneer’s stereo was just okay. The control buttons are quite small and if you order the big subwoofer it takes up space in the cargo area of either vehicle.

Although I am the prime demographic for these Scions I can’t really warm to them. Certainly, I like the room and look, but I like a smoother ride and better gas mileage. I would save a bit more and get the Toyota Matrix. It has the same engine as the xB, but has a smoother cruise level.

Family conference: Surprisingly, neither of these boxes gets exception fuel mileage. The xB has a 14-gallon tank and the xD an 11-gallon unit making both vehicles capable of 300-mile trips without refueling. W got 28 and 25 miles per gallon with the xD getting the better figure. A Toyota Corolla can do better so the wind resistance really impacts these two Scions. The bottom line for us is that they are handy, versatile, environmentally friendly, and are well priced. They have a fair amount of competition, but we like them and find the new xD a good friend in the city.

Scion xB

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You smile when you see a Volkswagen Beetle, you grin at a Chrysler PT Cruiser, but you openly laugh when you see the new Toyota Scion xB because, in a word, it looks like a Tonka toy. There is no question you are either going to love or hate this station wagon, but regardless, it is going to sell well. The reason is simple, it is priced well and has a very useful design and most people are going to take pleasure in the attention.

If you watch you option list you can be driving this Scion for $14,200 and get over 30 mpg and we strongly believe, excellent resale. In other words, Toyota has another winner in its stable, and this one is going to delight the all-new Scion dealer network because this little rig is a blank canvas waiting for some creative options. For example, Toyota lists as options some of the most unconventional items we have ever seen. You can load you Scion with illuminated cupholders, LED interior lights, bazooka tube subwoofer, satellite radio, carbon-fiber fuel door cover, special shift knob, cargo tote, sport pedal covers, mud guards, door sill enhancement B-pillar appliqué, and a rear spoiler to mention just a few. Add essentials such as curtain side airbags and front side airbags, remote keyless entry, and alloy wheels and you can pretty much be assured you are going to own an exclusive looking mass produced vehicle. Of course, if you order all those the list price is going to be at $20,000 so be judicious. All told there are about 40 options for the xB and Scion is said have a no haggle policy so what you read it what you pay. Some cavets when ordering the optional big subwoofer, it takes up a lot of storage room. In addition, the stereo reception is poor unless you get the satellite option, which is worth it.

Mom’s view: We tested the automatic transmission xB and found it plenty spunky at first thanks to the small tires and light weight. However, once the Scion is over 4000 rpm the acceleration ends and the engine groans and its time to think seriously about visiting your local tuner shop. We stopped at Autolinks Motorworks, 4961 Santa Anita Blvd, in San Gabriel, Calif. and were told even the more normal looking xA has drawn a barrage of customizers.

Despite the options, what I liked were the standard features. The xB comes with ABS; air conditioning; power windows, locks, mirrors and steering; a six-speaker Pioneer stereo with a CD player; a 60/40-split folding and removable rear seat; keyless entry; a rear wiper; rear defroster; a tachometer; and a ground effects kit as well as airbags.

What I didn’t like was its size. It is ten inches shorter than a Toyota Echo and people feel that since the Scion is small they can just shove you around in traffic. I used the horn extensively to no avail. I would pay extra for a louder horn. In fact, an air horn mounted on the roof would probably look great and give the bullies a clear message that they don’t own the road. Luckily, the Scion handles and stops quite well. And it comes well-equipped with active safety features: antilock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist (which increases braking pressure in emergency situations) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (which apportions braking force to the tires with the most traction); Vehicle Stability Control (which attempts to restrain a vehicle from spinning out of control by adjusting the application of throttle and brakes); and traction control.

There were a variety of storage areas inside, including the usual glove box, and map pockets, and trays under the dash. What bothered me the most was the lack of good rear interior lighting when you were searching for dark items you dropped. Maybe this car is designed for younger eyes, but a more powerful interior lighting system wouldn’t hurt.

Overall, I liked the Scion and would recommend it to those who find its styling attractive. For a few dollars a month more I would prefer a more modest looking station wagon from Subaru or Volkswagen, but I would miss the attention the Toyota brings. A real plus is that I never felt I was driving a small car.

Dad’s view: I am way too old for this vehicle, and the Scion is selling well to those who are the proper age, 20 to 30. The reason is obvious, I don’t need the attention. However, every time I climbed inside I felt comfortable at home and eagerly tested the Scion with zeal. But, when I walked to the car I was always meet with the same look by those in attendance. You could read their eyes. They said, “What did your kid do wrong that caused you to take his car away?”

The Scion needs more power if it is equipped with an automatic transmission. The 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine has variable valve timing, but runs out of gusto after 4000 rpm.  It’s the same engine used in the Toyota Echo and creates 108 horsepower which is fine in city driving, but when passing or accelerating you need to plan ahead even thought the Scion weighs just 2340 and has 105 foot pounds of torque.

You can drive this Scion hard. It rides smoothly and is effortless to drive with good brakes. It’s no hot rod, however, so shifting into lower gears is needed for quick acceleration. Inside, it’s roomy and has a nice interior with controls that are easy to operate. The driver and passengers sit upright in chair-like seats and benefit from excellent visibility. As its looks suggest, the xB offers better cargo capacity than your average compact car.

Young working female’s view: This is a tall fellow. Its over 64 inches tall and offers an extremely roomy interior. It is uncomplicated to fit in a baby seat, don’t worry dad, and if you fold the rear seats down you have yourself 43 cubic feet of room. Forget the subwoofer if you want to haul things because it is placed right in the middle of the rear storage area.

In terms of appearance, there is little question this is a price leader. The interior is youthful and I found it very difficult to read the center-mounted gauges because of the poor lighting and the small numbers for the tach and fuel indicator. With an 11.9-gallon gas tank, you can go 300 miles, but we won’t try any more. I averaged about 28 mpg in mixed driving.

You can order the Scion with either an automatic-transmission or manual transmission, expect 0 to 60 mph speeds around ten seconds. However, with the gas pedal rigged to provide a lot of acceleration initially you feel you are moving faster. It does not take long to figure out that the feeling of speed quickly evaporates after 30 mph. Still, this is excellent for commuting, but not so hot for high speed passing.

There is no way that I would consider the Scion. Although the price is attractive, I would rather have the new Toyota Solara and drive a car that exhibits the appearance I want to display for the driving public.

Young working male’s view: I hope you got a chance to hear me at the House of Blues. Anyway, this is not my type of vehicle for only one reason, it is too trendy. I do appreciate what you get for the money. The car runs great and, except for the usual short wheelbase roughness over banged up pavement and low bidder highway potholes, the chassis does its job exceptionally well. If you want his car to handle better, the tires and rims need to be changed. I enjoyed driving the car and listening to CDs with the optional stereo and elaborate speaker system. But the radio reception was sub par except for the satellite stations which are worth the $10 a month extra fee.

Big trucks and side winds definitely alter your driving style as the square sides and lightweight conspire to make you well aware that you are piloting a small car. The good news here is that the Scion’s narrow stance leaves plenty of extra room in the lane so the gusts are unproblematic to compensate for.

The steering was very good; the brakes more than up to the task, and the interior surprisingly quiet. You have the feeling you are sitting high in seats that are a bit thin in the padding department. Visibility was well above average and driving in heavy traffic was only a problem when some large SUV was tailgating. I learned not to worry and just turned up the stereo and admired Toyota’s creativity.

Family conference: Scion plans on bringing out a coupe and perhaps a sedan later, but in the meantime, if the xB appeals to your sense of aesthetics we recommend you drive and buy soon because this is going to be a hit in some areas. What it is going to be like driving in the snow is another matter with its small tires and low ride height. Perhaps, in a few years, the Scion will come out with all wheel drive and it might appeal more to the snowbound. Regardless, this is a good vehicle, and a valuable one at the suggested base price. We would like to see the crash test results first, but we are sure that  Toyota has we spent a bundle to make sure the Scion is tough since a poor scores would be the only element that would hinder sales.  On the other hand you might want to wait until next year when a new, not so squared off version arrives. For all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.