Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2004 Scion xA Overview
xA = Fun
Once upon a time, Toyota dominated the small car market with such names as Tercel, FX16 and Paseo. But as the manufacturer grew in size, so too did its product and the youthful market that was so loyal to Toyota began to look elsewhere. New offeringssuch as the Echodid little to pull the youth market back, and so Toyota decided to create a whole new division, one that would design and build cars specifically with young Americans in mind. The company that Toyota created is named Scion and their first creation, the five-door xA is a make or break deal for the fledgling automaker.
Right out of the box, the xA comes to the market touting a major attraction for young buyers: a low sticker price. For $12,965, you can get an xA with a five-speed manual transmission, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, air conditioning, digital clock, tilt wheel and sporty front bucket seats; the base cars also come standard with a cool Pioneer head unit that can play back MP3's burned onto a standard CD. You can opt for a host of additional accessories such as a Bazooka sub woofer, special under-dash trick lighting and side-airbag curtains, but these will quickly push the base price up. A fully-loaded xA can exceed $17K, which is pretty pricey for a car that does not even offer cruise control. Choose your options wisely and you should be able to get out the door with a nicely equipped xA for about $15K.
The xA also scores high in the looks department, another important criteria to the fashion-conscious youth market. The xA may be small, but is has a shapely set of lines that give it a muscular appearance, with bulging fender skirts, a broad aggressive grille and just a hint of Mini Cooper in the upright rear window. The five-door design means that it's easy to haul either friends, cargo orthanks to the 60/40 split-folding rear seatssome combination of the two. You should note that the optional Bazooka subwoofer takes up a good portion of the cargo area, though it is removable should you require the space.
Nowhere is Scion's radical departure from the ordinary more evident than inside the passenger compartment. The seats are some of the most comfortable we've sat in, with a tall upright design somewhat reminiscent of sitting on a proper dining room chair; the high seating position also provides a commanding view over most traffic, including some mid-sized SUVs. The dash itself stirred somewhat of a debate among our testers, the primary culprit being the center-mounted instrument pod. While some maintain that the center gauge cluster provides a better vantage point for the driver's eye, others felt that the occasional sideways glance to check their speed or read the fuel gauge was too distracting.
You'll find that the rest of the xA's controls are a bit more mainstream in their execution. The prominently displayed radio is easy to see and reach with multiple color options for the LCD display window (our personal favorite was Ice Blue.) You'll find the HVAC controls are well placed just below the radio and feature large rotary knobs for quick adjustment. The same cannot be said about the switch placement for the fog lights, power mirrors and dash-light dimmer which are placed too low on the left-hand side of the dash and are partially blocked from the driver's view by the steering wheel and turn stalk.
On the road, the little xA will surprise you with its quick throttle response and willing suspension. Our test car was equipped with the optional automatic transmission, but even so equipped we found the xA to be a zesty performer. The 1.5-liter engine produces a mere 108 horsepower, yet it never feels winded or unable to give that extra kick of power needed to pass slower traffic. The steering response is first rate, with no sign of vagueness or over-assist from the power steering unit. The xA's tight turning ability and stiff suspension allows it to remain poised during hard cornering yet never produces a harsh or jarring ride. Hook up the xA with a five-speed manual transmission and you'll have hours of fun tearing through twisty back roads while you milk the engine for all its worth, serene in the knowledge that your little Scion is sipping down fuel at a leisurely pace of 37-miles-per-gallon.
For the money, the xA offers an unbeatable combination of build quality, comfort, innovative interior options and pure fun-to-drive joy. It would seem that Toyota has hit the mark with its newest creation, leading us to conclude that the Scion and its future products will enjoy a long, healthy life.