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Should I buy a Scion xD?

Drew Dowdell

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I get emails for car purchase advice all the time, so rather than just reply in an e-mail, I've decided to share these Q and As with the rest of you. If you have your own question to submit, you can email it to drew.dowdell@cheersandgears.com

Starting off, a co-worker who drives a massive amount of miles each year and is interested in new vehicle e-mailed me:

Drew,

My 17 year old son wrecked my 2006 Scion xB – insurance company totaled it due to extent of damage ($7000+) and mileage (190,000). It was in great shape and ran perfectly – but alas – she is history. (my son is ok except that now he has no wheels and that’s an inconvenience for me and my wife)

I have a KIA Soul with 90K miles and would look to upgrade for me and let him use the Soul.

Thinking of getting another Scion due to xB experience and need a cheap car as college tuition on 2 kids is BRUTAL.

I kinda like the XD – any comments?

Appreciate any insight you could provide

Mike

The Scion xD is one of those cars that I can’t get excited about but can’t say much against either, it’s just a car. It will start and run every day and delivers rather unremarkable performance. It doesn’t have much power but it doesn’t get great fuel economy to make up for it. I assume you’d buy an automatic which leaves you with just a 4-speed auto when the rest of the industry is using 6-speed units for better acceleration and fuel economy. Toyota also makes the Yaris on this platform with a less powerful engine, cheaper interior, and lower price. Sales of the Yaris and xD have been fairly slow, so the dealer will probably buy you a lap dance just for looking.

If you’re not married to driving a hatchback, I’ll have more suggestions. Here are some competitors in this segment to consider:

I’ve recently had the Chevy Sonic as a test car and really enjoyed it. It is roughly in the same price range as the xD… it also sports one of the best crash test ratings in its class having both stability control and more airbags than Congress. The turbo version has better real-world gas mileage than the non-turbo. There is very little power advantage getting the turbo, it is there entirely for improving fuel economy. With as many miles as you put on cars each year, the turbo might be worth springing the extra money for. If I were shopping in this segment, this one would be my choice because it feels like a much more substantial car on the road.

Ford Focus - Ford is rolling out lots of deals on the Focus 5-door. I’m personally not a fan of the styling but that is a subjective thing. The hardware under the skin is sound. If it matters to you, the Focus was designed by Ford of Germany.

Subaru Impreza 5-door may be another car to look at if having AWD interests you and you can swing another $1500. When equipped with the CVT transmission ( which drives like an automatic) it is only rated for 33mpg highway but most owners report getting much higher than the EPA rating on the highway. Subaru has long been thought of as the Japanese Volvo in terms of safety ratings.

Others:

Hyundai Elantra GT - I haven’t driven it so I don't have too firm an opinion, but its price may be a bit high with a starting MSRP over $18k.

Kia Soul – You already have one and you didn’t mention getting another. It is also due to be replaced with a new model very soon so you might be able to pick one up cheap as a leftover.

Volkswagen Golf – The car itself is fine, but you can’t get a decent engine until you spend well over $20k. The base 5-cylinder engine is the worst of both worlds, having the power of a 4-cylinder with the fuel economy of a V6, and the refinement of a John Deere. No exaggeration, I’ve gotten better fuel economy out of a V6 Camaro and V6 Chrysler 300 than VW cars with the 2.5 liter.

Ford Fiesta/Mazda 2 – Same car under the skin. I’m not a fan. They feel cramped and flimsy. Spending just a little bit more money gets you a far more solid car in the Chevrolet Sonic or Ford Focus.

Nissan Versa – It’s the cheapest new car on the market today… but just No. Don’t do it. You get what you pay for.

Honda Fit – Catches a lot of hell for the interior, but none of the cars in this segment will be sporting mahogany inlay. This is another car that, like the Scion xD, will start and run each day, but is unremarkable in the performance it returns being one of the least powerful in the segment yet producing mediocre fuel economy numbers. Price will probably scare you away here because Honda dealers are unmotivated to negotiate price much since there are so many Honda Kool-Aid drinkers out there.

What do you readers think? Anything I forgot that should have been included?



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I don't like any Toyota product, all are over rated, and mostly uncompetitive, dated powertrains.

Kia Soul just got a new 2.0 liter option and some new equipment.

I like the Elantra the most, and the Focus 2nd in the small car class. If you go to the subcompacts, I think the Hyundai Accent has the best interior.

Hyundai Veloster is a cheap car that looks cool, but doesn't have practicality on its side. Honda makes a good reliable product, but they make a bland product too. And if we are talking sub $20,000 here then Honda doesn't have a lot but the Fit.

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Sounds good...

Almost would have thrown the Cruze in too....

He's pretty set with going for a 5-door, so I wasn't going to suggest sedans that he wasn't interested in.

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I don't like any Toyota product, all are over rated, and mostly uncompetitive, dated powertrains.

Kia Soul just got a new 2.0 liter option and some new equipment.

I like the Elantra the most, and the Focus 2nd in the small car class. If you go to the subcompacts, I think the Hyundai Accent has the best interior.

Hyundai Veloster is a cheap car that looks cool, but doesn't have practicality on its side. Honda makes a good reliable product, but they make a bland product too. And if we are talking sub $20,000 here then Honda doesn't have a lot but the Fit.

We're talking closer to the low end of the xD's price range and no sedans or coupes, hatchback only and needs utility. The Elantra hatch is most likely too pricey for him.

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If we are talking more in the $15k class, I'd say Kia Soul is the winner, at least it has some personality, unlike some of the other sub compacts. The options for 5-doors at that price point are slim, I like the Soul better than the Sonic, and the Fit is dated.

The other option is used car, that opens up whatever the 5-door Mini is called now-a-days and Mazda 3, Mazda 5, Elantra GT (if used ones are on the market yet).

On an unrelated topic, the Mazda 6 gets better gas mileage than a Mazda 2. Makes these sub compact cars with 116 hp sort of pointless.

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He's got a Soul and doesn't seem interested in another... so I mentioned it, but didn't push it.

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How about a 2014 Fiesta? Yes, it is smaller than the xD, but it might awaken (or reawaken) his love of driving if he tries one, it is about 200 pounds lighter on its feet than a Sonic, so it is tossable, maneuverable and great fun. They're available now for factory order to his exact specifications. :)

All the reviews I've read of the Fiesta and Mazda 2 state that they are the most fun to drive cars in the class, I have read none that have negative things to say about handling and chassis tune. To me, that is an ideal situation if one is trying to economize, there is great comfort in knowing the daily drive won't be a drudge to deal with. Coupled with the features packed into the Fiesta especially (4 way passenger front seat and center console with armrest that both front passengers can use are two details among many others) makes me gravitate toward the Ford when you're talking about the B-segment.

Then there's the Hyundai Accent SE, it packs a lot of equipment and a killer warranty for the price. My cousin likes hers, but she is not happy with Hyundai's gas mileage deception debacle (although she quoted pretty decent numbers out of hers in real world driving).

Mudmonster's suggestion of Rio 5 is also one to consider. Or a Nissan Cube. If he wants extreme practicality out of the smallest footprint, the Cube is hard to beat, if he can stand the rubberband CVT, unless he wants something fun, like a stick shift, the base Cube can still be purchased with a manual.

The Focus seems on the high end of the stated MSRP range, unless he wants one with rear crank windows.

Small, tall hatches include the xB, Soul and Cube. The exD is semi-tall. Not sure what his most wanted feature boils down to. I personally don't think the exD would be an "upgrade" over a Soul, unless it's a base model Soul, exD seems more a lateral move.

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The exD in black&blue two-tone with the 16" aluminum rims looks good.

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oh, wait.....

here's a thought, if they are cheapskates, the Xd and the SX4 are like the same car. They could still get a new sx4 AWD for 14 and change at suzukiofwichita.com a little less for the fwd....(if they are ok with buying a folded mfr..). Sx4 is actually less cheap inside i think....and drives nicer.....

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