Scion xB Review

Want to kill some time? Try to find someone with no opinion either way about the styling of the Scion xB. It's pretty much love it or hate it.

Me? I preferred the looks of the first-generation xB, but overall, the second-gen is the better vehicle to live with.

Light enough that the 158-horsepower 4-cylinder engine isn't overwhelmed, designed with room for people and their things, able to score four stars in frontal crash tests for driver and passenger (five stars for side impact) and getting 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway, according to the EPA.

All this with a base price of $16,700. The tester I drove had only floor and cargo mats and a security system. That, with destination charges, still kept the bottom line under $18,000 (by six whole dollars).

This is a growing segment, with Kia's Soul, Nissan's Cube and Honda's veteran Element all trying to carve out a niche. The Scion strikes me as a better buy than the Element, and maybe the Cube, which gets pricey when you try to outfit it properly. But my vote goes to the Soul.