Special Coverage

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CHICAGO – Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.’s Scion brand takes the wraps off its new for ’08 xB cross/utility vehicle and xD small car today at the Chicago auto show.

The front-wheel-drive xB rides on an all-new platform and gets a larger engine, a 2.4L 4-cyl. mill vs. the first-generation’s 1.5L 4-cyl., providing a 55-hp boost to 158.

The xB is due in late spring at U.S. Scion dealers, while the xD arrives in late summer.

However, the xB’s transmission options, a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, remain unchanged for the ’08 model year, although the automatic now has a manual shift mode. The CUV has standard 16-in. wheels.

The ’08 xB bears a slight resemblance to the new Toyota bB, which went on sale in Japan last year. Both have a wide, tall front end, but the bB has a flatter hood and unique grille and front bumper. The xB’s fog lights are integrated into the headlights while the bB’s fog lights are mounted on the lower bumper.

The new xB also takes design cues from the t2b concept exhibited at the 2005 New York auto show.

“We’ve stated in the past that we’ll probably always have a box in the Scion lineup, but our owners told us they wanted a bigger box,” Mark Templin, vice president-Scion, says in a statement, referring to the extra 4 ins. (10 cm) added to the ’08 xB’s wheelbase. The new xB is a full foot (30 cm) longer and 3 ins. (7.6 cm) wider, while cargo space is up nearly 8 cu. ft. (0.2 cu. m) to 29.1 cu. ft. (0.8 cu. m).

The dash features a “combination meter” that allows a user to cycle through the average speed, miles per gallon, clock, outside temperature and other readings.

An optional audio system allows owners to download skins for the liquid crystal display, as well as 4-second video clips and 8-second movies, from Pioneer’s website, Scion says.

The new ’08 xD replaces the xA as the subcompact car in Scion’s lineup and follows the xB’s blocky styling cues.

“The xD’s aggressive styling is wrapped in a small, agile package, while its interior offers impressive details and a spacious cabin,” Templin says.

Interior features of the xD include a “radar-like” combination speedometer and tachometer in an instrument panel-mounted circular gauge, front bucket seats, and 60/40 rear seats that recline 10 degrees and adjust to five different positions.

The xD 5-door hatchback is based on the same platform as the Toyota Yaris subcompact but has a larger engine than the xA and Yaris, a 128-hp 1.8L 4-cyl. vs. their 103-hp 1.5L 4-cyl.

Like the new xB, the xD is available with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission and 16-in. wheels.

Six airbags (front, front seat-mounted side and front and rear side curtain), Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, and a 160-watt Pioneer AM/FM/CD system with an auxiliary jack for an iPod are standard on both vehicles.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com