By on February 4, 2016


Being a car flipper, tuner and technician that falls within the millennial age group should make me an ideal candidate for various Scions. Yet, when I attempted to jog my memory yesterday, I could think of only a a few I’ve touched with my own two hands.

In fact, I’ve only flipped a single vehicle from Toyota’s youth brand: a repossessed xB festooned with the standard roll call of aftermarket vendor decals. It would be my only foray into a tuner culture the brand attempted to make accessible to millennials straight from the dealer. It also represented the misfortune of many young owners who lose their vehicles to the bank.

Most xBs at insurance auctions are totaled units due to a rear collisions that destory the hatch and tweak the chassis. However, this one was a repossession and listed on the runsheet as a running and driving lot. It had just over a 100,000 miles on the odometer and featured a Chinese sourced aftermarket steering wheel in addition to the numerous decals. The previous owner even took to customizing trim bits by painting some of the dash plastics. Other than that, the car looked clean overall.

The xB was likely purchased by someone in my age group who had the tuner aspirations that Scion advertised but lacked the cash to bring those aspirations to reality. The owner may have bought the car at a Buy-Here-Pay-Here lot or picked it up with a high interest rate before eventually defaulting on the loan. While the payments were still flowing to the lender, the previous owner did his best Toretto impression by modifying it using an eBay account. Unfortunately, as many would-be tuners find out, modifications are usually hard to resell and actually reduce vehicle value in most cases. The car would go back to the bank sporting all 50 horsepower that the decals had “added.”

We picked up the car for a fair price and brought it in. Floss and a heat a gun made quick work of removing the decals and, once the residue was cleaned up, we gave the paint a polish. Replacement dash trim was sourced from a junkyard and we found an airbag and steering wheel on the same site the vehicle’s former owner likely used to source the horrendous modifications in the first place. The xB’s 1.5-liter engine ran smooth. The transmission shifted properly. The mechanicals were checked off after an oil change and fluid fill up.

As soon as we listed the car on Craigslist, we received a barrage of emails and phone calls with offers to trade for “mad tyte” Civics, lawnmowers, and other motorized machinery. Most serious inquires came from those in their 50s or older who simply wanted something reliable with easy ingress and egress, and they all passed on the car after subliminally detecting its racy history. In the end, the xB was reduced in price to the point it was attractive enough to be used by a younger guy to deliver medical supplies to local stores.

We made a small profit on the xB, but we didn’t bother buying another Scion. The Craigslist inquiries made the car more trouble than it was worth.


[Title Image: Shaun Greiner/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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44 Comments on “I Sold a Scion Once...”

  • avatar

    The reason Toyota completely re-invented the xB was to appease the critics and turned off buyers in the process. Too weak, too small, too noisy,very unsteady at highway speeds. the result was the much more maligned 2nd gen. They should have instead gone with a Corolla based model, using the same 1.8 powertrain

  • avatar

    Complete opposite experience with Scions.

    tCs are hot, especially around tax time. Its a lot of car for the money, admittedly. Good luck touching even one with frame and even visible damage.

    xBs are a great buy as well – if you can find a decent one. I most recently picked up a repo’d ’05 xB automatic w/118k from some podunk credit union in Maine whose customer apparently moved here to FL and had the car pinched. They ran it dirty, red light, and absolute – so I owned it for $1900, plus fee, transport, pack, and around $400 of recon (PDR, detail, bought newer non-deteriorated badging, front brakes and an LOF service). Ended up retailing it in two weeks for $4300 and a yellow ’00 XTerra w/180k and leather, which I then turned around and sold 60 days same as cash for $2000.

    So…I like Scions. Like most lame-duck new cars (Ridgelines, Avalanches, Sport Tracs, Elements, Azteks), they’re great used car buys.

    • 0 avatar

      The 1st gen xb’s around So Fla sell for as much as a comparable Corolla, not a good buy at all. I know, I wanted to buy one

    • 0 avatar

      Many of my friends retailed tCs successfully but I found that bidding tended to get out of hand on them quickly and usually passed. I tended to go for oddball stuff that I could but other people might shy away from. XTerras and 4Runners usually have a quick turn around and I have seen 200k miles units get turned around in days.

      I worked on a couple of Ridgelines but never ended up buying or selling one. Similarly, I did not do much with Elements and Azteks. Had a few Avalanches and had so many Sport Tracs that I may have lost count. I have a local guy that does timing chains on the Ford 4.0L quickly and cheaply so any type of ticking Explorer that showed up at the sale would usually be mine.

    • 0 avatar

      Ugh Sport Track. I’d only choose it over an Aztek, but just barely.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      “…ran it dirty, red light, and absolute…(PDR, detail, bought newer non-deteriorated badging, front brakes and an LOF service).”

      Slow down there Sparky I need to get out my urban dictionary…

      • 0 avatar

        The vehicle was sold “as is” and could have had potential damage. Arbitration was not allowed so once you bought it, it was yours. He had to perform a paintless dent repair, detailed it, swapped the badges, replaced the front brakes, and changed the oil and filter.

        PDR = Paintless Dent Repair
        LOF = Lube, Oil, Filter

  • avatar

    What exactly is it that made the Scion brand supposably appealing to a younger audience? I still can’t make this connection, they’re suppose to be cheap, yea sure, most brands have a product that fits that criteria, after that I’m not seeing any other reason. I was well within the intended market when this brand was introduced, you could have gotten me in a Buick easier than anything from Scion.

    • 0 avatar

      The whole “you can customize it” angle was one approach they attempted to take. Apparently, the young(er) buying audience was all about customization and tuning. Of course, what happened is that a larger percentage of buyers ended up being more like my wife and I…middle-aged folks looking for a decent, reliable runner (in our case, we decided to be extra douchy and bought a 2011 tC). Their intended target consumer either didn’t have the funds to buy a new car, or simply didn’t care about having a car, period.

    • 0 avatar

      Cheap, easy to modify and insanely practical – fits four people without issues or flip the seat down to haul (almost) anything.

    • 0 avatar

      Ok, as this is an extremely personal subject with me, I have to chime in and see if anyone is still reading this feed.

      I was a Toyota service manager when the Scion brand was launched, and it was nothing short of surreal. At the time, Toyota saw all the potential gen Y buyers on the horizon when the data came back that the average age of a Toyota customer was 48. Surveys of young people about the brand saw them all say the same thing: “Toyota makes a great car…for my dad.” Before the first cars hit the showroom and the dealer principal was being resuscitated after seeing what Toyota wanted him to spend on a separated sales floor, the Scion coaches descended. Picture if you will, a middle aged balding man coaching us on this new generation, urging us to “keep it real.”

      After all the papers were signed, the neon turned on in the showroom, the maintenance (or lack thereof) price signage posted in the service department, the first xB was sold – to a 72-year-old man and his wife who deemed it “the ideal retirement vehicle.” Once again, Toyota missed the mark.

      At the time, I remember saying that the xB was possibly the ugliest thing I have ever seen and wondering “what kind of idiot would buy that.” Then I had to move them around the lot, and I was impressed by how easy it was to get in and out of, and how easy it was to park. Then I had to take one home overnight to listen for an alleged noise and was amazed at how much spunk the thing had for merging on to the Parkway East in Pittsburgh. Once you achieved highway speed, all 105 ponies were used, up. But getting there was no problem. In the meantime, the visibility in traffic was phenomenal.

      Fast forward about 12 years, and here I am rolling over 112k miles in my own dark grey 2006 (first gen) xB without any repairs outside of normal wear items (brakes, tires, fluids). I use it as the pickup truck it is not, folding down the seats and swallowing at various times, a 55-gallon tall-boy water heater, a rented power dethatching machine, a rented lawn aerator, 12 bags of mulch, several bicycles, engines and transmissions for vehicles I have repaired, and too many home improvement project supplies to count – all with the rear hatch closed! Working my job for the state auditing vehicle state inspection stations, I have taken it to all kinds of urban and unpaved rural settings, all the while getting 30 mpg regardless of how I drive. When it’s all over, the square sides make it the easiest vehicle to wash and dry I have ever owned, and people always assume it’s much newer than it is.

      Either I’m getting really old, or this is a fantastic vehicle, regardless of who it was originally designed for.

  • avatar

    I loved that car. For a period one of my younger co-workers had one. A group of us would take it to lunch often, and occasionally carpool. All he did to it was a moderate tint plus a very, very badass audio system. Amazingly comfortable for four grown men, even in the back seat.

    Fast forward to now, and my little sister drives a late model Soul. It’s got a lot of that same formula but is better in every way.

  • avatar

    Should I submit a story about how I saw a Scion once?

  • avatar

    I’ve largely associated Scion owners, particularly the tC as being douches.

  • avatar

    Bought my ’05 xB in ’09 with 22k on it. $11k out the door.

    Sold it in ’15 with 92k, $4000.

    Seven grand for 6 years of depreciation? Yes please, and I’d do it again.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Similar story:

      Bought my 05 new for $15200; traded it in 2012 for $6500 – 70k miles. It was great in almost every way. All it needed was a 6th gear and more sound deadening.

  • avatar

    That’s what happens when you try and sell something that’s Purp Drank colored.

  • avatar


    bought my 2006 Xb in 2008, 70K miles for $7250 and am planning on keeping it until it dies, and it nowhere near that point at 219K. Still very happy

  • avatar

    Another one. Mom bought new Xb in 2006 for $15k. Traded it on an XV Crosstrek in 2013. Xb had 65k miles, got $8k in trade! She changed oil, bought tires and a battery in the 7 years.

  • avatar

    xBs and the Cube have both tortured me with their gift-from-gods boxiness and height combined with Japanese quality tragically ruined by tiny wheels and miserable lack of ground clearance. In the Cube’s case, a vacuum’s “Low” setting.

  • avatar

    My former service technician loaded an ’05 xB that we purchased new with a couple hundred pounds of parts and tools and drove it daily to his service calls. I left in October of 2014 when it had 260K miles on it. It is still their service technician’s vehicle and gets driven 25-35K per year. Part of my job was to maintain all the vehicles (2 Isuzu 3500/4500 turbo diesel box trucks as well) and it was the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever known personally. We took it to the Scion/Toyota dealer every 5K for service and all it ever needed were the usual things: fluids, brake pads, tires, and a battery. It got new spark plugs at 100K. It never needed anything else. With a dedicated set of Blizzaks on their own wheels it was surprisingly good in the KC snow, too.

    • 0 avatar

      The university I work at bought a used 2nd-gen xB – in white, to match the rest of the fleet – for our computer techs to use. It’s pretty fun to throw around campus, and it’s held up to techs, including student employees, driving it. It can hold a lot of computers, too.

      Sadly, i now have a job where I seldom have an excuse to drive it anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      The xB works pretty well as a parts hauler and I am sure fleet sales helped it. My parts hauler of choice for a long time was a $900 Ford Focus wagon that worked quite well. It transported engines and transmissions on a regular basis and still drove well when it was replaced by a Sierra.

  • avatar

    Always wondered: I recall Toyota farmed out the manufacturing of the xB to Daihatsu, in which they have a controlling interest. Daihatsu has its own history of designing and building small cars, notably the wonderfully named Daihatsu Charade. I wonder, were the mechanicals of this car Toyota’s (which thousands of US buyers assumed on blind faith) or Daihatsu’s?

    • 0 avatar

      In the unlikely event anybody ever researches this thread later, Wikipedia gave me the answer to my own question: The first-gen xB was a Toyota through and through, built on Toyota Echo bones. The second-gen Japanese-market successor was built by Daihatsu, but the second-gen xB sold in America was, as reported above, built off the larger Toyota Corolla. It seems like the second-gen car was also based on Toyota engineering, although badge-engineered versions were also sold by Daihatsu and Subaru.

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