April 9, 2006

Forbes Said, Element Said, Scion Said


When Forbes put two box-shaped cars--the Scion xB and the Honda Element--up against each other last year [1/05, so I'm slow], the impassioned replies lit up the message boards of the respective owners clubs.

Reading the preaching that went on within each choir, the basic points were always the same: Element=SUV, Scion=tiny wagon. AWD vs. FWD. Mileage differential. Several thousand $$$ price differential. Element=solid, Scion=tin can [see previous point]. The [Element/Scion] is fugly, which is why I bought the [Scion/Element]. About the only thing the two sides did agree on was that, except for the boxy thing, the cars don't really compare all that cleanly.

A larger % of Element buyers appear to have checked out the xB than vice versa, while the xB owners were more annoyed/tired of the whole comparison. But the funniest comments were Scion owners talking about the Element's rubber floor:

Chewy7719: I've never felt the need to spray the interior of my car with a hose
djc_watt: If I threw up, I would sure hope it'd be in an Element... I thought this discussion ended over a year ago.

Showroom Showdown: Honda Element vs Scion xB [forbes.com]
ScionLife.com: xb vs element [scionlife.com]
element vs scion xb - forbes [elementownersclub.com, as is the image]


I have an xB (hell I think it's cute and I didn't have a lot of money to buy a higher end car) and I like the Element - just not for me. But they shouldn't be compared. They are different car classes.

Want to really compare?? Then compare the Honda Element to the new Toyota LJ Cruiser. Those are competitors. Compare the xB to the Nissan Cube (should it ever come out in the states.) Those are competitors.

but to compare cars on shape of body style is just stupid.

[instead of 'stupid,' I like to use the term 'uniquely abled,' especially since I compare the two cars all the time. It's part of a constant shuffling of priorities of what I want in a car and how it would perform the way we use it. For hauling 4 people, both are fine. But only one--the Scion--can haul 4 people and a car seat. -ed.]

We tried out the xB before we bought our Element, and we liked it, but had three major complaints:
1) Weird location of speedometer, etc
2) No power + automatic only
3) No rear cupholders

The cupholder issue was really the dealbreaker. The newer xBs may have solved this problem, but we can't go anywhere without our eight year old having some kind of drink.

It is kind of a pain to only be able to fit two people in the back of the Element, but we don't travel too much with the boy yet.

[I know there's a 5-speed now for the xB, and it's supposed to be like 5x better. The cupholder thing surprises me, though. Seems like just the kind of addon they'd charge $75 for. -ed.]

Just gotta put in a plug for the xB. Sold my wonderful Subaru Outback to buy it. Why? The big-ass back seat and upright back doors, perfect for dealing with car seats and their wailing inhabitants. That and it gets 30+ mpg. That and it is 2 feet shorter than a Civic, so you can park it anywhere. Kick-ass car if you have little'uns.

Zygote Daddy wrote:"The big-ass back seat and upright back doors, perfect for dealing with car seats and their wailing inhabitants. That and it gets 30+ mpg. "
Two of the reasons to get a Matrix... the best family wagon ever created (except for the Family Truckster of course). I'm guessing it has even more interior space than the xB. The Matrix is probably a more reasonable vehicle to compare the XB to than the Element.

I looked at the xB/Matrix, and settled on the Honda Fit - skips the fugly and keeps the space. The Matrix didn't seem to let the back seats fold down all the way, and even the xB doesn't quite go flat inside. With the Fit you can fold down the back seats flat *and* the front passenger seat, letting you use almost the full length of the vehicle for carrying long objects.

The upright door on the xB is arguably more child-friendly than the hatch, but being able to haul 7' long poles in a subcompact is (for me) priceless. Plus it's cheaper than either the xB or Matrix.

I've found it to be fun to drive and no slouch at urban or highway speeds, though going from 40-60mph takes a moderate amount of time. The corners they cut to slide it into the price point (I got the base-manual model) are all reasonable compromises for me, but I would encourage anyone purchasing it to take the extra bling and spiffy paddle-shift automatic.

I love my toaster, however I am kinda disapointed right now as I sit at the dealer. I have 9,000 miles on my Scion xb and my front brakes are grinding. By no means do I drive rough, come on how rough can you really drive in it. The dealer did a brake inspection an said it is not warrantied and said I need to brake softer. What ever happened to the days when some pride in workmanship and quality still existed. It is going to cost me 194.00 dollars to replace the front brakes and what gets me is they are going to put the same crappy brake pads in. If I am going to have to replace brakes every 9,000 miles there goes my savings in gas I originally purchased the vehicle for. I know the scion xb is a inexpensive vehicle, however I think the brakes should hold up a little longer then 9,000 miles.....

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