Bigger is better? That’s Scion’s bet!

2008 Scion xB

Toyota unveils the 2008 Scion xB at the Chicago Auto Show this week, and word is that it’s going to be bigger. Advance reports suggested that the Scion group had responded to drivers’ requests for a roomier vehicle with the same zip and agility.

In fact, Toyota went so far as to invite a group of Scion drivers to a special invitation-only December preview in Miami Beach; hosted by Rainn Wilson of “The Office” and featuring a performance by hip-hop star Ludacris, the aggressively hip evening offers a clue as to whom Toyota is trying to sell the Scion.

At the Miami event, Toyota did a bit of viral marketing by sharing some advance details about the new xB. According to attendees, it’s bigger in every dimension, with a softer, curvier exterior design and some new touches of comfort in the interior. Not as boxy as the Scion t2B concept model that was previewed in 2005, the new Scion xB still has a heftier presence than in past years.

Another announcement that surprised no one was the retirement of the Scion xA. Its replacement, the Scion xD, is quite a bit bigger, but still sleek compared to the new xB. Scion group VP Mark Templin seems to be committed to the idea of ”giving the customers what they want,” and apparently they want bigger Scions.

Whether or not we’ll want bigger Scions if fuel prices spike up once again is, of course, another question. The move in the European market seems more and more toward mini-SUV models; the Japanese and American producers may be caught napping if someone imports that trend successfully. Reading UK reviews of the Fiat Doblo with its 35-45 mpg fuel rating, for instance, makes me wonder if the new Scion hasn’t taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Update: The new Scion xB was unveiled today (Thursday, February 8 ) to great excitement. Apparently, this really is what people want. I’ll admit it’s a gorgeous little SUV!

Read more about the new Scion xB at the always-intrepid AutoBlog.com.

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