The Scion xD isn’t the most popular Scion model. It isn’t even the most well-recognized model. From the exterior it appears to be an automotive oxymoron. It looks like a big compact car. Versatile? Yes. Roomy? Kinda sorta.
Winning for a third year in a row, owners in the Sporty Car segment have kept the Scion tC number one. Beating out noble competitors, both import and domestic, owners within the segment prove once again that the tC is a real winner. The tC earned class-leading scores in such critical categories as:
• Flexible/changeable seating, rear (second-row) seat comfort (rear seats recline) and ease of loading/unloading cargo
• Fuel economy/gas mileage
• Price/monthly payments along with top marks for operating costs
AutoPacific’s 2009 Vehicle Satisfaction Award Highlights Consumer Opinion As Industry Struggles
National Survey Measures Satisfaction with New Vehicles
TUSTIN, Calif. (May 19, 2009) — In the most challenging auto sales market in years, AutoPacific today announced its 13th Annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSA). For the second straight year, Cadillac ranks highest among new car owners, taking the Highest Satisfaction Brand honors even with the turmoil surrounding General Motors and the industry as a whole.
Overall brand satisfaction ratings among Hyundai purchasers jumped 11 positions earning Hyundai 2009 Rising Star honors. This positive move was more than any other manufacturer in the survey. Hyundai scored higher in 40 of 48 rating categories in 2009 compared with 2008. Two Hyundai products took VSAs this year: the Genesis in the Aspirational Luxury Car category and the Sonata in the Premium Mid-size car class.
“These are difficult times, with news of automaker bankruptcies, companies restructuring and dealer closures a daily occurrence,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “Clearly, the dynamics surrounding the Vehicle Satisfaction Award in 2009 are far different from anything we’ve seen in many years. Winners needed to overachieve to earn their awards.”
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You have to look long and hard to find a more difficult job than designing future Scion products. In its short life, Scion has raced to the forefront of Gen Y desirability. From zero to 173,000 units in just 4 years. Toyota Motor Sales claims the Scion brand to have a median buyer age of just 30 years old, which makes it the youngest brand in the United States. From the same group of people who bring us the Camry and Avalon, both standards for Boomer buyers, but neither evoking a youthful image.
Popular Release Series Continues with Second-Generation xB
In an effort both to freshen the vehicle and to inspire buyers to do their own customization, Scion began offering Release Series special editions with the first xB. There were four with the first generation, none built in quantities of more than 2500 units, and the first for the second generation is on display at the 2008 North American International Auto Show.
Release Series 5.0, continues the number sequence began with the first generation. Typical of the Scion RS products, only 2500 units of the 5.0 will be built. As before, changes to create the xB RS 5.0 are mostly cosmetic. Among the notable elements is the first xB moonroof. The RS 5.0′s exterior color, called Gold Rush Mica, was inspired by the color the introduction car wore at the 2007 Chicago auto show. The RS 5.0 also gets new wheel covers and a KenStyle body kit as standard; a color-keyed rear spoiler is optional. The exterior color carries into interior trim and seat fabric, and there is the requisite numbered badge.
Scion tC Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Sporty Car:
“The sporty car entry from Toyota’s Scion brand turns in a class-winning performance in its second year in our VSA research,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Scion tC buyers rated their vehicle highly for Seating Capacity, Rear Seat Comfort, Operating Costs in general, and Fuel Economy specifically”.
Honda Tries to Out-xB Scion with Step Bus
Man Maximum, Machine Minimum
Shown at the LA Auto Show on Wednesday, November 28 the Honda Step Bus Concept appeared to be a clear appropriation of the Scion xB rolling box. Maybe it can thought of as a mix between the Honda Element and the Honda Fit… both of which have solid followings in the USA. The VehicleVoice and AutoPacific crew were on hand when the Step Bus was unveiled.
With a mid-mounted engine and a wide-opening sliding side door on the driver’s side of the concept (clearly built for the Japanese domestic market with right hand drive), Honda positions this vehicle as “man maximum, machine minimum”.
New Entry Car Joins Honda’s Lineup
If you’re in the market for an economy car, this might be one of the better model years to buy. Not only does the Honda Fit arrive in dealers in April 2006, Toyota’s Yaris and Chevrolet’s updated Aveo will arrive shortly afterward. And don’t forget the Nissan Versa coming later in the year. Honda chose the North American International Auto Show to unveil their new Fit while Toyota launched the Yaris at the Los Angeles Auto Show , with Vehicle Voice and AutoPacific correspondents on hand. Elsewhere in the segment, Kia’s Rio and Hyundai’s Accent were all-new for the 2006MY. The oldest product in the segment is actually the Scion xA, and that model launched nationally for the 2004MY.
What are the keys to this segment? As much interior room as can be carved out of such a small footprint, some type of sporty-look model to offer the ability to not look as though you’re driving the least expensive car in the lineup, and the ability for buyers to customize or accessorize their car. Toyota is writing the book on this with Scion, and Honda is learning a few tricks.
Final pricing has not been determined for the Honda Fit, but a $12,000 price point is reasonable. Though pricing for either Fit or the new Toyota Yaris has not been announced, the Fit offers more standard features and is likely to carry a slightly higher base price as a result. Honda does have concerns about the new entry cannibalizing some Civic sales, but Honda is not creating a sub-brand for this segment, as Toyota has done for its Scion products. The Fit is built in Japan and imported, though if the small car found strong enough demand, Honda could add U.S. production.
Reflex Introduction at 2006 NAIAS
It is said around town that Ford is considering how and when they may re-enter the (very) small-car segment, which includes cars priced from around $10,000 to $15,000 or so fully equipped. This segment is expected to see substantial growth over the next several years. These cars are smaller in size than entries like the Ford Focus or Honda Civic, and most typically wear sedan or hatchback bodystyles. Chevrolet’s Aveo, Toyota’s all-new Yaris and the defunct Echo, the Scion xA, the Hyundai Accent and Kia’s Rio are among examples of vehicles in this segment.
While the 2005 Ford SynUS concept explored the possibilities a boxy urban vehicle might provide (certainly in part inspired by the Scion xB), on the 2006 auto show circuit the concept is for a sporty small car that takes into account room for small children. Enter the Reflex. Reactions by VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) analysts are very positive.