The rise in gas prices as well as the instant connectivity people can now feel with social media has driven many to stay more local than ever before. Add to this the movement for people to be able to work more locally or even at home through online meetings and online collaboration and the birth and need of cars that fit the urban lifestyle was born.
The first to arrive on the scene was the Scion xB with a boxy feel but great in city driving ability, this vehicle quickly won over the urban population and caused other car makers to notice this trend. This brought about the creation of both the Kia Soul and the Nissan Cube, also with a boxy feel, but offering a short wheelbase, great turning radius, and in city mileage that couldn’t be had unless an owner wanted to pay a premium for a gas/electric hybrid vehicle.
After a few years of all three being on the road together, which box, toaster, cube, urban delight is the best of the boxy vehicles? Comparison of all three found out which box was the best in differing categories.
The Scion xB, the classic if it can be called that of the boxy cars shows off with the largest engine. Bringing a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine that offers 158 horsepower and a four-speed automatic transmission option, the Scion xB moved from zero to sixty in 8.9 seconds, which was the fastest time for the three. Unfortunately the fuel economy is not much better with the Scion xB than with many traditional sedans at a measly 22 city/28 hwy mpg, however with the suspension set up of the Scion xB; potholes were not an issue, which can be a real advantage when driving in the city.
The Scion xB also offered a nice quiet ride and the turning diameter came in at a small 34.8 feet curb-to-curb. The Scion xB offers a ton of space inside, a big surprise for anyone standing outside the vehicle as Scion found a way to utilize all the interior space possible. The Scion xB offers the greatest storage of the three at an impressive 69.9 cubic feet of storage space. Unfortunately the Scion xB did have the largest base sticker price at $16,420 out of the three cars compared, but is still a very nice vehicle for urban driving conditions.
The Nissan Cube offers a bit of a curvier appearance than the Scion xB with puffy wheel flares on the outside and a rippled ceiling and shaggy dash rug on the inside the Nissan Cube has a bit of psychedelic feel to it, appealing to the well-connected younger generation. Utilizing the inside space very well, the Nissan Cube has a larger feel in the cabin than meets the eye outside the vehicle.
The engine of the Nissan Cube is a 1.8-liter inline four cylinder engine offering only 122 horsepower. When paired with the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) the Nissan Cube produced a zero to sixty time of 9.4 seconds. With agile steering, and a turn radius of 33.4 feet curb-to-curb the Nissan Cube is the most agile of the three vehicles compared.
Overall, the Nissan Cube is the tallest of the three boxy cars which did not favor well once taken on the highway dealing with crosswinds, nor is the Nissan Cube as pothole friendly as the Scion xB leaving a bit to be desired in the suspension category. The Nissan Cube is the only one of the three with a swinging rear door instead of a upward raising hatch, a great feature for urban drivers who generally have smaller and shorter garages if they have one at all.
The Nissan Cube offers an impressive 28 city/31 hwy mpg and is the midrange of the three for starting price starting at $14,710 which is about $1500 less than the Scion xB. The Nissan Cube is a thoughtful and versatile vehicle with adequate storage inside of 58.1 cubic feet of space.
The third vehicle in the comparison is the Kia Soul with seems to fit right between the Scion xB and Nissan Cube very nicely. The exterior of the Kia Soul offers an athletic stance and feel of a car that wants to get up and go but also provides a techno feel inside with the light pulsating speakers. The overall details seem to be just a little better in the Kia Soul than both the Scion xB and the Nissan Cube.
Offering the most rear legroom of the group, the Kia Soul is a bit more comfortable for passengers, but gives up a bit in the cargo area with the smallest of the three at only 53.4 cubic feet. The rear is accessed by upward raising hatch, just like the Scion xB.
Under the hood, the Kia Soul offers two different options both are four cylinder engines, one a 1.6 liter version bringing 122 horsepower and the other a 2.0 liter that offers 142 horsepower. The Kia Soul equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission finished the zero to sixty time in a sluggish 9.9 seconds, the slowest of the three vehicles compared. The suspension is not a full as the Scion xB, but not nearly as stiff as the Nissan Cube providing a nice ride throughout the city and the turning diameter came in at 34.3 feet curb-to-curb.
The Kia Soul was the best of the three when taken out to the highway setting, with nice acceleration and great handling the Kia Soul offered a fun drive, but was also the noisiest during acceleration to higher speeds. The Kia Soul offers a 24 city/30 hwy mpg in the 2.0-liter model but was the best on price with a starting price of only $13,995.
The best of the three compared in the most categories was the Nissan Cube, being the shortest in length, best turning diameter, and rear swinging cargo door. The Nissan Cube also came in with the best fuel economy. Second was the Scion xB with better fuel economy than the Kia Soul and offering the largest of the three vehicles the Scion xB was the best in power and cargo space. Third, but the most fun on the open road was the Kia Soul with techno and techie designs inside, even though it was the least expensive, the Kia Soul rated the worst for fuel economy.
All three of these boxy urban inspired vehicles have a different group of great options to offer anyone looking for a great vehicle to drive around town. Anyone who is in the market would be well advised to test all three and see which one fits their needs the best.