A car college students can afford

Automotive manufacturers design their cars in a calculated fashion. The cars each company designs are intended and marketed for different age groups, income levels, genders and many other demographic factors.

For example, according to Acura the all new 2004 Acura TSX, known in other parts of the world as a Honda Accord, is slated for individuals in their 30s, mostly married, who make about $80,000 a year. This car is developed to separate the just-out- of -college RSX owners from the wife and kids TL owners.

Thankfully,Toyota has moved into the entry-level market with a new kind of automobile that is affordable for those who don’t make almost six figures. After winning over Generation X with Toyota and the baby-boomers with Lexus, Toyota, another automotive company known for pin-pointing demographic groups, has started a new trend in order to fill an unfilled demographic void.

Enter Scion. Scion is a new line of vehicles offered which targets the “Internet generation” or Generation Y. Call them what you will, but this under-30 crowd has two (the third is on its way) offerings of vehicles from Scion: the xA and the xB.

The xA is the more “normal” of the two vehicles, comparatively speaking. It looks as though Ford Focus and Toyota Echo DNA were combined to create this new vehicle. Sporting four doors and a rear hatch, the xA has plenty interior room, without the leg room its xB sibling offers. The xA’s base price starts at $12,480 for a manual transmission and $13,280 for an automatic transmission.

The xB compares to nothing else on the street, but maintains a trendy look, the kind of trendiness that usually requires a large bank account. The xB can be thought of as a small minivan (a mini-minivan if you will) or mini SUV with a boxy yet edgy appearance.

Tons of cargo room and materials, which are better than expected, from a base price of $13,680 for the manual or $14,480 for the automatic show that Toyota is serious about its new offerings.

Both cars are powered by the same 108 horsepower, 1.5 liter inline 4 engine found in the Echo. Sure, a base price of less than $15,000 for both the xA and xB must get you a stripped down vehicle, right?

Not necessarily. Both have air conditioning, antilock brakes, a six-speaker Pioneer stereo, power windows with driver-side one-touch down, locks and mirrors, tilt wheel, rear wiper, first aid kit, plus headrests and three-point seatbelts in all five seating positions as standard equipment.

In addition, the xB adds stability control, traction control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and remote keyless entry at no additional cost.

This is improving, but it’s not over yet. The real appeal to Scion is the catalog of more then 40 options that you can get to fully customize your xA or xB.

From side airbags in the xA (not available in the xB) to subwoofers, cold air intakes, strut bars, wheels, interior LED light enhancements, sport pedals, spoilers, body side graphics and XM Satellite Radio, the list is long. All options carry the same warranty as the car, so you don’t have to worry about voiding it with the modifications.

When you are done picking the options you want on your new Scion and it is time to purchase, the sales person will stay with you throughout the purchasing process. Much like Saturn’s sales approach, you are no longer handed off to various sales managers to seal the deal.

Scion’s styling is definitely love it or hate it, but will Scion grow dated early because of it? Since the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are so loved, does this prove that Scion, a car which is trying to avoid what these two cars have accomplished, won’t last long? I hope not.