2014 Scion tC
Personality: The trendy intern who works long hours to win your approval.
Best Gizmo: Head-turning styling and available manual transmission.
Most Annoying Feature: a trunk cover for the rear costs extra.
MPG: 31 overall (as tested). Published figures are 23 in the city and 31 on the highway
Cars we smoked at stoplights: An old Land Cruiser and a Smart Car.
0-60: 7.4 seconds
How Much? Starts at only $19,200 for the manual and $20,965 for the automatic. Can climb north of $25k with options.
What option should I splurge on? The "bespoke" audio system.
As an auto reviewer I see lots of cars of all sorts of prices and varieties, from bargain compact sedans to $150,000 luxury exotics. Every once in awhile a car comes along that is so unique in design, so comfortable to drive, and so great in value, that it remains affixed in my memory.
So it is with the Scion tC, which—underneath its flashy skin—is a Toyota product. As such, this little coupe offers the reliability, safety and resale value that make all Toyota products a great buy. But, where Toyota products can sometimes feel a bit bland, the Scion division offers edgier styling and sportier appearances geared toward a younger buying demographic.
My Scion tC came with a sporty manual transmission, gigantic rims for the size of the little car, tight handling, and—my personal favorite feature—a unique shark gray colored exterior paint. I so enjoyed my time in the sporty and comfortable coupe that I still think of it when I see other Scion tC coupes around town.
If you—or a young person in your life—are looking for a gas mileage friendly, fun-to-drive but safe coupe that is affordable, then you simply must give this little car a test drive.
For 2014 the tC offers minor improvements and tweaks while staying true to its successful design. Those improvements include an improved electric steering system connected to a well-designed, fully integrated, leather wrapped steering wheel. The tC can navigate any parking lot or country road with ease.
The lightweight tC zips along powered by a 2.5-liter four cylinder engine that produces a sufficient but modest 178 horsepower. That translates into great gas mileage. Drivers who opt for the 6-speed manual transmission will enjoy the tC's zip and acceleration. Surprisingly efficient braking from all-wheel disc brakes help stop this light hatchback in a hurry.
Interior appointments are on par with and in some places superior to other cars in this price range. A 6.1 inch media screen welcomes you on arrival and has simple, easy-to-use iPod input and radio controls. The comfortable front seats and great forward visibility make for a pleasurable ride for two people. Add a few taller chaps to the back seat and you might hear some griping. This is no family sedan, and Scion engineers know it. Most backseat passengers in the tC will be teenage or college friends who won't mind the trendy but tight quarters.
The tC's base price of $19,965 places it—in today's market and starting prices—in upper economy territory. At this price point, many competitors lack the styling and personality the tC offers. A 5-Star safety rating assures drivers that they and their passengers are not skimping on safety.
In all, the Scion tC remains a great choice in the affordable coupe market. With its low price and appealing styling, the tC continues to turn heads and win fans. Its sporty ride, great reliability, handsome styling and great gas mileage make it a pleasant to drive and fun to own coupe.
© 2014 John Dickerson and John Kehlenbeck, Horsepower Auto Reviews