Specs & Details
'11 Scion tC
Engine 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder
Horsepower 180 at 6000 rpm
Torque 173 at 4100 rpm
Transmission 6-speed (manual or automatic)
MSRP $18,995 (manual); $19,995 (automatic)
Scion's flagship car, the tC, has enjoyed tremendous success with the tuner crowd because of its affordable price range and mod-friendly platform. The new '11 model appears to bring the same affordability and customization but with even more offerings like a stronger engine, better interior and a bolder exterior than its predecessor.
The first-generation tC was a little soft with its styling cues, and while the male market took to it at first, women have dominated tC sales in recent years. Scion hopes the new tC will change all that with its sharper image. The front fascia clearly jumps out at you with its slanted lights and front grille. The rather angular-cut C-pillar also stands out as a strong styling point, while the bulging fenders amplify a wider, sportier stance. The overall styling lends to a true coupe design, with inspiration being drawn from a race helmet. It's no doubt the tC has shed its softer image.
The cabin has also received a heavy makeover with a more driver-oriented design and better interior quality. Most noticeable is the new steering wheel, which features a flat-bottom design that's typically reserved for cars three to four times its price tag. Add the nicely wrapped leather and thicker rimmed grip to the wheel, and all of a sudden, you have to remind yourself you're still driving a tC.
The dash has been vastly improved with better plastics and ergonomic design that places the radio and climate controls at the tip of the driver's hand. The standard 300-watt Pioneer audio system is as good as ever and now includes eight speakers, three of which are mounted in the door panel for clean, crisp and loud sound that any owner will appreciate.
Another valued addition is the surprisingly well-bolstered seats that, paired with the steering wheel, provide the driver with a legitimate sports car-like look and feel. The question remains, Does the new aggressive styling, sporty interior and added performance add up to a sportier ride experience?
That's hard to answer with just a yes or no, because the '11 Scion tC feels sportier and faster than its predecessor, but not to the point that it would be classified a sports car. And it was never really intended to wear that title. It blends the perfect amount of driving excitement and user practicality to make it a very attractive car for younger buyers. The 180hp, 173-ft-lbs of torque engine provides enough gusto to get the car moving quickly and squeal the tires when needed. The 6-speed manual transmission produces effortless, smooth shifts that any buyer will enjoy over the optional early shifting automatic. Despite an anemic 6200-rpm rev limiter, the deep tone produced from the stock exhaust sounds more like it's an aftermarket system, heightening the driving experience - especially at wide-open throttle.
There are rumors circling that a TRD supercharger is in the works. We hope they're true because an extra 40-60 hp would really wake up the new tC. But for now we'll have to settle with TRD big brakes, wheels, sway bars and springs as factory installed options that all together significantly improve the tC's handling characteristics. So much so that while navigating the twisty canyon roads, the car's behavior vastly exceeded our expectations.
Scion had some very big shoes to fill with its new-generation tC, and we think they have hit the nail square on the head with this version. Not only is it fun, entertaining and practical, but with a base price tag of $18,995, it's hard to beat in the price department. Now if only Scion would answer our pleas and deliver us a RWD sports car - oh wait, they're working on that too!