2011 Scion tC
When Scion was first created back in 2002, the goal of the Toyota offshoot was to create cars for the younger buyer. They designed and built budget-friendly vehicles – just two models to start, followed by the tC in 2004
– that could be customized to fit the needs of Generation Y. Now, 800,000 of them are on the road, Scion is the youngest brand in the industry and you can hear the patting of Toyota executives’ backs from here. But the tC hasn’t seen an update since its inception, making the 2011 redesign somewhat of a big deal for the company, especially considering the model’s position as the major familial breadwinner – it takes home 40 percent of Scion’s sales. Not wanting to mess with a winning combination, the 2011 tC doesn’t reinvent much of anything here, sticking to its guns and delivering an appealing package with mass appeal and a good blend of looks and performance. Power has been increased, as has fuel economy, and the exterior now boasts a more masculine look with hints of Lexus cues. Interior styling isn’t the car’s strong point and technology standards are lacking compared to competitors, but if the continually growing fan base is any indication, Scion has another strong seller on their hands.
What's to Like
The continued inclusion of a standard panoramic sunroof is a good move as it opens up the cabin space considerably. A more grounded drive thanks to suspension modifications has improved performance, and TRD components will gratify the more hardcore enthusiasts.
What's Not to Like
Interior materials look and feel low budget, and technology offerings aren’t up to par. No standard Bluetooth is a puzzling choice for a youth-friendly car company. Pricing is slightly high, especially considering the age of the target buyer. Rear headroom is tight.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
A good percentage of Scion buyers are considered to be car enthusiasts (just look at the 30 percent manual transmission take if you don’t believe us), so it comes as no surprise that the tC’s drive quality feels much improved. The suspension is firm – you’ll really feel those potholes – and the thick steering wheel lacks communication, but the overall impression is that the tC performs solidly along the road. Equip it with TRD sway bars to dramatically improve handling as well. Acceleration is quicker now; Scion says the manual dashes to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds (it was 8.2) and the automatic sees 60 in 8.3 seconds (originally 9.1). Gearshifts in the auto are smooth, and the manual, while lacking a truly precise feel, slides through the gates easily enough. To make the journey more enjoyable, front seats are now one inch wider for added comfort and wind noise seems to have been reduced.
Engine and Drivetrain
The tC is powered by a more efficient 2.5-liter engine that increases horsepower to 180 – 19 more than the last generation – and 173 lb-ft of torque – 11 more than before. It can be paired to either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
From the start, we’ve found the panoramic sunroof a big selling point for this small car and it’s a smart move to continue to offer it. A 300-watt audio system with a USB and auxiliary input jack is standard, and the crisp speakers deliver good sound quality. The steering wheel now tilts and telescopes to accommodate a more comfortable driving position, and split-folding rear seats stow flat to allow a good amount of storage space should you need to hit up Ikea.
Key Technology Evaluation
Where other companies are pushing new tech into their cars as soon as gizmo wizards from Silicon Valley can create it, Scion has held back – and the tC suffers for it. The optional Alpine head unit is nothing short of terrible, with an outdated and useless interface. Bluetooth audio is available on the top-of-the-line model as is a much more user-friendly Alpine navigation unit, but not on the standard system – strange considering the surge of hands-free calling laws.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
A few tweaks here and there have improved fuel economy over the last generation, despite the tC receiving more power (and gaining a little weight). It now returns 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with both transmissions, which is average for the segment.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
Refined, it’s not, though the tough-looking interior of the tC does have some good qualities. The seats are comfortable and legroom is ample for taller passengers. Red backlighting looks cool and should appeal to the mid-20 set. Materials are disappointingly cheap looking and hard to the touch though, making it look light years behind other 2010 and 2011 vehicles.
Toyota is attempting to attract a more male audience by beefing up the exterior with thicker pillars, more sheet metal and rectangular lights. Wheelbase and overall length is the same, yet the tC looks bigger and brawnier, taking watered down cues from the Fuse concept.
Market Segment and Pricing
The tC’s coupe segment isn’t large but still produces some powerful competition. At $18,995 for the manual and $19,995 for the auto (including dest.), the tC goes up against the Honda Civic Coupe
- $15,455, Civic Si
- $22,055, Kia Forte
Koup SX - $17,695 and Volkswagen Golf 2-Door
- $17,620. Scion also stands behind their ‘Pure Price’ initiative, which means they don’t allow haggling; the price you see is the price you get.
What We Think
Scion has stayed true to the tC in terms of performance, but its overall look doesn’t push the limits as much as we think it could have. We’re also left scratching our heads over the lack of some no-brainer standard tech features and slightly high price point. However keeping things safe means fans will benefit from the improved drive quality and fuel efficiency of the redesigned tC.
See more reviews»