Overview & Reviews
Can you be cool and practical? Skinny jeans and high-heeled shoes would indicate otherwise, but the Scion tC proves that it just might be possible. It certainly seems pretty cool, with a coupe body style, sharp looks and a variety of customization opportunities for younger buyers accustomed to getting things the way they want them. Scion has also frequently updated the tC's audio systems, which has given it a leg up as iPods and iPhones have gradually taken over the world.
At the same time, however, the tC's coupelike roof line masks hatchback utility with its impressive cargo capacity and a surprisingly spacious backseat. Moving dorm rooms or taking your friends out on the town is consequently much easier with the tC than it is with traditional coupes. This ability to be both cool and practical is indeed the tC's primary appeal, although sharing a reputation for reliability with Toyota (Scion's parent company) is also a compelling attraction.
Current Scion tC
The Scion tC is a five-seat compact hatchback coupe. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder is standard, boasting 179 horsepower (1 less than before) and 173 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is the lone factory option. Although the tC's combined fuel economy estimate of 26 mpg is respectable, most rivals are more fuel-efficient.
The tC comes in two trim levels: base and the limited edition "10 Series." Standard features for the base tC include 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a touchscreen interface and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an iPod/USB interface and RCA output jacks. The 10 Series, which celebrates Scion's 10th birthday, adds unique silver paint, dark-finished wheels, illuminated badges, LED accent lighting, an illuminated center console and premium stitching on the seats and steering wheel. Dealer-installed options include a navigation system, upgraded audio units and multicolored interior mood lighting.
Although the Scion tC is classified as a compact car, its relatively long wheelbase provides ample legroom, especially for those riding in the back. Long doors and far-sliding seats make entry and exit relatively easy, and rear passengers will also enjoy the split-folding rear seats that recline up to 45 degrees. With its rear seats folded down, the tC has nearly as much cargo volume as a compact SUV. The tC's passenger-side front seat also folds flat, which allows the car to accommodate long items such as surfboards.
Though the tC isn't especially sporty to drive, the interior does its best to indicate otherwise. The thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel looks as if it was pulled from a racecar, while controls canted toward the driver further this impression. Unfortunately, the interior is filled with hard plastics that seem cheaper than those found in the tC's rivals. On the road, the Scion tC is responsive and involving enough to keep you entertained around town, but not so sporty that you'd relish driving it on a curvy back road. The steering has decent weighting and feel, but the stability control has a tendency to kick in frequently during aggressive driving.
Overall, the Scion tC is a respectable choice for a compact coupe. If driving fun is a priority, there are better choices, including Scion's own FR-S. But for those shoppers mainly wanting something stylish and practical, the tC will certainly satisfy.
Used Scion tC Models
The current-generation tC debuted for 2011. The following year brought standard Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, as well as the Release Series 7.0 that sported flashy yellow paint, a body kit, black wheels and keyless ignition and entry. For 2013 there was the similarly themed but very red Release Series 8.0, whose highlights also included a sport-tuned suspension, a center-exit exhaust and, for those fitted with the automatic transmission, paddle shifters. Although otherwise similar, note that these tCs lack the current version's updates that include revised styling with a much more aggressive face, an improved automatic transmission (with rev-matched downshifts) and slightly retuned suspension and steering systems.
The first-generation Scion tC was produced from 2005-'10. Like the current car, it was a two-door hatchback coupe with five seats and a single trim level. Standard equipment included 17-inch wheels, air-conditioning, split-folding-and-reclining rear seats, keyless entry, full power accessories with one-touch power windows, a dual-pane sunroof, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a premium sound system. An iPod interface was added for 2008, making the tC one of the first vehicles to get such a feature.
A considerable number of optional features and accessories (from the factory or dealer-installed) were available on the Scion coupe. Most notable was the airbag package with side and head curtain airbags, so make sure to note whether a used tC is so equipped. Other mods included interior and exterior styling add-ons, 18-inch wheels, audio system head unit upgrades and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) performance parts.
Power came from a strong 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine good for 161 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual was standard and a four-speed automatic was optional. Fuel economy was one of the tC's detriments, with an EPA combined rating of 24 mpg for the automatic -- about the same that most midsize sedans offer. There was a dealer-installed TRD supercharger available that raised engine output to 200 hp.
Inside, this tC's layout was very similar to that of the current car, with a roomy reclining backseat and generous hatchback trunk. There wasn't as much front seat legroom, however, and the steering wheel did not telescope. The tC's cabin had an upscale look and feel thanks to high-quality materials (for the time and class) and metallic-look trim pieces. An elegant "waterfall"-style center stack flowed into the center console, with a panel that covered up whichever of the many available stereo faceplates were affixed to the car.
In Scion tC reviews, our editors commented that this tC was enjoyable to drive, though hardly a sport coupe. Although its acceleration figures weren't stunning, the tC was quick enough for typical urban use. As with the current car, we were most impressed by its ability to be both stylish and practical, noting it was an ideal car for the youthful demographic for which it was intended.
This original tC changed very little during its run. However, there were minor exterior and interior updates made for 2008 -- including the addition of an iPod-specific interface. There were several updates made to the available stereo systems over the years as well, along with new items added to the extensive optional features list. A decontented, tuner-intended version known as the Spec was available for a few model years (ending in 2008) and could easily be picked out of a crowd by its unique paint colors and badge-less grille. The Release Series 6.0 for 2010 looked similar, but it actually had more equipment than the norm.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 1,009.00
Out of the Wrapper a BEST BUY! - 2007 Scion TC
By joeyalphabet - December 28 - 12:43 am
In true light of the topic, this car drives very well. Out of the wrapper this is hands down the best bang for the buck. I own a 5spd tC for 1 year and18k miles, and I find the acceleration is adequate, handling is nimble, top end is good. Brakes are adequate though I occasionally wish there was NO fade. Fuel economy ranges from 22-30+ depending on how spirited you drive. I notice a slight difference with the 92 octane gas (here in NY) but at $3.30+ a gal save the money and go regular (89 octane). The seats accommodate you well, though on long (4hr+) trips I can appreciate more comfort. I often travel alone, but with one passenger, two if you include my 100 lb. German Shepherd.
Scion tC Ratting - 2007 Scion TC
By SUE YANG - December 20 - 1:03 am
This vehicle from my experience, is very great car, because the handling of it is pretty good, it is very nice looking, the seats are very soft, and it gets good gas mileage for a 2.4L. The only thing that I don't like is the brakes are too sqishy. Toyota needs to work on the brakes. Other than that the car is very good.
big bang for the buck - 2005 Scion TC
By Jack H. - December 18 - 10:00 am
I just sold my 1998 1.8 Audi Quattro. Bought the car new and had an engine management chip put in. Though it was fun to drive, I had mucho problems, turbo, brakes, broken timing belt, and more. My Tc is as much fun, even with automatic, and my guess is the build quality will far exceed the Audi. Fit and finish is great. The standard features and solid feeling, can't be beat and a dealer that rally knew his product. I'm having a blast. At 66, who says the car is only for kids?
Cool - 2006 Scion TC
By Tata - December 16 - 8:23 am
Really cool car, no gas gated at all!
Fun to Drive - 2009 Scion TC
By Kevin - December 11 - 3:56 pm
I debated for quite some time which car to look at and chose this one simply because it comes with some awesome standard features for a very reasonable price. I love driving this car, I test drove the automatic but ended up getting the manual and I am glad I did. Even though it is a compact car, there's plenty of room up front. The car looks wonderful, inside and out, even considering I don't like the other Scion models.
tC is Awesome - 2005 Scion TC
By Mike - December 7 - 1:13 pm
The Scion tC is just a great vehicle for the money. If you want speed and think about other cars that are faster, stop thinkin', buy the tC, throw a turbo in it and you will have a 12.12 1/4 mile time (w/slicks). This is an extremely beautifyl car. It's awesome!
Not My First Choice But the Better Choice! - 2008 Scion TC
By B Hudson - December 6 - 9:34 am
In March 2016, I purchased a damn 2008 Scion tC w/5 speed manual transmission. I do not think highly of the dealership I purchased it from but the car has been a great decision so far. I was not comfortable making yet another purchase on a car over 100k miles. The vehicle had 122k when I purchased it and now it is at 128k. I am surprised the car is in almost flawless condition. The body is in mostly good shape. I can tell the previous owner was not the best driver based on a few dings around the body. The rear bumper clear coat is completely gone. I am estimating that I will have to repaint the rear bumper. The car has been in Florida its entire life and I can tell the vehicle has never been waxed...ever. Dangerous never to wax here. I know Toyota and Honda have questionable paint qualities but waxing it once in a while will help! Since I have owned the vehicle I have flushed the radiator, changed the thermostat (no leaking, no overheating), two oil changes, new tires, new brakes and rotors, throttle cleaning. I plan on replacing the spark plugs soon. The only major mechanical issue with the car occurred a few weeks ago after I performed my brake change. The vehicle lost all oil. After running a check, the oil valve cover casket went out. It does not appear to be a common problem based on what I am told but it does happen. I am estimating I does am right at 30 miles per gallon on fuel, higher than EPA Estimates. I am not thrilled with the acceleration of the vehicle but it gets the job done. The manual transmission is easy to operate, mostly smooth shifting. Because of the electronic throttles they use in cars now, there is a slight lag on second gear, be prepared for it if you leave the car off for hours and start driving. The sound system is great, I wish the car had Satillite Radio which may end up installing myself. Except for the basic maintenance I just mentioned, the vehicle has required little maintenance! I would recommend using HID headlights instead of the factory headlights. The factory lights have a limited range. Expect to fill up with $30. Do not expect a racing machine from the tC but it is a fun car to drive, comfortable, not cramped for a two door. I would never bother driving the 4 speed automatic version of this car as it would be boring and full of problems. Stick with the manual, be gentle on it and it will be reliable for a long time.
Scion Is Superb - 2005 Scion TC
By Dennis - November 20 - 1:06 am
Scion TC is superb. Handles great, drives nice and looks awesome.I have a flint mica TC with extra air bags added...that's all! Only $17,400. I use it to go to work and around town. I tried for a month to find a better car for the money and could not find one. Acura...no, Volvo...no, Audi...no, VW...yeah right. I even looked at Mercedes but decided to save the cash and put it in my daughters' college fund. Scion supposedly markets to generation Y. Silly Scion... Believe me, this car is not just for kids.(I am 38). If you want a fancy car buy a mercedes, but be prepared to spend a lot more. The only drawback is once word gets out, expect these cars to be everywhere.
Excellent - 2006 Scion TC
By barrytime - November 18 - 6:46 am
The Scion tC is fast and affordable and offers more standard features than any car in it's class with a better price tag. The car deliver's excellent performance and a fun-to-drive experience without drawing too much attention from the authorities. Plus it has that legendary Toyota quality.
Great Car!! - 2008 Scion TC
By rvart06 - November 18 - 3:50 am
I have owned this car for about a week and a half now and I'm pretty satisfied with it. I was told by the selling agent at the dealership that the car goes through tires quickly, which is really its only negative aspect. I was told one set of tires will last about 1 mile/15,000 miles. The car handles decently, with satisfying acceleration. The braking is a tad on the weaker side, probably because the car is 3000 lbs. Also, when taking a sharp turn at higher speeds (around a corner for example) there is considerable body roll. But other than these minor things, the car is great!! Great features for the price, fun to drive, great body styling!