Full 2010 Scion tC Review
What's New for 2010
In its final year before a complete redesign, the Scion tC is unchanged save for a new special Release Series 6.0 edition.
The 2010 Scion tC is a two-door hatchback coupe that parent company Toyota has aimed squarely at the 20-something crowd. These drivers likely want rides that are stylish, customizable and affordable, and the tC is a success on all three counts. Note that the tC is not a performance car, so if it's back-road thrills you're after, we'd advise you to look elsewhere. Otherwise, there's just not much wrong with the tC, even though it's now entering its sixth year of production.
As has been the case since the car's debut, the tC offers a comfortable ride and adequate handling for most tastes. A notable tC feature is its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which provides more low-end grunt than most cars in this class. Fuel economy isn't impressive, though, so there's a penalty for that extra displacement and punch.
The 2010 Scion tC also boasts a cleanly styled cabin with an accommodating rear seat. Two adults can fit back there, a rare feat for a car of this nature, and the seatback even reclines. The hatchback's cargo area is also roomy with the rear seats up; flip them down and you'll have 35 cubic feet of maximum cargo space.
In addition to the tC's solid list of standard equipment, there are numerous accessories available at the Scion dealership, including stylized wheels, body kits, upgraded stereo systems and various interior accents. Additionally, if the 2.4-liter engine leaves you wanting more, the dealer-installed supercharger boosts horsepower up to 200. That puts the tC's straight-line acceleration (and price) in the same league as pocket rockets like the Honda Civic Si coupe, Mini Cooper S and Volkswagen GTI; however, all of the above are far more engaging to drive. Our advice would be to set your sights on the base tC and cross-shop it with other compact two-doors like the regular Honda Civic, the base Mini Cooper and the Volkswagen Rabbit.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Scion tC is a two-door hatchback coupe offered in two trim levels – base and the limited-production Release Series 6.0. Standard features on the base tC include 17-inch alloy wheels, a dual-pane sunroof, air-conditioning, split-folding and reclining rear seats, keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories with one-touch up/down windows and a Pioneer CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack and a dedicated iPod interface. The Release Series 6.0 features unique blue paint and interior trim, a special matte black exterior graphic, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an upgraded Alpine stereo and navigation system head unit.
There are no factory options, though dealers offer a wide array of styling and accessory upgrades, including an upgraded Pioneer stereo, satellite radio and a touchscreen navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
The Scion tC is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 161 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices consist of the standard five-speed manual and an optional four-speed automatic.
The four-cylinder's unusually robust low-end torque is helpful around town, but all-out acceleration is uninspiring, with the 0-60-mph sprint falling in the mid-8-second range. The dealer-installed supercharger boosts output to 200 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, which cuts the 0-60 time down to 7.2 seconds. Sans supercharger, an automatic-equipped tC earns a slightly below-average EPA fuel economy estimate of 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined, while the manual is even worse at 20/27/23.
The 2010 Scion tC comes with antilock disc brakes, front side airbags, full-length head curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag as standard. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration frontal crash tests, the tC earned a perfect five stars for driver protection and four stars for passenger protection. Side-impact testing yielded five-star ratings for both front and rear passengers.
Interior Design and Special Features
The tC's interior features some upscale materials, though there's still plenty of hard plastic mixed in. The standard Pioneer sound system is crisp and powerful, but the head unit may frustrate some operators with its small buttons and busy faceplate. The standard iPod interface is a welcome feature, but we'd suggest opting for one of the upgraded stereo head units for better iPod control.
Thanks to a relatively long 106.3-inch wheelbase, the tC provides surprisingly good legroom for rear passengers, though rear headroom is limited for taller folks. The split rear seatbacks can independently recline up to 135 degrees, a remarkable feature among compact two-doors. Owners will appreciate the wide hatchback opening and 35 cubic feet of maximum cargo space with the rear seats folded.
The 2010 Scion tC handles nimbly enough, though you certainly won't confuse it with a sporty rival like the Mini Cooper. Ride quality is relatively compliant for a budget-priced compact coupe. The 2.4-liter inline-4 pulls eagerly at low engine speeds, a welcome departure from the high-revving power delivery that's more the norm in this segment. The manual transmission is smooth-shifting, but it exacts a notable penalty at the pump.