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.
Read the most recent 2016 Scion tC review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Scion tC page.