Here in the land of plenty we have almost too many choices. Just trying to decide what kind of running shoes to buy can be a project; should you get, say, the Nike Air Max Tailwind or the Asics Gel Cumulus? It's just mind-boggling. This can be bedeviling not just to consumers but also to companies that face an ever-increasing number of competitors.
And so it is within the automotive marketplace. We have to say that we were surprised when Toyota decided to go to the trouble and expense of spinning off another brand, namely Scion, rather than just introducing those two models (the xA and xB) as Toyota products. It's not as if Toyota doesn't have a popular name and solid reputation. The company has stated that the reason for the separate brand was that it wanted to hit the younger generation ("Y" or whatever it may now be) with personable vehicles intended for their active, fun-loving lifestyles and felt that the practical Toyota name didn't foster that impression. We're not sure we agree the company does make the Celica and the MR2 Spyder, does it not? But who are we to question the business decisions of a very successful company? Let's get to the car.
Scion staged its latest introduction in Washington D.C., which allowed for the cute "tC in DC" tagline (and obligatory baseball cap) for the event. It also allowed the car to be driven in an "urban" environment, as that is part of the intended demographic for the tC. Loosely translated, that meant congested city streets (complete with working road crews and plenty of orange cones), gently winding parkways and fast-moving four-lane freeways.
Unlike the xA and xB that look like they could've come out of a comic book (and we mean that in a good way we like their funky yet practical style), the tC is a more mainstream design. Somehow managing to look a little pudgy yet sleek at the same time, the tC has a generic rectangular grille, headlamps with BMW-like "eyebrows" and a body that boasts crisp, clean lines. Still, there are a few head-turning elements. One is the deeply tinted glass panoramic roof that features a power sunroof above the front seats and a fixed glass portion above the rear compartment. Another is the set of double-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels that to our eyes looked as good as anything in the aftermarket. Both of these high-end features are standard.
Speaking of standard equipment, the tC, like the other Scion models, comes in one trim level and is chock-full of unexpected goodies such as one-touch up and down power windows, cruise control, air conditioning, keyless entry, mirror-mounted turn signal lights, four-wheel antilock disc brakes and a 160-watt Pioneer sound system with CD player that is satellite (XM) radio ready.
Although the tC is a compact car at just 174 inches long (about the same as a Honda Civic coupe), a relatively long (106.3-inch) wheelbase provides more than ample legroom, especially for those riding in the back. Rear passengers will also enjoy the split seat backs that can individually recline up to 45 degrees. Although it looks like a coupe, the tC is actually a hatchback, which means flexible cargo capacity. By folding down the rear seats as well as the right front seat, a load floor that stretches 103.6 inches is created, ideal for snowboarders and surfers. At nearly 3,000 pounds (2,970 for the automatic, 2,905 for the manual), the tC's curb weight is a few hundred pounds more than we expected, but considering how many features are packed into the car, it's not out of line.
One of the design objectives for the tC was to give the car an upscale look and feel, and in the cabin it's evident that Scion's designers achieved that goal. High-quality materials abound, and features such as metallic accents, damped compartment doors, height- and thigh-adjustments for the driver seat and an outside temperature display further this impression. An elegant "waterfall"-style center stack flows into the center console and both front seats slide forward to allow folks to get into the backseat. We're still on the fence about the "rice paper" texture of the dash and door panels, but overall, we felt that the interior was as nice as that of cars costing $10,000 more. Safety features include a first aid kit, triple side door beams, a driver knee airbag and the option of a package that includes side- and head-curtain airbags.
On the move, the tC feels eager to run. The big reason (literally) for the tC's puppylike demeanor is its 2.4-liter inline four. Borrowed from the Camry, this is a big engine for this class of car, where 1.7 to 2.2 liters is more the norm. With 160 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque, the tC's motor handily beats what you'll find in cars like the Civic EX coupe (127 hp and 114 lb-ft), Saturn Ion (140 hp and 145 lb-ft) and VW Golf (115 hp and 122 lb-ft). Out in the real world, the tC's performance makes good on the promise of the spec sheet numbers. A broad power band means that there's strong pull down low and through the midrange, and when coupled to the sweet-shifting five-speed manual gearbox, the tC feels sportier than one might expect. We also briefly sampled the four-speed automatic, and its smooth and responsive nature preserved the spunky character of the engine.
Prior to jumping behind the wheel, we were told emphatically that the Scion engineers made steering feel and handling big priorities. To that end, the tC features a fully independent suspension (with a double-wishbone setup in the rear that maximizes interior space) and the same tires that are on the Lexus IS 300 Z-rated 215/45R17 Bridgestone Potenzas wrapped around those eye-catching 17s. The results of the engineers' late nights are a precise, well-weighted feel in the wheel and flat, composed cornering when zigzagging along a parkway. The tC's ride quality is firm, but compliant enough to absorb some of the potholes that were served up by battered city streets.
Although our exposure to the tC was relatively brief, we came away impressed. If this car was slated to be priced at $18,000, we'd predict another hit for the company. After all, there's the strong Toyota reputation, the spacious and comfortable cabin, fine build quality, entertaining driving dynamics and plenty of standard niceties. With a price tag of $16,500, we'd bet that Scion is going to hit another one into the cheap seats.
2005 Scion tC Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2005 Scion tC and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2005 tC featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2005 Scion tC and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2005 tC 4.7 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2005 tC.
Review My daughter was in a major accident, involving the following scenario. Person merged into the car sending into a spin, then hit again and was airborn for a full 360 landing on driver's side, sliding into the back of a flat bed big rig, righting back onto wheels and sending across 4 lanes of freeway. This occured at 65 mph. Both driver and passenger walked out of car. The car is a complete total but occupants okay, other than severe whiplash. Amazing!
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Available Scion tC 2005 Submodel Types: Hatchback
Available Trims: Base, Spec, Monogram Series, Scion 10 Series, Release Series 7.0, Release Series 8.0, Release Series 9.0, Release Series 10.0, Release Series 6.0
Exterior Colors: Black, Super White, Classic Silver Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Cement, Absolutely Red, Blizzard Pearl, Nautical Blue Metallic, Flint Mica, Sizzling Crimson Mica, Blue Streak Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Silver Ignition, Cosmic Gray Mica, Black Sand Mica, Magma, Waveline Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic, Black Cherry Pearl, Blue Ribbon Metallic, High Voltage Yellow, Indigo Ink Pearl, Blue Blitz Mica, Silver Streak Mica
Interior Colors: Dark Charcoal cloth, Black leather, Black alcantara, Black/Yellow cloth, Dark Gray, Dark Gray cloth
Popular Features: Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Sunroof/Moonroof, Tire Pressure Warning, Aux Audio Inputs, USB Inputs, Stability Control, Trip Computer, Bluetooth, Upgraded Stereo, Navigation, Keyless Entry/Start, Heated seats, Leather Seats, Alarm, Remote Start