Used 2016 Scion tC Review

The 2016 Scion tC is an appealing entry-level coupe thanks to a roomy cabin, a generous features list and snappy performance.




what's new

The 2016 Scion tC gets a new 7-inch touchscreen interface as standard, plus keyless entry and ignition, a rear windshield wiper and minor interior trim upgrades.

vehicle overview

Toyota created the Scion brand to add some pizazz to a corporate image that had become rather stodgy. At this point, it's safe to say that Scion has pretty much achieved its goal, offering a small range of reasonably priced, fashion-forward cars with a lot of room for personalization. The 2016 Scion tC is a two-door, four-seat hatchback coupe that fits right in the middle of the Scion range. While not the snappiest model available — that's the separately reviewed Scion FR-S — it's still a capable coupe with ample appeal.

The Scion tC has been around a while but still has some appealing qualities.

Its sporty looks and fun-to-drive nature may make the headlines, but the 2016 Scion tC's most outstanding feature is what it offers in terms of value. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, an eight-speaker Pioneer sound system, a 7-inch touchscreen display, 18-inch wheels and a panoramic sunroof:  pretty impressive given the modest price point. And while the Edmunds "B" rated tC doesn't receive the best fuel economy ratings from the EPA (26 mpg combined), we discovered that the EPA number is pretty easy to beat in real-world testing. Furthering the case for the tC are its decent-sized backseat and easily accessible cargo area, as there's both good rear-seat real estate and respectable storage for a coupe.

If the 2016 Scion tC has an Achilles' heel, it's an overall lack of refinement. The interior surfaces seem a bit cheap compared to other offerings, and at highway speeds there's significant road and wind noise. Also, the limited rearward visibility is annoying, especially as Scion doesn't offer a rearview camera for the tC. Moreover, both the suspension tuning and the seats are firmer than they need to be.

Viable alternatives in this segment include the Kia Forte Koup, which is a solid choice thanks to its comfort, performance and value. Also worth test-driving are the funky Hyundai Veloster and the upscale Volkswagen Beetle. The 2016 Honda Civic coupe is certainly one to watch, as Honda appears to be back on its game after a disappointing run in recent years. Overall, the 2016 Scion tC satisfies as an affordable and practical car with some spunk, but we recommend checking around a bit before making your final decision.




trim levels & features

The 2016 Scion tC is a compact, five-passenger hatchback coupe offered in a single trim level.

Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, LED front accent lamps, folding side mirrors with LED turn indicators, keyless entry and ignition, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a panoramic sunroof with dual manual sunshades, a six-way adjustable (manual) driver seat with height adjustment and one-touch track and seatback angle memory, a leather-wrapped shift knob and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, silver interior accents, reclining and folding 60/40-split rear seatbacks, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen display, voice controls and an eight-speaker Pioneer sound system with HD radio, Aha smartphone-app integration, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.

Standard equipment is very generous on the 2016 Scion tC, including this 7-inch touchscreen interface.

As with other Scions, a wide selection of dealer-sourced accessories is available, including 19-inch wheels, foglights, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance parts for the suspension and drivetrain and an upgraded BeSpoke touchscreen audio system with navigation.



performance & mpg

The front-wheel-drive 2016 Scion tC has a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that generates 179 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, while a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters and automatic rev-matching on downshifts is optional.

During Edmunds performance testing, a Scion tC with a manual transmission went from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. An automatic did the same sprint in 7.8 seconds. Both are respectably quick times for this class of car.

Whether it's equipped with the manual or automatic transmission, the 2016 tC returns an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined (23 city/31 highway). In Edmunds testing we found it easy to replicate those numbers, and drivers with a light foot can do considerably better. On our 116-mile mixed-driving evaluation loop, we observed 32.6 mpg.

safety

Standard safety features on the 2016 Scion tC include stability and traction control, antilock brakes, front knee airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front headrests. In Edmunds.com brake testing, a tC stopped from 60 mph in 122 feet, an average distance in its class.

In government crash testing, the tC has received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the tC earned the highest score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test as well as the side-impact and roof-strength tests. It earned a second-highest rating of "Acceptable" in small-overlap frontal-offset testing and a "Good" rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts (head restraints and seats).

Driving

Though the 179-hp four-cylinder engine in the 2016 Scion tC isn't the most thrilling powertrain in the class, it's got enough power to pull the tC around with some authority. This is the same workhorse motor used in the Camry and other products in the wider Toyota family, but since the tC is relatively small and light, it feels more eager here. If you're up for shifting your own gears, the six-speed manual is smooth and easy to operate. But the more popular automatic is just fine (it even matches revs for you on downshifts) and fuel economy won't suffer, either.

Sporty styling is another point in the 2016 Scion tC's favor.

On the road, the tC may not be particularly exciting compared to the rear-drive FR-S, but well-weighted, precise steering and the car's light-on-its-tires nature make for respectable fun. The ride quality is mediocre, however, as surface irregularities seem to produce more jiggles and vibrations than the norm. Additional drawbacks include excessive tire noise and an incessant exhaust drone that sounds more like a leaf blower than a sporty coupe.

Interior

As with the exterior, the 2016 Scion tC's cabin has an overtly sporty look. With its thick, flat-bottom steering wheel, cradling seat bolsters and controls canted toward the driver, the tC strives for a high-performance sports car aesthetic. Unfortunately, the cabin's ambience is sullied a bit by the abundance of cheap plastic trim and thinly padded armrests. Happily, the touchscreen interface is clear and easy to use, and its smartphone integration connects Internet radio, Yelp and other popular social media applications.

From the standpoint of practicality, the tC is a top choice among compact coupes. The rear seats have above-average legroom, and getting in and out of the back is exceptionally easy by two-door standards. The rear seatbacks even recline, a feature typically found in crossover SUVs (and never in this segment). Behind the rear seats the tC can hold up to 14.7 cubic feet of cargo, while folding those seatbacks yields a total of 34.5 cubic feet of space. The hatchback body style also means it's easier to load bulky items in the tC than in traditional coupes like the Kia Forte Koup.

edmunds expert 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.