By on January 3, 2011

Toyota has had a problem lately: aging clientele. While some marketing firms will try to reinvigorate an aging brand with flashy new commercials and risqué advertising campaigns, Toyota decided to create a whole new brand in 2002 targeting Generation X and Y: Scion. Since the generations at the end of the alphabet are short on cash but long on youth, value pricing is the biggest draw for the Scion brand. Therefore it should be no surprise that the average age of Scion shoppers isn’t as low as Toyota could have hoped: old people like a bargain too.

Bargain pricing as a cornerstone means that most Scion models (all except the tC actually) are rebranded Toyota models from foreign markets. Realizing that Scion needed something besides a trendy bread box and a bargain basement people carrier, Toyota released the first model unique to Scion: the tC. Yes, yes tC doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the Scion nomenclature like xA, xB and xD, but Volvo had dibs on the XC trade mark and so tC was born. Based loosely on the European Toyota Avensis sedan, the tC combines an economical European front-wheel drive chassis with a sporty coupe profile.

Speaking of profiles, when Scion announced that a new tC would be arriving as a 2011 model year car, I was concerned it would suffer from the same bloat that has afflicted the xB in its latest refresh. Fortunately the styling of the tC will not offend the Scion faithful. Easily identifiable as a tC, the front has received a tasteful refresh with a larger air dam and a bit more drama. The blacked out A and B pillars combine with the chunky angular C pillar to ape a bit of Camaro styling (just a bit however). Out back a short faux-trunk greets the hatchback-averse in the crowd along with some curvaceous tail lamps and a single exhaust. The Scion tC proves it’s actually possible to build an econobox that doesn’t look like a penalty box. But is the beauty only skin deep?

Step inside the tC you realize that “compromise” is inevitable in an car that starts at $18,995 base and tops out around $22,500. The interior looks nice but comes only in black, if monochromatic interiors are not your thing, you should cross the tC off your list now. The dash plastics have an appealing visual texture; however like the rest of the competition the plastics are best looked at, not touched. Still, the interior delivers exactly what I expect from 19-large. What’s unexpected however is the thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel. The flat-bottomed-tiller on our loaner car was covered in soft perforated leather, equipped with comfortable grips and perfect seams. As if this wasn’t enough, the airbag cover and plastic spokes are executed with feel and precision beyond what I’ve experienced in some recent Lexus debuts. Seriously, this Scion steering wheel has to be one of the best wheels I have ever gripped in my life (sorry BMW). The real wheel-surprise is that the wheel is actually standard on the tC, not an option.

Sadly however not all is rosy inside the tC’s cabin. The entry level market usually means leaving out most “luxury” features. I’m usually fine with a bargain basement ride not having power seats or automatic climate control, but base Kia and Hyundai models come standard with Bluetooth phone integration these day. While Bluetooth can be added by optioning up a $300 BLU Logic accessory or stepping up to the $1999 Scion Navigation system, this is a safety feature that should standard by now as many states require some sort of hands-free system. For a brand that focuses on the tech-savvy genberation, this omission could be a deal-killer for some.

Anyone that knows someone in their 20s knows that to young people a good audio system is almost as important as the car itself. To that end Scion provides shoppers with no-less than four head-unit options. From the base Pioneer system to the $1999 Scion navigation system with HD radio and Bluetooth, it’s most obvious that the car was designed with the aftermarket in mind. Radios can easily be replaced with aftermarket units if buyers prefer and a quick Google search yields plenty of options for integrating systems with the standard steering-wheel controls. While many buyers may choose this route, the rest should know that although iPod integration is standard on the base Pioneer system, actually controlling your iPod via the head unit is a tedious and cumbersome task. Buyers who want a factory warranted system but are interested in some options will appreciate the Scion SNS200 nav system which is probably the most flexible factory head unit ever conceived. The SNS200 offers a long list of integrator pleasing features such as 6-channel pre-amp output, aftermarket rear seat LCD support, DVD video player, aux input jacks, etc.

Under the hood, the tC now boasts the same 2.5L four-cylinder engine as the 2011 Toyota Camry. Rated at 180HP and 173 lb-ft of torque, the engine is finally a willing companion. Despite the modest gain in power (19 HP and 9 lb-ft) vs the old engine, the “feel” is greatly improved as is low end torque. The old 2.4L engine always seemed out of breath, a feeling I never encountered during my week with the tC. While I am glad that Toyota has provided a 6-speed manual option (as tested), the heavy clutch and manual-matching-economy of the automatic make Toyota’s 6-seed slushbox my transmission of choice. Speaking of economy, we averaged a combined 27MPG in our week long test of the tC, besting the EPA estimate of 31MPG highway/23 city/26 combined by one MPG. Sure the automatic takes a toll on acceleration (8.4 vs 7.6 seconds to 60), but for every day driving the auto’s gear ratios are a perfect match to the Scion’s dynamics and personality.

Out on the road the tC delivers a solid, stable ride. The chassis and stability control are tuned to allow the driver a bit of fun out on windy mountain roads, but prevent anything approaching risky behavior. The new electric power steering is pleasantly unobtrusive, albeit a tad over-boosted as most vehicles with this system tend to be. Toss the tC into sharp corners and the lower profile standard tires and 1”wider track (than the precious generation) are a welcome ally. Unfortunately some may find the ride delivered by the 18s a bit too harsh for every-day driving in America’s pot-hole riddled urban jungle.

Still, the larger wheels look cool, and that’s what the tC is really all about: impressions. A quick prowl online will reveal a number of reviews critical of the handling abilities and steering feel of the tC. While I tend to agree with the fairly subjective analysis, I have to say that anyone who desires the tC to be a fire-breathing sports coupe is missing the point. If you want to do donuts in the school parking lot; get a rear-wheel-drive base model Hyundai Genesis. The tC provides a much more adult pleasing reality than the youth-hyped marketing material would suggest.

At the end of the day, the tC ends up being something of a fashion statement, and I’m actually OK with that. There’s a reason Generation X and Y have massive spending power but limited automotive budgets: they buy fashion. No other generation spends as much on a pair of jeans and accessories as the metro Gen X/Y. So when it comes to selecting a ride, the Scion may just deliver that right balance of sporty looks and comfortable driving reality. The only part missing? 20-somethings buyers with 20-grand in their pockets.

Scion provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

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65 Comments on “Review: 2011 Scion tC...”


  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I’m one of the old people who drive a Gen1 xB. I’m not the target market.
    Is it me, or is this just a reincarnation of the last Celica?
    For $18k, I’m shopping elsewhere.

  • avatar
    dave-the-rave

    Not meaning to be a d*ck about it, but “the hatchback-adverse in the crowd” should really be the  “hatchback-averse.” It’s a common error. (As is ‘reticent’ for ‘reluctant.’ And ‘refudiate’ for ‘refute.’)

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s not a perfect competitor to the tC, but the Juke really puts the whole Scion brand to shame.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Be more specific. I’d want to arson my neighbor’s home if he parked a Juke in my line of sight. Scions come with Corolla and Camry drivetrains that will last forever with little maintenance while Nissan shouldn’t need bleeding edge technology to make a compact hatchback that returns 21 mpg and takes seven and a half seconds to get to 60 mph, but they’ve included it anyway. As a former service writer, I wouldn’t wish a Nissan on my worst enemy. Nissan building a car as ugly and stupidly conceived as the Juke doesn’t change things for the better.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Be more specific.
       
      Sure.
       
      First, the Juke FWD CVT is EPA rated at 29MPG, anyone only getting 21 out of it must be a lead footed auto journalist. 7.5 0-60 is the same as you get with the tC.
       
      Second, the Juke does the “kind of sporty but still a fashion statement” thing way better than any Scion.  The fact that someone would want to burn it for it’s controversial styling is just icing.  The reasons to get a Scion over the Nissan all have to do with practical things. “Corolla powertrain!” “Look at the great Consumer Reports ratings” “decent resale!” These might be good reasons to buy a car, but it shows that Scion’s marketing as a hip, youthful brand are failing.
       
      Third, the Juke is legitimately more fun to drive than any Scion I’ve ever sampled.

    • 0 avatar
      caljn

      as a former service writer…
      Did you leave Nissan on some moral protest against the poor quality of their product or were you fired?
      I’m on my third Nissan and they each have been stellar performers.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Gotcha. I wouldn’t do anything to be hip, but I’m from a generation for which trying to be cool meant you’d already failed, and trying to buy cool was bound to lead somewhere unpleasant. Automotive journalists flogging the Scion tC achieved 25-27 mpg instead of 21 mpg while matching the Juke’s performance. Which is more impressive? People buying $19K cars need to make compromises. The ones that make intelligent and rational choices instead of ones based on fashion will always be better human beings.

      http://blog.caranddriver.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/2011-Nissan-Juke.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      caljn,

      I was a service writer at an all makes shop. I never worked for Nissan. My opinions on Nissans and their parts policies are based on how they stack up against those of every other volume car company in the US. I worked as a service writer while I was in the drawn out process of disolving a commercial real estate partnership, about 18 months as it worked out. I left in December 2006, at which time Nissan was still building complete garbage. Supposedly the Altimas they build today are better, but I’d strongly recommend letting someone else see how they age before believing it. I recently dated a woman who has a Sentra, I think it is a 2003. It needed a $1,200 exhaust manifold catalyst, and it turns out that ‘they all do that.’ It also had a bunch of oil leaks($1,200 estimate for fixing this too), a perpetual check engine light, an intermittent coolant leak, the paint fell off, and was generally junk with 90,000 miles. Had she bought a Civic or a Corolla for the same money at the same time, the biggest irritation would be turning down constant offers for her car.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @CJinSD:

      The ones that make intelligent and rational choices instead of ones based on fashion will always be better human beings.

      That’s all well and good, but it seems the whole reason that the Scion brand is failing is because these people that make “intelligent and rational choices instead of ones based on fashion” would rather drive a Corolla, Prius, Civic, Elantra, or Focus.
       
      Toyota markets Scion as a hipster attitude “FU” brand, but the vehicles don’t back that up when the best reasons to purchase one are fuel economy, reliability, and practicality (1st-gen xB).

    • 0 avatar
      Advo

      Were Ford and GM still building substandard quality vehicles in 2006?
       
      Wow, that’s 5 years ago. I can’t believe it’s 5 years gone by.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      Thanks, CJinSD, but I’ll stick to my own empirical evidence and information from sites like TrueDelta to make up my mind about Nissan.  Over the past 11 years, members of my family and I have owned 7 Nissan/Infiniti vehicles spanning model years from 1993 to 2007, new and used, with nary a hiccup along the way.
       
      Furthermore, the years you indict in your posts appear class-competitive for models like the Sentra and Altima on TrueDelta.
       
      I replaced my wife’s 2001 Camry in 2007 with a new Nissan Versa SL.  Her Camry’s 5S-FE 2.2L I4 was showing signs of the well-documented oil sludge issue, and given it’s age and mileage, I decided I wanted her in a newer vehicle without engine failure looming.  Did you encounter any of Toyota’s sludged engines during your time as a service writer?  The 1MZ V6 (ubiquitous in Toyota and Lexus lineup) was also included in this mess, from 1996-2001.
       
      I happen to agree with ajla’s original thesis about the Juke, too.
       

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Advo,

      I was still seeing GM cars which were not designed with a thought for service past the lifespan of original wear parts. The best thing any of our mechanics had to say about them was that they created work for mechanics. Fords were hit and miss. By my math, December 2006 was pretty much 4 years ago. I’ve followed the auto industry for more than 30 years, and throughout that time Detroit has claimed that they’re now serious about building competitive, high quality vehicles constantly. Believing them now is right up there with believing a politician.

      Macca,

      Do what you’ve got to do. I flinched every time a Nissan pulled into our service line, and one of the most entertaining things that ever happened was a Nissan rep coming in with a new Nissan Quest that had a flat tire. The tires were some random 18 inch size. Nissans are usually a size off of their Honda and Toyota competition, so Nissan drivers are stuck with limited, often expensive, options. The tire for this minivan was a special order only offered by one brand at the time. Isn’t an exotic tire what you want on your MINIVAN? There was nothing I could do for this cretin, as nobody in the state had the tire. He had to drive from Virginia to Indy on a donut as a result. I told him that now he knows how life is for his victims, as repairing Nissans is a thankless task frought with angry customers who know they’re being ripped off. He admitted that a Nissan parts counter staffer needed at least 10 years to get a feel for undocumented running changes that had been made to their products, although he didn’t go so far as saying 10 years was the magic number because they don’t stock parts for anything older than that.

      I never saw a Toyota with a sludging issue. Oil changes for Toyotas are about $24, so our customers got them done with regularity. I saw plenty of sludged engines, but they were all German cars of the long interval type, with the exception of one prematurely dead Jaguar V8. Maybe the problem is common with Jaguars too, but who has bought a jaguar in the past 20 years?

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      @CJ

      Just what exactly is/was the point of ultra-long oil change intervals other than supposed reduced maintenance costs 15-20k between oil changes seems risky to me and I’m just a dumb young guy. I had a service tech at my local Honda dealer tell me that he was seeing Civics with that maintenance minder system going 15k miles and still having clear oil or something like that. I’ve always gone every 3-5 in anything I’ve driven.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      tankinbeans,

      Your guess is as good as mine. Some people argue in favor of long intervals on environmental grounds, as less oil use is better. This ignores that a meaningful percentage of engines don’t last anywhere near as long as they should as a result, but environmental types aren’t good at the big picture. Manufacturers probably care the most about consumers who keep cars for less than 4 years, and few sludging issues reach fruition in that window, while issues with crummy service departments are a very real risk any time a car comes in for maintenance. Eliminate the maintenance, eliminate opportunities for the dealer to cost the car company future sales. People who keep their cars after the warranty ends get the shaft, but who cares about cheepskates like that?

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      @ CJinSD:  Contrary to what you’ve implied, the Toyota engine sludging issue was not limited to those who were too lazy/cheap to get their oil changed at the manufacturer-suggested intervals.  Enough owners with meticulous service records prompted a closer look at the issue than just issuing a “get yer oil changed every 3,000 miles” statement.  Toyota even changed the design of their 1MZ V6 (Camry, Sienna, RX, etc) to improve oil circulation and issued a fairly aggressive repair program.
       
      As for your Nissan Quest story, I’m glad you have another random anecdote to add to your confirmation bias that Nissans are horrible cars, but it’s pretty weak.  Tirerack.com shows the generation of Quest you speak of to have come with either 225/65-16 or 225/60-17 as the OEM options.  They stock 10 tires that fit the 16″ size and 42 options that fit the 17″.  The OEM tire for both sizes was the Goodyear Eagle LS-2, a mediocre tire by my personal experience with it on a Honda Element SC (225/55-18) but hardly exotic in this application.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      CJinSD: “Nissans are usually a size off of their Honda and Toyota competition, so Nissan drivers are stuck with limited, often expensive, options.”
       
      I know I’m gonig wayyy off topic here, but this is the Truth About Cars, after all, so I figured I’d dig in and see if this assertion held water.  I’ve chosen a few models from the aforementioned manufacturers from a couple model years (2001 and 2005).
       
      OEM Tire Sizes:
      2001 Infiniti G20: 195/65-15
      2001 Toyota Camry: 205/65-15
      2001 Honda Accord: 195/65-15
      2001 Nissan Altima: 195/65-15
       
      2005 Altima S: 215/60-16 (215/55-17 on 3.5 SE)
      2005 Camry XLE V6: 215/60-16 (205/65-15 on lesser trims, 215/55-17 on SE V6)
      2005 Honda Accord: 205/60-16 (various trims)

      Some minivans, for grins:
      2005 Honda Odyssey LX: 235/65-16
      2005 Nissan Quest: 225/65-16 (225/60-17 optional)
      2005 Toyota Sienna XLE: 215/65-16 (225/60-17 optional)
       
      Economy Cars?
      2001 Toyota Corolla LE: 185/65-14
      2001 Honda Civic LX: 185/70-14
      2001 Nissan Sentra GXE: 185/65-14

      2005 Toyota Corolla LE: 195/65-15
      2005 Honda Civic EX: 195/60-15
      2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S: 195/60-15 (195/55-16 optional)

       
      Any other myths we need to dispel while we’re here?
       

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Although there may be plenty of alternatives for people looking for tires for their now 4 year old minivans, there was nothing to be had except a story about a Goodyear strike effecting deliveries of the OEM tire when the vans were new. Keep in mind that neighborhood shops aren’t the tire rack too. People often need a tire to complete a trip, and getting one shipped in 24 hours isn’t as good as having 5 to choose from in your size in stock. Sizes change with model generations, but examples I recall of misses were Maximas riding on special order 225/65R15s when 215/65R15s were common on comparable sedans and an attractive young woman who had some stupid trim package on her Sentra that required a 16 inch size that our suppliers only had in an expensive and unexceptional Michelin tire. Most people don’t plan far enough out to take advantage of resources like internet tire vendors, and even those who do sometimes get caught on the road with a destroyed tire. The only time a Honda or Toyota driver gets screwed because of this is when the phrase run-flat is involved. I’ve seen it happen to many a Nissan driver. 

      Fortunately for me, it is no longer my problem. I’ve gone back to IT and one of my Nissan driving friends had the good fortune of having her Altima totaled in a wreck and replacing it with a Mazda 6 while the one with the Sentra that has a burnt manifold catalyst, oil leaks, paint that fell off after 5 years, and little hope of ever really passing smog is no longer my responsibility. Keep driving your Nissans though. It will catch up with you eventually, and I suspect you deserve no better.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      I’m actually a very happy owner of an ’08 Mazda3 GT.  Nissan doesn’t offer anything quite like (few do) it and it has been a great car for two years.
       
      Nice to go for a personal attack after your blanket statement is proven wrong, though.  Stay classy.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I like it, mentally, but I’m already out of their demographic.  If I was going to be swinging single for a few more years, maybe.  (But I’m happy I’m not going to be in that boat.)

    • 0 avatar
      Amendment X

      That’s the problem – isolating demographics. When you market cars as ONLY for kids, ONLY kids (if anyone) will aspire to them, short of budget-minded seniors. When are car companies going to realize there is NO MARKET for 16 year olds because they get HAND ME DOWN vehicles from parents. It is an insane strategy, unless you can provide the product for like $10,000 new. Maybe Tata could pull it off some day.
       
      They should be targeting mid-20s people, no younger. By that point, college grads are moving out and getting jobs (maybe not in this economy!). I am aware Scion has a very broad demographic in mind, but you risk alienating all of the wealth of people in their mid-20s when you include snot-nosed teenagers in the demographic analysis.
       
      They should all be fired.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    Wow I really wanted to like this updated model, but nothing in the article makes me want to run out and plunk down cash for this.  At and that price, not such a raving bargain even at my advanced age.  The whole car is so very, very black and that interior is completely depressing.  Fuel economy nothing to write home about either.  Oh well.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    This makes the 3rd review of the new Scion TC on TTAC (Although Jack’s review did include the TDR brake package).  Can we stick a fork in the TC?  Well, at least until they offer a factory super charger as an option.

  • avatar
    JoelW

    Hi, I have no problems with your review of the tC, but can you please fact check yourself regarding your characterization of Gen X and Gen Y? This is not a matter of semantics… Gen X and Gen Y could not be more different. I think if you simply refer to “Gen Y” (a.k.a. “The Millennials”) in your review it is just fine as it stands.
    Gen X’ers are approximately 30-45 years in age and in rough terms this is the generation that falls between the Baby Boomers and the children of the Baby Boomers. From my admitted unscientific perspective I would say that Gen X’ers on the whole are practical, pragmatic, and unassuming. I am referring to *tendencies*, of course. There are always going to be exceptions.
    Sorry to divert from the world of cars, but this lumping of Gen Y and Gen X together was simply too huge of an oversight for me not to comment on it.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    If they would just make a proper 4 door hatchback version with this engine, transmission, and handling.  The xD is too underpowered, the xB is too heavy and boxy.
    Damnit, just make a GTI that is reliable.  That steering wheel is a great start.

    • 0 avatar

      A four-door hatch is rumored to be on the way. We discussed this when I reviewed the car back in September:
      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/review-2011-scion-tc/

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Michael – missed that.  If that comes true, and the FT ends up a Scion, this deathwatch talk may be quite inappropriate for the scion brand.
       
      I just checked out Scion’s website and I rather like this in white.  Keep the nose, put a GTI’ish hatch on it, and some plaid seats and I’ll look back on my old 07 GTI like the girl I dated in high school: fun, thought I was in love, but doesn’t hold a candle to the girl I’m married to when it comes to the whole package.

    • 0 avatar
      JJ

      I don’t think it’s an option for ToMoCo to give the FT86 to Scion. The Toyota brand itself needs that car just as much if not more than Scion does. If they were going to sell it as a Scion (which is a US brand only, so not so convenient for what’s supposed to be a global halo-car) they would probably have to sell it at a somewhat lower price than when they are selling at as a Toyota and/or Subaru.
      In Europe there’s actually some talk that it will either be sold as a Subaru or that a Subaru version will be sold next to the Toyota version, but that’s a bit different since Subaru’s pricepoint is equal or a little above Toyota’s anyway.

      So although it would make all kinds of sense for Scion to sell some kind of slightly cheaper decontented version of the FT86, I’m afraid it makes more sense for ToMoCo to not let that happen.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      A reliable 4 door GTI?  Mazda already makes one.  Actually 2… The Mazda3 hatch and Mazdaspeed3… choose your budget/performance needs.

      I dislike Scion mostly because it was designed around marketing and hype.  The cars and drivability come second to the style and “technology”.  The previous-gen Celica was a GREAT car, the MR2, the Supra, etc.  Toyota used to appeal to drivers.  They blew it, and invented Scion in some half-assed, marketing department run, focus-group driven attempt to overcome thier bland products.  Instead of just making good cars, they keep making boring crap.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Great review. The Toyota Celica happens to be one of my favorite vehicles and the Tc appears on the surface to be a reincarnation of the 1990-1993 Toyota Celica GT-S.
    The price point is a huge issue here…. as it was back then. The Kia Forte can be loaded up with cash back and a longer warranty to spare. The Hyundai is very much the same deal.
    But neither of those really get the heart pumping. Unfortunately cars like the Tc are no longer going against sport coupes. Cruze, Fit, Fiesta, Juke, and at least a half dozen other models will be in direct competition with the Tc.
    This is not 1991. The era where only a Maxima would be considered a sporty ‘four door’ has been replaced with a world where dozens of cars look like shaved, wedgy jellybeans. The Tc will more than likely have two years of OK sales at most vis-a-vis the competition. Then it will just languish.
    How can they increase sales immediately? Call it the Scion Celica and find a healthy way of adding 30 to 50 more horsepower in the mid rpm ranges while keeping it under $20k.

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      Having owned a 92 Celica GTS I have to agree . That car also had a nice interior , great stereo , and awful gas mileage for a 4 cylinder – 22/24 mpg average . In 94 with the death of the turbo All Trac the Celica basically became a gutless bloated ‘chick’ car until it’s redo in 2000 . The original Celica was a fuel efficient sporty model based on the Corolla , putting a bigger thirstier Camry engine in this car to appease those who always whine about lack of torque (but are too cheap to buy something with a V6) basically ruins the car for those looking for fuel efficiency with some sportiness . Though to be fair the tC was never very fuel efficient , nor a very good replacement for the last generation Celica . A nice looking car , but with fuel economy only 3 mpg better than my Tacoma it’s not something I’d ever consider with gas prices only going up and up in the future .

  • avatar
    Jacob

    I must admit, the speaker setup in the door looks pretty sweet. It looks like they got there tweeters, midrange, and midbass. I recently got into car audio tweaking hobby, and based on the description, it must be a nice car for the audio crowd.

  • avatar
    Ronman

    The only way Toyota can get the youth back into their car is to design some youth into them… and come up with a Halo sports car (LF-A does not count) get itself back into a proper motor-sport like IRC or WRC with a model like the Celica or Supra and then maybe people will see Toyota’s as cool car and buy into them. building a sporty looking car aimed at young people doesn’t work… as much as they value fashion, young people want to belong to a hip brand, and Toyota’s hip is well and truly on its way to be dislocated if they keep pumping the boring cars they do today… again, they might be great cars, but that is not what the youth want…character counts above all else in a car…

  • avatar
    drifter

    Nissan is under-rated as far reliability is concerned as much as Toyota is overrated. Last time I checked no Nissans had sticky brake  pedals or sludgy engines. A friend on mine has Maxima which never saw a sevice bay for more tha 28kmiles -not once, even for oil change. Try that with a Camry.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Yay, antidotal evidence!  I knew a person that went 41k in their Stratus from when they bought it new to the first oil change.  Does that mean that a 2000 Dodge Stratus > your friend’s Nissan Maxima? 

      Drift yourself into a statistics class.

    • 0 avatar

      If he takes a Stats class, will you take Intro to English?

      Anecdotal.* So close.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      @ Quentin

      Because I’m not the only one that will notice this, I’m assuming you mean anecdotal evidence. :)

      EDIT: Shoot I forgot to refresh before my comment.

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      I knew a guy who had a 4wd Tercel that he never changed the oil in – just started adding it after it started to burn oil and he got over 180K out of it before he junked it . Probably would’ve gotten another 100K out of that 4 wheel pet carrier had he actually changed the oil every now and then and even he admitted as much when he went looking for something comparable and couldn’t find anything as indestructible with the mpg/4wd of that Toyota . Bragging about abusing a vehicle only makes a person look the fool when they realize they got a good one and would’ve had that car far longer had they not neglected it .

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Balderdash!  This is what I get for being a poor speller, relying on spellcheck, and not proofreading.  And yes, I meant anecdotal.  I’m quite good at stats though.  haha

      Yes, I realize my usage of balderdash is improper as well. I like using it as an exclamation.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      @Quentin

      I understand about the over-reliance on spell check. Everybody has a computer so our brains atrophy. I usually have to write something down on paper before I’m convinced it’s correct. Even then sometimes I use the incorrect form of a word, usually using piece when I mean peace. Statistics sounds fun in a not-terribly-fun-or-exciting kind of way.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      tankinbeans – thankfully I frequent ruthless forums.  As I make mistakes, I get called out on them, and I don’t make the mistake ever again.  I once posted that I was a duel major when discussing degrees in college.  The remarks about me meeting people at noon with pistols made sure that mistake never happened again.  haha  As far as stats, what you are looking at has a major impact on how much fun it is.  If you are seeking out the source of a problem, some pretty interesting trends can show up cleverly using stats.

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      Best thing I ever did on the computer was switch to the Firefox browser from IE about a year and a half ago . Writing antidotal would’ve automatically underlined that word in red identifying it as misspelled . Right clicking on it would’ve given a list of antidote, antipodal ,anecdotal , and antisocial . Firefox never typed over written text after going back to make a change either , it’s a bit faster than IE , and isn’t targeted as much by hackers as most use IE . Download it and if you don’t like it it’s just another icon on the home page you don’t have to use . But give yourself a chance to get used to it and you’ll never go back to Internet Explorer !

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I am always amazed that companies strike their breats and ask for divine intervention when they percieve that “old” people are buying their products.  As if people my age can strike the death knell for any product, at any time.  As Steve Martin used to say, “Well, Excuuuuuuse ME!”

    I am now 60, and i am sure that brands marketed to me when i was a youngster, but since then I have become much less brand sensative, refusing to wear any clothing with the name of it displayed on it for example.  I dont drink soda (so coke and pepsi ads didnt work), buy package food (so much for “TV dinners that were forced down me).  I dont own a TV.  I take european vacations regualrly, unlike going to Wildwood for a week when i was a kid. I could go on and on.

    And in amazement, marketers occasionally realize that  “old” people buy products that appeal to them, and that they can afford.  Imagine that, acting like a consumer.  Wow.  This information is usually found in the middle of the fourth page of addendums. 

    So to all the companies that wanna diss me and my money, so be it.  I will take it elsewhere.  I may not be in the 15 to 25 demographic thank god, but I have more money than I have ever had, and I can actually spend it without asking any one – least of all nervous corporate entities, if i can spend it. 

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      I’m on the younger end of the scale (for now), but I agree.  It’s silly to get worked up about older people buying a youth-oriented car, provided that it IS selling among younger people.  From the stats I’ve seen (none of which are recent), Scion is doing well among people under 30.  So what’s the big deal if some over-60s buy them too?

      We have more similar automotive needs than people in between, who might have kids, professional clients to drive around, etc.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I think this is a great little car, especially since its a hatchback. The power to mileage ratio seems about perfect and overall it should be fun to drive sporty-ish front wheel drive package. I told my (over 65 year old) mother when her Saturn finally stops running she should get a tC.
     
    The car’s only real flaw: its $20K. This thing needs to start at 16K and max out 18.5K, the market for $20K+ cars is pretty crowded with better choices, especial if you can stand a slightly used 2 year old model. I do give them props for offering a radio with RCA preouts, this allows you to easily add an amp and a subwoofer for great tunes without ripping the dash apart and starting over. A turbo version pushing just north of 200 HP would be awesome.
     
    FYI – I was shocked to see the iQ is up on Scion website, along with Fiat 500 this really does spell the end for Smart.

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      If you look at the car stereo it’s mounted in an opening that any double din car stereo would fit into – it almost looks like an aftermarket unit itself . I wish more cars would do that instead of the integrated into the dash design of most crappy factory units today ! In fact pre-wired speakers and just a covered over hole in the dash is what I would want in a new car today as aftermarket units have many more features for much less cost . And I agree , there’s no reason TRD can’t make a supercharger for it like they used to for the Matrix .

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Zombo, +1.  It’s beyond stupid to for car manufacturers to spend the R&D dollars to develop a custom  stereo when there’s a bazillion aftermarket units available that cost less and perform better.

  • avatar
    deco_droid

    I don’t usually comment on mistakes in articles, but come on, “genberation”?  I’m guessing this review was written in a bit of a hurry…

  • avatar

    Not sure if the steering wheel is leather wrapped, but it feels a notch below my 2008 (last generation) Corolla S’s, which I consider quite good for a sub-$20k car.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I’m glad the TC exists, but I’m not paying for any 18K new car on the market. I feel angry thinking about how brainwashed someone must be to buy a new car without seriously considering a used one.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      It’s not always a brainwash situation. Sometimes a person’s only option is to buy new because that is all the bank will finance for them. Having grown up in a credit challenged family I know that sometimes you hit the “s— my car is busted” moment and need a car and, if you’re credit challenged you’re not as likely to have $3000 to plunk down on a used car all at once so you’re forced to finance. Since a bank is betting that the car will end up being repossessed they want there to be enough value left in 1-2 years so they can regain some of their investment, and new cars are easier for finance guys to fudge so you won’t necessarily need a down payment. While I agree that used cars are usually a pretty good deal, some people are unable to finance them.

      Any finance guys out there feel free to tell me I’m wrong, but this is my reading on the sitaution.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      Yes, because you’d have to be brainwashed to want to spend your hard-earned money on a blemish-free new car that you get to maintain the way you want from day one.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I feel angry thinking about how brainwashed someone must be to buy a new car without seriously considering a used one.
       
      If that gets you angry, you’re probably going to explode when you find out how many people take western political systems and mainstream media at face value!
       
      I bought my current car new almost seven years ago.  Is the fact that people here want 60% of new value for five-year-old compact imports with 60k miles enough to calm you down?  When I’m done with the car sometime after 2020 I’ll calculate how much richer I’d have been if I would have found a well-maintained private-sale vehicle with a full service and ownership history for a great price.

  • avatar
    kobo1d

    Gen Y here, this car is a total miss. Topped out price = Base Mustang.
    But really, buying a new car is simply unaffordable for most of my age group. Used cars are such an amazing bargain.
    The target market for this car is the the spoiled teen daughter of an affluent upper-middle class family. She will not be buying the car with her own money. Mom and Dad wouldn’t personally drive it, but as a graduation present? It is the perfect balance of Toyotaness for the parents and pseudo-sportiness/coolness for Jessica.
     

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I’d test drive this if I were in the market for a coupe.  It doesn’t seem to have any glaring faults from where I’m sitting.
     
    While Bluetooth can be added by optioning up a $300 BLU Logic accessory or stepping up to the $1999 Scion Navigation system, this is a safety feature that should standard by now as many states require some sort of hands-free system.
     
    It probably should be standard, but I’d call it a convenience or ticket-avoidance feature rather than a safety feature.  Haven’t we determined that it’s not one-handed driving that causes problems, but the distraction of the cell-phone conversation?

  • avatar

    Looks like an old AMC AMX to me. I am old and I own a second Gen xB. That one looks like a station wagon to me.

  • avatar

    let me say from a price point you can buy this car for about the same as a corolla s and now tell me which car is cooler to drive. I would take this car over a corolla anyday. its the fact that its a 2 door and hatchback make it cool because those types of cars are rare. has definatly more power than the corolla or civic. also if you want exclusivity this is the car. its not a car you see everywhere. what other kind of coupes can you get. a civic and a kia forte and thats about it. on price its hard to get anything close even a comparable mustang with 18′s cost about 25,000. i like the price the great sterero. little things like the room in the back way more than civic coupe and the handle to move the seat for getting in and out is realy easy to operate. cheap cars have vibrating panels when you turn up the stereo this car wont.

  • avatar

    I like the Kia Forte Koup for the price. Sit in it sometime with the black leather seats, very nice.

  • avatar
    13withinfinity

    I just recently bought one of these guys and I noticed one thing about it..
     
    When I have the sunroof open, and the windows down I get a million and a half comments about how good looking my car is, really. Everybody on the road seems impressed enough to mention it to me when I was just looking for a practical but not so bland car..
    Plus it drives nice and gets 32 to the gallon, bonus points. Either way, Toyota must have done something right because I get nothing but compliments on how cool it looks.
     
    Then again it could just be California. I’m one of those 20 somethings, by the way.

  • avatar

    I bought one of these a few months back as a divorce present to myself.

    The things I wanted in a car:
    - 2 doors (non-negotiable – I don’t want another 4-door)
    - sub $20K price
    - dimensions designed for a long-legged 6’1 dude.
    - manual transmission (non-negotiable)
    - reasonable power
    - reasonable fuel economy
    - Honda/Toyota reliability

    There’s not a lot out there. I’d considered a used Accord coupe, but try finding even a new one with a manual. Also, the resale is so good on them that by the time they drop into the <$20K range, they usually have over 50K miles.

    The Civic isn't an option – the legroom is not what it used to be in Civics. At one time, it was amazing; you looked for mile markers on the floormat on the way to the pedals.

    The Kia Forte is interesting, but priced about the same. For the same price, I'm not going to buy a Kia; they seem to have their act together, but I'll give them about 5-10 more years before I'm going to plunk down $18K. (was $17,995 after the military rebate)

    The tC met all my needs perfectly. C&D tested it at 6.9 0-60 with a stick, almost even with the SI, but that's beside the point – I have a sport-bike for acceleration, and when I can goose it to 60 in 3.5 seconds, most cars feel pokey. 6.9, 9.9 seconds… what's the difference in the grand scheme of things. On the plus side, unlike the SI, it's nice and torquey without having to scream it to 4000+ RPM on every shift.

    The Mustang is just a bit more, and was very tempting, but I have two kids that are with me sometimes, and I need a back seat that is functional, especially as they grow older.

    I have gotten quite a few compliments on it, which rather surprised me. I did cover the seats in leather (Clazzio tailored covers), but thats <$500. Overall, it seemed to hit all the right notes, and I plan to pay it off within a year and drive it until the wheels fall off.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      @Steve Boles,

      My wife and I are in the process of looking for HER next car (the last several have been my choice)…given that we’ve run separate households for over 2.5 years now and that she has had to put up with multiple deployments for me, I figured she was due. We were bang-on for getting her a 2011 Elantra Limited, but I drove her by every dealership in town, just cruising the lots to see what got her interested. She had mentioned seeing several tC’s on the road, and liked how they looked. One drive, and I won’t mention here (NSFW) what she promised me later on when we got home, but she loved the car. Is it the “best” out there? Probably not…numerous folks here will gladly tell us that: model XYZ from whoever is faster, cheaper, handles better, etc…but at the end of the day, she wants a car that she can turn around and look at as she walks away from it and smile. We, too, are considering having the seats redone in leather and are hoping to do it for much less than our first quote of $1200 (yikes!). The upgraded Alpine stereo was probably overkill for us geezers (she, 45, me 40), but since our son is off at college, I guess we can play a little, too!
      I do like the fact that underneath it all, it is still a Toyota. While most Toyota products these days kind of bore me, the tC was a most welcome surprise. Make ours the “cement” color, and my wife will be happy (and thus, so will I!). Enjoy yours…we should have ours within the next few weeks.
      BTW…you mentioned tailored covers…how are those working, and how well do they fit? My wife and I were discussing actually having the seats reupholstered (but that gets pricey). If the covers look and feel like original seating surfaces, maybe that is a better alternative…


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