By on November 3, 2011
Two door cars used to be everywhere. From loaded up Cutlasses and Accords. To entry level Escorts, Neons and Civics. Nearly every popular car of 20 years ago offered a hatchback or coupe variant for those seeking a touch of sport in their daily driver.

Then something happened. America gradually got older… and bigger. Four door cars went from the plain-jane three square look of the 1980’s, to designs that evoked the priciest of exotics. Advances in steel fabrication and body stamping were just the beginning of what soon became a new era where four door cars completely dominated their two door sisters.

“Why deal with the inconvenience of a two door?” said a buying public knee-deep in aging baby boomers. Why indeed when you could have everything from a Camry to an SUV if you wanted the pretense of a sporty and powerful ride. Hatchbacks soon gave way to oversized coupes, which gave way to the reality that so-called ‘sporty’ designs were now available in every segment of the car market.

To survive for another generation, a two door compact like the Scion tC has to offer a lot more than just a ‘sporty’ driving experience.

Everyone on first glance assumes that the new Scion tC is a coupe. The side profile has the prototypical coupe look with a short trunk in the rear combined with an upright roof that seemingly sacrifices sport for space.
But the ‘coupe’ compromise doesn’t quite happen in the Scion tC. You open the hatch and the rear glass lifts up to reveal an opening that can swallow up… well… a bit more space than a coupe if the seats are folded down. It may not be an old Saab hatchback’s worth of space. But it will work for 90+% of buyers of this vehicle. Consider this an achievement in an age where consumers still complain if a car has only two cupholders.
The unusual styling is pretty much the only compromise I can note in this car. Otherwise the Scion tC serves in today’s market as the spiritual successor to the Toyota Celica. If you’re willing to pay about two grand more than a mid-level Corolla, you get a flashy, very well priced, reliable, good fuel economy car that is surprisingly easy to live with.
The interior is an embodiment of this ‘easy to live with’ theme. Open the door. Slide (or fall) into the driver’s seat… and it takes only a minute or two to figure out where everything is.Three simple knobs for the a/c, heat and defrost controls. A Lexus inspired steering wheel that is safely removed from the current fad of putting 17 different functions on it. Throw in a premium sound system with 8 speakers and 300 watts (along with Bluetooth, Ipod compatibility, and USB port); a sunroof, a well placed skyroof that helps minimize the claustrophobic feeling of most rear seat passengers, and you’re sitting pretty. Especially since the sticker comes in at only $19,275.

Everything you will usually touch in the Scion tC feels like it should. However it’s also simple to see where Toyota performed their ‘cost containment’. The door panel plastics. The underside of the dashboard. The carpet in the hatch. Everything you don’t touch is simply ‘functional’, which quickly translates into dour and stark if you’re not the type who is into black interiors with minimal ornamentation.Want a car that is bright and cheery? Go get a car driven by hamsters.

The tC is a stunningly no nonsense vehicle in an era where every other competitor has a gimmick.

On the road I felt everything… but it wasn’t a bad feeling. I would consider it a taut ride. On rough surfaces the tC will transmit the ‘thunks’ into your ears without any other bodily discomfort.

Scion owner... or marketeer? (Courtesy Eight08Customs)

Keep in mind that this new Scion tC now has the youngest average age of ownership out of any vehicle today (26 years old, really). So if you no longer like to feel or hear the road in your daily commute, there are countless softer alternatives out there.

On the road you also get the feeling that this vehicle is made out of one thick piece of steel. The fit and finish is exceptional. To the point where I would have not been surprised if Toyota had simply taken a Lexus and just simply cheapened the interior a bit. Make that quite a bit.

The tC is not a luxury coupe by any stretch. But the seats and road isolation are good enough on the highway that I still felt great after 7 hours of driving. Not a lot of sub-$20,000 cars with a ‘sporty’ ride can offer that real world comfort.

On the highway, I kept the speed right at 80 mph and managed to get 31 mpg. That was a surprising number along with the 28 mpg I got around town.Unless you put the pedal down, the 6-speed automatic will be squarely pegged at maximizing fuel economy. It can be fast if you want it to. But 95+% of the time you will be driving a frugal 2.5 Liter 180 horsepower engine that appreciates the low end of the power band.

Those who want to redline it all the time should definitely go with the manual. Like most modern automatics with manual overrides, the one in the Scion has a disconcerting delay that kills most of the real world fun. Shift. Wait. Click. It gets pretty old. But I can’t fault the tC for this since nearly every other model in the marketplace short of a VW shifts the same way.

What was more impressive was that the 2.5L 180 horsepower engine constantly turned at about 2400 rpm while going 80 through some fierce grades . Not once through the Smoky Mountains did the tC have to downshift from 6th gear. Not even in those rare times when I had to drive the double nickel while going uphill due to traffic. A lot of owners will appreciate the fact this car doesn’t drone on in high rpms when faced with these situations.

What’s not to like? A few things. In a world where even the cheapest vehicles have raised seating positions, the tC is low to the road. Those longing for the panoramic views offered in sporty coupes of a generation ago will be disappointed. The thick A-pillars give a bit of a distance to the road as you go. Road warriors usually like this distance. Many enthusiasts do not. You will have to judge this for yourself.

The tC is also not an overwhelming speedster on the road. A long list of publications clock the 0 to 60 at around 8.5 seconds with the 6-speed automatic. In real world measurements, the tC has all the power you need for the real world… but not for the race. The acceleration is always there. But it’s not the type that pushes you way back in the seat and gives you some serious g’s. Aspiring ricers and speed demons should look elsewhere.

Finally,  I have a big bone to pickwith the Southeast Distributor of Toyotas who assess ridiculous price premiums on the tC and other models. Back in 1994 I had to buy a new Toyota Camry in New Jersey instead of Atlanta. Why? Because if you wanted ABS and a sunroof the distributor added about $1500 in bogus options.

From ‘window etching’ of the VIN number (because window thieves were SO common back in the day). To their three cent spray version of Scotchguard. I even recall a phony wood package that had worse long-term wear issues than anything else ever put on Toyota.I ended up flying to New Jersey and spending $200 to save $1500. Fast forward 17 years later and the Toyota distributor adds a ‘Navigation’ upgrade that didn’t work at all on more than one occasion. Total cost added to the MSRP? $1499. You also get assessed $109 for floormats in a new car… but don’t worry! The Scion tC now comes with a tightwad exuding level of gas in the tank according to the window sticker. 6 whole gallons for no charge!

All kidding aside, if you happen to live in the southeast I would keep a watchful eye on the window sticker and negotiate out of the region if need be. For anyone else who happens to be considering a VW Beetle, Kia Forte, base Mini Cooper, or any number of four door competitors that offer a sporty oriented vibe, you should add the Scion tC to your list. Just make sure you follow the advice of Tony Bennett. The tC is only a good choice for those ‘among the very young at heart’.

I received seven free meals, three free hotel rooms, several tankfuls of  gas, and insurance  for this review. All except one tank of gas and insurance were provided exclusively by Ed Niedermeyer during our journey through Chattanooga and Nashville. No opossums were cooked in the engine bay during the course our long drive through Appalachia… but we did consider it.

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77 Comments on “CPO To Go: 2011 Scion tC...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The death of the two-door has more to do with young people than old, and more to do with the changing perception of style and sport than with age and size.

    Old (rich) people still buy coupes. Old people (and young people who think like old people) still lust after two-doors. Other than a few cars targeted at teenage girls (the Kia Forte, the Civic coupe) most “young” cars are four-doors, if not four-door hatchbacks.

    But today’s (relative) youth, between having had to be crammed into two-doors in their infancy and coming of age in the Era of the Sports Compact, don’t associate two doors with anything other than unnecessary ingess.

    Recall that this is the generation that defined sportiness relative the Impreza WRX, not the Ford Mustang, and affordable luxury as the VW Jetta or leased BMW 3-series sedan, and some Buick land-yacht with two doors each longer than a Honda Civic.

    I actually really like the tC, but even if I was 25 and not 35 I’d still walk past it and get a four- or five-door.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      This. Also, coupes just look awkward based on cars with high beltlines and stubby SUVish styling.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I’m not so sure about that. I think it might be the opposite, actually.

        For example, the Forte Koup is a good-looking car, and the two-door Civic isn’t half-bad either. But the sedans are almost as good, drive the same, and ask less of their owners in terms of practicality compromise.

    • 0 avatar
      A Caving Ape

      Agree completely. The status symbol cars of us in our 20′s (that are actually attainable) all come as 4-doors. Your 3-series and A4 (and sport versions thereof), the WRXes and Evos. If you can have status, sporting pretense, AND practicality, why would you even consider a coupe?

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        Oddly enough in 2000 I bought one of the first 4 door Impreza RSs because just about every RS out there was a 2 door. Of course the next Impreza body style didn’t even offer a coupe in any trim and since that’s when the WRX arrived everyone thinks of the Impreza in those terms.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I loved my ’01 Impreza 2.5RS sedan. The sedan looked a lot better than the coupe, too.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      For the life of me, I can’t see the appeal of coupes. If the car has more than two seats, two doors just don’t cut it. The whole ‘sport’ thing doesn’t make sense, either–two doors don’t make a car any sportier than a moon roof does.

      Also, the added door length needed for a coupe make them that much more of a hassle in parking lots/garages.

      A reasonable compromise is those little half-doors like the RX-8 had. They keep the size of the doors reasonable & make accessing the back manageable without taking up too much space.

      • 0 avatar
        rem83

        Coupes look better. I have a 4 door, 4 cylinder, automatic equipped wagon for chores. Every other car I own for pleasure is rwd, manual and equipped with 2 doors and a trunk.

      • 0 avatar
        A Caving Ape

        @rem83- We have a difference of opinion there. I’ve never met a 4 seater (excepting 2+2′s) that I don’t think looks better as a 4 door. Does this stem from growing up aspiring to B5 S4′s and bugeye WRXes? Probably.

      • 0 avatar
        rem83

        @A Caving Ape – Ah, so according to the nomenclature I’m used to – you prefer 4 door sedans over 2 door sedans. Cars that are designed to be a 2 door to begin with are generally the nicest looking cars out there. Jag XJS, XK – both much nicer than the XJ6, XJ8. BMW 8 series is gorgeous compared to the E32. But, even if you want to talk 2 door sedans – the BMW 3 series has always looked better with 2 doors – especially the e9x generation with m-tech aero. I’d have to say I prefer the CTS coupe over the sedan as well. Sure, you can have your Cavalier convertibles and Chrysler Sebrings – those cars look awful no matter how many doors you add. The B5 S4 and WRX are not exactly known for their ageless beauty either, although I suppose they at least have a quirky sort of appeal to the right person.

      • 0 avatar
        majo8

        Coupes happen to be appealing to many people for a variety of reasons.

        In my case, I find coupes more attractive, but as stated this is subjective.

        There are also two non-subjective reasons that I prefer coupes over sedans. The first is that I absolutely hate the way that the b-pillars in sedans hamper your vision just to your left – it seems to always be in your field of view. Secondly I find it hard to rest my arm on the armrest in a sedan – my elbow always hits the b-post (I sit with the seat all the way back).

        Trivial concerns to some, but important to me.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Difference of taste, and to each his own. I can’t say that I’ve seen any coupes that look better to me than the comparable sedan; I find the proportions unsightly. (Obviously there are exceptions; a Corvette would look odd with 4 doors. But all the examples given–Jaguars, BMWs, et al–do nothing for me.)

        As for the B-pillar, I concede that someone who is tall and needs the seat put far back can appreciate the longer doors. But it seems that more often people recline their seats like ‘gangstas,’ which puts their upper body effectively in the back seat. I’m ave height, drive a compact with 4 doors, and have no issues with the pillar being in my vision or my arm not falling on the armrest. Of course, I may just have a decently designed car while others don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I have a Forte (not the Forte Koup) and I am anything but a teenage girl, but I have nothing to prove so that perceived marketing angle has no effect on me (at least on the conscious level). Not going into the discussion about whether marketing works or not, don’t care to beat the horse that has long since gone to the glue factory.:D

      All that being said, could part of the reason why coupes have largely gone out of style, aside from some of the reasons below (unnecessarily difficult ingress, child seats, bad memories, etc), be that they are more expensive to insure? I’ve heard that a 2 door version of a car might be more expensive than the 4 door version, but I’ve not had a chance to check that with an insurance guy. Of course this also applies to color, apparently. I’m always told buy any color, but red, if you want cheap rates. Most of this is probably steeped in the realm of wives’ tales or something, but it makes for an interesting question.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I actually really like the look of the Forte Koup, despite my incessant smack-talking of two-doors. I’d consider one, if they had more headroom, though I’d consider the sedan and five-door before that.

        And I’m not a teenage girl, either. I just see a lot of younger women driving them.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      I’ll wait till the iQ rolls into East coast showrooms next February and see what’s what. I also like the tC, but I don’t like how it tries to hide what it really is: a 3-door hatchback, which is what I actually want…only smaller.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Well put; I too admire the tC’s styling. As for the driving styles of it’s driving demographic, not so much.

      I had the 2-door vs 4-door discussion with myself in my mind last summer. I wanted 4 for practicality (ingress/egress and having a rear-window that could roll-down; memories of entering/exiting the ’71 Plymouth Scamp coupe as a child still linger)

      I ended up flying 500 miles, as all the inventories for my whip, from DC to ATL, were solely 2-door and/or automatic.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh look, psar wrote exactly what my brain was saying. Again.

      Indeed, 4 doors are seen as almost a given for most new purchases of the young. Beyond just being cool, the differences in insurance costs between 2 and 4 doors is usually drastic enough to toss coupe options out any of your four opening windows.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      To me, the idea that a sports car needs to have two doors died when the E39 M5 came out and started blowing away “real sports cars” in terms of performance. With that example set, it suddenly seemed silly to sacrifice passenger comfort just for subjective style, especially since I was young enough that a car was mostly just a toy for hanging out with my buddies. The more friends that can comfortably enter and fit the vehicle while retaining the dynamic qualities of a performance-oriented car, the better.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve B

      I know some people hate them, but I love 2-door cars: The reason, primarily, is that I have long legs. I’ve never driven a car where I had the seat anywhere but all the way back. Same for my dad and brother… incidentally, ALL of us drive 2-door cars (I have a ’11 tc, Dad has an Accord Coupe, and my brother has a Civic Coupe. All white as well… it’s a bit strange when I make a highway trip back home to see the cars lined up!)

      In a typical 4-door, the size of the rear doors dictates that the front doors are less than full size. With the front seat all the way back, the shortened doors don’t extend all the way along-side the seat, and the B-pillar is moved forward. This places the B-pillar right against the your elbow, puts the door armrest inconviently forward, and if you prefer to have the seat reclined a bit, sometimes the seatbelt isnt firmly against your should shoulder. I like having full size doors for the front seats… I’d be OK with half-rear doors as seen on some cars, but the traditional family sedan setup? No, thank you.

      I get that ‘sporty styling’ these days is more about stuff tacked on to a family sedan tacked on (body kits, big wings) as seen with the Lancer and Impreza. Meanwhile, even traditional family sedans have thin-spoked, oversized alloy wheels, bucket seats, and optional spoilers. I think what is comes down to is that crash testing is expensive, and if manufacturers can build a generic three-box, traditional Taurus-style shell, they can take it in different directions for less.

      As long as there’s a market for 2/3 door cars, I’ll be driving one.

  • avatar
    silverc10

    I drove an 06 tC for a couple years, and definitely miss it when it comes time to do much of anything in the 350Z that replaced it besides drive the living hell out of it. The hatch area was ideal, and was a lifesaver when I moved – and could swallow 4 tires and a jack for autocross duty.

    The only thing that car was missing, aside from a little more grunt, was a 6th gear. That seems to be solved in the new models, I would have killed for that car to get 28 and 31 mpg.

  • avatar
    detlump

    To me, this car is a perfect commuter. It gets 30 mpg, is somewhat sporty for darting around traffic, in silver it is somewhat stealthy, and the hatch allows for errands on the way home, such as a Costco or Ikea stop. I laugh at the mail slot trunks on some small sedans.

    I am getting used the styling also, the dash looks nice. Why bother to have NAV when every phone does it? I prefer the simpler, less failure prone systems.

    What is the motivation behind getting rid of the straight automatic gear selector? Who thinks having to move all over is a good idea? Jag got rid of the J shifter, now everyone else wants a piece.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      agree with you 100%

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      If you don’t have kids, then maybe. But 30 mpg is pretty low in this segment when the sedans are pushing 40 mpg.

      I do like the trunk. My Mazda6 5 door has something similar which is nice.

      That being said, I would never own one. My kids will be in 4 door sedans till I can get them to fasten themselves into car seats… and probably after that because the doors on 2 doors are too long for most parking spots/garages.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        This car has the Camry 2.4 engine which only gets about 25 mpg in the xB, so I’d say that 30 is pretty decent

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        If you don’t have kids, then maybe. But 30 mpg is pretty low in this segment when the sedans are pushing 40 mpg.

        Sure.

        But at $4/gal gas and 15k miles per year the cost difference between 30 and 40 mpg is less than $50 a month. So it may be “pretty low” but the practical consequences are negligible.

        I’m not a real fan of the tC, but if I was that $12/wk wouldn’t stop me from buying one.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        The Camry has a 2.5L, but in the Camry it gets 33 mpg hwy. I would say that 31 in a smaller car isn’t decent.

        $50 a month is $600 a year. For a commuter car, something like this should be important. Own it for 3 years, and you are close to $2k in extra gas. If you are a fan of the car, then sure, get one if it means that much to you. But for the costs, in the segment where 40 mpg is the norm, this falls well short.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        31 mpg is not low for a 2.5L engine with 180 hp and enough low end grunt to climb grades without leaving 6th gear. If you want closer to 40 mpg buy something with 1.8 or 2.0 liters and significantly less power.

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      That gas mileage for a car in this segment is poor. My old Acura RSX Type S beat that on the highway with 205 horsepower while leaving it in the dust acceleration wise .Cars like the tC are why no one takes Toyota seriously as a manufacturer of sport or even sporty cars anymore . Heavy with lousy fuel mileage it’s only saving grace is the easy to swap out hole in the dash for aftermarket stereos and the cool steering wheel. Maybe they’ll get it right with the Scion FR-S .

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        From what I see on fuel economy.gov, the tC beats your RSX with 23/31/36 vs 21/28/24. It is also classified as a compact vs the RSX as a sub-compact.

        So not only is the tC mileage better, but it’s a different size class. The tC does as well or better than the Kia Forte 2.4, VW Golf 2.5 or Mazda3 2.5. I can’t think of any 2-1/2 litre motors that do any better off of top of my head. Maybe expectations are a little too high for fuel economy from a motor this size.

        I do agree that your RSX would be a lot more fun to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        He got 31 mpg at 80 mph. That’s within 1 mpg of what my Civic Si sedan returns. I do not get 28 mpg in the city. Not even close. Very few of the 40 mpg wonders are returning 28 mpg in city driving, and no EPA published numbers have ANYTHING to do with going 80 mph.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        how many people really get 33 mpg in a Camry? hyper-milers, I suppose. plus the tC is mostly driven harder by its younger buyers, than the “geriatric” Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Zombo, 31 mpg is only “poor” because much of this segment has smaller engines with weaker outputs. Some of us appreciate torque. And you won’t find any 2.5L engine that gets significantly better fuel economy.

      • 0 avatar
        Zombo

        Sorry people , but my 06 RSX Type S got 28 combined and 33 on the highway . Granted that was on high test gas , but the tC is rated the same as the RSX according to fuelechh.gubmint and we all know how falsely accurate that site is based on the driver reports there . Cars like the high revving RSX is what that segment needs , secretary cars like the glorified Corolla the tC is – is what it gets ! Even the discontinued Celica also put it to shame mpg wise ! Dorks for torque need to get a V-6 . Crying about lack of torque is what killed the mpg of the Toyota Matrix and will eventually kill that model !

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      31 miles per gallon isn’t great on the highway when a 305 horsepower Mustang V6 with an automatic will pull 31 mpg as well on the highway.

      Total apples to oranges, but one can buy a new 2012 BMW 5-series that gets 27 city/34 highway.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      If there’s anything worse than using EPA numbers to compare fuel economy, it’s trying to do that comparison based on what some guy says on the internet.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve B

        EPA numbers are at least built on a common set of variables. They’re not perfect, but they are the best method for comparison. “Random guy on the internet” or “Random anecdotal stories from your uncle” have the following variables that can’t be controlled:

        - Calculation errors (or using the dash readout, as these are notoriously inaccurate)
        - Different driving habits.
        - Different definitions of city (some define “city” as driving freeway loops through suburbia, or spending the first/last 5-10 miles of each trip on a free-flowing arterial road to/from a town/city/metro area.
        - Different definitions of highway (highway speed limits vary from 55 to 80 mph, and may include grades, severe heat/cold, even some stop/go traffic).

        Also, this car is fairly similar in engine size, power, interior volume to an Accord Coupe. The Accord is longer and weighs a good 100-300 lbs more, but is in the same ballpark. The tC (~3100 lbs with a 180hp 2.5L) is rated at 23/31. An Accord Coupe (~3200-3300 lbs with a 190hp 2.4L) is rated at 22/33 or 23/32 depending on transmission. An Altima Coupe is not only smaller (about 6″ longer than a tC, similar width, shorter wheelbase) but is rated at 23/31 or 23/32 depending on transmission (175 hp 2.5L, ~3100 lbs).

        The tC is best viewed as a less expensive alternative to these cars. The Civic SI Coupe is often tossed in as a comparison, but it is a smaller, lighter car with a stronger engine, a thirst for premium, and a much smaller interior (83 cubes of pax space, 12 cubes of cargo in the SI coupe vs 90/15 for the tC, 92/12 for the Accord Coupe, 89/8 for the Altima Coupe). The marketing is aimed at the SI/GTI crowd, but it’s a great, budget priced midsized coupe at heart, despite the sporting pretensions. It compares well in fuel economy, power, and amenities (the features list is very close to an Accord EX coupe at about $5K less). Since the tC is, at heart, a coupe version of the midsized Avensis, this is very predictable. Marketing to this niche instead of the “sport-compact” niche is not going to keep the tC’s average buyer age in the range that Toyota wants.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    Where do you get age of ownership numbers? I bet you could write an article or two or ten around that.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      According to numerous online sources (including Scion/Toyota corporate), the average Scion tC owner’s age is 26 and the average age for the Scion brand is 39.

      If you want to write an article about it, just contact Ed.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Things change, but I would attrubute the death of the 2DR car/suv largely to kid/baby seats and the fact that w/air bags kids no longer ride up front until they are almost ready to drive themselves.

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    ……I’m surprised that one of the world’s largest companies still keeps renewing it’s “distributor’s” licence to print money. I can’t think of any positives for the consumer, so there must be some for Toyota……..wonder what they are?…Both the manufacturer and distributor must have their PR flacks well trained in defending the continuation of this arrangement, especially in the southeast. The fact that Steve had to go all the way to New Jersey to escape the distributor’s none too subtle mandatory upgrades (additional markups in disguise) indicates the huge size of this windfall-profit “territory”.

  • avatar

    I don’t think that aging baby-boomers — for all their sins — are at fault here specifically. In fact they may be the ones still carrying coupes that otherwise would be gone. I could not even wait for kids completely leave the house before buying a 2-door car, so heard some whining about it. My wife almost bought a Mini… The only thing that ruined it was the idiotic dash, or we would’ve been a 2-door-only household now.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Did we test drive the same vehicle, or is there another scion tc out there that I’m unaware of? I love the chopped roof looks, the huge sunroof and the sports hatch that evokes 80´s muscles cars. I could not get over the numb road feel and the horrible fit and finish. Theres huge panel gaps every where in this car.

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    Steve, did your tC have the single left-side reverse light on the back? One of my friends bought a tC, and the gang thought one of his reverse lights were out already. He explained that they were designed that way.

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      I always assumed that was illegal in the States? I know European-market New Beetles (at least ’98-’05) had a reverse light on one side and a red fog light on the other in the lower portion of the rear bumper cover, while US models were built with a second reverse light in lieu of the fog lamp. I know rear fogs are legal here, at least in theory – my Bush-I-era Volvos have places and wiring for ‘em, although I suppose I could have been breaking the law when I installed a bulb in each socket?

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      The 2011 tC only had one reverse light. Toyota received enough complaints, so they finally added a second reverse light for 2012. (Thank goodness!)

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    I wonder if Toyota will ever see fit to buy out its independent distributors? I remember the ridiculous add-ons going back as early as the late 1970s. The SE distributor apparently had the guts to take the OEM wheel caps off the Celica’s aluminum wheel and add Carroll Shelby caps instead (even though it wasn’t a CS wheel design in the first place). They were shameless about adding landau roofs to Coronas and Cressidas too. It’s somewhat unnerving as a customer to order a brochure from Toyota HQ only to realize that SE Toyota Dist has its “own” options. So what you sometimes saw in the brochure was not even offered in the SE. At least it was that way as late as the 90s. Do people even order brochures anymore?

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      I worked for Southeast Toyota (aka JM Family Enterprises) for a couple of years when I first moved to Florida. I was astounded to learn that they would take perfectly good cars from Kentucky and overseas and take all kinds of things off of them to install their own seat covers (including a different kind of leather than came with standard Toyotas), radios, wheels, trim, you name it. Now that Jim Moran has passed away I wonder why Toyota keeps this relationship up. There must be some clause in the contract that makes it prohibitively expensive to cancel it (Jim was a very smart businessman).

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        I too, worked for SE Toyota in the early 90′s. I remember some of the absolutely awful things they would offer, like 1/4 Landau roofs on everything from Cressidas to Corollas.

        Oops, I see getacargetacheck already chronicled this…

        It WAS weird to have two sets of options on some of the cars and really confusing for someone not used to this setup.

        I wasn’t aware Mr. Moran had passed (not that I keep up with that kind of thing), but it is interesting that they still continue the business relationship.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    OTOH, SE Toyota is responsible for the existence of cruise control for the 1st gen xB. Toyota didn’t offer it, and SE Toyota insisted on it. Rostra developed a cruise kit for the car, now anyone can buy it.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    forget the coupe….wagon or walk!

    The tC is no longer the car for me (bought a 2005 right when they came in Sept 04…sold to family member in 2007), but it’s a pretty good overall package at that price.

    I wish I had picked up a Matrix XRS back then…would probably still have it now that 2 kids + dog are along for the ride.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Maybe things have changed but I looked at a used 2006 with that same engine and did not buy because the mileage was so bad for a small car. And this was straight from the EPA website. The highway or combined (I can’t remember which) was just 28 mpg. A midsize will get 30 or more nowadays. I believe the motor was interference if I’m not mistaken. I try to avoid those also. I ended up buying a a larger car that gets almost the same mileage. It was cheaper too since it was not a Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The current tC has a 2.5L AR 4cylinder, not the 2.4L AZ 4cylinder. The AR engines are attached to 6MT and 6AT. The AZ engines had 4AT and 5MT. The redesign was a solid update in every way, IMO. More power, better mileage, better looking. If they made a 5 door hatch, I’d certainly consider it. If I’m getting only 2 doors, the rear wheels better be driven.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    Child-seat legislation drastically reduced the market for two-door cars.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The engine in the 2011 Scion tC is a 2.5 liter now, although it does make 180 hp as mentioned in the article. These cars remind me of the first generation Honda Preludes, which some members of the press called Quaaludes. It has a great feature list, particularly for a coupe. It has more power than the equivalent sedan, in this case the Corolla. It has a unique model name and only comes fully equipped. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the chassis finesse or characterful engine of something like a 2nd generation Prelude, which nobody made Quaalude jokes about.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I owned an ’85 Jetta diesel 2-door (how’s that for a combination?) Not a bad car for a single guy, but I can see why coupes aren’t really desirable especially to people with kids. And my Jetta coupe definitely wasn’t sporty or fast!

  • avatar
    threeer

    We’re just wrapping up the first 8000 or so miles of our tC. When we went out looking for a new car for the wife, she didn’t even know what a tC was, but saw one out on the highway and was intrigued enough to check one out. Full disclosure…I’m 41, she’s 46…our son is already in college, so we’re basically empty-nesters. She loved the driving position and the overall look/feel of the tC compared to the other cars (all of which were four door sedans). Given that we are child-free, she felt it was okay to cut loose a tad and go with something that had a sporting intent, but retained the reliability and ease of use that came with owning a Toyota. Yes, there are surely faster/better handling/bigger/blah, blah, blah…but in the end, every time she gets out of the car, she looks back and smiles, and THAT is worth every penny we paid for it. Complaints? Mostly related to what has already been discussed…the rear interior bits are not anywhere near as robust as say, the interior bits of my son’s 1997 Tercel (I don’t know if that says more about the absolute stellar build quality of older Toyotas, or the downward spiral of new ones). We’ve already seen a deep scratch put into the rear c-pillar interior piece and the *carpet* placed on the seatback of the rear seat tore when she vacuumed it out the other day. But from a driving dynamic, she loves putting the sunroof back, cranking the stereo (perhaps a tad too heavy on the bass, in my opinion) and letting the miles roll by. That she gets much better fuel economy (wasn’t high on the priority list, but a nice bonus) than my gas-hog Lancer Ralliart is gravy.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    The Scion tC platform is based the European Avensis and has the same 2.5 liter engine and 6 speed automatic transmission as the US Camry.

    Why do so many people say the tC is based on the Corolla other than as a critical jibe?
    The tC has an independent rear suspension, the Corolla does not.

    The Scion tC is more akin to a Camry SE coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I believe the Avensis platform, which also underpins cars like the Lexus HS 250h and at least one Prius model, is a version of the platform that also serves the Corollas, even if their relationship isn’t as obvious. Depending on which sources you believe, it almost looks like Toyota shares some platform dimensions between all of their FWD products. In my post, I compared the Scion tC to the Corolla primarily because of their pricing and placement in the Toyota lineup.

      • 0 avatar
        A is A

        My car is a 2004 Toyota Avensis Hatchback.

        Here -in Europe- it is obvious (by the forms of the sheetmetal, the dimensions and the cloned interiors) that the 2004 Avensis is a glorified 2004 Corolla (or the Corolla a Shrunken Avensis, I do not know which came first).

        https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=2004+corolla+britain&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=4166l6670l2l7053l8l7l0l0l0l0l570l3264l2-1.1.2.3l7l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1024&bih=677&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi#um=1&hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=2003+corolla+sedan+d4d&oq=2003+corolla+sedan+d4d&aq=f&aqi=&aql=1&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=16032l16952l6l17222l2l2l0l0l0l0l294l503l2-2l2l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=134c9a5436a671ec&biw=1024&bih=677

        https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=2004+corolla+britain&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=4166l6670l2l7053l8l7l0l0l0l0l570l3264l2-1.1.2.3l7l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1024&bih=677&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi#um=1&hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=2003+avensis++d4d&oq=2003+avensis++d4d&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=11077l11077l10l11339l1l1l0l0l0l0l0l0ll0l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=134c9a5436a671ec&biw=1024&bih=677

        My Avensis is a thoroughly fine car, BTW: Zero breakdowns so far and 41mpg(US). 2 liters Diesel. 5 speed manual. 116CV. A solid, safe, good handling car . And in Europe this car is regarded as HUGE!!!.

  • avatar
    Marko

    I like the styling of this car, and found it very comfortable inside when I sat in one at my local car show in February. I’m glad to hear the seat comfort for long distances is good – seems like Toyota has finally learned how to design a good seat for a compact car. (In this class, I find the Mazda3 and compact VWs most comfortable, while Corolla seats bother me.)

    I haven’t gotten a chance to drive one, though. How are the noise and ride compared to other similarly priced cars? Some reviews have complained about them, but others, like this one, find them tolerable.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Two door cars look better. There’s a lot of both objective and subjective reasons why, but fact is they do. A four door car is only good looking if it’s a hardtop (IE in built in the US in the 50′s and 60′s), and if not, you buy it to build a sleeper.(because all 4 door cars look slower) And, when the kids grow out of their rear facing seats a 2 door car can be quite practical too, especially a hatchback ’3-door’ like this one.
    The TC looks a bit like a 70′s Corolla liftback , and is not an ugly car in my opinion, but I’m not much of a Toyota fan, and especially not a fan of their FWD cars.

  • avatar
    Advo

    Suddenly, hamsters have a lot going for them.

    How many of these are being bought now (by 26-year-olds)? Is it going to make much of a difference to Toyota or help return the Scion brand to their former glory? It seems to be helping their reputation, which is to be youthful, but that will only help if the sales are there.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I love the size, shape and hatchback configuration of tC, begged my mother to buy one as a replacement for her Saturn Coupe. However, as mentioned, the 2-door coupe market is all but dead. The 2-door hatchback market is even deader. I blame SUVs, since all of sudden it seems everyone thinks they need TONS of space. The wife drove a 4 door Civic and 4 door Passat for years, then finally got a hatch (Volvo C30) and swears she is never going back. Granted we don’t have kids, but for every day use a 2 door hatch is the perfect combination of size, sportiness and usefulness. My Z just takes that one step further by losing the rear seats completely and cranking up the “sportiness” to a whole different level.

  • avatar
    redliner

    Still holding out for a Scion TC “Shooting Brake” edition… fingers crossed.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    I am actually a fan of the Scion TC. It is the best balance of car for me. Enough comfort and legs to cruise long distances, but decent fuel economy, a hatch for all the moves and demands of a 20 something lifestyle, and, hopefully, enough sport to keep me entertained in my commute. Two doors is all I need. The only passenger I have regularly is my gf. When friends get together, I am happy to be driven by friends with bigger cars (saves on gas). The Veloster, Impreza hatch, and Mazda 3 are nice too. However, seat travel in coupes is better and I am pretty tall. I am still waiting for my perfect two door hatch, if this were a bit sportier it would be it.

    Steven,
    You drove the Lexus CT. It sounded a bit sportier than the scion and I given your comparison, would the Lexus CT200H with a conventional drive train and decontented interior make a better sporty scion DD?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Guess what I’m driving right now?

      I’ll put it you this way. The tC lives up to its billing as a touring coupe. The CT200h has a lot of excellent sporting tendencies but has the disadvantage of a Prius inspired body and powertrain.

      In my opinion they both should be branded as Scions… and the CT200h should be made available with a conventional powertrain. But if it did, chances are it would cannibalize part of the IS250 buyer base.

      Toyota should also consider giving all of these cars genuine names instead of ‘alphanumeric’ designations. I would even go so far to say that more folks know what a Legend was than what a CT200h is.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Considering every other Chevy Cobalt I see is a coupe, I wouldnt consider that segment dead. Could we consider the regular cab pickup the coupe de jour ?

  • avatar
    THEEVILDRSIN

    don’t forget when comparing mpg between tc and civic si and rsx-s to consider fuel requirements. the si and rsx-s require premium which does add to the fuel cost. tc requires 87 octane.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Premium fuel is required in my GTI, really sucks even if it does average 29-30 mpg.

    My daugher’s 2010 Mazda 3 – fully loaded and 2.5 w/auto only gets 26-27 mpg, but she runs regular gas.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    When you can get 40 mpg highway in modern cars costing much less , the tC’s only appeal is to aging baby boomers who think this car gets good mpg for it’s class after driving behemoth gas guzzling SUVs . Or who are dorks for torque and like the Camry engine . The interior isn’t bad but the exterior is a bloated rounded blob with SUV dork blinkers in the mirrors . In the real world for most people the tC is a 24-25 mpg average vehicle in mixed driving . Not good enough for a plain looking car like this which will soon be discontinued .

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I like this car for its looks and the hatch. I do wish the quarter window would at least pop open (don’t you know who I am?) for the occasional rear seat passenger(s). The somewhat quirky design appeals to me for no other reason than it’s different. Would I buy one? No. I’m not a Toyota fan, but I never say never, plus it’s probably too harsh for me in my present commute. Can you see out of it? Would I recommend it to someone else? Sure – to check out. My son may be interested when his 2000 Eclipse finally becomes too much, but so far it hasn’t yet.

    As far as the interior materials: Cost-cutting doesn’t have to mean “cheap” or “cheap-looking”. It’s something called design and creativity, which doesn’t cost anything beyond what you’re paying your designers to come up with the garbage you’re putting out there now!

  • avatar
    Steve B

    I felt compelled to respond to this. I have a 2011 tC that I bought new in March. I bought it out in California, used it for several weekend trips (to SF, to LA, and Vegas), and then drove 2600 miles to Florida, and 900 miles back west to my new home in Texas. Here, it serves my daily 50 mile round trip commute. And demographics: 30-y.o divorced male, two kids who mainly live with my ex-wife, ~$60K/year.

    Plusses:
    - Great driving position. Beyond great… superb. None of the “every compact car has to have SUV-tall seats” crap that has spread through the auto industry. Even the Civic seats feel way to high. The front legroom is fantastic, perfect for my 35″ inseam. The bolstering is terrific (probably too tight for the fatties), and the controls all fall right into hand.

    - Good mileage. When driving almost exclusively stop/go, on steep Norcal hills, I was getting around 26-27. Cross country, doing 80 on the highway, 32-ish. Driving mostly urban freeways on my 25 mile-each-way commute here in San Antonio, plus normal errands, etc. I’m averaging 30.

    - Decent performance. It’s not a fast car, but it’s reasonably entertaining. The handling feels extremely secure and locked-down on the highway, though rough pavement can be a bit jarring (I’m looking at you, I-40 between Barstow and Flagstaff). You learn a lot about how much you like a car when you drive 2600 miles in four days.

    - Two doors. OK, some of you guys might not like 2-doors, but I do. I like the proportions. I like being able to slide the seat all the way to the rear without having a giant pillar next to my head. I like being able to put my arm on the windowsill. I like door armrests that extend all the way back when the seat is at its rearmost position.

    Miuses:

    - Hideous seat fabric. I added Clazzio covers, so this is no longer a concern. i wish that factory leather had been available.
    - Hard center armrest: I ordered a leather armrest cover with foam padding from RedLine Goods
    - Interior is a bit loud on some coarse pavement surfaces
    - The 2.5L engine plus FWD makes it somewhat prone to torque steer and understeer, particularly when accelerating after a turn (i.e. turning onto a service road and accelerating to the onramp).

    I knew I wanted a reasonably economical yet still sporty two-door. Making a modest income, there’s no way I’d want to buy something that would leave me with a $400+/mo car payment, nor did I want to buy the car outright and leave my savings threadbare… better to take a loan out on a reasonably priced car, and keep my savings nice and comfortable… Even without any special deals, credit is dirt cheap right now, and if inflation kicks up, it’ll probably come out closer to even (even moreso if I stop putting off moving my savings into something more profitable… money market perhaps?). I was looking at the Kia Forte Koup, Mustang V6, and cert-used Accord Coupes and Altima Coupes.

    The Forte was the closest competitor. Overall, it’s damn near a draw… I didn’t like the comfort of the interior quite as much. The Mustang’s rear seat is useless for when my kids are with me, and after never having one, I really, really wanted a sunroof this time. I couldn’t find a sunroof’ed Mustang anywhere, and I don’t trust the “larry cuts a hole and installs a Pep-Boys unit” version. The Accord and Altima – liked both of them, but trying to find one with an I-4/manual combo is pretty tricky. The VW Golf was a third contender, but too many friends have had problems with the cars.

    Also, since there is not a single other Toyota that interests me in any way, I’m safe from getting the trade-in bug when I take it in for service! And, the first 2 yrs/25000 miles of regular servicing were included for free. And there was a $1000 military rebate. Overall, a nice looking, spacious, extremely comfortable, reasonably economical, dirt cheap, great driving two-door with a 6 speed manual was damn near a no-brainer for me. My last car was a Fit (and a slushbox… blech)… I could never get comfortable in it, and only lost about 1-2 mpg switching to this one.

    As with all cars, everyone has a bit different preferences and desires. If someone has stubby legs, they won’t see any great advantage to the mile-long space between the seat and pedals. If they frequently use the rear seat (for me, it’s only when my 6 and 8 year old are with me, and they live 900 miles away), they’ll find the two-door tedious. For me, it’s a home run. Sure, I’d love to have an M6, but on my salary, no way am I going to bite on that. It’s at that perfect sweet spot where desired amenities, functional requirements, and agreeable price come together. That point is a bit different for everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      (I’m looking at you, I-40 between Barstow and Flagstaff). Greetings from Gallup, NM! All decent reasons to get that car, sounds like you got the right one for you.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve B

      Also should mention – re: the driving position: The driving position is a bit of a throwback. It’s not the “commanding upright position” that is so en vogue with small cars. You sit low. You look over the dashboard. The windowsills are at shoulder height (unless you crank the seat up). The windows are smallish. It’s not unlike an early ’00′s Mustang, or an old Z-car. The feeling is much more sitting down in the car than the current breed of sport coupes, and the antithesis of the classic Honda fishbowl. (can’t speak for the Lincoln LS based Mustangs – I don’t have enough experience with those.) I felt a bit weird in it for the first week or so until I got used to it… driving a Versa home for a friend who’d had a few too many a few days ago, I felt like I was sitting on the roof!

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      @ Steve,

      Which Clazzio seat covers did you get? The one thing my wife would have liked to have had on her tC is leather seats (which aren’t an option, as you know)…are they worth it? Do they look “factory” enough? And how difficult to install? Might consider them as a Christmas gift for her!
      Glad you’re enjoying yours. You had some valid points. As with many others, I know that people will say there are “faster/better handling/better fuel economy/(insert your metric here)” cars out there, but she just “fit” well into the tC and hasn’t regretted the purchase at all. She’s had a few long distance drives in it, and gets out after several hours feeling just as good as when she got in, and can’t help but look back and smile at the car as she walks away from it. That alone makes the car worth it for me…

      • 0 avatar
        Steve B

        http://beangarage.com/catalog/clazzio-seat-covers/leather-insert-seat-covers-scion-tc-11-p-499.html

        I ordered the black leather with red stitching from Bean Garage. There are a ton of companies that sell them, but I’ve had great luck with BG – they’re based in Florida, but ship from a warehouse in Cali. Top notch customer service. They actually had the black/red combo in stock – I think I ordered on Sat and they came in Tues or Wed. Black with red stitching sounds a bit flashy, but it’s more subdued than it sounds at first, and came out looking very nice inside.

        http://www.redlinegoods.com
        I got the matching armrest cover from Redline Goods. They’re based in Poland, so it takes a bit more time to ship, but no problems with the service. They are made to order.


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