By on September 17, 2013

2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Many assumed that with the new FR-S hitting the dealers, it would only be a matter of time before the front-wheel-drive tC was sent out to pasture. However with an average buyer age of 28, the tC is isn’t just the youngest Toyota, it’s the youngest car in America. With demographics like that, product planners would be fools to kill off the tC and so the “two coupé strategy” was born. The last time we looked at the tC, the FR-S had yet to be born, this time the tC has been refreshed in the FR-S’ image. Which two door is right for you? Click past the jump, the answer might surprise you.

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Exterior

Let’s start with the nitty-gritty. Starting at $19,695 and barely climbing to $20,965, the tC is 25% cheaper than an FR-S. This pricing delta is why (in my mind) the tC’s sales numbers haven’t fallen since the FR-S was released with 2012 slightly above 2011. If you think of the tC as the budget FR-S alternative, the two-coupé strategy starts to make more sense. From dealers I have spoken with it seems to be working. Prospective buyers that can’t quite afford an FR-S or are having troubles justifying the cost to themselves have been looking at the less expensive tC.

With strategy in mind, Scion decided to remake the front-driver in the FR-S’ image. Wise choice since the FR-S is one of the best looking modern Toyota designs. Because hard points remain the same on this refresh, tweaks are limited to new bumper covers, headlamps, tail lamps and wheels. I think the tC’s new nose suits the coupé surprisingly well since most nose jobs range from peculiar to downright Frankenstein. Similarly, the new rear bumper cover fixed the 2013′s tall and flat rear bumper cover by breaking it up with a black panel and a non-functional triangular red lens. What’s the lens for? That’s anyone’s guess.  To see how the two Scions stack up, check out my 5-second Photoshop mash-ups.

tC vs FR-S Front  tC vs FR-S Back

While some found the new clear tail lamps too “boy racer,” I think they work better on the tC and with the tC’s target demographic than the old units. As is obvious by the photos,the FR-S is quite low to the ground with a low slung cabin creating the low center of gravity it is known for. The tC on the other hand is mainstream economy coupé.

Since this is just a refresh, the tC’s major styling problem is still with us: the ginormous C-pillar and small rear window. Aside from my personal belief that the look is awkward, the shape has a serious impact on visibility creating large blindspots for the driver and not permitting rear passengers to see the scenery. The new tC’s new looks should be enough to get FR-S shoppers short on cash to give the tC a once-over before cross-shopping. Mission accomplished. Compared to the other FWD competition I rank the tC second, below the new Kia Forte Koup and above the somewhat bland Honda Civic.

2014 Scion tC Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

Once inside the tC, FR-S shoppers are likely to be disappointed as there is very little FR-S inside Scion’s FWD coupé. Hard plastics in a mixture of black and charcoal hues continue to dominate the cabin, something I was OK with in 2011 because the competition was coated in hard polymer as well. Nearly three years later, the competition has upped the game with the 2013 Civic bringing soft injection molded dash parts to the segment followed by the 2014 Forte’s stylish new interior. It’s also worth noting that Scion continues to offer the tC in one interior color: black. Sticking with Scion’s model of streamlined inventory, all tCs have a standard dual-pane glass sunroof which is an interesting touch but I think I would trade it for upgraded materials.

Front seat comfort is strictly average in the tC.  Front seats offer limited adjustibility and little lumbar support (the seats do not have an adjustable lumbar support feature). tC drivers sit in a more upright fashion than in the FR-S thanks to the tC’s overall taller proportions but thanks to that large C-pillar, visibility is worse than the low-slung FR-S. The tC’s rear seats are a different matter. At 34.5 inches, the tC sports nearly two inches more rear legroom than the Forte Koup (2013 numbers), four more than the Civic and five more than the FR-S. Combined with a surprising amount of headroom, it is possible to put four 6-foot tall adults in the tC for a reasonable amount of time. Thanks to the hatch back design and a trunk that’s 50% larger than the Civic and more than 110% larger than the FR-S, you can jam luggage for four in the back of the tC as well.

2014 Scion tC Interior, BeSpoke Autio System, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment & Gadgets

The only major change inside the tC is a new Pioneer head-unit. Instead of borrowing radios from Toyota, Scion has generally gone for consumer branded units that are designed for Scion but share nothing with the Toyota parts bin. The notable exception was the old Toyota derived navigation unit which was found in a few Scion models with an eye watering $2,250 price tag. For 2014 Scion is using a new Pioneer made system featuring 8-speakers, HD Radio, iDevice/USB integration and an integrated CD player. The software looks like a blend of Pioneer’s interface and something from Toyota’s new Entune systems. The over all look is less elegant and far more “aftermarket” than the well-integrated systems from Kia or even Honda’s funky dual-level system in the Civic. Sound quality however was excellent in the tC with well matched speakers and moderately high limits.

Should you feel particularly spendy, you can pay Scion $1,200 to add the “BeSpoke Premium Audio System” which is a fancy way of saying navigation software and smartphone app integration. Take my advice, spend your $1,200 on something else. The tC’s lack of infotainment bling is troubling since Scion positions themselves as a brand for the young. At 33 I’m still in the vicinity of the tCs target market (average age 28) and even to my elderly eyes, the entire Scion brand lags in this area. Yes, the idea is: buy an aftermarket radio and have it installed, but I can’t be the only one that wants a super-slick system with a large touchscreen, navigation and smartphone apps as the standard system. Anyone at Scion listening?

On the gadget front, the tC and the Civic are well matched but Kia’s new Forte is rumored to offer goodies like a backup camera, color LCD in the gauge cluster, dual-zone climate controls, push-button start, keyless entry, HID headlamps, power seats, etc. That leaves the Scion in an odd position having no factory options at all and competing only with relatively base models of the competition.

2014 Scion tC Engine, 2.5L Four Cylinder, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain & Drive

The tC uses the same four-cylinder engine found under the hood of the Camry and RAV4. The 2.5L mill has lost 1 horsepower and 1 lb-ft for 2014 (for no apparent reason) dropping to 179HP at 6,000 RPM and 172 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. Sending power to the front wheels is a standard 6-speed close ratio manual transmission and an optional revised 6-speed automatic that now features throttle matched down-shifts. If those numbers sound healthy, they should. I have a preference toward engines “symmetrical” power numbers (HP and tq are nearly equal) as they usually provide a well-rounded driving experience. That is certainly true of the tC, especially when you compare it to the 2.0L engine in the FR-S.

Boo! Hiss! I know, it’s sacrilege to say anything less than positive about a direct-injection boxer engine, but let’s look at the fine print. The FR-S’ 200 ponies don’t start galloping until 7,000RPM, a grand higher than the Camry-sourced 2.5, but the real problem is the torque. The FR-S has only 151 lb-ft to play with and you have to wait until 6,600 RPM for them to arrive. That’s 2,600 RPM higher than the 2.5. This has a direct impact on the driveability and the character of the two coupés. The FR-S needs to be wound up to the stratosphere to make the most of the engine while the tC performs well at “normal” engine RPMs. Hill climbing and passing are the two areas where the difference in character is most obvious. The FR-S needs to drop a few gears in order to climb or pass while the tC can often stay in 6th. Sure, the FR-S sounds great when singing at 7-grand, but you’re not always on a majestic mountain highway, sometimes you’re just on the freeway in rush hour. Thanks to a lower curb weight and gearing differences, the FR-S ran to 60 in 6.7 seconds last time we tested it, 9/10ths faster than the tC.

2014 Scion tC Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Don’t mistake me, the FR-S has higher limits than the tC pulling more Gs in the corners and having a very neutral handling RWD nature while the tC plows like a John Deere in the corners. What might surprise you however is that despite the nose-heavy FWD nature of the tC, in stock form, at 8/10ths on a winding track, the FR-S is likely to pull away. Some of that has to do with the tC’s improved suspension and chassis for 2014, but plenty has to do with the stock rubber choice on the FR-S. Scion fits low-rolling-resistance tired to the RWD coupé in order to improve fuel economy AND to make the FR-S capable of tail-happy fun with only 151lb-ft of twist. When it comes to the hard numbers we don’t have a skidpad in the Northern California TTAC testing grounds so I’m going to have to refer to “Publication X’s” numbers: FR-S 0.87g, tC 0.84g. Say what? Yep. regardless of the publication the tC scores shockingly close to the FR-S in road holding. Surprised? I was. More on that later.

How about the competition? Let’s dive in. The Civic Si is a bit more hard-core. Available only with a manual transmission, a wide demographic has to be removed from the comparison. However those that like to row their own will find a FWD 6-speed manual transaxle that is, dare i say it, better than many RWD transmissions. The shift feel and clutch pedal are near perfection and the limited slip front differential helps the Civic on the track. In the real world there’s less daylight between the two however with essentially the same curb weight, equal torque numbers and only a 20HP lead by the Honda. The result is a Civic that ties in my mind with a better interior and better road manners but higher price tag ($22,515) and a loss of practicality when it comes to cargo and people hauling.

2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I’m going to gloss over the Golf because, as I learned on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the other. How about the Hyundai Elantra Coupe? It’s considerably down on power (148 HP / 131 lb-ft), has a cheaper interior and handles like a damp noodle. If you’re wondering why the Elantra GT had to get its bones stiffened, the Elantra Coupé is why. How about the GT? Like the Golf, it’s not quite the same animal. Altima? Dead. Eclipse? Ditto. The Genesis plays with the FR-S and the other bigger boys which brings us to the oddly spelled Kia Forte Koup.

The 2014 Koup has yet to be driven, but based on our experiences with the 2013 Koup and the 2014 Forte 4-door sedan, I expect great things. Kia has announced the Koup will land with an optional 1.6L turbo engine good for 201 ponies and 195 lb-ft of twist. I expect the chassis and manual transmission to still be a step behind the Honda Civic Si, but the interior and gadget count on the Koup look class leading. Unless Kia gets the Koup all wrong, I expect it to slot in around 20-23K. I also expect it to lead my list.

2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

That brings us full circle to the tCs fiercest competitor: its stable mate the FR-S. No matter how you slice it, the tC isn’t as good-looking. It may seat four with relative ease, but the interior isn’t as nice as the FR-S either. It delivers good fuel economy and is plenty of fun on the road, but the appeal of the tC is more pragmatic than emotional. Still, when the numbers are added up the tC delivers 75% of the FR-S’ looks, 85% of the handling and 90% of the performance for 78% of the price. Being the deal hound I am, that makes the tC the better Scion.

 

Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • Well priced
  • Excellent handling (for a FWD car)

Quit it

  • Cheap plastics inside continue
  • The steering isn’t as precise as the Civic Si.
  • Lack of premium or tech options young buyers demand

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

Specifications as Tested

0-30: 2.8 Seconds

0-60: 7.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.8 Seconds @ 89 MPH

Cabin Noise: 76db @ 50 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 29.6 MPG over 459 miles

 

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109 Comments on “Review: 2014 Scion tC (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    hands of lunchmeat

    essentially, youre saying this is Toyotas best Celica yet.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      More of a Tercel I would say

      • 0 avatar
        dongledangle

        One thing that should really be called out in these reviews is how much crappier the interior has become since the first model in 2005. The 05 has soft surfaces everywhere, including the dash that has a japanese rice paper texture. The hvac controls are not generic parts-bin crap (digital readout, aluminum temp control wheel), and the seats are comfortable for long trips.

        The new Tc has been decontented immensely.

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          Agree completely. I have an ’06 that I passed down to my daughter. When I looked at the TC after the 2011 redesign, I could barely believe it was the same model. OK, maybe they could do without the gimmicky door that covered the radio, maybe even get away with the simpler 3-dial HVAC as opposed to the push button controls, but omigod, the cheapness of all the interior materials is appalling. It would be barely acceptable in an XD. And to compound it they gave it that hideous side rear window treatment. Even with the 6-speed and the more powerful engine, I could not live with that poverty-spec interior.

          • 0 avatar
            dongledangle

            The radio door is gone too? That’s a really cool feature if you ever have to park in the ghetto and want to keep your stereo.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Tercels were cramped and didn’t pull 7.6 sec runs to 60.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        I’d say Paseo.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Wife drives a 2011 tC. Loves the style and color (cement). Enough power to get out of it’s own way. The biggest let down?? The blatantly cheap interior. If you breathe wrong on it, it’ll get scratched. The reference to the Tercel is all off, as my son’s 1997 Tercel has a much higher quality interior than the 2011 tC. We’ve commented that her tC is more or less a 2-door Camry.

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          I have to say, there are a few tC’s in Cement in my area and they do look sharp. That color is awesome and they’re offering the FJ Cruiser with it for 2014.

          If you put the old tC’s interior into the new tC’s body with that car’s engine/tranny, you would have a good car.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      the tC (pretty sure that means theCelica) may be the best ever FWD Celica, and the FRs may be the best ever RWD Celica. Assuming we don’t discuss certain Celica Supra models.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        No way. If you care about driving, the brilliant 00-05 Celica GT-S trashes the tC; but it was a different style of car and more expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          Demetri- THANK YOU. You took the words right out of my mouth. I absolutely despised the Gen 1 tC and those that tried to call it a Celica. It was NOT a Celica. It was an overweight, ugly, lump that had nothing on the awesomeness that was the 7th Gen Celica, one of my all-time favorite cars. The only redeeming quality about the old tC was that the interior was ridiculously nice for such an inexpensive car. The 2nd Gen is a much better performer and looker, but it has a cheap interior and well, still sucks compared to any Celica.

          The tC is not a Celica successor, it’s a Celica imitator and a cheap one at that, and its existence is part of the reason I despise Scion.

          And for the record, “tC” stands for “touring coupe” and not “Toyota Celica”. The only reason it is different from the xA and xB is that Volvo already had the XC90.

          • 0 avatar
            probert

            My take on the Celica was that it was irony on wheels: a sports Coupe that was actually sporty. People were taken aback by that – how dare you – I can’t sip my coffee if I have to shift the damned thing.

            It was also a deceptively well styled car and with the right paint to show its lines (non metallic) it had a taut purposeful presence complimented by elegant sculpting.

            I’d love to see a velum review ; particularly comparing it to the circa 2000 cougar which was in the same idiom yet a flacid failure.

            That said: I’ve always liked the styling of the TC and it would be more fair to judge it on its own merits.

            Toyota is in a strange position of always being criticized for being boring and bland; yet they’ve produced many interesting cars: The Celica, Supra, Previa, and MR2 come quickly to mind.
            And the great American public responds by not buying them and then doubling down on the “boring” meme. Tough racket,

  • avatar
    b787

    Is tC’s manual transmission any good?

    • 0 avatar

      Video narration says shifts are not rubbery, although not as precise as in Si. Overall, acceptable. If you ran AutoX with Neon and its A-376 tranny, this is going to work just as well. Mind, Alex was positive about the 6sp auto too. Apparently it has some kind of rev-matching downshift feature, and I presume this means rev-holding. Not that you need much with 2.5L, it’s optimized for driveability. Maybe he just liked the car.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    I wish the bespoke stereo crud would stop… Just leave me with a double din hole in the dash or provide good preouts for amplifiers…

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      It sounds as if they’ve changed it, but when I bought mine, it was sitting on the dealer lot with a cardboard cutout inviting the buyer to choose the desired stereo – no additional charge for the standard Pioneer unit, or one of several upgraded Alpine and Pioneer units. I actually took delivery of the car on a Sunday afternoon, with an appointment to get the stereo installed the next day (base stereo). It did, in fact, have a double-din hole in the dash.

      There base stereo has pre-amp outputs, but NPR doesn’t usually need much extra power. Kai Ryssdal blowing out my eardrums.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    The exaggerated Hofmeister kink kills it for me. If the C-pillar window was triangular with a flat bottom it would be a great looking car.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    “…the FR-S is one of the best looking modern Toyota designs.”

    So it wins the world’s-tallest-midget award.

  • avatar
    jco

    while i like the FR-S, i don’t love it. if i were in the market for another little RWD car, I’d go back and find another AP1 S2000. that being said, the FR-S does have an interesting ‘presence’ on the road. they’re low, short, and wide. there’s something about the way it looks and the way it sits that tells you there’s something interesting going on with it.

    as you pointed out, the tC does share some design similarities, but seeing a tC out in person, it looks somewhat ordinary. i mean, maybe it’s because i already know a lot about cars in general that i see it this way in the real world, but i can’t help thinking that visually to the average person something about the difference between the two would be apparent.

    i like the boxiness of the tC, though. it’s kinda neat. between a tC and a Civic Si I’d go Honda, but the Civic is too egg-shaped for my liking..

  • avatar
    epsilonkore

    While I realize the average person walking into Scion will cross shop these two vehicles, it is up to the Best and Brightest to tell them one is a great “everyone/everyday” car, and the other is more of a “track car/second car”

    I miss the large standard sunroof, torque, backseat legroom and hatch and quiet smooth camry engine… other than that the FR-S fits me better in every other respect. The tC is a better long/daily/easy drive car though, and with its lower price I totally get why MOST people SHOULD buy it instead of the FR-S (especially if you live in an area with decent snow fall). The tC to me is more of a reduced size spiritual successor to the Camry Coupe of the 90′s than the last Celica. The FR-S is the best RWD Celica that Subaru has ever built. :)

  • avatar
    Zoom

    “What might surprise you however is that despite the nose-heavy FWD nature of the tC, in stock form, at 8/10ths on a winding track, the FR-S is likely to pull away.”

    Do you mean to say “the tC is likely to pull away.”?

  • avatar
    afflo

    I’ve got 49,000 miles on a 2011. So far it has been an incredibly enjoyable car… My only complaints/solutions:

    - rear hatch is somewhat prone to rattles; it didn’t show up until around 1000 miles ago, and careful placement of some stick-on rubber pads from Target cured it, once I located it (harder than it should be when my wife refuses to drive stick).

    - Ugly seat fabric and hard center armrest – seats covered with leather from Clazzio*, armrest with cover from Redline Goods (both black leather with red stitching. Why not spice it up a bit inside?)

    - Loud on coarse at 70+ MPH on coarse pavement. I’ve often driven Hondas in the past, and at one time owned a Jeep Wrangler, so I just deal with it.

    Overall though, the car has been wonderful.
    Good points:
    - The seats are fantastic (firm bolsters, supportive, and unlike many new cars, you can actually lower them fairly close to the floor).
    - The engine is nice’n torquey. In every day driving, you rarely have to push above 3000 RPM.
    - Steering, while not as sensitive and quick as many sporty compacts, is very stable.
    - The car feels very solid and planted. It feels far more like a stiff smallish midsize coupe than a compact – understandable, since it was developed from a midsize sedan.
    - Interior bits, though sometimes cheap in appearance, feel sturdy. Steering wheel, knobs/switches, door handles, etc. feel solid and well designed.
    - Because of the roof shape, the sunroof is far enough forward to appreciate.
    - My running average fuel economy has been around 28, not counting road trips. On highway, ~32 @ avg 75 MPH (coast to coast). Mileage will drop to 25-26 if I don’t behave.
    - Shifter engages smoothly, throw is a bit long. The clutch is light effort, high engagement point, long travel. I have long legs, so it’s not something that bothers me.

    The interior is well designed for someone with long legs. The seat travel is generous, knee space is generous (the console is cut out on the driver’s side). The flat bottom on the wheel allows me to have the wheel comfortably low without being in the way.

    As stated above, I’ve been extremely happy with the car. I drive ~50 miles a day for my commute, and bought the car knowing I would have several multi-thousand mile road-trips. I wanted something that could be a good highway car, comforable for 6’1/34″ inseam, efficient runabout, carry junk tossed in the hatch, carry my kids in the back (ages 8 and 10), and still be fun. The other cars I tried left me a bit cold; I had a Mazda3 for a month-long rental, and while it felt better at the apex of a cloverleaf, it was otherwise far less enjoyable, and not available as a 2-door. Civic was uncomfortable.

    This car is, above all else, a compromise. It’s not as good a highway cruiser as a proper midsizer, not as good a junk hauler as a proper 5-door like a Fit, not as adept on the backroads as a proper sport-coupe, and not as efficient as a smaller displacement compact. It does most of these things well enough that it hit a sweet spot for me, and hopefully** will last another 150,000 miles at least before I have to start this “find-the-perfect-compromise” again.

    Eesh – sorry for such a long reply! Now, cue the 120 responses from commenters who have never set foot in a second generation tC.

    * Clazzio makes custom-fit leather covers that look nice, and if they become sun-damaged or worn over time, I can either swap them for another set, or use the still pristine cloth underneath.

    ** Hopefully this car will be as hard to kill as Toyota 4-bangers-stick-shifts of the past.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      I also have a 2011. I’m chasing down some interior rattles, but the mechanical stuff has been 100% trouble-free. Like you, I made a priority of finding something big enough to haul my stuff and occasional passengers, fast and comfortable enough for left-lane work on my regular road trips, and nimble and efficient enough for my commute. I also wanted something that would get me deep into six figures on the odo with a minimal service bill. So far, so good.

      The thing about the tC is the value — except for the Kia, which felt pretty uncouth, I couldn’t find a similarly spacious new car at that price with a powertrain I liked anywhere near as much as I like the Toyota I4. At least, not two years ago. And I do bristle when somebody suggests that I ought to have ponied up “just a few grand more” for a mid-sizer as if that money were being deposited in my yard by a magical cash-crapping unicorn and not coming out of my paycheck. This car was a stretch over the eco-boxes I was looking at, but by and large it’s been worth it. Whether I’d come to that conclusion if I had $21,000 and another dying ’98 Accord V6 coupe on my hands today, I’m not sure.

      Can’t say it’s been improved by the plastic surgery, though. The 2011 re-design had some nice clean Japanese lines; those new lenses are trying way too hard.

  • avatar
    sexyhammer

    it’s a car that serves no purpose other than to identify people who don’t know any better.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’m not sure all, or even the majority of young buyers _demand_ “premium/tech options.”

    Case in point: The Scion tC itself, enjoying America’s lowest average buyer age, despite lacking said options!

  • avatar

    Well, this was a surprise twice. First, that Alex deigned to review a cheap car, and a relatively unconventional and overshadowed model at that. Second, that he was fairly positive, even mentioned the inevitable “hard” plastic in a neutral tone (it is what it is, it’s a cheap car).

    Funny thing, remember that book by Ross Bentley that Jack recommended? Ross writes very little about FWD cars, except that he suggests that you drive them just like RWD cars with no change in technique, just be more precise and observe the traction circle better.

    Notably Alex mentions tC as “nose-heavy” several times, but what is the actual distribution? Eclipse, RIP, was nose-heavy. This, however? Ecliplse also had tons of torque steer, which is notable by its absense from this review.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      In just the past few weeks Alex has reviewed the Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra GT, Mazda 6 and FIAT 500L. None of which can be classed as expensive cars.

    • 0 avatar
      bludragon

      It’s likely to be around 60% front / 40% rear although in practice the “nose-heavy” feel is as much a factor of (intentional) suspension setup as it is due to weight distribution. More weight over the driven (front) wheels is actually a good thing in many cases…

      There is one difference I noticed switching from fwd to rwd on track. That is for fwd you can simply mash the throttle to pull out of an oversteer moment, while with rwd you need to have some more finesse. I guess going from fwd to rwd I had to be more precise :)

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Weight balance is 63/37 F/R. Torque steer wasn’t much of an issue in straight line driving and was no better or worse than the FWD competition.

      I love me some cheap cars. We recently had the Civic, Forte, Elantra, 500L, NV200, and Versa Note. I wouldn’t exactly call the 4Runner or Tundra terribly expensive either. Stay tuned however, the next review is spendy.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    “FR-S 0.87g, tC 0.84g”

    Since I’ve started driving on track, using after market tires, and non-oem alignment I have come to realize how meaningless these numbers are.

    Is anyone going to notice the difference between 0.84 and 0.87, or for that matter, 0.8g and 0.9g, steady state cornering when they are not on a race track? Is anyone on a race track aside from car reviewers going to keep the oem tires and alignment on the car?

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I bought a 2005 tC in October of 2004. It was such a new car people actually craned their necks to see it when I drove by. I saw it on some auto show on tv and fell in love. I still think the original is a very good looking car. It had adequate power and handled pretty well. A few simple TRD upgrades and I was quite happy. I never fell out of love with it since I was coming from something completely unreliable to a car that the only problems (big or small) I ever had with is was the sunvisor broke and the stereo door cover squeeked until I lubed it. I only sold it after I bought my dream car. I would buy it back today.
    With each update I have liked it less and less. First was the 2008 refresh with the funky tail lights and circle-filled grille. Then the new one in 2010 was built in such a way that it looked enormous. The black A pillar is stupid as is the C pillar exagerated kink. And it seemed to be just a bit cheaper overall.
    I saw a new one this morning and thought either someone had put a body kit on one or it was some Release Series. I had no idea they had already come out with the new ones. Looking at the interior pictures, it still looks like a car that would be released in 2004.
    At just under $20k it is still a pretty good bargain. But it doesn’t shout absurdly good deal like it did when I bought mine for just under $17k. Even then that was ridiculously cheap for a good car.
    So, being that I am no longer the target demo for the tC, I will step aside and say I just don’t understand why you would buy this when there are other better options out there.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      Man, I always hear about these better options. I did a lot of comparison shopping while I was looking around.

      Slightly used is always an option, but unless it’s from a tarnished brand, it’ll often cost as much as a new car, especially since cash-4-clunkers put pressure on the used market.

      The Mazda3 is alright – I had one for a month back in March while on a business trip, but the driver’s area wasn’t as roomy (legroom, foot space, knee space), the seats were terrible, and I hate compact 4-doors*.

      There are lots of cars that do any one area better, but I had a heck of a time finding another car that fit in the perfect Goldilocks zone.

      * I’ve mentioned this in other comments before, but if you are tall, and slide the seats all the way back, most compact sedans have the B-pillar too far forward. I want the armrest and window-sill next to me, and the shoulder-belt anchor behind my shoulder.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam Hell Jr

        The “better options” you hear referenced generally boil down to you spending more or sacrificing oomph or both.

        A comparably equipped 3, Golf, Veloster, or Focus will run you something like $25k or more, a significant premium over the tC. A stripper Si is not TOO much more money, but frankly I found it to be a fairly uncomfortable vehicle with not enough storage space.

        If you’re willing to live with a less-powerful engine, you can certainly get a very nice compact or a low-level CUV for tC money. I cared more about powertrain, suspension, and interior volume than about soft-touch dash materials and smartphone sync, so that wasn’t really an option for me.

        The only exception is the Koup, which would work fine if the roads I drive on weren’t basically Midwest-icized rubble. I thought it was a crap suspension. I’m interested to see what Kia does with the thing.

        • 0 avatar
          afflo

          That was my observation as well.

          I love the Golf/GTI, but no way am I willing to deal with long-term VW maintenance issues.

          My two runners up were the Accord and Mustang, actually. Finding the former in EX-I4-manual spec, or the latter with V6-manual-moonroof is apparently nigh impossible.

          I honestly didn’t know about the Koup until afterwards, but the difference between a 10 year old Hyundai/Kia and a 10 year old Honda/Toyota is still quite stark.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Not to be that guy, but according to the Federal Reserve’s CPI calculator, $17,000 in 2004 is equivalent to $21,012.65 in 2013.

      I wholeheartedly agree that each iteration of this model, whether by facelift or redesign, has looked worse than its predecessor.

      As to whether there are better options out there: How many two-door hatchbacks are there on the US market with the capability of carrying four 5’10″ people in reasonable comfort? The two-door Golf is the only other car that comes to mind. For better or for worse, there aren’t a lot of offerings that directly parallel the tC.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Can anybody offer a reasonable explanation about dashboards having to be soft now? Who touches their dashboard, ever?

    Is the process of “soft injection molding” the dash panel going to improve the car in any significant way? This whole subject is just baffling to me.

    • 0 avatar
      DavidB

      Edit or B&B: +1 on grzydj’s request — Please explain the soft dash advantage to me. The partially steel one on my ’85 Grand Wagoneer was fine.

    • 0 avatar

      Preach on, bro. I tried to talk sense into Alex on the subject for a while, but he’s a reviewer and I’m not, so let’s just say he’s crazy about this stupid soft plastic stuff and turn to meaningful parts of the review.

    • 0 avatar
      TTACFanatic

      I suppose it comes from 3 different reasons:

      1.) More expensive cars have soft-touch materials, ergo soft-touch materials are “premium”.

      2.) The phrase “truck interior” or “commercial grade interior” come to mind. Hard plastics are just too utilitarian.

      3.) Grain of salt here : Hard touch materials not holding up well in the long term. I’ve seen a lot of hard plastic materials that will scratch if you look at them funny … and once it scratches it never comes out.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      Agreed. If it looks good, who cares if it’s soft or hard?

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      Part of my issue with rock-hard plastics (I think it was on TTAC that the Sebring’s interior was compared to melted-down toy swords) is that they scratch far too easily. Accidentally drag a laptop case (or purse) against the glove box and you get a difficult to repair gouge. I’m all for soft-touch materials and feel that they lend a far more upscale feel to the interior.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Because it looks cheap and feels cheap. Do you have a dining room table? Did it come from a furniture store? Well, what a waste. You could get the same “function” out of a picnic table made of 2x4s, or with a top made out of a sheet of plywood like some catering places I’ve been in. After all, if you cover it with a tablecloth it works just as well, right?

      Having some padding or resilience on the doors and dash makes for a quieter interior and is just a nicer tactile experience. Plus, every manufacturer I’ve seen that goes for these cheap molded slabs inevitably cheaps out completely and doesn’t bother designing the mold seams so that they’re invisible and unfeelable. Obviously you have no problem driving a car with an interior that comes off like a Rubbermaid trash can. Unfortunately, too many manufacturers detect that sentiment as being in the majority and force this junk on all of us.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    I admit that sometimes I wish that I had gone with a new tC instead of the used Acura RSX Type-S that I bought.

    In regards to the bit on the drivetrain. My K20Z1 is very much like the FA in the FR-S/BRZ. My engine peaks it’s torque at 143ft-lbs at 7,000 RPM (not a misprint), and the horsepower peaks at 210/201hp at 7,800 RPM (depends on which SAE HP measurement used). If anything it’s even more high strung than the FR-S. And I for one would not have it any other way. I love engines that breathe and sing right up to the redline. All my cars that I have owned except one have had higher HP numbers than torque numbers. The most extreme case that I have owned was a Kawasaki Ninja 250R that had a redline of 13,000 RPM, a torque peak of 15ft-lbs at around 10,000 RPM, and a horsepower peak of 30hp at just over 12,000 RPM. I have been driving cars with a “top-heavy” torque curve for years and I love them and handling them is instinctive for me. In short, I have long learned to accelerate with the gear shift and not the throttle.

    Having said that, while I love high revving engines I do appreciate their problems. They are by definition very high-strung, and constant attention to maintenance is essential. Problems simply can not be put off till later; they must be taken care of promptly. While I love my high-strung little Acura and I love driving it, some days I wish I had gone for the more relaxed tC. The costs associated with maintenance of an engine like mine can be tiresome.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Is your RSX modded at all? I had an 04 for years before I got my S2000, and there were 2 mods that really changed the car for the better: a cold air intake paired with the Hondata #4 re-flash. The changes in the ECU programming designed to work with the intake give you more torque down low, as much as 30hp extra in the mid-range, and a huge window to be in the big cam from the lowered VTEC point and extra 600 RPM of revs up top. That $500 is the best thing you can do to that car, plus the induction noise from the open filter is gnarly sounding.

      Also, throwing a bigger rear sway bar (24mm progress set to soft for me) on makes the car a bit more tail happy and fun to drive, granted the 05-06 don’t need it as badly as the 02-04 did.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        Mine isn’t modded at all. The RSX is not to be touched or modified, I am leaving it as is to be a reliable daily driver. My ’86 RX-7 GXL is my toy and the one I get to fool around with.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    I thought I read somewhere that the tC is one of the most expensive cars on the road to insure, perhaps due to the target demographic: 20-somethings prone to hooning. Does anyone have some real life experience with this?

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I would like the tC more if it wasn’t so shamelessly a Camry with a new body. And if they actually changed the engine tuning from the Camry. Divorce this thing from America’s greatest beigemobile as much as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      bludragon

      I thought it was based on the Corolla?

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Is it? I always thought it was Camry-based…certainly seems closer to Camry size than Corolla size.

        • 0 avatar
          Demetri

          It’s based on the European Avensis, which slots between the Corolla and Camry in size.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            That makes sense. It’s way too big to be a Corolla but is smaller than a Camry. I guess the Camry engine just had me thinking it was a Sports Camry.

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            Actually, if you read Toyota chassis codes it gets more interesting. The FWD Celica was chassis code T, the RWD Celica was chassis code A, the Corolla is chassis code E, Camry is chassis code V, and so on. This is similar to how GM had “W bodies” and “Delta bodies” and “Theta bodies” and so on. One interesting little factoid is that the MkIII and MKIV Supras were chassis code A, indicating that they were in fact just the continuation of the RWD Celica while the new T chassis FWD Celica carried the name.

            The 6th generation Celica for example was chassis T200, and the 7th generation was T230. I am going somewhere with this, so just hold on.

            The Toyota Avensis is actually chassis code T210 and T220 for the first generation and T250 for the second. If you go by chassis codes, this makes the Avensis effectively a long-wheelbase 4-door Celica. They may or may not be strongly related, I don’t know. Toyota has played fast and loose with chassis codes before.

            Now what about the tC? It has a chassis code of NT10 for the first generation and GT20 for the second generation. Note the “T” in the code. Essentially, the tC IS the 8th and 9th generation Celica with new clothing. The FR-S is chassis code “N” and is effectively the spirtual successor of the old RWD “A” chassis Celicas.

            Sorry for the long post, but I thought it would be interesting.

          • 0 avatar
            afflo

            Fantastic, DevilsRotary86!

            Note the 106.3 in wheelbase. Identical to the Avensis, and the Lexus HS. I think these are the current “T” chassis cars. Also, the Toyota Zelas, which is all but identical to the tC minus the sunroof, and sold only overseas in a few gulf states.

            I’ve noticed the Avensis and Mondeo are taking more and more of the Mercedes E-class’ turf as the preferred taxi-cab of Europe… If they’ll use them as taxis, the chassis must be pretty tough.

          • 0 avatar
            afflo

            Also… The Prius uses a 106.3″ wheelbase. Perhaps it’s only a coincidence, but somehow I doubt it.

            And, to take this conversation full circle, the redesigned for 2014 Corolla is on a… 106.3″ wheelbase. It would appear that the tC was not previously using the Corolla’s platform, but the Corolla is perhaps using the tC/Avensis’ platform.

            EDIT: It seems that half the ‘large’ cars in Japan have a 106.3″ wheelbase, now that I look at it, from Honda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Toyota, etc. It rounds out to a perfect 2700 mm, so this is probably the reason.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            “long-wheelbase 4-door Celica”

            That would be the late Toyota Carina. The Avensis is the successor to the old Carina E(urope).

  • avatar
    Demetri

    This used to be a pretty good car for the money. Nice looks, solid power, not particularly agile but grippy enough, and came in at what, 16.5k? Not seeing that anymore.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    Consumer research shows that buyers equate soft touch points, including dashboards, with “luxury” and “better quality”. I don’t have a problem per se with hard dashes, read my Prius and 2012 Civic reviews if you don’t believe me. At issue is the fact that the competition uses soft touch materials and the tC does not. This puts the tC at a disadvantage to those that value soft touch points its more than just the softness at issue, you can visually tell the difference between a hard plastic dash and a soft one in most cars. We all (reviewers and readers alike) need to keep in mind our views are not universal, so I try to touch on issues I have had reader feedback. Material feel ams choices like soft touch parts are frequent questions by readers, viewers and Facebook followers so I always include the information. If it isn’t important to you, just skip over it and move to the next section.

  • avatar
    redav

    To challenge conventional wisdom, if the tC has the lowest buyer age, but lacks the tech features young people demand, maybe they aren’t actually demanding them.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Yup. Carmakers want to be “cool, like Apple” and think that they can get there by loading up the infotainment unit with technical features in a cargo-cult fashion.

      In reality, anyone tech-savvy knows that the navigation software on their smartphone will probably be superior to the navigation software that the carmaker can come up with, and will get regular software updates as well. Ditto the music software and whatever other “apps” that Chevy and Toyota and etc. are stuffing in there. Even if it looks “state of the art” when the car is new (and frequently it isn’t even that good then) it’ll be antiquated garbage in two years because the carmaker isn’t going to update it. You get a newer, nicer smartphone every two years; you don’t replace your car on the same schedule. Add on the fact that the only car company that can get the UI right on the software in the dashboard is Tesla, and the “tech features” are actually a negative.

      Therefore, all you really want is a convenient place to put the phone where it can charge while the screen is visible, and a standard way to connect the phone’s sound output to the car’s speakers. Making the steering wheel buttons work with whatever music app the phone is running is a nice bonus but not strictly necessary.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam Hell Jr

        Spot on. The chintzy blatant double-DIN stereo and the total lack of smartphone syncing was a plus for me with the tC, since I can always buy better, newer gadgets. I may have been well-informed on this point because my previous ’98 Accord had a very groovy built-in carphone mic.

        • 0 avatar
          afflo

          That’s why I got the (As of ’11) base stereo. It integrates nicely with my iPhone, shows streaming radio song info on the screen, and the track-skip buttons integrate nicely on the wheel. If I run google maps, it will attenuate the volume when giving directions.

  • avatar
    gosteelerz

    Not to nitpick, Alex mentions a Civic SI automatic in the video, which I don’t think exists. Kudos to Honda for that.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      An automatic or automated manual is more convenient for over 99% of my driving. The lack of a DSG on the Civic Si and Ford Focus ST/Fiesta ST put them out of the running for my last purchase. I do applaud Honda for offering the Civic Si in a sedan, as for at least one generation, it was only available as a coupe, but a five-door hatch would still be neat.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    This like the midsize FWD coupe is dumb and dying segement. FWIW I think the new Mazda 3 and the VW hatches look better then this car – they also drive better and handle better.

    Why drive a car that kinda sorta looks like an ugly sports car but drives like a generic FWD car? It has little of the utility and none of the handling? I guess its got the 2.5 liter engine – but so does a Dart and likely the upcoming new 3.

    It took so long for this segement to dry up. How long before people figure out that a hatch/wagon is better then a CUV for most of the population..

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I rode in a new tC back in 2010. I thought it was pretty good as coupes go, spacious inside and nice seats. I’m surprised to hear about the low age of the owners. The one I rode in was owned by a 50+ year old. I didn’t know that 20 somethings thought coupes were still cool. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      Funny sight visiting the family a year ago – my white tc next to my brother’s white Civic Coupe in the driveway, and Dad’s Accord Coupe in the garage. Mom has a Fit (why yes, it is White!) just to break it up!

      Dad and I took a 2600 mile road trip with me a couple of years ago, coast to coast. He flew to the west coast and drove back easy with me… He seemed very impressed with the tC after driving a thousand miles or so behind the wheel. Regardless – if your father is still alive and you have the opportunity to take a long car trip together, do it. I know I’ll one day be looking down at him in a box and cherish the memory.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Compared to the new Corolla it is a better value. If you can live with the odd c-piller and don’t need 4 doors. Corolla offers only 140 hp with the 6 speed is only offered on the base L. All other Corolla are CVT. While the Tc offers 180 HP with the 6 speed. A near Celica.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      The Corolla S offers the 6-speed manual as well.

      The tC is a sportier car than the Corolla, but the new Corolla has a nicer interior and gets better gas mileage. Cars for different missions.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    For me the 800 pound gorilla is the Focus ST. In 2 years I will be looking for late-model used in the sub 20k range. I’d say the Si, Tc and ST are my top 3 contenders. In terms of engine reliability it’s hard to go wrong with Honda or Sloyota, but I will at least have 2 years worth of data on the ST by then. The biggest downside of the Ford is that it doesn’t have a double DIN stereo like the other two, so what I buy is what I’m stuck with for the life of the car. I hate all the overly integrated entertainment systems they are putting into cars these days

    I’m a sucker for coupes, but I love hatchbacks too. There really are some great choices out there right now.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      I would never, ever buy a used sporty compact. The downside of a used car is that you don’t know how it has been treated. A MazdaSpeed3, FocusST, Civic SI, etc is likely to have been through a rough life. Even if it looks mostly ok, there’s always the chance that it was some wannabe-Vin-Diesel’s project, and he “parted-out” the car to make it look unmodified for resale.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Oh I do agree with you there. I intend to include an independent mechanic’s inspection as part of my budget. I also intend to buy a car with minimum of 1 year/15000 mile original factory warranty left. 15k is about what I drive per year… If there are issues they should rear their heads by then.

  • avatar
    afflo

    Mr Dykes: excellent video, now that I’ve finally gotten around to seeing it!

    The door panel shouldn’t do that. Mine doesn’t after 49,000 miles. It’s either a manufacturing flaw (or more likely) rough treatment by previous testers.

    Also – I must ask – what road is that? It looks strikingly like CA hwy 9 north of Santa Cruz.

  • avatar
    Macca

    I’m wondering if that non-functional red lens on the rear is akin to the one that’s on my 370Z – in non-US markets a rear fog light is installed there. The cover plate on the Z used to be black and recently was changed to a red reflector.

    I agree with others here that the first-gen tC was far better looking – it actually was classy and had an upscale appearance from certain angles. This one tries to be very edgy outside (and fails) and then looks like a ’90s bargain-bin econobox inside. What a letdown, especially at $20k.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    My brother-in-law has the 2011 in eggplant, I think…loves it. I have always liked the tC, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say I even like the new bodywork. The headlight design reminds me of the hitch in the rear quarters of the LFA, as silly as that sounds.

    Rear passenger room is no joke in this car, and the real world practicality of the interior space and usable performance married to a REALLY cheap sticker price makes me admire it all that much more. Not only does TRD support it, there’s a sizeable aftermarket available to tart it up in a faux-ricer fashion if you’re so inclined. It’s a cheap, fun car that you can afford right out of college (high school?)…who could have a problem with that?

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Nice review made me add it to my shopping list. Price is right, but I’ll pay a lot of attention to the seats and interior bits.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I have an idea!!! Get Mazda3 and you will get all tC can give + nice interior + 2 doors.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      If the Mazda3 were available as a two-door, I might have looked at it more closely. The one I had as a rental wasn’t all that inspiring, but that 2.0L with an automatic could make any car unpleasant.

      The interior was about the same though… a few splashes of silver painted plastic to brighten it up, and a bit swoopier, but the same big round twin-dial binnacle, three knob A/C unit, three-spoke wheel, lots of hard plastic, etc. The console intruded significantly into the right knee space, and the footwell felt less roomy. The seats weren’t nearly as comfortable. Not a bad car by any means, but I was happy to be back in my own car after a month with it.

      http://photos.dealereprocess.com/imzo/pix/2013/13mazda/13mazdamazda3hb2a/mazda_13mazda3hb2a_dashboard_d1.jpg

      I believe that getting a 2.5L/6-speed manual with a hatchback instaed of the rental-style sedan forces you to upgrade to the $24K+ Grand Touring trim.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        afflo,
        I disagree strongly with your review. To begin, let me point out that my car is 2011 Mazda3 iTouring 5MT, 2L. When I purchased it, it was a relieve from test driving Civic, Corolla and Forte 2L.
        First, you mentioned unpleasant automatic, which I will not argue. But my 5MT is a pleasant shifter with great feel for clutch and gear throws. My teat of Corolla S-type ended after 200 yards. Rubbery shifter and clutch uptake would be enough to choose auto.

        The interior of Mazda3 was definitely the best out of all of them. Soft dash, soft surfaces where your elbow go. Other cars, that cost 10K more have it not better. Great ergonomics, Germanic style. The 3 HVAC controls look cheap during the day. But at night you feel like you’re in German car. Full set of steering wheel controls, all with back light. May be you like Hyundai-style center console execution better but I don’t see it as better, only as different style. quality of switch gear in Mazda3 is the highest. Seat fabric looks to be durable. No problems after 3 years.

        I am 6′ tall and I have no problems with foot room. As a matter fact, I am not even using all the track of my seat. If I move all the way back, I can barely reach pedals.

        The seat you complained about have no issues with me. Very good lumbar support and it really well supports my back and tights. I am periodically driving 6-hour trip and if I didn’t need to go to bathroom, I would sit through the trip. When I get out, I have no back issues. Once I drove CR-v for 1.5 hours, all I wanted is to get out. I had real back pain in that seat.

        I don’t even see much of the weakness in Mazda3 iTouring. Only things I would change are – that motorcycle dash to a flat dash. and I would put analog temperature and fuel gauges back in.
        Other than that I really enjoying precise steering, 30mpg avg, nice engine growl vs buzz in competing models, good balance of ride/handling, great handling – still the best in business, supportive seats, sweet shifter and clutch, blue tooth (I would need to buy 20K Civic).

        and few more things – it is assembled with the highest quality and precision in Japan. It is flawless. reliability – no probs in 3 years. Initial tires are real ones, not like Toyota that puts low resisting which lasts 30K. I have 33K and tires little less than half-life.

        My friend, I’ve tested Civic/Corolla/Protege in 1998. Protege won hand down. Guess what, I still have that car, my son drives it. And 15 years later, Mazda3 won my heart again.

        To me tC interior is way worse than Mazda3 in design. I don’t see better interior in this class, period. there are some different styles but better – no

        • 0 avatar
          afflo

          Hey man, I’m glad you found a car you like. For me, the Mazda3 was less comfortable, and I didn’t care for the ergonomics all that much. I didn’t have three years with it, only about 1 month and 2000 miles or so. The interior panels were hard plastic, but that’s not a bad thing – I’d rather have a hard dashboard that doesn’t crack in the sun have more invested in crash testing and engineering. There were things I did like – it was quieter, and the steering felt good. I liked its close cousin the focus better… In fact, I liked the focus more than the (pre-’13) Fusion.

          I’m not going to argue with your assessment. You can argue facts: power, weight, fuel consumption, etc. Subjective experience will vary from person to person, and I honestly find it unfortunate that the auto industry insists on moving lockstep in unison with every fad. Suggesting that there is a singular “best” car,, as these auto-rags are prone to do when they run a comparison test and crown their Ozymandias of the Year… That’s a pointless, arrogant endeavor.

          I gotta admit though – that ridiculous West Side Story switchblade key is inexcusable – if it sprung open in my pocket and stabbed me in the jewels one more time, I was going to FedEx a severed horse head to MazdaUSA!

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            This is just so funny. Because sometimes I feel safe with that key in my pocket when walking on the bad street.

            Definitely, each person can find what fits him or her and no car is absolute best. Focus even smaller than Mazda3. And considering that sometimes I do take couple passengers… But that was not even an issue because I put more emphasis on Japanese assembly quality.

            It all down to… in this article we discussed a 2 door car, which should be what 4-door Mazda3 IS.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    Driven several Mazda 3′s. Mazda’s entire lineup has to be one of the most overrated ever. I do not see the fuss about it and sure as hell never experienced any of that so called “legendary handling” in the Mazda 3, and especially in the Mazda 2.

    I think Mazda gets all this love from so-called “enthusiasts” because of some under dog allure. If any car in Mazda’s lineup was a Toyota, we would never hear the end of how terrible they are from misinformed teenagers on Autoblog and Jalopnik. Actual buyers see through the act and phony baloney “zoom zoom” and buy better cars.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      In their defense, they do make the Miata.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      There is nothing more base-less that I’ve read. For FWD sedan Mazda3 is the smoothest thing around. Hell, my friend has “legendary” 2004 Accord Coupe – it is not close to Mazda3 in road manners and steering feel. I wanted to buy Corolla S 5MT. But it only took 3 minutes to realize that I will not want to drive it.

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        Hah… Ok. I see what’s going on here; you had me for a few! Fun times on TTAC.

        “Legendary 2004 Accord coupe?” Feel safer at night with a switchblade key? Hat off to you, good sir!

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Last Mazda I drove was a 2011 6 (previous generation, the one that was relentlessly mocked). Was one of the most competent FWD family sedans I’ve ever driven. Light and responsive handling, a willing (if not very powerful) engine, and the auto transmission most in tune with my thoughts in my recent memory.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I really liked that generation of the 6 but it had way too much road noise for a family cruiser. I think it ran the same 2.5 4-cylinder as the Fusion, but the transmission made all the difference between those two. The Fusion was balky, slow to respond, hard to kick out of high gear when a downshift was needed. The 6′s transmission was light years ahead. Too bad Mazda didn’t sell more of them.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      I don’t think that’s the case. I never had any kind of affinity toward Mazda when I bought a 3; I had to be won over. Driving it back to back with a 2008 Elantra and Corolla was like night and day. Honestly, I thought the Civic coupe I compared it to drove about as well, but the 3 had it soundly beat on price and had a much nicer interior.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Demetri,
        you saying exactly what I’ve been saying many times. Mazda3 and Civic (2011) are like twins – same size, same interior space, same trunk, same noise. But for the money I got my iTouring, I wouldn’t get Blue Tooth, Split-folding rear seat, rear disk brakes, full array of steering wheel controls with backlight (this is what I remember). Also, interior of Civic is goofy, POS plastic everywhere. Also, that ridiculous double-deck dash. The windshield is so deep forward that its stupid. If the Civic has more interior volume it is only because of that huge space between dash and windshield. Because everywhere else is same as Mazda3. and on top of all that better price for Mazda. It is no brainier.

  • avatar
    Avonni

    “No matter how you slice it, the tC isn’t as good-looking”

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say “In my opinion, the tC isn’t as good-looking” ?

    Have considered both of these, but not going to get either one. Would like to have the driving dynamics of the FR-S, with the styling (and hatch) of the tC, and the interior of…some other car. But hey, that’s just me. It just as well – I don’t fit into “Scion’s” demographic anyway.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I sat in and toyed with a 2014 tc yesterday… Didn’t drive it because the weather was crappy. I have to say I’m really impressed, and for 21k you get a LOT of car. It is for certain one of those cars that just looks better in person than in pictures.

    I will have to go back with family to really check out the back seat space, but it looks promising. I was very surprised at how well the driver seat accommodated my 6’2 frame. Most small cars are simply not built with anyone over 5’9 in mind. 60/40 folding rear seat, nice… The hatch opening is massive! I’m pretty sure you could get a boxed washer or dryer in there no problemo.

    It reminds me of my 2004 Golf, which I said had TARDIS Syndrome in that it truly seems to be bigger on the inside. Excellent use of space. This is the one Toyota I’d truly be serious about owning.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      The low roofline sometimes bothers people who are torso-tall. For people who are leg-tall (I’m 6’1 with a 34″ inseam), it fits perfectly.

      The worst I’ve been in has to be the Honda Fit – it has a tall roof, but the seat travel doesn’t allow you to extend your legs. In fact, I had uncomfortable pressure points from the seat because my knees were raised, and my thighs didn’t touch the seat at the forward edge.

      The cargo area is mostly good, although the vertical space is limited at the very end of the hatch. Taller items have to be pushed forward. I’ve had no problem getting some bulky items in the cargo area (two bicycles, a lawnmower, boxes for a move, etc.). I’d probably be more impressed with it if I hadn’t owned an Element in the past!


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