“Sir, I don’t think you understand how our pricing model works.”
It was the winter of 2004, and a sad-sack of a salesman sat at the desk across from Mrs. Bark and me at a morbidly depressing Toyota-Scion dealership near Dayton, Ohio. My dear wife was the less-than-proud owner of a 2001 Hyundai Elantra that had been the very first car she’d ever purchased new. That Elantra came with war wounds; it had been hit in the rear door a week after she bought it, and the car was so cheap that the small dent it caused wasn’t worth fixing.
We had recently become upwardly mobile, thanks to a promotion I got at work, so I wanted to buy her something nicer; something sporty, but not actually sporty. She was a graduate music student, and all of her friends drove shitboxes from the ’90s. I wanted them to know that her husband was somebody, not just another poor grad student. Alas, youthful pride.
Did you ever have to find a way to survive and you knew your choices were bad, but you had to survive?
Irving Rosenfeld, “American Hustle“
The rental car lottery is a funny thing. Some days you win; other days you end up having your olfactory receptors assaulted by an invisible army of plastic-forming chemical fumes.
Faced with choosing between a Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Veloster this past Monday, I called our fearless leader: “Which one of these things do we need a review of?”
After Mark did a quick perusal of the site’s history, we agreed that, since our last Veloster review was over four years old, I would grab the keys to the visually, erm, interesting Hyundai.
It’s a decision I’ve been regretting ever since.
Imagine if you will.
The world’s largest and most consistently successful automaker is in deep trouble. Not because of profits, but because of products.
TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes:
The first car I bought for myself was a 2011 Scion tC. Compared with some other decisions I made three years ago (cough, cough, career in human resources, cough), this one’s turned out okay — to date, I’ve put 40k on the odo with no repair costs but regular maintenance, and the hatchback utility and decent fuel economy have both matched up well with my needs. I’ll probably have the tC paid off this year, and I’m looking forward to debt-free living, so the car and I are stuck with each other for some time to come.
My biggest complaint is with the car’s interstate manners. I take a handful of significant road trips every year, and at freeway speeds on anything but pristine pavement (of the kind one does not often traverse on I-80), the ride gets jittery, and the tire noise is, well, tiresome. (Read More…)
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.
TTAC Reader Richard responds to Derek’s Scion Metalhead Marketing piece from the perspective of a car lover and metal fan
” ‘Entrails ripped from a virgin’s c**t,’ ” I thought to myself. Toyota wants to play patron to a musical genre that has spawned songs like ‘Entrails Ripped from a Virgin’s C**t’ and ‘Christraping Black Metal.’ What are they thinking?”
My disbelief at Scion AV’s announcement echoed across heavy metal fandom. If there’s such a thing as collective cognitive dissonance, Scion AV caused it. Nobody could believe that Toyota was going to do this. What did heavy metal have to do with selling cars? And why would Toyota risk its stodgy and safe image on promoting itself via heavy metal, even if done through the ‘edgy’ and ‘youth-oriented’ Scion brand?
Sergio & Co aren’t the only ones partying it up in Vegas. Toyota is hosting its own bachelor party in Sin City, complete with products like a new Avalon, RAV4, Scion tC and a next-generation Corolla described as
“…cool. It is hip, it is fun. It is everything that the consumer is not expecting in that segment.”
A couple of months ago, Aaron Robinson of Car & Driver wrote an expansive article about Scion.
This quote pretty much summarized his view on the brand.
“I have no doubt that Scion will eventually go the way of Plymouth.”
I’m sure he wasn’t implying that cheap Scions will someday morph their way into becoming Toyota equivalents that offer fake wood trim exterior panels and trombone case red interiors. As a long-time automotive writer and columnist, he was simply reading the proverbial writing on Scion’s firewall that has been ever deeper ingrained into their product line.
Anarchy in the TTAC! It turns out that Michael Karesh and I both got invited to short-lead Scion tC press events. His review is found here and nicely covers things like the sound system, recent sales numbers, and the American economy. It’s so comprehensive that I didn’t feel the need to attend my press preview.
I did, however, feel the need to pay my bookie, so I am dutifully submitting this piece to offset a small amount of my personal debt. If you are not in the mood to read two reviews of this car, I have helpfully summarized my review in one sentence, posted “before the jump” for your convenience:
Given sufficient velocity and violence of application, it is possible to set the brakes on fire.
Due to the poor planning of yours truly, TTAC won’t have its own New York Auto Show photography until a bit later in the week. But then, it’s also beginning to look like Toyota won’t have a real sports coupe worth mentioning until the FT-86 comes out sometime around 2012. Hey, nobody’s perfect. Meanwhile, let’s try to enjoy what we do have: press shots of a warmed-over, front-drive cute-coupe. Scion swears the tC’s 2.5 liter engine and platform (McPherson front/Double Wishbone rear) are “all new,” but it’s not enough to make you forget that a $25k, RWD, boxer-engined “true” sports coupe is coming from Toyota in a few short years. Which is good for patient enthusiasts, but not so great for the Scion brand.