2016 Scion tC Review
This sporty-esque coupe goes gently into that good night
Published: March 15th, 2016
Toyota's youth-focused offshoot brand Scion was probably too quirky for its own good. It embraced taglines like "Weird, right?," attempting to show off its uniqueness and originality, but in its attempt to be different, it also took some bad left turns, lest we remind you of the iQ. Earlier this year, Toyota announced that it was officially shutting down its 13-year side project, and would absorb most of Scion's lineup, re-badging them as Toyotas. Despite being the brand's bestseller, the tC didn't make that list. It will meet its fate this summer, but before the tC goes the way of the dodo, we hopped in the 2016 model to see what it has left to offer.
The two-door five-seat hatchback coupe wants to be a sports car so bad. While Scion's - er, now Toyota's - other sporty coupe, the FR-S, sits low, and sleek, the tC is more upright. It lies in the middle of Scion's range, offering more space for a coupe. Too bad it's a bit awkward looking with a disjointedness the first generation car didn't seem to have.
- Sharp angles and creased corners give the tC its own sporty flair.
- The roofline is a bit oddly shaped, undecided which look its going for and looks like a rounded off trapezoid.
- The 18-inch alloys aren't the most hideous things we've ever seen, but they're far from sleek.
Interior: Lacking in sophistication
What the tC had going for it is its value. For a pretty inexpensive price point, consumers got a host of standard features like a new seven-inch touchscreen interface with smartphone integration, panoramic moonroof, and sporty seating with contrasting colors. However, this seeming value is instantly cheapened by the lack of quality materials on the inside. Dull plastics and cloth cover the inside, making it seem like a bargain-basement buy.
- The backseat reclines back and tilts forward for more versatility with cargo room.
- Respectable interior space and foot room by coupe standards.
- Limited visibility in the back is made worse by the lack of a backup camera.
- Lots of noise enters the cabin on the road.
Driving Impressions: Capable, but noisy
On the road, the tC has a fair amount of pep, though it's no FR-S. The six-speed automatic has paddle shifters if you want to manually shift, with automatic rev-matching on downshifts. The heart of the tC is the same workhorse found in the base Camry and other Toyota products, but due to its small size, and light weight, it feels more eager.
- The suspension feels a bit firmer than it needs to be, and steering is precise.
- The body has a nice balance of weight, but it jiggles and vibrates pretty easily on city roads marked by potholes.
- While it does have pretty good acceleration, it also make a fair amount of noise.
Final Impressions: Good value, but it's still no FR-S
With its sporty flair, affordable price, and host of standard features it's not hard to see why the tC was the top seller for Scion. It offers value, space, and practicality for a coupe. But, when it comes to driving joy and performance, the tC is sorely lacking. If you're looking for a coupe that excite you, you're better off with FR-S, that isn't that much more expensive. You might not have as much space in FR-S, but you'll still get a backseat, and a rear-wheel drive system that provides a much more engaging ride.
Specifications and Price
Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed sequential automatic
Drivetrain Layout: front-engine, front-wheel drive
Power Output: 179 horsepower / 172 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 23 city / 31 highway
Base Price: $20,535
As Tested: $21,330 (incl. $795 destination)
Standard Features: Panoramic moonroof, leather-trimmed steering wheel, seven-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, eight-speaker Pioneer sound system
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2016 Scion tC, click here: 2016 Scion tC.