When Scion was first created back in 2002, the goal of the Toyota offshoot was to create cars for the younger buyer. They designed and built budget-friendly vehicles – just two models to start, followed by the tC in 2004 – that could be customized to fit the needs of Generation Y. Now, 800,000 of them are on the road, Scion is the youngest brand in the industry and you can hear the patting of Toyota executives’ backs from here. But the tC hasn’t seen an update since its inception, making the 2011 redesign somewhat of a big deal for the company, especially considering the model’s position as the major familial breadwinner – it takes home 40 percent of Scion’s sales. Not wanting to mess with a winning combination, the 2011 tC doesn’t reinvent much of anything here, sticking to its guns and delivering an appealing package with mass appeal and a good blend of looks and performance. Power has been increased, as has fuel economy, and the exterior now boasts a more masculine look with hints of Lexus cues. Interior styling isn’t the car’s strong point and technology standards are lacking compared to competitors, but if the continually growing fan base is any indication, Scion has another strong seller on their hands.
What's to Like
The continued inclusion of a standard panoramic sunroof is a good move as it opens up the cabin space considerably. A more grounded drive thanks to suspension modifications has improved performance, and TRD components will gratify the more hardcore enthusiasts.
What's Not to Like
Interior materials look and feel low budget, and technology offerings aren’t up to par. No standard Bluetooth is a puzzling choice for a youth-friendly car company. Pricing is slightly high, especially considering the age of the target buyer. Rear headroom is tight.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
A good percentage of Scion buyers are considered to be car enthusiasts (just look at the 30 percent manual transmission take if you don’t believe us), so it comes as no surprise that the tC’s drive quality feels much improved. The suspension is firm – you’ll really feel those potholes – and the thick steering wheel lacks communication, but the overall impression is that the tC performs solidly along the road. Equip it with TRD sway bars to dramatically improve handling as well. Acceleration is quicker now; Scion says the manual dashes to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds (it was 8.2) and the automatic sees 60 in 8.3 seconds (originally 9.1). Gearshifts in the auto are smooth, and the manual, while lacking a truly precise feel, slides through the gates easily enough. To make the journey more enjoyable, front seats are now ...