2008 Scion tC

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2005 Scion tC

This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2010.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

New, refined youth-oriented Toyota model is well-equipped and has a cut-rate price.
Pros:
  • Fast
  • Refined
  • Well-equipped
Cons:
  • Long, heavy doors
  • Hard-to-read gauges
  • Tight rear headroom

The oddly named tC is the latest addition to Toyota's youth-oriented Scion line, but doesn't seem to fit with the two other Scion models—the smaller xA hatchback sedan and boxy xB sedan/station wagon

The 2005 tC seems too stylish, large and refined to be part of the Scion line. Perhaps that's because it's the first vehicle developed exclusively for the Scion brand. While affordable and practical, the xA and xB are rebadged Toyota Japanese market cars.

Not that the tC two-door hatchback is new from the ground up—not in today's auto world of parts sharing to keep costs down. Rather, the front-wheel-drive tC shares its platform with the Avensis sedan that Toyota sells in Europe and is powered by a modified 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine from Toyota's American-market Camry.

Lively Performance
The engine kicks out 160 horsepower and provides lively acceleration (0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds.) A short-throw 5-speed manual gearbox is standard and works with a light, long-throw clutch. A responsive 4-speed automatic transmission adds $800 to the base price.

Fuel economy is an estimated 22 mpg in the city and 29 on highways with the manual and 23 and 30 with the automatic.

Very Well Equipped
Like all Scions, the $15,950 tC is very well-equipped. Standard are a large "panorama" sunroof with a power front glass panel, air conditioning, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, cruise control, a tilt wheel, split-folding rear seatbacks, a rear defogger, large 17-inch wheels and power windows, mirrors and door locks, with remote keyless entry.

Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution for surer panic stops, outside mirrors with built-in turn signals and a driver-side knee airbag, which is a usual item for such a low-priced car. Safety options include $650 front-seat side airbags and side-curtain airbags for outboard occupants.

An upgraded sound system and XM satellite radio also are offered, and you can get 18-inch wheels.

The tC is supposedly a candidate for the "fast and furious" young crowd, so a dealer-installed supercharger option from Toyota Racing Development (TRD) will be offered this fall and will hike horsepower to 200. Also to be offered by TRD are a lowered, stiffer sport suspension, performance clutch and 19-inch wheels with higher-performance Pirelli P Zero tires.

Good Warranty Protection
Not incidentally, dealer-installed accessories will be covered by the tC new-vehicle warranty. That makes Toyota a pretty brave automaker, considering how the fast and furious crowd often thrashes its cars.

The tC is solidly built and sits low and wide, with a fairly long 106.3-inch wheelbase and short body overhangs. It feels like a larger car and is quite refined, almost as if from Toyota's luxury Lexus division.

Not a Serious Sports Coupe
But the tC is a bit too soft and heavy to qualify as a serious sports coupe, at about 3,000 pounds and a nose-heavy 61/39 front-rear weight distribution.

Not that the car doesn't have fairly athletic moves. The power steering is rather heavy, but fast and accurate. And a sophisticated all-independent suspension and wide track help deliver above-average handling and a smooth ride. Emergency stopping distances are short, with a linear brake pedal action.

One drawback: It's very easy to induce front wheel spin even on bone-dry pavement when moving from a standing start.

Upscale Interior
The quiet interior is upscale and reached via long, heavy doors, which can be a problem in tight parking spots.

The power "one-touch" front windows go up and down quickly, but stopping them before they move all the way up or down calls for quick movements with their contols—although the windows have "pinch protection" to prevent injuries.

Roomy Up Front
The front-seat area is roomy, with sport bucket seats providing good support in fast turns. The tilt wheel and a height-adjustable driver's seat help provide a comfortable driving position for people of various sizes. There's a large rest area for a driver's left foot—something that will be especially appreciated on long drives. But thick rear roof pillars partially obstruct vision from the driver's seat.

Some daylight conditions cause the shrouded gauges to be hard to read, and the overstyled audio controls are too small for easy driver use. The larger climate controls are more sensible.

Tight Rear Headroom
The deeply contoured rear bucket seats look sporty, but can make occupants feel rather cramped. They recline 45 degrees and can be adjusted into ten different positions, although rear head room is tight for all occupants.

Front seats slide forward to allow easier entry to the rear-seat area, but athletic moves still are required to get in and out of the back seat.

Storage capacity includes lots of CD, bottle, cup and cell phone holders, four map pockets and a fairly roomy glove compartment. The nicely placed front cupholders are deep. Front vanity mirrors have covers, but aren't lighted.

Decent Cargo Area
The cargo opening is wide, but somewhat high. Cargo space beneath the large hatch is shallow, but the split-folding rear seatbacks easily flip forward and sit flat to enlarge the cargo area, which has a cover to hide items. Front seatbacks also fully recline.

The refined Scion tC not only has Toyota quality going for it—it also is a reasonably sporty, very well-equipped car that is offered at a cut-rate price.

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BB03 - 7/14/2014 6:10:07 AM