Providing Toyota-made quality inside a funky package aimed at the younger crowd, the 2013 Scion tC looks sporty but plays it safe. Since its North American debut, Scion has constantly played with its designs to try and keep on the cutting edge, and while it has caused some of its vehicle to suffer – most notably, the widely panned redesign of the cult favorite xB – the tC has only increased in appeal. The tC offers attitude and head-turning looks at an attractive price, and there are plenty of aftermarket customization possibilities thanks to the popularity of Toyota’s TRD department. Unfortunately, if having performance that matches the look of it is important, those aftermarket modifications will be necessary, as the stock tC has very average overall performance and can’t be given much from the factory.
New For 2013
Another year, another Release Series for the Scion tC. This time it’s red. Release Series 8.0, available with a manual or an automatic, is about $3000 more expensive than a standard tC. It includes a body kit with a rear spoiler, eighteen-inch gloss-black wheels, a lower ride height and TRD sport muffler, and a revised interior. Two thousand will be built.
The outside of the 2013 Scion tC is sporty, although of two personalities. In a market where smooth lines where the norm up until recently, the tC is surprisingly angular. The front end is angled in from the fenders, not rounded in, and is aggressive. The upper grille is thin, bordered by headlights that angle more so than bleed back into the fenders. The lower grille is high and wide, and dominates the front fascia. In profile, the vehicle almost appears to be leaning forward, which is helped by the small rear window that looks like it was taken from a muscle car. This window helps make the car look like a coupe from the side, when it is in fact a hatchback. A sunroof is standard, but could be done without. Standard 18-inch wheels and a chrome-tipped exhaust further accentuate the coupe look, while 19-inch wheels are available from the factory. The Release Series 8.0 adds a body kit, while independent modification options include a rear spoiler and fog lights.
Interior & Cargo
The inside of the 2013 Scion tC is a bit like the exterior, with a pleasant front half but a rear half that doesn’t quite gel, as well as some questionable materials and finish. The front seat has plenty of leg room, but the rear seat is not made for full-size adults. Additionally, head room is lacking, with the standard sunroof making it a tight fit for average sized adults, and nearly impossible for those who are well over six feet tall. A variety of plastics are in use, some of them having a hard, rough finish, and the fit isn’t always tight or well thought out. Instrumentation is clear and easy to read, and the dash is laid out well, but the overly large control knobs look ridiculous. One notable oddity is the flat-bottom steering wheel.
The 2013 Scion tC is surprisingly well-equipped as a base model, with power accessories, air conditioning, cruise control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, sport bucket seats in the front, and an eight-speaker Pioneer AM/FM/CD sound system with iPod connectivity, USB adapter and Bluetooth integration. Scion’s BeSpoke premium audio system can be added which brings together the usual stereo systems as well as internet applications such as Pandora radio, as can satellite radio capabilities.
The 2013 Scion tC has the usual standard safety features found in the compact economy class of vehicles. As with all new vehicles, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control are standard, although the Scion version of anti-lock brakes also comes with brake assist and a brake-throttle override system. The tC also gets eight airbags, with the usual suspects as well as driver and front passenger knee airbags.
The 2013 Scion tC performed very well in crash testing, earning a Top Safety pick Award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety while scoring a rating of ?Good? in all impact tests and the roof-crush test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the tC an overall rating of five stars, including five stars for side-impact safety and four stars for front-impact safety.
Unfortunately, the 2013 Scion tC does not provide performance that measures up to its sporty looks. Only one engine is available, a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower. This is adequate enough for the small hatchback to get accelerate up to 60 miles per hour in 7.6 seconds, although it certainly looks like it should be able to do it in six seconds flat. Two six-speed transmissions, a manual and an automatic, are available, both of which are decent, although the clutch in the manual transmission is a bit touchy and the upshifts from the automatic transmission sometimes lag.
The 2013 Scion tC doesn’t quite handle like a sports car either. Quickness and tight handling has been sacrificed for a comfortable ride, so the tC handles rough surfaces well but can’t be thrown through turns as a sport car should. The steering is electric power steering, but it feels appropriate for the vehicle, and there is enough responsiveness and precision. The brakes are very good, bringing the car to a stop sooner than most vehicles in the segment, and they can be made even better through the addition of TRD High Performance brakes.
Key Competitors For The 2013 Scion TC
- Hyundai Elantra
- Kia Forte Koupe
- Toyota Matrix