Buying Guide

2012 Scion tC

Fair Market Price $10,466 Base (Auto) Hatchback

EPA MPG:

23 City / 31 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

Best Pick

Horse Power:

180 @ 6000

The Scion TC is pitched at the same youthful demographic as is its boxy four-door siblings, with a major emphasis on customization (via a catalog of extensive accessories sold at dealerships). The tC, though, is a cut above the other Scion models. And although the tC is the most expensive Scion offering, it’s still fairly low priced. There’s a lot of standard equipment included in the base price: Bluetooth (new this year), a power moonroof, a leather-wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, power door locks with remote, power windows, A/C, and eighteen-inch wheels. The interior is a mix of good and cheap, but the front seats are comfortable and the rear seats are usable, at least for passengers less than six feet tall. The tC’s engine is more powerful than its siblings’ engines, making a hearty 180 hp. The 2.5-liter isn’t brimming with personality, but it will send this fairly lightweight coupe from 0 to 60 mph in a brisk 7.6 seconds (8.2 seconds with the automatic). Speaking of transmissions, whereas the four-door Scions use a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic, the tC serves up two six-speeds, manual or automatic. Those additional gears help the tC deliver very good fuel economy despite its larger engine. The standard chassis setup is decent but not stellar. Buyers eager for greater responsiveness can select from the menu of TRD (Toyota Racing Development) upgrades. Just beware that going all in–with lowered springs, nineteen-inch wheels, et cetera–can result in a punishing ride.

Drive: Front-wheel

Trim levels: tC, Release Series 7.0

Body style: Coupe, 5-passenger

Engine: 2.5L I-4, 180 hp, 173 lb-ft

Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic

Passenger volume: 88.4 cu ft

Cargo space: (rear seats up/down) 14.7/34.5 cu ft

The tC was completely redesigned for 2011, so the 2012 model year is a fairly quiet one. The big news is the limited-edition (2200 units) Release Series 7.0. For $2330 over the price of a regular tC, the Release Series includes a body kit, black eighteen-inch wheels, and a keyless ignition. It’s available only in yellow with a black interior with yellow accents.

Front, side, knee, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are ABS with panic brake assist, stability and traction control, tire-pressure monitoring, and active front-seat head restraints.

All: 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway

  • Most sophisticated Scion
  • Reasonably priced
  • Well equipped
  • Potent standard four-cylinder
  • Some cheap interior bits
  • Not thrilling in the twisties

Scion’s sportiest, most satisfying entry.

  • Honda CR-Z
  • Hyundai Veloster
  • Kia Forte Koup
  • Volkswagen Beetle
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