First Drive: 2011 Scion tC

#Scion, #TC

It can be argued that the tC is Scion's most successful model in every way. Even though we tend to associate Scion with the square-box xB, it's actually the tC that steals the thunder. Not only is it Scion's best seller, accounting for over 40% of the brand's sales, but its buyers are also the youngest in the industry, at an average age of 26. Bringing young buyers into the Toyota fold was, after all, the original goal of Scion.


A quick look at the new tC's specs shows that Toyota might have learned its lesson from the sales disappointment that is the new xB: the tC has grown in width by 1.6 inches, but that's it. The styling is a clear and careful evolution of the old car's, and every major exterior measurement is the same.

The tC's looks have been toughened up, using some touches from the 2007 New York Auto Show concept Scion Fuse. Inspired by the side view of a helmet, the A-pillars have been blacked out, resulting in a side greenhouse profile not unlike that of the Nissan GT-R. At first glance, the taillights are reminiscent of a Saturn Ion coupe's (not that the last tC's weren't, too), but the overall design works quite well. The new tC doesn't look quite as bubbly and happy as the last tC; and we think that's a good thing.

While the roof looks lower, the tC's overall height is exactly the same as before, and interior headroom as almost unchanged (your scalp will be 0.1 inch closer to the headliner up front, 0.2 inches in back.)

A wider track (plus 1.3 inches front, 2.1 inches rear) contributes to a better stance -- with the help of standard eighteen-inch wheels -- but likely contributes to a significant increase in turning circle. (Now a rather large 37.1 feet, up 1.3 feet.)


Brake size has increased to help fill the bigger wheels (last year's tC rode on seventeens); the vented front rotors are up just over 0.8 inches to 11.65, rear rotors are up about 0.4 to 10.98 inches. ABS and defeatable stability control are, of course, standard equipment. Brake assist is new, as is an additional (knee) airbag and active front headrests.

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Cammissa needs to fact check better, and learn about prototypes: Hard plastic surfaces in protos (the armrest, for instance) virtually always become soft finished pieces in production. Camry comes with the same 2.5 liter (not the 2.7 found in Venza and Highlander)but popped into a lighter car. Finally, when he gets sideswiped by a driver distracted while scanning his playlist below windshield eye level it will be poetic justice (as long as the PR car he's driving is dinged, and not Jason).
The tC still looks too tame and is still way underpowered. Like the author said, "It's a cute little car," but it really should me more like a GTI, or better yet, a GTI on steroids. The tC (and in fact the whole Scion lineup) should be powerful, hot-looking sports coupes and sedans. Front-drive BMW wannabes for the young ones (and old ones) who don't have BMW money (even for a used one). A perfect tC would be a scaled-down, two-door Lexus IS with a twin-turbo charged V6 or I4. How about a two-door version of the Camry, about three feet shorter with the 270HP V6 from the Camry standard. Cars like that would make Scions fly out of the showroom. Like you said, who was the frumpy old dude who said Scions should be boring little cars? Wasn't the idea to bring in the youth? Youngins (and all people who think young) love gobs and gobs of style and power. Why do you think Camaros are so hot?
@RA65C83: You got me there, that was a typo. The 2.7 is in the Venza. -Jason
In the article it states that the 2.7 Camry version of this engine wasn't considered. What 2.7 version? The 2011 tC DOES have the Camry 2.5. There is no 2.7.
Jean, get this sexist off your staff. Neither my wife nor my daughters would buy an automatic. They can out drive most men and they do know how to use their stick shifts.
This is a great article. Looking at the pictures and reading the article leads me to the conclusion Toyota is building interiors as bad as the old GM. Come on Toyota. Valve springs on Lexus vehicles, some sort of acceleration problem, rust on Tundras, and crapy much for continuous improvement.

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