First Drive: 2011 Scion tC

#Scion, #TC

INTERIOR and STEREO, including RANT #1

Luckily, the outgoing tC's panoramic sunroof remains (as standard equipment), and now comes with a mesh wind deflector that changes the pitch--but sadly not the volume--of the considerable wind noise present when it's open at highway speeds. The steering column now telescopes too, bringing closer to the driver a pornographically thick (in a good way), slightly oversize, flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel that comes standard with radio controls.

Unfortunately, most of the other surfaces in the tC's interior are less luxurious. The dash consists of three different plastic grains, all of which nearly meet (and clash, visually) above the glovebox. None look or feel particularly high-quality. The center elbow rest is, sadly, also made of hard unyielding plastic. Luckily, the door panel armrests are padded.

A red LED clock in the center of the dash seems out-of-place these days--and like it has for the last 30 years, it washes out in bright sunlight. Also from the 1980s, but not necessarily in a bad way: in each door panel are three speakers arranged like a big three-way speaker tower: woofer at bottom, midrange in between, and tweeter up top. Those six speakers are augmented by two drivers in the rear. The eight-speaker system, replete with a separate two-channel amp to drive the woofers, is fed 300 watts of peak power, and can definitely crank out the tunes. Audiophiles will be disappointed with the sound quality, though. Depending on which head unit is installed (and there are three to choose from), the sound ranges from muffled to boomy, though the mid-grade head unit's "loudness" equalization does a good job at compensating. And hey, at least it goes all loud.

Not nearly as loud as the tC's new 20-year-old driver will be when he realizes that the top-spec Alpine head unit he paid for doesn't allow browsing through your music collection while you're moving.

What lawyer won that battle? So great, Toyota's lawyers would rather have some young driver unplug their iPod, manually queue a song up while holding the device in their hand, and then plug it back in? And that's safer than just designing a head unit that's easy to browse through the music collection? Doubtful. Luckily, the Alpine's entire user interface sucks so bad that no one will buy it in the first place. And at least the tC's dash has a double-DIN opening, so buyers can choose from their own favorite aftermarket stereo. So there. Buy the base stereo and do your own upgrades, kids.

Where was I? Oh yeah... um, the rear seats are comfortable (especially since they can recline slightly) and commodious, restrictive only in headroom. And that's really only an issue for rear-seat passengers taller than six feet--and only because the material directly above their noggin is rock-hard glass. Happily, the glass is tinted, so tall back-seat drivers won't get sunburn to match their concussions.

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.

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles