First Drive: 2011 Scion tC

PERFORMANCE

Toyota hasn't released final weight specifications for the tC, but we're told it gained less than 100 lb over the last model, which would make the 2011 tC weigh a bit over 3000 lb. Thanks to the additional horsepressure and gears in the transmissions, Toyota says acceleration times are significantly improved. The automatic is said to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds (down from 9.1). The six-speed manual does the deed in 7.6 seconds, down from 8.2.

From the (comfortable, wide, and supportive) driver's seat, the tC feels quick and fun. The automatic's considerably longer top gear makes up for any fuel economy disadvantage inherent in its design (both cars are EPA rated at 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway), but gaining additional speed on the highway requires a downshift or three.

The tC suffers from no major torque steer, and its power steering, now electrically boosted, feels commendably natural. Not a huge amount of steering feedback comes through, but neither is the system numb. The tC will exhibit some wheel hop on grippier surfaces, but its front end is overall well behaved.

Sadly so, too, is its rear. The tC understeers ferociously, and with moderate grip limits. We drove a tC equipped with TRD sway bars, and it improved handling balance considerably -- trail-braking now helped rotate the rear rather than causing the front to wash out farther -- with no real sacrifice to ride comfort. In fact, the tC rides very well, especially considering its diminutive size. (A fully tricked-out TRD tC didn't, however. The combination of nineteen-inch wheels and lowering springs made for a brutal ride. That itself wouldn't have been such a big deal if the sunroof hadn't rattled incessantly because of it. Luckily, we could drown the rattles out with the exhaust note. Vroom!)

craigsm
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).
Daye
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?
JasonCammisa
@RA65C83: You got me there, that was a typo. The 2.7 is in the Venza. -Jason
DECNDNT
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.
nknorka
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.
khovis
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 interiors...so much for continuous improvement.

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