2011 Scion tC

The Scion tC used to be the sort of coupe you'd direct your girlfriend to buy and then secretly enjoy driving. With this new model, you can throw out the pretense. Credit mostly goes to the bigger four-cylinder, which packs a real mid-range wallop and is paired with a fantastic six-speed manual. The formerly lifeless steering is still way too light and slow, but now firms up nicely at highway speeds, where the tC is more confident and stable than just about anything in its price range save for a Mini Cooper.

About that price. I've become accustomed to underestimating how much test cars cost, but this one lists for about two grand less than I expected. For $18,995 out the door, you get iPod connectivity, eighteen-inch wheels, and a 300-watt sound system. I'll bet those three things I just mentioned sit pretty high on the list of modifications teenage boys usually make to their first cars.

Having taken the tC so far, Toyota really should go one step further and challenge the big boys of the sport compact segment (Honda Civic Si, Volkswagen GTI et all). That would mostly entail a more sporting suspension -- the tC is a resolute understeerer -- retuned power steering, and a little bit more power.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

OK, I was in agreement with my colleague David Zenlea all the way until the last five words of his comments. The Scion tC does not need "a little bit more power"! It's got 180 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque in a very sharp looking, sporty coupe that, as he points out, is remarkably well equipped for $19K. Let's not encourage Scion to make the mistake it made with its xB (made it bigger, heavier, and more powerful). Let's remember that, relatively speaking, 180 hp is a LOT of power, especially in a car that weighs only 3060 pounds. This is a great car just as it is.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

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