Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $8,800 – $19,200*


2011 Scion tC Front


2011 Scion tC Rear


2011 Scion tC Interior


2011 Scion tC Front-2

Pros:
  • Control layout
  • Passenger room
Cons:
  • Interior materials
  • Noise

The second-generation Scion tC is unusually practical for a small sporty coupe, with good interior room and usable cargo space. On the other hand, its noisy cabin and pleasant, rather than sporty, handling are disappointing. Still, tC is worth considering by shoppers looking at small coupes; but it’s no longer the class standout that it was before.

Overview

Redesigned for 2011, the second-generation Scion tC gained power, added safety features, and promised greater fuel economy. The tC was a two-door hatchback sport coupe, sold by Toyota’s youth-oriented division. For 2011, a new 180-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine replaced a 161-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission could be installed, replacing a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Electronic power steering was new for 2011. The tilt/telescopic steering wheel had a flat bottom for additional thigh room. Standard safety features included all-disc antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. A 60/40 split-folding rear seatback, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and a panoramic sunroof were standard. Options included a navigation system. Scion also offered an optional plug-in navigation unit for the Alpine Premium audio system that was available. Many dealer-installed accessories could be installed. Sporty rivals included the Mini Cooper and Volkswagen GTI, as well as the Honda CR-Z Hybrid.

Yearly Updates

2012 tC
A new Release Series 7.0 trim level joined the 2012 Scion tC lineup, with unique body cladding, paint, and exterior/interior trim. Otherwise, the tC had no major changes.
2013 tC
Not much was new for 2013, as the tC was again little changed after its 2011 redesign. The only news was a specially equipped, limited-edition Release Series 8.0.
2014 tC
The 2014 tC received several enhancements and some new features. Among them were new front and rear bumpers, headlights, LED taillights, hood, 18-inch wheels, and LED accents on the front bumper. The engine was unchanged, but was now rated at 179 horsepower instead of the previous 180. The 6-speed automatic transmission received some new software that the company said improved performance. Additionally, the suspension was tweaked with enhanced stabilizer-bar hardware, re-tuned shock absorbers, and a stiffer body via additional spot welds. The electric power steering was re-tuned as well.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

In each tC, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine developed 180 horsepower. Either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission might be installed. Starting with the 2014 models, the horsepower rating was revised down by one to 179.

dohc I42
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 179
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 174
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
23/31
23/31
25.5

dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 180
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 174
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
23/31
23/31
25.7

1. 2011-2013 models. 2. 2014 models.

Road Test

A tC is quick enough on takeoff with either transmission, but the manual version feels a bit livelier. Better yet, the manual transmission is accompanied by light clutch and shifter action. The automatic is generally smooth and responsive. One test example with automatic exhibited an annoying tendency to hold a lower gear during acceleration, compromising low-speed drivability.

Fuel economy is appealing. In Consumer Guide testing, automatic-transmission tCs averaged 25.7 mpg. A 2014 model with a manual transmission averaged 25.5 mpg. All tC models use regular-grade gas.

Ride quality could be better. The tC’s suspension is fairly compliant on the highway, but around town, even small road imperfections can register with harshness.

While a tC doesn’t feel particularly sporty, its handling is pleasant and confident. In turns, body lean is well checked. Brakes have firm and progressive pedal feel.

Noise control is not a tC strength. The cabin is disappointingly noisy around town, with plenty of engine and exhaust sound clearly audible. On the highway, wind rush and tire roar are prevalent, to the point that it gets tiring. An open sunroof adds to the ruckus.

Controls are mostly simple, handy, and clearly marked. Gauges are well lit and have distinct markings. The tC’s beefy, sporty steering wheel feels good to the touch and adds some sporty character. Scion seems to have built tC’s interior to a price. Appearance is generally okay, but hard plastics are the rule, even for the center console’s armrest. The textured dashtop is easily scuffed, leaving lighter-color patches on the black surface. The cloth seating surfaces and door panel inserts have a visually interesting pattern and feel sturdy, but not particularly rich.

Even larger folks should be comfortable in a tC’s front seats. Headroom is good, and legroom is vast; even 6-footers won’t need to push the seat all the way back. The hard-plastic center armrest is better than nothing, but doesn’t offer optimal long-haul comfort. Visibility to the rear corners is subpar, marred by huge blind spots over the driver’s shoulders.

The tC’s rear seat is surprisingly hospitable for a small, sporty coupe. Entry and exit are typical crouch-and-wiggle, but the front seats slide well forward to leave a reasonably wide passage. Six-footers will find adequate headroom, and even comfortable knee space as long as the front seats are not pushed all the way back.

Cargo space is fairly shallow beneath the rear hatch, but the split-folding seatbacks flop forward to create a nearly flat load floor. There’s a bit of under-floor storage in shallow trays around the molded styrofoam insert surrounding the spare tire. Interior storage is average, with small door pockets, a handy glovebox, and a small but deep bin beneath the center armrest. An open, unusually-shaped tray in front of the shifter offers space for an iPod or other small items. The USB port and a 12-volt electrical socket also are present in this tray.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2011 Scion tC automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 51

Specifications

2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.3 174 70.7 55.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.7 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.7 36.4 41.8 34.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2011 Scion tC 2-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Sunroof/moonroof
Description: The sunroof makes noise unless a pad kit has been installed. (2011)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may illuminate indicating a camshaft sensor problem requiring replacement of the cam timing gear assembly. (2011)

Recall History

2012 tC
Description: Inaccurate label lists an inaccurate amount of allowable added weight.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.