2007 tC New Car Test Drive
The Scion nameplate may represent Toyota's next-generation future, but the Scion tC brings a welcome blast from the past: a good-looking but practical sport coupe for the young and young at heart.
The Scion tC is affordably priced but well-equipped. It benefits from Toyota's attention to quality, durability and reliability. Though inexpensive, it is anything but cheap. The body panels fit tight and straight, and quality construction is evident. Interior materials are first-rate, and show attention to detail. The bucket seats are comfortable and there's enough room to suit tall drivers. A 160-watt stereo is standard, and an available head unit provides maximum compatibility with an Apple iPod.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine generates 161 horsepower and gets an EPA-rated 29 miles per gallon on the highway. It is quiet, smooth, and plenty powerful, and the little coupe is surprisingly silent underway. Its steering, ride quality and handling are commendable. Its four-wheel disc brakes are powerful, and ABS and Electronic Brake-force Distribution come standard. A full array of airbags is available to enhance safety.
In the past, sport coupes were often regarded as a kind of blank canvas for personal expression; and the tC continues this happy tradition as well. Factory options are few, but the tC offers a menu of dealer-installed accessories that allow owners to build a tC unique to their tastes. In fact, the biggest news for '07 is the stripped-down, extra-value-priced Spec Series model, with downgraded wheels, seats, etc. just good enough to get you from the showroom to the tuner's shop. (Who here is old enough to remember the Plymouth Road Runner?)
Other changes for '07 are minor and include new extendable sun visors, revised interior fabrics, and a standard tire-pressure monitor.
The 2007 Scion tC is a stylish two-door, four-seat sporty hatchback coupe powered by a 160-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
What Scion now calls the core model is available with either a five-speed manual ($16,400) or four-speed automatic ($17,200) transmission. This corresponds to the single trim level that was offered originally, and includes air conditioning; power steering and brakes; power locks and mirrors; a tilt wheel with audio controls; 160-watt Pioneer AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo; a huge, power-retracting glass sunroof; reclining front sport bucket seats with cloth upholstery and position memory; height and tilt adjustments for driver's seat; a two-tiered console; reclining rear seats; keyless entry; engine immobilizer; cargo cover, and a dozen other comfort and convenience goodies. It all rolls on P215/45ZR Bridgestone Potenzas on 17-inch alloy wheels.
New for 2007 is the lower-priced Spec Package, also available with manual ($15,000) or automatic ($15,800) transmission. The idea here is to provide a stripped-down model for tuners and customizers, so they don't pay for fancy parts that they are just going to take off and replace anyway. Spec Package tC's come with downgraded upholstery on less-adjustable seats, non-tilting urethane steering wheel without audio controls, and P205/55R16 tires on steel wheels. They also skip the core model's power windows, cruise control, two-tier console, and engine immobilizer. The panoramic glass roof remains but it does not retract. Colors are limited to Super White, Flint Mica, Black Sand Pearl, and Classic Silver Metallic.
For folks who like to buy their custom look straight from the factory, Scion offers an option package called Release Series 3.0 ($2,580). Replacing last year's Release Series 2.0 (and available only on the core model), the 3.0 upgrade includes KenStyle ground effects, darkened headlights, LED taillights, and a unique grille texture. Inside are black Alcantara seats with perforated grey inserts, and a Razo weighted shift knob. A compact but powerful Pioneer six-inch subwoofer plugs into the standard stereo. Release Series 3.0 was scheduled for release in February 2007, with production limited to 2,500.
Safety features for all tC Scions include optional side-impact and side-curtain air bags ($650) designed to provide torso and head protection. (Head injuries are the leading cause of death in side impacts.) A knee airbag is standard, along with the mandated dual front airbags. Anti-lock brakes and Electronic Brake-force Distribution are standard also.
There are no other factory options, but Scion dealers offer dozens of freestanding, dealer-installed accessories, ranging from shift knobs and satellite radio (either XM or Sirius) to a supercharger kit good for 200 horsepower. Special Toyota Racing Development (TRD) items include 18- and 19-inch wheels, a lowering kit, struts and shock absorbers, rear anti-roll bar, a high-performance clutch, a quicker shifter, a stainless steel muffler, and a shift-point indicator light kit.
You can also order an iPod-compatible stereo head unit ($260) that allows you to operate your iPod through the car's dashboard and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
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