2009 tC New Car Test Drive
The Scion tC has been subtly restyled inside and out for 2008. Apple iPod connectivity comes standard along with a Pioneer subwoofer. And navigation is now available.
The Scion tC is an affordably priced but thoroughly practical and well-equipped sport coupe. It benefits from Toyota's attention to quality, durability and reliability. 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.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine generates 161 horsepower and, with the optional automatic transmission, gets an EPA-rated 29 miles per gallon on the highway. It is quiet, smooth, and plenty powerful. 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.
The Scion nameplate may represent Toyota's next-generation future, but in some ways the 2008 Scion tC brings a welcome blast from the past, when sport coupes were often regarded as a kind of blank canvas for personal expression. Factory options are few, but the tC offers an extensive menu of dealer-installed accessories that allow owners to build a tC unique to their tastes. There's even a stripped-down, extra-value-priced Spec Series model, with downgraded wheels and seats, just good enough to get you from the showroom floor to the tuner shop.
The 2008 Scion tC is a stylish two-door, four-seat sporty hatchback coupe powered by a 161-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
What Scion calls the core model is available with either a five-speed manual ($17,000) or four-speed automatic ($17,800) transmission. This price buys a surprising amount of standard equipment, including air conditioning; reclining front sport bucket seats with cloth upholstery and position memory; height and tilt adjustments for driver's seat; power locks and mirrors with integrated turn signals; a tilt wheel with audio controls; 160-watt Pioneer AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with subwoofer and iPod connectivity; a huge, power-retracting glass sunroof; 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.
The lower-priced Spec Package is also available with manual ($15,300) or automatic ($16,100). 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 models 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, subwoofer, 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.
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, as is a tire-pressure monitor.
Options include a premium Pioneer sound system with video capabilities ($689); and a navigation system ($2,250) with seven-inch touch screen. There are no other factory options, but Scion dealers offer more than 40 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.