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ENTRY LEVEL GOES UPSCALE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Feb 7, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

ENTRY LEVEL GOES UPSCALE By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

In late 2003, Toyota unveiled their new Scion line of inexpensive, entry-level vehicles, the xA five-door hatchback and the xB four-door minivan - targeted primarily to the new Generation-Y of first-time buyers. At the time, I thought that these two low-priced and underpowered vehicles were just being 'dumped' in the U.S. market after being on sale in Japan for years.

The all-new 2005 Scion tC liftback coupe is something quite different. It adds a new level of excitement and quality to Scion, and is worth a closer look. The tC is designed new from the ground up and priced at just $15,950.00. The sleek and sophisticated tC sits low to the ground and has a wide track. Although the tC has the look of a two-door coupe, it features the versatility and utility of a liftback.

What makes the tC even more attractive to own is the long list of standard features - a 2.4 liter, four-cylinder engine with Variable Valve timing with intelligence that produces 160 hp, a smooth shifting five-speed manual front-wheel-drive transmission, a sport-tuned, fully independent suspension featuring MacPherson struts up front with a double-wishbone suspension in the rear, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution, and 17x7 alloy wheels, 215/45ZR17 all-season Bridgestone Pontenza radial performance tires, the first all-glass panorama electric moonroof in the segment, rear seats that fold flat and recline up to 45-degrees, and can be adjusted into 10-different positions, a 160-watt, six-speaker AM-FM-CD Pioneer sound system that is XM satellite radio ready and features Scion Sound Processing (SSP) with three pre-set equalizer settings and MP3-media compatibility.

Also standard in the tC is power-assisted rack & pinion steering, chrome exhaust tip, halogen headlamps, power side mirrors, variable-rate windshield wipers/washers, sporty front bucket seats with driver-side height and seat bottom adjusters, power up/down windows, 3-point safety belts for all passengers with the front seat pre-tensioners and load limited, front seat airbags, side impact door beams, AC/heater, two-tiered fabric covered center console, power door locks with remote keyless entry, cruise-control, rear window defogger, tilt steering wheel, cargo area cover and under-floor storage, dual cup holders, outside temperature gauge, and a 12 volt power point.

The all-new Scion tC is fun to drive, looks good, is very comfortable behind the wheel, and can take care of most of your daily chores whether at work or school. The only options from Toyota are side airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags for the rear seats and an automatic transmission. If you want to improve the performance, styling and safety, you can by ordering straight from Toyota Racing Development (TRD) at the dealer under warranty. These items include 18 or 19x8 alloy wheels wrapped by Pirelli P Zero tires, a lowering spring kit, a TRD struts and shock kit, a performance clutch, a quicker shifter, a sport muffler with a wider tip, a lip spoiler, a choice of three shift knobs, a shift-point light kit indicator, a supercharger that increases power to 200hp, and a larger rear anti-sway bar to reduce understeer.

On the outside you can order a carbon fiber B-pillar appliqué by Superior Dash, a carbon fiber engine cover, an AEM cold air intake, door sill plates with aluminum inserts, a polished stainless steel muffler, fog lamps, a front strut tie bar by Hotchkis Tuning, a unique grille, color-keyed ground effects, a cargo net, a cargo mat, a Bazooka 10-inch subwoofer in its own enclosure mounted in the rear, sport pedals in brushed stainless steel by OX Racing Sports, a rear spoiler wing, a sport steering wheel, mud guards, and special front/rear floor mats. The list is quite impressive, but it can push the price way over $23,000.00 if you opt for most of the cool items. The TRD supercharger kit alone is $4,500.00. Even without all the options the tC is a cool looking, very comfortable, functional and an able performer. My nicely loaded test tC was priced at $18,227.00 including destination.

The Scion tC does need a limited slip differential to help control the torque-steer at launch time - especially if you have the supercharger installed. I don't see traction control on the option menu. That would increase safety and control, especially when driving on slick surfaces. Word is that Toyota has decided to let the Celica and MR2 go. This means that Toyota will only have the Toyota Echo subcompact and Scion xA as entry-level sedans. The tC is looking more like a Lexus by its aggressive good looks, comfort, and long list of standard equipment and available options. Is it the replacement for the Celica.

© All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Scion products, go to www.scion.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of Vehicle: 2005 Toyota Scion tC Price of vehicle: $15,950.00 Engine type: 2.4 liter, DOHC, all-aluminum block/heads, with VVTi (variable-valve-timing with intelligence. Horsepower: 160 at 5,700 rpm Torque: 163 lb.ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/front-wheel-drive Transmission: five-speed manual, optional four-speed automatic Front suspension: Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Independent double-wishbone, coil springs, gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: 17x7 aluminum alloy wheels/215/45ZR17 Bridgestone Potenza all-season radials Brakes: Front - 11.2 in. front vented discs with a dual-piston caliper Rear - 9.8 in. solid discs with a single-piston caliper ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution Overall length: 174 in. Overall width: 69.1 in. Overall height: 55.7 in. Curb weight: 2,905 lbs. EPA mileage: 22 mpg/city, 29 mpg/highway

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