LOOKING FOR MR GOODCAR
2014 Scion tC
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 Sun, Jul 6, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Reed Berry
“When you look good, you feel good.”
Having heard that expression so many times throughout my life in motivational seminars and television commercials, I can’t help but wonder exactly what it really means. Is it limited to the fashionable clothing one wears or a stylish new haircut, or can it apply to cool automobiles, as well? Perhaps I’m overthinking this a bit, but all I know is that I’m looking good and feeling good driving a sporty 2014 Scion tC.
I have to hand it to Scion. All car companies offer different models from which to choose, but sometimes the various models are so similar in design and features that they just seem like the same car in different sizes. Scion, however, offers distinctly different vehicles. From the tiny iQ and practical, fuel-efficient xD to the big, box-shaped xB and sleek, powerful 200-horsepower FR-S, each has its own style, personality and appeal.
While I would have been happy to road test any of them, I'm rather glad to be driving the great looking Scion tC. This car has bold, sporty styling plus a number of features that you would expect to find on a much more expensive car. Surprisingly, this model comes in right around $20K and, when it comes to new car purchases, that amount of money certainly doesn’t seem to go as far as it used to. At first glance, the Scion tC seems to be an impressive value for the price.
As I make my way around the vehicle, everything works for me. This car doesn’t really seem to have a bad side or any unflattering angles. The body styling is crisp and the lines flow smoothly from back to front. The big, bold sport grill and 18-inch alloy wheels add to the eye appeal, as does the front bumper LED accent lighting.
Inside, I like what I see, as well. Unlike some vehicles with a big, chunky, over-the-top mega-dash with a million buttons and controls, the tC has a sleek, sculpted dashboard with a minimum of clutter. That’s not just beneficial from the standpoint of making the driver’s life a little easier, but it is an excellent safety feature, as well. Fewer buttons, switches, and knobs will help reduce the possibility of driver distraction.
Another positive feature is that all controls are limited to the steering wheel and dash panel, rather than on the center console between the front seats. Many car models load up the center console with controls, making it quite bulky and reducing legroom. The intelligent design of this vehicle results in a slender center console that maximizes legroom for both the driver and front seat passenger.
Designed with simplicity and ease-of-operation in mind, the interior is not overly flashy, in fact, it’s rather plain. Scion has tried to give it a bit of a sporty look and feel with a leather-trimmed flat bottom sport steering wheel and a faux metal trim on and around the instrument panel. The seating is quite comfortable and, as I look up, I notice a panoramic moonroof. This type of full-length moonroof is quite nice because it can be enjoyed by front and back seat passengers alike and, while I don’t spend much time looking up while driving (actually, I never look up while driving), I like letting a little fresh air and natural light in on a nice day.
As I pull out of a parking lot and onto the street, it is apparent that this car really has some spunk. While the tC is available with an automatic transmission, my test vehicle is equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. It shifts smoothly but has a nice, solid sport feel. This efficient gearbox is paired with a fairly enthusiastic 16-valve 4-cylinder engine producing 179-horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque.
Granted, to the aficionado in search of a true sport coupe, this may not sound like a lot of power, but I am pleasantly surprised and quite impressed with the tC’s performance. As I pass through Monrovia and Arcadia on my way to Pasadena for a lunch meeting with a business associate at, appropriately enough, Motordogs (a cool little retro gas and service station turned hot dog eatery), I find the power steering to be quite responsive and the big 18-inch tires provide a smooth ride and good road feel.
With MacPherson struts on the front and double wishbone rear suspension, this car handles beautifully and corners with confidence. As I make my way along historic Route 66, not only am I getting some looks from other drivers around me, but I am truly enjoying the sport characteristics of the tC. The car glides over uneven road surfaces and accelerates to pass slower moving vehicles with ease.
As much as I’m enjoying my drive, I fully expected to enjoy the vehicle’s entertainment system, as well. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The tC has a Pioneer 6.1-inch touch screen display and a 300-watt 8-speaker sound system with AM / FM / CD and music streaming via Bluetooth. Music sounds decent (although I would expect better sound quality from a system of this type) but switch over to the HD radio tuner and it’s quite a different story.
I’m not a fan of HD radio in automobiles to begin with. The crisp, clear sound quality that HD radio was designed to produce drifts in and out in a moving vehicle and it tends to be more annoying than enjoyable. But what makes it even more disappointing is the fact that this is the worst (not one of the worst, THE worst) HD radio I’ve ever experienced in any automobile. I listen regularly to AM talk radio and found it unlistenable on this system. I ended up connecting my smartphone to the auxiliary jack and listening via I Heart Radio in order to get crisp, clear sound quality.
That being said, my overall assessment of the vehicle is actually quite positive. All the comfort, convenience and performance features I described come standard, which means you will be paying right around $20,000 for a sufficiently sporty, nicely equipped, great looking car with a comfortable passenger compartment and a generous 14.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats.
That should be the end of the story, right? Not so fast. It seems that the tC has been overshadowed to some degree by the newer, sportier and more powerful FR-S. While the Scion tC should be enough car for most people, some true sport coupe enthusiasts with the need for speed may opt to pony up the extra $6K for the more aggressive 200-horsepower, rear-wheel drive Scion FR-S.
It looks good. It feels good.
For more information on Scion products: scion.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2014 Scion tC Base Price MSRP: $19,210 As tested: $20,297 EPA fuel economy rating (miles per gallon): 23 city / 31 highway Engine type: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine Horsepower: 179 @ 6000 rpm Torque: 172 @ 4100 rpm Transmission type: 6-speed transmission (manual or automatic) with dynamic rev management Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive Steering: Electric power steering Brakes: Front: Ventilated disc Rear: Solid disc Wheels: 18-inch alloy wheels Dimensions Overall length: 176.6 inches Overall width: 70.7 inches Overall height: 55.7 inched Curb weight: 3,082 pounds (manual) / 3,124 (automatic)