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Published on Sat, Dec 25, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

The new 2011 Scion tC

By John-Fredrik Wright Approaching the new 2011 Scion tC, you notice a hint of aggressive sportiness. The exterior speaks of speed, agility and superb handling, yet your mind speaks of Toyota. Toyota is known for its unbreakable and durable cars and for its sensibility—not for sportiness and hotness. Yet the exterior of the Scion tC seems to portray the latter, and it does juice up your nerves as you get closer. Settling into the cockpit of the Scion tC, I notice a bunch of speakers surrounding me—eight to be precise. They total up to 300 watts of power, which (even if the number of Watts doesn’t say it all) says a lot. The sound system definitely gets a thumbs up.


One of my rules when driving new cars is that I do not want to have to look at the driver’s manual (or any manual for that matter). I want everything to be intuitive enough so that I can figure it out on my own. I drive a lot of different cars and I’m pretty up-to-date on the latest technology, I see myself as pretty savvy when it comes to new car-cockpits, so my rule is not too far-fetched. Thankfully, the new tC has an easy-to-understand cockpit and the knobs and dials are pretty intuitive. I had recently driven a car that was said to have a USB port, but I had the darnest time trying to find it. In contrast, the USB in the new tC is easy to located (in clear view)—right next to to the AUX audio-in. Pretty handy, Scion.


The new tC does have one major drawback: Visibility. Turn your head to make sure you’re clear to change lanes, and the little window in the back only gives you a hint as to what might lay beyond. What this means is that a driver of the tC needs to realign the outside mirrors to cover for the vast blind-spot. Of coarse, this means that the driver will have to turn and look at the spot the mirrors usually see. This whole process just takes some time to get used to, as with all cars. On the other hand, the blind spot might not be such a big issue, given the way this car feels like it is supposed to be driven. Maybe the designers thought that if you and dart around fast enough, you don’t need to look behind you—just keep looking up ahead.


Now, the tC isn’t that fast, but it does make a quick sprint. The 180 horsepower 2.5L four0in-line engine picks up and goes, and the automatic gearbox follows nicely. The engine noise further enhances the car’s sportiness. As the car shifts down and the revs come up, the noise wants to tell you that you are driving a sports car. But again, the tC isn’t that fast. The styling, the noise, and the all-around feel of the car help make you think that you’re driving something even sportier than you are. Now don’t get me wrong. The tC is still plenty fast, and the enhancing sensations aforementioned are a net plus. All this speed, both real and perceived, calls for a firm and sporty ride. To this end, the new tC delivers. The car handles nicely and maneuvers tight corners with ease. It sits hard and steady on faster turns and convincingly puts the car where you want it to go.

Scion tC 2011

As an all-around car, the Scion tC actually does a good job. Even with only two doors (they are large), the tC easily fits four adults. With the driver and passenger sitting comfortably, the rear seats still have room for adults. Maybe not exactly road trip comfortable, but most definitely for a dinner outing or a close-by excursion. Since it does only have two doors, though, it probably will appeal less to the family or to the person who often finds himself or herself with a car full of people. The luggage compartment on this hatchback (or “liftback” if I may) has a surprising amount of space (where did all this space come from?). And for the times when you need to haul a whole lot of stuff, you can fold the rear seats down and make room for almost anything you want to have inside your car.


For the bachelor or bachelorette, the couple without kids (or with young kids), and anyone else who wants a fun car with enough room for two and sometimes four, the Scion tC does a great job. With Toyota quality, a splash of fun and sport, this two-door hatchback offers a lot of driving fun without having to pony up the money one would expect to pay for all this goodness. It’s convenient enough to be driven daily and to do with fun. SUMMARY JUDGMENT Toyota succeeds in taking the “sign, yawn” out of this practical, sporty and affordable Scion. For more information about Scion products, go to


SPECIFICATIONS: Name of vehicle: 2011 Scion tC“3-door liftback” Price: $19,275 (base) $19,995 (and as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 23 (city) 31 (highway) Engine size and type: 2.5L V4 DOHC 16V Dual VVT-i Horsepower: 180 hp @ 6000 rpm Torque: 173 @ 4100 rpm Transmission type: 6-speed manual (standard) 6-speed Sequential Automatic Transmission (optional) Drive configuration: FWD Steering (type): Electric Power Steering (EPS) Suspension (front and rear): Individual MacPherson Strut Front Suspension Double Wishbone Rear Suspension Brakes and tires: 18’’ Alloy P225/45R18 ventilated disc front, solid disc rear ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assists Dimensions: Length 174 in Width 70.7 in Height 55.7 in Curb weight (MT/AT) 3060/3102


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