By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
If you live in a city or close-by suburbs, try a little experiment: Look around when you're on the road and keep an eye out for Scion tC drivers. The 2012 tC coupe isn't even the most recognizable Scion on the road (that would be the "roundy-boxy" xB); let alone a standout among other cars. But once you start noticing tCs, you'll notice that they're absolutely everywhere. Sales of the everyday sporty coupe had started to wane, though, so the tC received a much-needed facelift for the 2011 model. As a competitor to the Honda Civic and on-the-rise Kia Optima, the Scion's upgrade was seen by many as being too conservative. The changes did their job, however – sales of the Scion tC jumped nearly 75 percent between June 2010 and June 2011. With a new cosmetic package available for 2012, Toyota looks to take advantage of the resurgent interest in Scion's 2-seater.
Scion's attractive pricing combined with Toyota's reputation for dependable motoring makes the 2012 tC coupe compelling for anyone looking for a fun coupe with fair amenities. The aftermarket on Scion allows for maximum customization on a minimal budget.
Depending on your performance expectations when it comes to a coupe, the 2012 Scion tC may leave you as underwhelmed as in past models. For the cost of the Release Series 7.0 Package, many might expect a performance boost that it does not provide.
After a design reboot for the 2011 model, the 2012 Scion tC coupe sees few base-model changes. The most notable change is the new 300-watt Pioneer sound system. The "High Voltage" Release Series 7.0 package is the biggest new feature available, giving buyers upgraded wheels, a TRD-designed body kit, keyless entry and push-button start, and a unique High Voltage finish.
Driving Impressions The driving experience has always been the biggest source of debate over the Scion tC, and the 2012 tC coupe is unlikely to settle any arguments. The clutch in the...6-speed manual transmission, for example, is both light for daily commute convenience and precise for quick shifts. Steering is somewhat anemic, but engine response at low rpm is more fun than expected. Compared to other coupes in its class, it's not nearly as powerful or capable, but for city driving it's just enough fun to keep you from thinking twice about what it could be. This isn't "slow-car fast"; it's "slow-car in stop-and-go" fast.
Pioneer Premium Sound System
That such a thorough audio setup is standard on a sub-$20,000 coupe is just flat-out great. The Bluetooth connectivity is easy enough to work with and the sound quality itself is excellent.
Build Your Own
If you even have the most fleeting thought of a piece or part for your 2012 Scion tC coupe, someone will immediately put it into production. The more time you spend on your tC, the more it becomes your tC, and there are many forums, clubs and the like dedicated to customization.
The 2012 Scion tC earns its keep with a smart interior that offers exceptional comfort and a convenient control layout. The driver's seat is adjustable enough for all shapes and sizes, and rear-seat passengers will be surprised by the amount of room they actually have. Dials and instrument clusters have a round theme that is pleasant and manages to be Spartan without looking like anything is missing. Sixty/40-split folding back seats allow trips to actual supermarkets as well as convenience stores.Exterior
The 2012 Scion tC remains an improvement over the first generation, with its more angular roofline and jaunting grille. Where other, smaller coupes in its class almost dreadfully wear their what-you-see-is-what-you-get-ness on their sleeve, the tC coupe looks playful and fun. The tC also looks fast, which has helped turn millions of young eyes to it over the years. The Release Series' Toyota Racing Development body pieces only accentuate this, and the High Voltage paint color is nice if a bit garish.
The 2012 Scion tC carries the youth-appeal cred of previous models with standard equipment such as 18-inch wheels and the new Pioneer sound system. That sound system is HD Radio capable and you can connect your phone to it, as long as it is running Bluetooth 2.0 or higher. There are two microphones in the ceiling-light array to help facilitate use of the hands-free phone option. Toyota's Star Safety System is also standard and features eight airbags and traction and stability control along with active front headrests.
From the factory, 19-inch wheels are available for the 2012 Scion tC as well as a Five:AD 4-Piece Aero Kit, which is inspired by a concept tC and gives the car a more aggressive look. Again, the Release Series 7.0 is an available option with TRD body styling. Aftermarket options for the 2012 Scion tC will be as endless as they are for all other Scion models.
All Scion tC trim levels carry a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, producing 180 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque. Both manual and automatic transmissions are 6-speed. The automatic downshifts well enough, but upshifts are a tick less than immediate-feeling. The coupe's manual transmission's clutch could garner some accusations of being soft were it not for the bolt-action precision of its shifts.
2.5-liter in-line 4
180 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
173 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31
By JimsDandy on Sunday, March 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "$$$ v Performance, Fun Handling, Smile Factor, MPG"
Cons: "Head Room, Front View,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Review- Plenty of usable power, you really don't need more on the street. Handling is so fun. I drove an FRS and could have bought one. The tC was just more fun. I've read complaints that the car pushes and wondered if the reviewer drove FWDs much. Yes it pushes like most do. This characteristic exists from full throttle down to no throttle and reverses with brake application. It LOVES to trail brake and is SO much fun in that regard. You can quite deftly steer with the brakes into a corner and up to the apex and then steer out with the throttle. Wickedly balanced from my vantage. Doesn't get unsettled at high speed over bumps and the stock brakes hold up well considering they are stock brakes. When pushed really hard you can feel the complaint portion of the suspension and body which isn't unexpected. Body roll is predictable smooth. Weight transfers well. For the average driver you will be more than happy with the handling. If your a performance enthusiast you find a little more street than track day when the g's get into the .8 area. However, that is what makes this car so fun. Feeling the body roll, the weight loading on the outside front, the rear becoming light and slightly / compliantly stepping out, feeling it settle as you release the brake and transfer reward with throttle making the nose drift as the traction light blinks at you indicating maybe your being a little too brave. Needing to "catch" the whip of suspension unload in a tight cambered chicane with a quick lift of the throttle and snap of the steering wheel. SO MUCH FUN. The transmission performs well however wouldn't recommend the hammering the AT trans from the line. As with many 6 speed 1st is just a get you going gear so the differential to 2nd is quite steep. Under full throttle there is some slippage. For most drivers this won't be an issue or noticed. The down shift feature works great for what it is. Between 3k and 4.5k RPM it is very smooth. On either side of that it can be less smooth and for the reason already mentioned I don't ever use manual to down shift into 1st while moving. I do drive almost exclusively in manual mode though. Still if speed isn't your thing, then you will find the ride firm but not rough, cabin little noisy but not intrusive, the engine and trans smooth and functional for your everyday needs. Controls are reasonably placed and easy to navigate without looking at them. Seats are firm and supportive however I'd prefer a little more lateral support. Really I need a 4 point, not the cars fault. The radio has MP3 which is all I really cared about and is one of the better stock systems I've heard. If bass is your thing then it will suffice but you might want to add a sub as the stocker can only do so much. I think the doors are 8". However it is PERFECTLY balance so if you listen to a lot of different types of music and are not trying to break SPL records it performs quite well. The only thing I may do is add some stiffer sway bars and better shock / struts. I don't think this car needs a full coil overs, strut braces, or any of that other stuff. It's left a more than a couple shattered ego's behind where the road isn't straight as it sits now. If you are a drag racer, yeah um, so stay off my streets, keep it on the track and you don't want this car. For the cost of a turbo you can just buy a car with more power. If you are a weekend warrior (track days, cone racing etc..) it needs very little to be very good and is already a blast as it is. If your looking for a good looking reliable car for a great price then it will definitely fill that void if you don't mind the lack of leather seats and a plastic interior. =-) RE Cons: You can not fault a car for is plastic interior or lack of leather seats when that is neither within the market or price point. Simply put you can not get ANY new car with leather seats at this price point and 99% of all car's have plastic interiors now. Take car "FF" starting PP at $18K (2014 price). Once you add options to get a comparable sound system, 17" Wheel (best you can do) the price is becomes $24,680. For that price you get 160 hp. For about 21k with Scion you get 179 hp, MUCH better handling, better looks (IMO),18" wheels, a great sound system, and quality. Cons- I am a tad under 6" and tend to sit up straight when driving. My head almost touches the roof and when I am at a stoplight I have to duck down to see the light. I knew this when I bought it so not really a con I guess, but none the less something to keep in mind if you are thinking of purchasing and is something Scion could have engineered for without altering there objective."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By new tC owner on Monday, March 16, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "silky smooth manual transmission, great price"
Cons: "large blind spots"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Recently bought a manual 2015 tC (trading-in my 280 hp WRX w 200K miles - which yes, was a different type of car, so I say this to give background on my experience). What impresses me most about the tC is the smoothness of the power delivery through a huge range of rpm. And you can get great gas mileage (around 30 mpg) with this car if you want - just drive at low rpm and this car will calmly and coolly be compliant. But this car is far from a dog, as there is always power there for the taking. Not completely slam-you-back in your seat power (like my WRX had at high rpms), but very responsive power that won't leave you feeling lacking unless you are looking for a sports car IMO. Every passenger has been impressed with the smooth ride and quick acceleration of my tC, even my teenage nephews when I startled them by zipping out from a light! All the cars I've owned have been manual, and this is far and away the easiest and smoothest manual I've ever driven. It is almost effortless. I am really enjoying this car so far. Very comfortable seats in the back too, with plenty of leg room for those of ANY size. Really like the sun roof too. Downsides - very poor visibility as you look over either shoulder behind you - large blind spots. I am getting used to being extra careful before switching lanes, etc. Also, don't really like how you get in reverse - as you have to pull up on a ring that is under the main knob on the stick. This is odd, I'd prefer a more typical reverse. Space in hatchback is rather small if not putting seats down (smaller than my WRX had, which surprised me)."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Naz on Monday, February 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, price, utility, reliable."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Absolutely love this car. Great engine and transmission, good MPG I usually always get 28 or better in mixed driving. Lots of interior space for small car, including the back seat and trunk. Blast to drive, big 18" 225/45R18 tires give lots of grip and solid ride. Responsive steering, nicely weighted, ride is a good balance between stiff and comfort."
19 people out of 35 found this review helpful
By Cooper on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, Fun to drive, Pretty Quick For A 4Cylinder"
Cons: "No Leather, No Auto Lights/Seats, No Seat Heaters."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I wanted this vehicle because I liked the "sporty" look it had. But once I got into the vehicle.....it didn't have anything that made me fall in love with it. It looked the same inside as every other one. I was trading in my 07 Jetta, and going from a vehicle that had leather seats, seat heaters, electric seats, automatic headlights, it just wasn't a very good trade. The tC is a nice car don't get me wrong, but it wasn't what I was expecting when I walked into the dealership to do the trade. It's a great teen car, but being 26 years old, I don't feel like I should be driving it.If I could, I would go back to a Jetta in a heartbeat."
19 people out of 37 found this review helpful
By Chas on Saturday, November 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun and sporty"
Cons: "Plastic cheap interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Too much plastic in interior. Sunroof cover is a joke come on Toyota you can do better! Great looking sporty car so far no issues."
16 people out of 36 found this review helpful
By kyle94 on Wednesday, October 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "price, fun to drive, sporty, big sunroof, mpg"
Cons: "no automatic lights, stock tires don't last long,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I had a 2011 tC that I foolishly got rid of for a Fusion. I missed the gas mileage and sportiness of the tC."
10 people out of 23 found this review helpful