By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
Scion is Toyota's youth-oriented division and the tC coupe has historically been its best-selling model. The car's appeal lies in spirited styling, lots of features, surprisingly good audio systems for the price and freedom to personalize the car. Actual over-the-road performance may not live up to everyone's expectations, with modest horsepower and soft suspension, but it's entirely adequate for a city and suburban runabout. As is becoming an annual tradition, the tC gets a special-edition upgrade package, called Release Series 8.0 for 2013, that gives it a stronger personality. With starting prices around $20,000, the 2013 Scion tC offers a lot of style and a good bit of attitude for the money, and seems destined to continue as the Scion clientele's favorite.
Scion's attractive pricing combined with Toyota's reputation for dependability makes the 2013 tC coupe compelling for anyone looking for a fun coupe with reasonable amenities. The aftermarket offers a lot for Scion vehicles, allowing for maximum customization on a minimal budget.
Depending on the performance you expect, particularly from a sporty-looking coupe, the 2013 Scion tC may leave you underwhelmed (as past models have). Acceleration, response and handling precision are rather average, and even the Release Series 8.0 package isn't much better.
After a major design in 2011, the 2013 Scion tC coupe is little changed in base form but as usual, a new up-level trim, called Release Series 8.0 this year, is added to the line. It's a striking, limited-production (2,000 units) configuration. Available only in Absolutely Red with black trim, 8.0 combines styling touches from Five Axis and performance parts from Toyota Racing Development (TRD).
Driving Impressions The driving experience has always been the biggest source of debate over the Scion tC, and the 2013 tC coupe is unlikely to settle any arguments. The...clutch in the 6-speed manual transmission is both light for daily commute convenience and precise for quick shifts. But road manners and chassis feel are uninspiring, with rather vague steering and soft suspension. Low-rpm engine response is quite good but revving out the 2.5-liter four generates only average thrust. Compared to other coupes in its class, it's not nearly as powerful or capable, though for city driving it's probably good enough for most buyers. The Series Release 8.0 package includes firmer, lower springs (and paddle shifters for the automatic) that help a little.
PIONEER SOUND SYSTEM
That such a thorough audio setup is standard on a $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
Personalization is a consistent Scion theme, and between the factory and the aftermarket, it's easy to make your tC really your tC. There are many forums, groups and clubs dedicated to Scion customization.
The 2013 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. A 60/40-split folding back seat allows trips to actual supermarkets, not just convenience stores.Exterior
The 2013 Scion tC, with its more angular roofline and big lower grille, makes a stronger visual statement than the first generation did. Where other, smaller coupes in its class can look excessively what-you-see-is-what-you-get, the tC coupe looks aggressively playful. The tC also looks fast, which has helped turn millions of young eyes to it over the years. The Release Series 8.0's Five Axis body pieces accentuate this, and the Absolutely Red paint color is brilliant.
The 2013 Scion tC carries great youth-appeal cred with standard equipment that includes 18-inch wheels and the impressive Pioneer sound system. That sound system is HD Radio capable and you can connect your phone to it, as long as you're 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 2013 Scion tC, as are a Bespoke audio upgrade, rear spoiler and sportier TRD springs and anti-roll bars. The Release Series 8.0 package includes a body kit from Five Axis, center exhaust with a TRD sport muffler, lower TRD springs and paddle shifters (with the automatic). Aftermarket options for the 2013 Scion tC are as extensive 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 units. The automatic downshifts well enough, but upshifts can feel a little lazy. The manual transmission's clutch could be accused of being soft but the bolt-action precision of its shifter largely offsets that concern.
180 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
173 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg
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."
1 person out of 3 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