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
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2013 Scion tC coupe is $19,480 with the 6-speed manual gearbox and another $1,000 with the automatic transmission. The Release Series 8.0 has MSRPs of $22,570 (manual) and $23,620 (automatic). Last year's Release Series 7.0, the hot yellow Lightning Bolt package with its TRD body kit, is still available, starting at $21,635. Competitors like the Honda Civic and Kia Forte start for less, but don't offer the impressive list of standard equipment that the 2013 tC does. Resale values on the Scion tC have held well for previous models and the 2013 should be no different, though the arrival of the excellent Scion FR-S rear-drive coupe may have some impact by pulling away the more sport-minded drivers. For the best picture of what 2013 Scion tC models are selling for in your area, check out the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com.
By libby (PA) on Monday, November 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "SO fun to drive. Sun roof is ideal since car is sm"
Cons: "mp3 player (not an Apple) didn't trnsmit thru syst"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"low maintenance. Just oil changes and tires. no mechanical issues. Only desire is for speed and a trunk/ hatch cover (for stuff in the trunk.)"
By Hogs (PA) on Friday, October 25, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling is amazing for a FWD car!"
Cons: "No rear wiper, needs 2nd power outlet."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have about 2000 miles on my new 2014 Scion tC manual transmission and here are some of my impressions: For 2014 Scion made several changes to the tC: New front and rear bodywork (Looks good to me, although a departure from the previous look, it looks more like the FR-S now) Upgraded steering and suspension improvements have made this car handle amazingly well for a FWD car. Stereo is touchscreen now (I actually prefer non touch screen but this is where the industry is going) The sound is very clear and strong from the Pioneer stereo. The engine is Camry reliable, in fact CR rated Scion as the most reliable brand made. Gas mpg so far after 2 months is 28.0 mpg average in mix city/highway frequently with the a/c or defrost on (defrost runs the a/c compressor). Mpg should continue to increase as the engine gets broken in, and it runs on regular gas. The manual transmission shifts easily with crisp engagement from gear to gear, throws are a bit long but not bad. We just had days of endless rain here and this thing sticks to the road even on rain soaked roads/I was flying around corners and turns and it never lost grip. The new 18 inch wheels look great and hide brake dust as they are partially black. The interior is very roomy, can seat 4 large adults with room to spare and the hatchback is HUGE, I can easily carry all my work gear with me (I carry a ton of boxes and supplies for work). The interior plastic on doors seems cheap and can scuff easily, but scuffs wipe away with a damp rag. Seats are very supportive/comfy and hold you well while you are cornering hard. Sunroof is a nice touch as is the rear roof glass. I wish it had a rear wiper for rain and snow. I have owned well over 2 dozen cars in my lifetime, this car seems like it would last long and be reliable. The engine has 179 horsepower and 172 ft lbs of torque, the torque is actually much higher than the FR-S and you can feel it in every gear, this car pulls strong when accelerating. 0-60 time is rated as anywhere from 6.9 seconds to 7.4 seconds depending on which car magazine/reviewer you read. I wish it had a 2nd power outlet. Overall I am very content so far with my purchase, this is the best handling front wheel car I have ever owned. $4 grand less expensive than a Civic Si, Civics really have a case of the "uglies" the last few years. Scion Tc is a looker! It is amazing in blue!"
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Chris (CA) on Thursday, September 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Bang for your Buck, Sporty but still Practical"
Cons: "No head room for Rear Passengers, heavy doors"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I Bought my 2011 Scion TC in the beginning of August and after doing a lot of homework on what was available on the market I was sold as soon I took it for a test drive. If you are looking for the fun of a sports car with a tight budget or don't wanna make a lot of compromises that some sports cars force you to do, then the second generation TC is an excellent choice. The TC looks fantastic and nothing like a hatchback. Every time I open the hatch my friends are blown away by the amount of storage space the TC can accommodate. It's Great for college students hauling their stuff from home and to the dorm rooms every year. The 2.5 liter 6 speed 4 cylinder automatic isn't really pretty to look at under the hood as the engine wasn't given a cover, but in terms of reliability and performance you cannot beat it for the price. Driving long distances on the highway you will get over 31 MPG with the ECO setting that can be turned off and on from the gauge control's and it includes a AVG MPG display so you can track your fuel consumption. Where the TC impressed me is that if you also want a car that has emotion and feeling in the steering wheel it will impress you. We all like gas mileage and efficiency, but sometimes you just wanna have some fun behind the wheel! The Tectonic shiftier does take some getting used to but with some practice the car can really preform. On a "closed course" I managed to get up to 125 mph in the 5th gear before I had to slow down. Acceleration is great you can feel the pickup every time you press on the pedal makes blowing past those annoying semi's easy. Handling does take some getting used too while the car has great stability and grips the road sometimes the car feels a little heavy or stiff in the turns, but if you turn off the traction control it does help in those fun mountain roads. The interior is made of some kind of plastic and while it isn't the most pleasant thing to touch that doesn't really take away from the styling and the other features of the interior. The glove box sits high enough that it can be easily accessed while driving if needed and it won't hit your passenger in the knees when you open it. The Tc can sit 4 people comfortably, just make sure the rear passages are not too tall because head room isn't that great in the back, but there is plenty of leg room. Getting in and out of the TC is difficult sometimes especially for the rear passengers, because the doors are heavy and while the front driver and passenger seats do a great job at making you feel comfortable while driving they do have a tendency to get in the way at times and The front Seat belts are placed in an awkward positions making them hard to grab. The Sound system is a 300 watt Pioneer sound system and it works great. Comes with both a USB and AUX jack and you can access your Mp3 library from the stereo itself. You can play anything from Classical to Dub-step and it will sound great, but the plastic material of the interior means you are going to get a little rattling if you play your music loud like I do. Dynomat your doors if it bothers you. Air Condition works great, the Large sun roof is also a nice touch opens the car up on those beautiful days in the summer. If you like to do aftermarket upgrades the TC is one of the easiest cars to work on yourself. I added fog lights after I bought the car and they went in effortlessly. Overall its a great buy for someone who wants the thrill of a sports car but still wants to use it as a daily driver."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Matt (NC) on Friday, August 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 300overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, Highest Residual Value, Features, Design"
Cons: "they dont come in pairs haha"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I researched cars for 4 months before deciding on the tC. I do my homework. I read every consumer report on every vehicle along with expert reports on many different websites. It comes down to the tC flat out beating the competition...for a better price...that holds its value better than any other vehicle in its class and beyond. I bought the Release 10 series special edition. Mine is number 2187 of 3500. Best decision of my life. Its design exterior/interior is incredible, driver focused, functional and with tons of flare. Everyone tells me my car is sharp and sexy. The tC also adds the uniqueness of the hatchback with tons of storage! making it the ultimate adventure mobile. It is not loud, it drives so smooth. And all cars take about 4-6000 miles to break in and they do even better! I cant imagine this car getting any better. My advice from the undecisive researher I am, GET THIS CAR.oh and the sounds system....IS WICKED! Bass will knock you out of the car, and sound quality is flawless."
12 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By rrc0112 (GA) on Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty looking"
Cons: "bad road, noise, jerky drive, heavy doors"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This was my first new car and I wish I would have done more research. The Scion TC looks sporty and the interior is pretty nice. Unfortunately this is where the "nice" stops. This car has more road noise than I have EVER had with another car. What is the point of having Bluetooth when you can't hear anything if you are driving faster than 45 mph. I have had a 2 door in the past, but never with such heavy doors. The shifting and ride of this car is lacking. Very "jerky" and more noise than performance. Yes this car is affordable and sporty looking, but next time I will go for a better quality car over the price. If you enjoy driving and like having a nice quite good riding car, this is not the car for you."
2 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By GeorgeNFLA (FL) on Sunday, March 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Accelleration, handling, reliability, fuel mileage"
Cons: "Rear seat has no cup holders."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My tC is a 2013 model. It has the manual transmission 6-speed. Ride quality is firm, but not abusive. Enough room for 4 adults comfortably. Fuel mileage is 34 hwy, and only regular fuel is required. Accelleration is very strong, about that of a Civic Si. Handling is very secure, with no body lean at all...a true sport coupe. Fit/finish is very good, typical of a Toyota product. The tC comes loaded with everything you could possible want, including dual sun-roofs. Short trips or long trips, this is a comfortable car with supportive seats and plenty of leg room for all. Reliability is top-notch. This car is an excellent value if you are in the market for a sport coupe."
8 people out of 12 found this review helpful