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 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."
11 people out of 22 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."
13 people out of 31 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."
9 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By Shreinersz on Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "quality and safety features"
Cons: "not enough power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Nice car rides nice has given me no problems. The interior could use a face lift use nicer materials. It has good pick up for a 4 cylinder however I think they would sell alot more of these cars if they put a 6 cylinder in them. I would say it needs a larger engine such a sleek head turning sporty looking car but not enough performance to match."
7 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By dlhawk on Thursday, September 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best price for a sporty fun to drive coupe!"
Cons: "interior colors are limited"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"It has been very reliable and the vehicle is loaded with lots of equipment for what you will get for the price of others in the same class. The reliability of this tc I can say is the best I have seen. It also provides more leg room & head room in its class. Sporty, and fun to drive! You definitely get more for the buck! I'm completely happy with my Scion tC and I plan to trade up to the 2015 tC."
13 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By Ty on Friday, April 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, steering, acceleration, reliable"
Cons: "Terrible paint quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I purchased my 2014 tC in black back in August. This car is very fun to drive aggressively, or just taking it on a cruise. I had this car for about 8 months now and enjoy driving it everyday. The car is perfect on power for the average person and both transmissions offer great performance. The pioneer system is much better than other companies offer. The interior is very spacious, even for people sitting in the back seat. Nobody can believe how much leg room there is in the back even with the front seats moved back. The seats are comfortable and supportive for longer drives, and they hold you in tight when turning around corners. The only problem I have with the car is the POOR paint quality. My car is black and there are about 5-10 white chips on the hood, and my front bumper's clear coat has about 50 holes in it.I know cars get marked up, but this is just unacceptable for a car that isn't even a year old. I will have to get it repainted when it starts to look worse and get a quality job to avoid this problem in the future."
32 people out of 53 found this review helpful