"The tC is a sharp little car, offering a compelling blend of standard equipment, style, performance and reliability.
Even a 'base' (non-Spec model) tC provides a healthy complement of standard equipment, including power windows, locks, mirrors, a healthy 160W sound system and god's own sunroof overhead.
Performance is strong for the class, with plenty of power available from fairly low RPMs and fairly short gearing in the manual model - a strong contrast to many of the 'peakier' engines in the segment (e.g.: Honda Civic), and provides great off-the line thrust and passing power. While the engine lacks the character of more high-revving engines, it's far better suited to real-world city driving. Unfortunately, the short gearing means you'll be turning right around 4K RPM at 85 MPH. A sixth gear for better fuel economy and somewhat more relaxed (though you'll never hear the engine above the tire and wind noise at anything over 75 MPH) highway driving would have been appreciated.
Handling is good, but not great - the tC corners fairly sharply, but rolls more than I'd like. In exchange for this, you get a great ride, with well-controlled responses to uneven pavement, even mid-corner.
Fit and finish are excellent both inside and out. Inside, matte silver plastics and the large spun-aluminum HVAC knob are set against a backdrop of soft-touch material on the dash and side panels (with an unusual texture that helps prevent light from reflecting off the rather long dash in the steeply raked windscreen) and a grippy (and durable) black fabric on the seating surfaces to create an upscale 'modern/technical' look. Wheel-mounted stereo controls are a nice touch, but the wheel rim is a bit thinner than I'd like, save for the palm swells at 10 and 2 o'clock. The only real downsides are the high door sill and low seating position, which combine to create a feeling of sitting in a bathtub.
Externally, the tC combines a pastiche of other makes' ideas with good proportions to good effect. A Volvo S40 nose/front clip, BMW-ish headlights, taillights that look stolen from an A4 and even the BMW 'Hofmeister kink' in the C-pillar all make a showing, but they all blend well with the somewhat slab-sided body, short overhangs and slick-looking dark-chrome 17" wheels to create a car that you'll look forward to seeing in the garage.
My ownership experience has been flawless, with the tC proving to be a dependable and fairly economical traveling companion. The interior is a quiet, comfortable place to while away miles, with great seats and the aforementioned comfortable and controlled ride making miles disappear in seemingly short order. Fuel economy is decent, with my example averaging around 25 mpg in city driving and 30-35 on the interstates over the 15 months I've owned it.
In summary, the tC is a stellar value, offering 'a lot of car' for around $17K. Toyota reliability and resale value add a little extra to the equation, and the 'no-haggle' pricing at Scion dealers is a refreshing change from the usual back and forth at purchase time. Buyers interested in a stylish, sporty coupe would be remiss in not giving it a chance, though for pure sporting intent, the Civic Si may be a better (if somewhat more expensive) choice."
"I purchased this tC as a commuter car. It already had high mileage ~150k, but was priced well. When I first drove it I knew I would be doing some work to get it back to it's original condition. I started with tires which can expensive because of the size, but I found stepping up the side aspect of the tire to a 50 series lowered the tire cost considerably. I also replaced the struts and went through a full tuneup. The 2.4 2azfe is a great mechanics car, as it has a lot engineering to make servicing easier. Such as;
The oil drain and filter located in a clear area and right next to each other making oil changes a breeze.
A antifreeze block drain in an easily accessible area.
A timing chain versus belt which will usually last the life of the vehicle.
4 wheel disc brakes with a separate system for the emergency brake.
What this means to the average consumer is far lower repair costs than other vehicles in its class. Now for the things to be beware of. Although it is difficult sometimes to determine whether you will buying someones headache, be vigilant of some key things.
Previous crashes, which may or may not be reported to car fax. Look for distortions in body panels, water leakage, rust, or paint color/sheen changes. The car I purchased had no mention of a crash, but I found key indicators that it had been in one. The owner fessed up only after I grilled them with facts. The next expensive mistake on this car is that the catalytic converter is integrated into the exhaust manifold making it a very expensive repair ~$600. This will be a concern mostly to California drivers. The biggest let down for me has been that I discovered that my vehicle is actively burning oil. I purchased the car from a graduating college student and should have known she was keeping up on oil changes like she should have. Toyota's are very sensitive to oil changes and once the piston rings wear prematurely there is no going back. I currently burning about 1 1/2 quart every 1000 miles. I tried to simply replace the valve stems but no luck, still burning oil. Removing the engine on the tC requires the sub frame to be dropped, so I'm just going to run till she dies. All and all this is still a good car and when properly taken care of, will last you years and years."
Pros: "price, fun to drive, safety, low cost of ownership"
Cons: "road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After owning the Saturn, Jetta and Saab, I finally found the most reliable and maintenance free car I ever owned. For a little hatchback has surprisingly a lot of cargo room. Decent pickup for the low-power engine but you'd never know it. Seats are incredibly comfortable even the rear seats. All seats cradle you like a race car driver. All I ever I had to do between 65k miles and 126k miles was basic brake maintenance and oil changes. Some minor rattles you can feel the road at high speeds but that's what's expected from stiff suspension.
Safety is amazing and airbags are quick and surprisingly soft. Easy to walk away from without a scratch when you need to...I'll miss you :)"
Cons: "for the 2007 model, side and curtain airbags were not standard."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Honestly, this car is everything it should be... and then some. Since I was 16 to now 21 I have owned 6 cars and this one has been by far the best one I have ever owned. Not only are the looks simply amazing but the moment you step inside you will appreciate the detail that went into the entire car. The interior is wonderfully designed, very easy touch controls for the a/c unit and the fact that I can control my iPhone from the deck is awesome. My particular model has fog lights and custom LED tail lights that were bought at the dealership from day one. The panoramic sunroof is by far my favorite feature for this car. It really brings to life the sporty and elegant feel when your driving along the road. The engine is super quiet and powerful enough to get the job done. With the windows up and the sunroof closed, road noise is at a minimum. I have not heard one complaint from owners of this car. A very solid feel and built quietly. Scion/Toyota really hit the nail with the hammer on this one. I still get looks in my Tc and its 4 years old. I plan on keeping this car for a while as it is everything i have been looking for in a car and more. I would definitely recommend it to everyone as it not only captures the eyes of the young people but older generations as well. I hope this review finds you well, have fun with your TC's everyone! =]"
"I have owned this car since I bought it used with 30K miles. I LOVE this car, it now has almost 200,000 miles and has never once left me stranded or broken down on the side of the road. Before owning this car I drove a big pickup but had to give it up because of gas prices. I loved it from the start. When I first bought it, if you stepped on the gas it would literally make your head head the headrest. I love the sunroof. I have made many long journeys in this car and it has been a great, reliable car. The brakes are a bit finicky BUT if you stick to genuine Toyota parts or OEM standard parts you will be OK. This car definitely does not like cheap replacement parts, haha. Even now with 195k miles, I cam still pass newer cars going up a mountain with no problem. Drives like a dream on the freeway and it so much fun to drive, even in traffic. This car is an excellent example of Toyota's legendary reliability!"
"I bought this car when I was 16 with 20,000 miles on it. Ever since I bought it, it has been nothing but perfect. When I was in Hugh School, my friends would always comment on how cool my car was. They always wanted me to drive them. I live in Colorado, so I had tons of snowy winters, but the tC never let me down. If you get winter tires, the car is amazing in the snow. I took it on a few winter road trips with my buddies to the mountains to go skiing, and it was a beast in the snowy hills. It is super fun to drive, easy to handle, and super safe. I would recommend this car to anyone who wants a responsible, yet sporty car. I get great gas milage, and I have never had to get ANYTHING replaced! I am 6'4", so I have some trouble getting into the car, but once inside, I have plenty of head room. Girls love the car, and so do all my friends. Definitely buy this."
"Looks great inside and out, drives on winding roads like its on rails,165 hp is not enough in my opinion, it should have came with a turbo charger although they do offer a supercharger but it's not much faster with it. There's a major flaw with 5th gear in the manual transmissions,Toyota fails to acknowledge, when I took it to them they said the shift bushings were the reason why 5th failed for me but I took it to a shop that works on nothing but transmissions and they said was fine, but after looking online at some forums It's a common issue.But other than the 5th gear problem the car has been great for the price.Anyone looking to buy one be wary of the manual, you can fit a manual transmission from an 02-03 camry with no modification, it bolts right up, has better gear ratios, and has stronger gears.I have owned the car since new and the only repair I've done was the transmission."
Pros: "fun to drive, fun to modify overall just a fun car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've had my scion tC for a few years now and til this day I still get excited when I get behind the wheel of my tC. The car's bucket seats are comfortable, and the car itself is so compact, I definitely love the dual moon/sun roof, its perfect for driving with all my windows opened during the summer, its a great cruise car, fun to modify and very easy to modify, I've replaced my 07 tail lights with the unlimited scion tyc tail lights and swapped the baged grills to de-badged grills, I love this car, its fun, and if you're creative theres so much you can do with the tC, I've seen it done. Also I find that the tC has a very unique look, which I like a lot. I've had a few maintenance done to the car since I've had it but nothing major, it's a car so there will be minor fixes and replacements here and there, I love the small back seat windows, as well as the hatch coupe style of the car, I wasn't a big fan of the long antenna so I replaced mine with a s2k 7inch antenna, which works perfectly. The think I love most about the tC is its very easy to customize it to whatever look you want, although I'm not a big fan of the 2nd generation, there isn't much you can do with those. Over all the scion tC is a great car, fun to work with, fun to drive I'd recommend it for anyone whose on a budget when purchasing a car and for anyone who likes to customize cars."
"Pros: It's made by Toyota so mechanically it's a great car. It has a timing chain instead of a timing belt so you don't have to worry about changing it out. The 5 speed manual is alot of fun to drive. Super cold A/C. I love the sunroof that covers the whole top of the car and flips open. Gets reasonable gas mileage approx 26 mpg on average. Comfortable and roomy yet sporty. I love the cupholders in the back seat. They are off to the sides and not in your way. I also love that I can get a sporty looking car that has 3 seatbelts in the back that all have sholder belts. I can fit all three of my kids in the back with my two oldest on the sides and the baby and his carseat in the middle.
Cons: You can hear alot of road noise once you get up to highway speeds and it can be difficult to see out of when backing up. The black interior and glass top causes the car to get very warm inside if it's setting in the sun but the A/C cools it down fast.
Overall I think this car is an amazing value and I love mine."
Pros: "Reliability, gas mileage, interior, sporty looks"
Cons: "No AUX port, slightly noisy engine"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I'm a college kid, so I probably fit into the target market for this car, but I can see this being the perfect car for anyone. It has a Camry engine, so it's reliable. It has TONS of cargo space when you fold down the rear seats, with the ability to haul large, somewhat tall items. I usually get about 30 MPG highway and 24/25 city, which is higher than the estimates of 27/20, which I was delighted to find. The interior is well finished, especially for a car in this price range. Reliability, nicely-trimmed interior, good gas mileage, sporty looks... What more can you really ask of a car?
Complaints? Well the only thing I can say is I was surprised to find that it didn't have an AUX port for MP3 players to connect to the stereo (that feature arrived in the 2006 models). Also, the car is geared for high RPM, presumably to give it a sporty feel, but the high engine revs can get somewhat annoying in stop-and-go traffic. I'm all about a good engine note, but a 4-cylinder Toyota engine is not exactly what I'd like to hear loudly.
Overall, a fantastic little reliable car, with very good interior trim considering the price! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!"
"The only, ONLY reason I need to trade in this car is because it's a stick shift and the amount of hill driving I'll be doing for my new job would turn into a nightmare. I purchased this car for my husband, then took it as my own 5 years later when I traded in my other care for his new SUV. I was ECSTATIC to get this car as a hand me down and for it to become my daily driver. It is the first car I owned past making payments and I'm going to miss it something terribly. Maybe I'll sell it to my brother instead of trading it in for something else, he drove it once and fell it love with it. He's a mechanic, so I'd guess that's a standing ovation.
There are very few downsides to this car and I'm sure they all just come from age, most of them.
1) The back panel cover for the hatch release came loose and occasionally I have to stick it back in place.
2) After years of heavy use I need to trigger the hatch release twice before the hatch door can be opened. This happened before the paneling became loose and likely caused it by me pulling up on the hatch door before it's latch was fully released.
3) Pulling up the emergency brake can he heard though the stereo, it causes feedback through the speakers. Only when it's actually being engaged/disengaged, not the whole time it's on. I've only noticed it when I have the stereo on AUX input. The AUX jack is inside the center console behind the eBrake so I'm guessing that over time a barrier between the two has become flabby.
4) The center console light has malfunctioned and turns off when I turn on my headlights. The dealership said this was a common glitch and offered to fix it (for a price). The car was out of warranty when this happened and it wasn't worth spending what it would cost to replace."
"I bought my TC with 11 miles on it in September of 2005 and now (03/28/2013) I have 186,000 miles on it and have not once taken it to the shop for any repairs other than replacing tires. Mind you, I am not that good with being on time with maintenance, even once pushing 5,000 miles OVER the 5,000 miles for oil change mark. I absolutely love my car and will buy newer models from now on. Til this day, I keep getting compliments from strangers for my car. :)"
"My wife and i bought this car when it was 2 years old. It had 30 thousand miles on it then and since we have put 100 thousand on it. Car still runs great doesnt use oil, love the sportiness with the fuel mileage, which is about 31 hwy. I have a big truck so my wife drives it since i drive over 100 miles a day to work and she drives 20. We both love this car. Do wish it had more head room. I am 6 flat and I have problems getting in but once I am in plenty of room. More insulation in the rear underneath the cargo area would be great too since the toyota racing exhaust does get loud inside the cabin. The back seat is great but hard to get into and hard to put a car seat in"
"I love this car!!! I'm 6'6, and I fit perfectly and extremely comfortable in this car surprisingly. Runs smooth, quick and zippy. Great features, love the radio cover, easy maintenance, very customizable for cheap. Back seats are extremely comfortable as well. Just very little. Overall perfect car. Shakes a little bit when at lights, but nothing bad at all."
Pros: "Affordable, well equipped, fun to drive, reliable."
Cons: "The hatch handle/release tends to break, careful!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought the car new when I was 18. It's been everything to me. It's gotten me through a lot. You'd be surprised what a fun to drive, reliable car can do for your whole outlook and quality of life.
My tC has never let me down, and has even led to friendships I wouldn't have discovered outside of the Scion community.
I'm sadly looking to part with it in about two months, in order to get the newest member of the Scion family, the FR-S. I'm truely going to miss this great car, and I hope it's next owner takes care of it and loves it as much as I have.
Go buy a Scion. You won't regret it."
"This car is awesome. Fun to drive and catches eyes on the road. This car has great handling and is easy to drive. Alot of safety features to keep you comfortable driving it. The additional options are great and some really set the car off. I have the carbon fiber, pedestal spoiler, illumination kit, fog lights, and mud guards. I recommend the mud guards because Toyota paint chips very easily and the tires do stick out past the wheel wells so the 30 dollars is worth it. But for the money you cant beat this car. I drove a Tiburon and a Civic and neither compare to this car. If your looking for a coupe with a reasonable price this is the way to go."
"Bought my 17 year old a 2005 with 60k miles on it for Christmas. 2 years later buying my other daughter a 2006 with 80k miles. Both my girls LOVE these cars. I would highly recommend the TC? (It's also fun to drive for us Moms)."
"This was the first car I bought on my own 2 years ago after owning a 2001 jeep grand cherokee laredo and its perfect. Today actually I got into my first accident (wasnt my fault) I was rear ended and my back bumper was the only thing that was affected where the guy who hit me owned a kia and his car was totaled. Good gas milage, awesome sunroof and moonroof combo, good stereo system, and surprisingly a lot of space inside for such a small car. The only things that I would say kinda stink is on long car trips the seats can be a tad uncomfortable, and its absolutely impossible to talk on the phone and drive because its so loud when on the highway. Nothing too bad just little stuff. Anyways like I said its perfect to me, couldnt have asked for a better vehicle."
Cons: "Long reach to the steering wheel for tall people."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I'd like to say that it's the best car on the market dollar for dollar, but that's not doing it justice. I've had this car for 5 years and haven't had any issues at all. It still drives like new and I don't have any trouble driving it for a 12 hr drive cross country. I'm 46 yrs old, 6'2", 265 pounds, and I drive like I'm 16 with an attitude. It's not a Cadillac, but that's not what I bought it for. After changing tires to Goodyear Eagle GT's, it corners like it's on rails. The only thing I think could be improved is the steering wheel position as it's a reach for someone with the seat in the full back position. But, even with that, it's no problem to drive it like a race car for 12 hours."
"I'm not the typical Tc driver since I am a 32 year old, married female, but here I am- and I LOVE this car. It's the best car I've ever owned, most people can't believe it's already 4 years old since it handles like new, has no rattles and squeaks that come with used cars, and looks so sharp. It's super functional, whether I'm hauling the groceries, picking up family at the airport, or hauling my 3 large dogs around- this car never ceases to get comments "Wow- there IS a lot of room in there!" I once put a 7 foot Christmas tree, still boxed, in the car- with the hatch down, and 2 adults with ease. Show me another small hatch that can do that- with the Toyota reliability to back it up.
Awesome- I hope I never have to give this car up- that will be a sad day indeed."
"I have been happy for what I got for the money. It offers a lot of features for the price you pay. The only thing I have hated about the car is cost of parts. It seems like everything I looked at needing to replace what at least twice the cost of other vehicles. For example, I had a crack in the windshield and it usually would have been around $500 to replace but on the tC the glass is cut very wierd (it slopes down on the passenger side) and the cost to replace was over $1000. I have learned to live with a cracked windshield. My friend bottomed my car out and the price to fix the plastic clips securing the bumper were way to pricey so I learned to live with the bumper sticking out (no one but me notices it though) There are numerous issues like these.
I will admit that I am rough on cars so I do not place any fault on Toyota for these but I believe when they make cars they really need to think of replacement parts. I again think this is a great car for the money just hate that everything is so expensive if you need to replace or repait anything."