2012 Scion tC

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2012 Scion tC Review

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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2012

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 the tC
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.

2012 Scion tC Details

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.


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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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

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