2011 Scion tC new car reviews

The new Scion tC still looks like a tC, but the body is, in fact, all new.
The three-door layout plus that giant glass sunroom also remain.

Better than: Eclipse
But not as good as: Civic Si
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 78.90

When the original Scion tC made its debut more than five years ago, it was fighting for attention against a crowded market. Competitors included the Toyota Celica--a staple for decades--plus the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Acura Integra.

These days, however, the Eclipse has received its marching orders, while the Celica and Integra are long gone. The tC, on the other hand, received a redo for the 2011 model year.

The shape is familiar, as the new car is instantly recognizeable as a tC. The glass roof and hatchback body also remain.

What's new? The track is slightly wider, and the old 2.4-liter engine has been replaced by a 2.5-liter version.

Other staff views

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

Most people don't care about autocross. Most drivers don't want to feel every pavement nuance. Some people even think it's weird to look forward to an entrance ramp that may be 5 miles away. This Scion tC is for those people.

For lots of women (and a couple of men), this is a very pleasant machine. It rides nicely, looks decent, is put together well, and is very reasonably priced. The driving experience can even approach entertainment, although it never quite gets there.

This is a great car to recommend to a college-bound niece, or a non-car person looking for something "sporty." It has none of the visceral rawness that endears a machine to the enthusiast, but it also suffers none of the drawbacks.

Not for me--but not aimed at me, either.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

When I drove the tC at the press launch for the original one, I remember thinking that it wasn't my dream autocross or track machine, but it was a pleasant daily driver. It had plenty of room, looked great, and felt quick enough. We got lost in Atlanta traffic, and I wasn't hating things.

The new one carries on that theme. No, I don't see this one going to the Solo Nationals or becoming the ultimate HPDE machine. It's for the person who wants something sporty but isn't willing to wear a kidney belt.

I have to give Scion/Toyota props for not deviating from the original plan, either. They didn't replace the tC with some kind of cyborg-looking SUV or give it four doors.

Back in the day, the sporty coupe segment was pretty full. Today, Toyota is one of the few still flying the flag.

Tom Heath Tom Heath
UberDork

The Scion tC looks like a great small-car solution on paper, but I didn't care for it from the drivers seat. There's nothing about the tC that I hate, but it's a far cry from the fun-to-drive nature of some competitors. It's a shame, because the functional, attractive shape appealed to me. Also, the stereo was awesome.

A large portion of my bad impression came from the transmission; our test car was equipped with an automatic that had economy as it's #1 priority. To that end, it seemed that every time I was at less than about 60% throttle the tC would shift to the highest possible gear and stay there. Even in its manual shifting mode, the reactions of the car were sluggish and uninspiring. For comparison the latest Hyundai Elantra was a lot more fun, even in it's conservative sedan clothing.

Maybe a proper manual transmission could rescue the tC from the jaws of bare adequacy, but somehow I don't think so. I can only hope Scion has neutered the tC in order to create a place in the Toyota/Scion lineup for the upcoming FT-86.

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Comments
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jrg77
jrg77 Reader
3/13/11 8:43 p.m.

Supposedly the '11 model comes with a 6-speed. Maybe that would make a big enough difference. Otherwise the spark for performance is reserved for those that can afford a Ferrari.

sanman
sanman HalfDork
7/11/11 3:30 p.m.

Does this car still have the availability of the TRD handling components available? I remember the rear sway bar and trd suspension components making a good difference in handling in the 1st gen model.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

When the original Scion tC made its debut more than five years ago, it was fighting for attention against a crowded market. Competitors included the Toyota Celica--a staple for decades--plus the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Acura Integra.

These days, however, the Eclipse has received its marching orders, while the Celica and Integra are long gone. The tC, on the other hand, received a redo for the 2011 model year.

The shape is familiar, as the new car is instantly recognizeable as a tC. The glass roof and hatchback body also remain.

What's new? The track is slightly wider, and the old 2.4-liter engine has been replaced by a 2.5-liter version.

HIDGolf
HIDGolf New Reader
7/19/15 2:56 p.m.

Anyone know if the "Spec" TCs with the 16" steel wheels share the wheels with corolla or camry?

Asking for a friend...

17's and potholes are problematic.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
7/19/15 3:10 p.m.

If I remember correctly, the Tc shares the pattern with the FR-S, 5x100. The center bore needs to be machines 2mm (I think) to fit the FR-s.

HIDGolf
HIDGolf New Reader
7/19/15 3:51 p.m.

Thanks for the comment, the Spec TC was pretty rare, apparently. I thought we could find a set of take offs for cheap and replace their bent/curbed/17's. The steelies from the Camry are plentiful, but they have different part numbers than the TC. They may be wider as the Camry uses wider tires? (205 vs 215)

Feedyurhed
Feedyurhed SuperDork
7/19/15 5:17 p.m.

Interesting thread. 7 posts that span 4 years.

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